long dirt driveway between green pastures lined with trees reflecting setting priorities for a simple life

It may seem like setting priorities for a Simple Life is similar to a walking down a quiet country lane. We know it will be a bit dusty, but it will be well worth the journey. It’s just a matter of determining what our priorities are – from the daily and weekly things we need to do to where we want this lane to lead us.

Setting our daily and weekly priorities is a fairly easy thing to do. It’s a matter of looking at what we need to accomplish and using a planner. Setting priorities for a Simple Life is a bit different.

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When we begin setting priorities for a Simple Life, it isn’t about paying bills or cleaning house. It is more about what we want and need our daily life to look like.

A friend of mine and I recently had an email visit. She made mention she truly wanted to be Super Woman and do it all. However, it only took her a few months of trying to realize she was burning out fast and going down in an exhausted heap of ashes.

Don’t Overload Setting Your Priorities for a Simple Life

a white pitcher pouring water into a a small tea cup with a rabbit carrying a carrot on the side which is overflowing into a white china tea cup

I understand exactly where she is coming from. At first, I thought I could do that as well. I loved the idea of doing everything myself – from creating my own cleaning products to keeping my house spotless with them.

I thought I could balance my home, my career, my family, my budget, and still cook meals. At the same time, I could create magical things with my hands, help my neighbors, and manage a garden and livestock.

And with my free time, I could crate my own cleaning products, fix 500 feet of barbed wire fence, raise chickens and cows, and soak in a bathtub filled with my handmade bubble bath.

small vegetable garden filled with tomatoes, peppers, squash, okra

My garden is another example of this off-balanced belief. At first, I wanted to grow every single thing we consumed. And just in case I wanted to try to make an Eggplant Pirogue, I needed to grow those, too. Never mind we don’t really care too much for eggplant. The recipe just sounded good, so maybe we would change our minds.

The problem with that is the space to grow things ran out long before my plant list did. And the time I had to maintain it packed its bags ran out just as fast.

When you try to do too much, you will quickly burn out. When you reach that point, you run the risk of losing interest. You may just get overwhelmed. You may decide to toss in the towel, and not give one whit if it gets washed, much less with your homemade laundry soap.

As much as we want to fully embrace every facet available to us that a Simple Life offers, we just cannot do it. We have to begin setting priorities for a Simple Life and learn to live within them. And this is when you need to take the time to set priorities for a Simple Life.

Setting Priorities for a Simple Life – Step One

old white wooden chair with a bucket of yellow and orange flowers sitting in a green pasture

You may be like Sharon and me, totally exhausted from trying to do too much. I will say this, we both had fun while it lasted. But it did take its toll on us, and we knew to keep moving forward, something had to give.

And that is where setting priorities for a Simple Life comes in. You can’t do it all, so you need to decide what it is you want to do.

The first step you need to take is asking yourself what appealed to you most about living a Simple Life. It may have been just the thought of slowing down. You may have been craving more time with your family.

Or, you may have wanted to become a homemaker. The idea of maintaining a home and cooking meals was your heart of hearts. You may have loved the idea of creating your own cleaning and bath products.

It doesn’t matter what led you to a Simple Life. What matters is you have the ability and stamina to follow through with it.

So, ask yourself that question. It will be the pivotal point in setting your list of priorities. Consider it your main focus.

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Choose One – Start with your Main Focus

When setting priorities for your Simple Life, you take your main focus and break it down. Make a list of everything you want to accomplish within that focus. For instance:

Homemaking

Gardening

  • Growing the food you consume
  • Growing herbs for culinary, medicinal, and crafting
  • Canning/preserving the harvest
  • Saving seeds
  • Starting plants from seed
  • Composting

a gray-haired woman holding a small girl dressed in red studying a leaf

Community Outreach

  • Be an active member of a Secret Santa committee
  • Advocate for a new community park
  • Run for a political office
  • Caring for elderly neighbors
  • Tutoring in an after-school program

Faith & Family

  • Attend Church
  • Organize & teach a Bible class
  • Take my kids to zoos, the park, or other activities
  • Take walks with a friend or family member
  • Teach my children life skills
  • Go camping, hiking, fishing, (or other activities) with my family
  • Become a Mentor
  • Design fun things to do at home (scavenger hunts, picnics, etc.)

These are just a small sampling of what you may want to include when setting priorities for a Simple Life. But as you can see, any one of them can be time consuming, but also very doable.

Something Has to Give

swollen rushing creek with water flowing around trees

When setting priorities for a Simple Life, your mind floods with the desire to do ‘all of the above’. You want to be a homemaker, but you also want to grow a big garden, can and preserve the harvest, run errands and cook for elderly or sick neighbors, and become the town’s next mayor.

