The Simple Living Module Plan

By Leo Babauta

As we noted in the module overview, the Simple Living module will focus on different areas each week.

Alternatively: if you’re not interested in switching gears each week, you could simply do a daily session at the same time each day where you examine something in your life, meditate on it, and let it go.

But if you’re able to switch gears, I recommend the following plan.

The Daily Session

Each day, you should set aside a space for simplifying your life. This space will be used for the different focuses each week.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Have a trigger for this session — something you already do every day. Examples: waking up, drinking your first cup of coffee, eating breakfast, brushing your teeth, taking a shower, leaving for work, arriving at work, opening your laptop, etc. Only use a previous habit you’ve formed as a trigger if you’ve done the habit consistently for a few months.
  2. Have reminders based on this trigger. You don’t want to forget the habit when the trigger happens! The best reminders are in the physical place that the trigger happens — if it’s your laptop, put a sign on your laptop to remind you. Use sticky notes or other written reminders. For meditation, I put my cushion where I can’t miss seeing it. Calendar reminders are good too, but as backups to the physical reminders.
  3. Do the habit when your trigger (and reminder) happens. Every day. If you put the habit off to check email or Facebook, you won’t really stick to it.
  4. Report your success to your accountability group. If you don’t have a group yet, see the Help page for tutorials on joining or starting a group. Or join the module-focused open team for this month — you don’t have to actually join, just reply to the topic. Check-in for your habit each day by reporting in your group or open team, so you have some accountability.

That’s it — have a trigger and reminders, do the habit, and report it. This is the best format I’ve found for sticking to any habit, really.

Week 1: Commitments

By simplifying your commitments, you can free up time for what’s important, and decide how you want to spend your day.

Here’s how to spend your Simple Living daily session:

  1. Make a list of your commitments. Add to it if you think of some you hadn’t thought of each day.
  2. Put a star next to the most important ones. Use stars sparingly — these are the things you find most important in life.
  3. Each day, get out of at least one commitment that isn’t starred. That means making a call, sending an email, talking to someone … simply explain that you’re sorry but you can no longer serve as ___ or be on X project because you have too much on your plate. They might not be completely happy (most people will understand) but it’s OK to disappoint people. Don’t let your fear of disappointing people keep your life complicated.

Be ruthless! Say no to new commitments when people email you. We’ll get more into commitments in an upcoming article.

Week 2: Clutter

Even if you’ve already decluttered in July, there’s always more clutter you can tackle. This is a good opportunity to find the areas you didn’t get to before.

Here’s how to spend your Simple Living daily session:

  1. Pick one area of your home, workspace, or even computer (for digital clutter), and start identifying areas you can declutter. There’s always something — a countertop, shelf, closet, drawer, cabinet, space on the floor.
  2. Clear out that space, or a small part of it — whatever you can do during today’s session. Pick out the things you love and use regularly, put them back with a designated spot, and give away, recycle or donate the rest.

Repeat this every day this week — a little at a time makes this doable! We’ll go into more details in a future article.

Week 3: Single-tasking and distraction-free zones

Create zones in your day where you free yourself from distractions and do one important task at a time.

Here’s how to spend your Simple Living daily session:

  1. Set a 10-15-minute zone for no distractions during your Simple Living daily session.
  2. Clear away all distractions. No phone, no Internet, no TV, nothing.
  3. Have one important task to work on. Something you’ve been procrastinating on.
  4. Single-task: just do this task, and nothing else. Be mindful of urges to check on other things as you fear doing this task. Stay with the task, despite the urges. Don’t switch.

This is a good practice for living simply — if you can single-task and have times without distractions, your life will be simpler.

Week 4: Needs

What needs are not true needs that you can remove to simplify your life? Let’s examine them this week and let go of what we can.

Here’s how to spend your Simple Living daily session:

  1. Make a list of things you think you need in life, and also things you acknowledge you just want in your life but don’t really need.
  2. Each day, examine one of those needs or wants. Is it a true need? Why do you think you need or want it? Does it really add to your life or is it making things more complicated. Can you live without it and simplify your life?
  3. Consider letting go of the need or want temporarily to see what life would be like without it.

Often when we let go of something, we drop a whole bunch of things that go with it. For example, if you could let go of the need to watch TV at the end of the day, you could get rid of a TV, cable TV service, Netflix, maybe the chips or cookies you eat while watching TV …

That’s just one example, but simplifying your life means letting go of things we think we need but really don’t. We’ll dive more into this topic this month!