|Personal photo - Lac Chambon, Auvergne|
Simplification is mostly associated with objects: decluttering closets, cleaning spaces, editing wardrobes and other collections of items. Three years into my own simplification process, I have come to believe that the real issue isn't the physical clutter, but the mental one: the time we spend thinking about, and caring for our material collections. What if the main benefit of simplifying our lives was to reclaim our time and energy?
I have read about a lot of simplification journeys lately, and I noticed a recurring question: now that I shop less, what am I going to do in my free time? For example Debbie from Recovering Shoapholic, or Marie from Une Chic Fille (French). I noticed myself, since I started actively simplifying my life, I found the time and energy to do things I had slowly forgotten, like reading, writing, drawing (or doodling, to be more precise) or playing the violin.
The Burden of Physical Possessions
It comes, among other things, from all the hidden burden of items that I no longer have in Paris. The time consumed by an item is not only the time spent in the shop buying it. It is the time making a wishlist, comparing possibilities, choosing the retailer to go to. It is the time spent finding a space for this new item, clean it, repair it, dispose of it. A collection of items can be very time consuming: planning, sorting, cleaning, rearranging the stuff in the house, packing when moving out, having it repaired or finding a way to sell it...
And that's without counting all the hours spent at work to earn the money spent on buying items (or reimboursing the credit used to buy the items). In 2007, during the French presidential elections, one of the candidates had a mantra: " work more to earn more". He was promoting working extra hours by taxing them less. I find this to be the essence of today's way of life. Work more to earn more, to get promoted and earn even more and work even more. What if, by needing less money in the first place, you could work less?
Reclaiming our Time
That's where extra time comes from. And what to do with that time? That's where I discovered the true benefit of simplification: reconnecting with old hobbies, interests or loved ones people "don't have time to dedicate to". We pay for our children's activities: music, arts... But what do we adults do with our free time? Do you have any projects, dreams, interests that you haven't touched in ages because "you don't have time"?
The journey of simplificiation is a long but enlightening one. I still have a long way to go and aspire to spend less money on material items than I do, and move forward quicker with my ongoing projects by spending more time on each of them. This week, I had my first violin lesson with an actual teacher. It is a significant milestone for me, and reminds me of the true benefits of simplicity. It gives me courage to keep going in the right direction, despite the possible setbacks along the way. I hope this read also helps you move forward with whatever you really want to spend your time on.