In addition to all of that, you want to be actively involved in the Secret Santa group. You want to take day trips with your family, and have cabinets filled with homemade cleaning products. And don’t forget – you still offered to mentor a friend in knitting and promised to organize the committee for the new park.

Are you tired yet? You should be. And if you are, then something has to give. You need to pick and choose which things are of the absolute most important to you and allow some of the other things slide.

Setting priorities for a Simple Life comes down to your passions. What is it you are passionate about? Is it your home? You family? Growing a garden? Determine which you are most passionate about and start there.

Mix and Match with Care

side table with a blue glass lamp and pink and white floral tea set

You can, however, choose items from your different priorities. As a work-from-home person, I have a passion for a lot of things. But I had to find a balance. To do that, I pay close attention to the process of setting priorities for a Simple Life.

I love maintaining my home, but I also have a passion for writing and gardening. I think it would be fun and interesting to join a committee to make improvements in my community, too. However, one look at my schedule tells me there isn’t enough time. Committee work take quite a bit of it, and I am not passionate enough about it to sign up.

Start with what you are most passionate about. Work on making time to accomplish the things within that focus. Eventually, you will have it down to a science, and find it takes less time in the day.

Then, and only then, take a look at your next priority. Choose something you would like to add. Then mix and match with care. Consider the new item thoughtfully. How much time does it take? What will be the cost? Will it eventually take too much time? Or will it fit comfortably within your overall goals for your Simple Life?

Make sure what you are adding doesn’t take away from your first priority. And if it does, then either set is aside for later consideration, or let it slide altogether.  Setting priorities for a Simple Life doesn’t mean doing only one thing. It is about how to balance what you do.

Letting It Slide

bottle of Mr Clean, can of Comet, spray bottle, Old English furniture polish

One thing I enjoy having on hand is homemade cleaning and bath products. They really are good for the environment and can be made easily. In some cases, they can be less expensive.

The problem I discovered is that some of them work well. Some don’t. Because I truly need and want my house to be clean, I chose to purchase them instead. Rather than spray bottles filled with vinegar and lemon juice, I ‘dance’ on a regular basis with Mr. Clean.

I have my reasons. First, no matter what I use, I still have to purchase the supplies. With Mr. Clean, I come home, put him in the cabinet, and finish unloading the grocery bags. When the bags are unloaded, I move to the next item on my Things to Do list.

With homemade products, I set aside the supplies. Once I finish unloading groceries, I go in search of the spray bottles. I then dirty up at least a funnel, a spoon and a measuring cup. I spend time mixing, shaking, and washing up the utensils. Then I can put them in the cabinet and move forward.

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I just spent about 15 to 30 minutes (depending on how many different cleaning products I need to make), before working on the next item on my agenda for the day. With Mr. Clean, I use that time to accomplish something else.

The second reason I don’t make many of my own cleaning products is the effectiveness. Cleaning products do a good job. But in some cases, you have to use more, and spend more time scrubbing, than you do with an OTC product.

The third reason I use OTC (and absolutely have a ‘love affair’ with Mr. Clean) is the smell. Yes. I can use essential oils in my cleaning products. But I love lavender, and the Country Boy doesn’t. He has no issue with the smell of pine, but I can’t stand it. We had to find a compromise, and Mr. Clean (the green Febreeze kind) won.

I let creating homemade cleaning and bath products slide. I discovered they weren’t actually a priority, and the time I saved was put to better use doing other things I truly wanted to do.

What Living a Simple Life is and Isn’t

Living a Simple Life isn’t about quitting your job and becoming a homemaker. It isn’t about trying to live like your grandma did back in the 30s, 40s, or 50s. It isn’t about trying to do it all.

It is about slowing down and living a purpose and passion-driven life. This is done by setting priorities for a Simple Life. Trying to ‘do it all’ negates that ‘slowing down’ part. Instead, you are just exchanging one type of busyness for another.

Let’s face it. Even if we want to be, we aren’t Superheroes. We have our limitations. The key is knowing what our passions are, and where we place our priorities.

The One Priority You NEED to Set (and in Stone!)

setting priorities for a simple life with a white tea set with pink and blue flowers, open book of poetry. purple and pink flower arrangement to reflect actively pursuing a simple life

It doesn’t matter what your passion or priority is, there is one thing you need to include when setting priorities for a Simple Life. It is the priority of resting.

Even living a Simple Life can be busy. You may have completed the assignment of setting priorities for a Simple Life, but that doesn’t mean you have time on your hands.

Taking a daily break should be a requirement. It is a time to rest our minds and bodies. We are given a chance to reflect. An opportunity to breathe.

