Embracing Minimalism: Creating Systems In Our Life And Home

I have read a lot of business books, leadership books, and self improvement books.  Many of them have offered amazing advice that has reshaped my life.  But if there is one “principle” in each and every book that I can almost always predict, it’s the encouragement to create systems.

At first, when I would come across the inevitable “systems chapter,” I would always push back on it. Our life rarely consists of “routine.”  My husband works a rotating schedule.  My own work has a flexible schedule.  And routine is definitely not the normal in our home or life.  

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What are systems anyway?

But I can’t deny it or ignore it anymore.  Systems change people.  Systems allow us to have whitespace in our lives for the things that matter, because we can rest easy knowing that all the other things are taken care of.  So, in honor of my year of embracing minimalism, I’ve returned to the drawing board and I am once again working on instilling some solid systems and routines into our life and home.

By definition, a systems is “a set of principles or procedures according to which something is done; an organized scheme or method.”

From this definition we know that systems really are nothing more than step by step instructions for how something is done.  Systems are the HOW, not the WHEN.  Every time I have ever created systems, I have always struggled with a few of the following excuses; “but we don’t have a set schedule,”  or “but our calendar is always changing” how about “but it’s too hard to try and plan every day.”  

Maybe you’ve struggled with the same?  If so, I hope this sheds some light on the fact that systems are possible for any person and any family.  

Systems are the foundation of great success, whether in your life, your business, or your health.

They may not occur at the same time or on the same day, but they do occur in the same way. They allow you move through the  day with habit.  They guarantee that things are accomplished, properly, and allow you to preserve mental energy for your larger tasks that require your precious time and attention.

Systems are about the long term rather than the short term.

Systems In Our Life And Home

As I started to re-consider creating systems in these terms, I could fully envision how they would make our daily “to-do’s” so much easier, by having some routine and consistency in our day.

But first, I needed to start with my “why.”  Goals without a purpose are useless, and if my goal was to create successful systems in our life, then I needed a strong why.  I knew that this would take persistence, patience, and practice and at times I was going to get off track.

My “Why,” is to create an environment where our lives could flourish, even when things don't always go as planned.  And to cultivate a mood where joy, gratitude and growth can take place, on the good days and the bad.  

In January, I worked on decluttering our home and donating unnecessary items.  This first step, has really opened up our home to allow our new systems to work much more efficiently and to see genuine results by working on them.

Systems or routines, require time in order for them to become an established pillar in your life. That being said, I knew that I wanted to start slow and really focus on the routines that would affect our home in the biggest way, with the smallest effort.  For me, this meant starting with a solid system for cleaning our house.  For you, this may mean meal planning, exercising, journaling, or even creating a morning or bedtime system.  

Throughout January and February, I have been hard at work implementing a system for cleaning our home.  Above I mentioned that creating a system was more about the "how" than the "when."  For my cleaning system, I created a daily, weekly, and monthly schedule for things that need done around our home.

I love having a schedule, because it provides me with a foundation and a designated time.  However, the real magic, is in doing the SAME thing each and every time and knowing how long it will take.

Why Systems Work

We just sailed into the third month of the year, and the proof is in the pudding my friends.

I feel confident in saying that I’ve cut down the “cleaning” struggle by about 70% in my life and home.  I no longer wake up to a sink full of dishes on a morning basis.  I no longer wash, re-wash, and re-dry (because wrinkles, #amiright) all the laundry in our house.  I no longer walk into the bathroom and question when I last gave it a deep clean.

Does my new system work perfectly?  Far from it.  But it creates a foundation for routine and allows to me quickly catch up, even during times when I fall behind.  It allows me to quickly identify what isn't done, what needs done, and what needs prioritized.

I have scheduled days for each chore around the house; sweeping, mopping, bedrooms, bathrooms, etc.  While I love having a schedule, I’m realistic about how much I can achieve and when.  If something comes up in the morning and something doesn’t get done, I typically know how long it would take me to accomplish that “chore,” and if I can push it to the afternoon, evening or even the next day.

Systems are designed to help you achieve goals, reduce unnecessary stress, and free up mental (and physical) energy for the things that matter most.  A life on autopilot sounds boring, but it’s not about automating your entire life, it’s about automating your daily responsibilities and simply taking the stress and guesswork out of the things that you already do each and every day.

If you’re ready to start introducing or restructuring some systems then start small, look for the quick wins, and make one thing work well before moving onto the next.  Here are few systems you may want to create or improve:

  1. Cleaning

  2. Exercise

  3. Meal planning

  4. Paying bills

  5. Cleaning your car

  6. Meal prep

  7. Morning or night routine

Do you currently have systems in your life?  Is it something that you have tried before or want to work on?  I would love to hear what works for you and what doesn't!  Be sure to leave a comment below!

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