I make a habit of taking Afternoon Tea. During this time, I do most everything but work. I read a book or listen to podcasts. Time is spent working on a craft project or exploring a new one. And other days, I do absolutely nothing. I just breathe and relax. I enjoy my surroundings, or the symphony of Nature.

By taking this time to rest, I can rejuvenate my mind, body, and spirit. Then I can stand up and go back to my day with a fresh perspective. And I tend to be more productive the remainder of the day.

Take the time to rest. It may take time to get in the habit, but once you do, you will appreciate the time more than you can imagine.

The One that Falls by the Wayside

white plate with yellow dogwood flowers filled with two cookies; a crochet scarf in progress

As you begin setting priorities for a Simple Life, there always seems to be one we want to set but tends to fall by the wayside. For me, it is working on my crafts.

As a creative person, it hurts my heart to do it. But in my own Simple Life, I have found that crafting handmade gifts and items for the home has no choice but to be the last item on my priority list. I have too many other things I want and need to accomplish during the day.

This doesn’t mean I can no longer create things with my hands. It simply means that I do it during my downtime.

Instead of giving it up altogether, I use my Afternoon Tea to work on a project. I have also set 7 o’clock in the evening to end the work portion of my day. From that point forward, I settle in with a craft project. The Country Boy and I talk about our day and make plans for the next one. Or we discuss things we may want to do.

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It isn’t that handmade items aren’t a priority. They are. I create gifts, items for my home, and even use the crochet pot scrubbers as business cards. But I work them in when I can.

Yours may not be handmade gifts. It may mean researching a new passion. It could be you truly want to complete an item on your Bucket List. There are any number of things we want to do but don’t have the time.

If you are working on setting priorities for a Simple Life, it’s okay to let one fall by the wayside. If it is becoming a true priority, use your Afternoon Tea or evening down time to work on it.

Or, just let it fall by the wayside altogether. Just know that when the time is right, you can pick it up and try again.

 The Caveat When Setting Priorities for a Simple Life

small container garden with assorted pots filled with marigolds, purple pansies, white cammomile

It doesn’t matter what our priorities are. There are still things we have to do, whether we want to or not. Keep these things in mind when setting priorities for a Simple Life.

We still have to keep our homes clean. To prevent spending your entire weekend catching up, create a daily cleaning schedule. Your house stays manageably clean, and you still have plenty of time to pursue your priorities.

If you love the idea of growing your own food, but don’t have the time or space for a garden, then offer yourself a compromise. Create a small container garden area and grow what you love the most. This can be herbs, a tomato plant, or fresh greens.

If that is still too much, then schedule a weekly trip to the local farmers’ market. That way, you can have your fresh tomatoes and eat them, too!

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Bills must be paid. Having a system in place can save you time. It can also keep your electric service from being discontinued due to non-payment.

And we still need to eat but restaurants are cost prohibitive. Learn to create meal plans and take a weekend to stock your freezer with ready-made meals. You can combine this effort with spending time with friends. Have a baking weekend of a Food Swap.

Whether you want to or not, you need to keep these daily requirements in mind when setting priorities for a Simple Life.

Make Your Simple Life Work for You

measuring cups filled with oil, nuts, strawberries; fresh brown eggs; bowl of flour

My simple life is going to be different from yours. And yours will be different from someone else’s. You just have to determine what you want and need from yours.

From there, choose from your strongest passion and begin setting priorities for a Simple Life. Focus on getting good at that one thing. And once you are comfortable, then add to it.

You don’t have to do it all. Letting things slide or go by the wayside is perfectly acceptable. One key to setting priorities for a Simple Life is to manage them so you have time to slow down and enjoy it. Adding too much will keep you from doing that.

Instead, choose wisely, when you begin setting priorities for a Simple Life. Add to it when you can, and always remember to take time to rest. Once you do those few things, you will begin to master the true art of living a Simple Life, which is to simply Relax and Enjoy!

Julie Murphree is a blogger, newspaper columnist, and speaker on all things ‘Living a Simple Life on the Farm’. She is the author of \\\'The Farm Wife – Living a Simple Life on the Farm. She and her husband have 60 acres in NW Louisiana where they actively work on living as sustainable as possible.

2 Comments

  1. I have read & enjoyed this entry before & now once again. When thinking about letting some things go (purchasing instead of diy), I have found it easier to do when I can purchase them from someone else attempting to live a simple life & specializing in making them. For instance, I buy our natural bar soap from a husband & wife in NY who gave up city careers to pursue country living, selling their homemade products at Farm Mkts & online. Win-win for both of us!

    1. Sharon – I LOVE that you support others who are trying to live a Simple Life, rather than filling corporate pockets! It is definitely a win/win!

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