When you simplify your life amazing things happen. Your stress level goes down, things feel more in control, you have better relationships. But how do you even figure out where to begin? Your life is complicated, cluttered, and overwhelming! Simple living in modern times seems impossible. There are expectations from ourselves and others to be managed, responsibilities, and don’t even get me started about work and maintaining relationships. But when life feels so un-simple figuring out any way to simplify it is just as frustrating.
When starting my simplification journey, I was always on the search for easy ways to simplify that didn’t require living off grid without running water. The ones I’ve listed below are 20 of my favorite ways. Of course, I have more, but I really didn’t want the length to get out of hand since that would take away from the point of creating some simplicity. 20 is a good number, so we’re just going to stick with that.
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Create a list of goals
Half of us feel like we’re just floating through our days, just going through the motions. As humans, we need something to strive for, but life seems to have gotten so busy, many of us forget that. Make a list of goals. Make a bucket list. Create lists and aspirations to ground yourself enough to figure out where you want to be heading. They can be huge goals (like traveling to every country in the world) or smaller (like learning how to play the ukulele).
Declutter your online world
We spend so much of our time online, that it can be overwhelming when it gets cluttered. Get rid of unneeded apps, delete emails, unsubscribe to things you don’t care about anymore, and unfollow people and things that make you feel like less than inspired. You’re not obligated to participate with, be friends with, or see anything that make your world dimmer and more disappointing. You’ve already got enough on your plate, digital clutter doesn’t need to add to it.
Do a life audit
If you want to simplify your life you’ve got to take a look at what is happening in your life. Is it moving in a direction you want? Are your goals attainable on the path your taking? Is there something you could do to make your life feel smoother? Or even better, is there something you could REMOVE from your life to make it run smoother? Really examine what is currently happening in your life and adjust the things that aren’t going right. It’s your life, you need to occasionally edit and revise it, it’s okay.
Clean your space
It’s hard to do anything when your space is a mess. Take an hour right now and pick up your clothes, wipe down your counters, scrub your toilets, and put away your things. It’s pretty much impossible to live a calm and collected life, if you’re living in a bio hazard for a home. In a clean and orderly environment you’re going to be calmer + more focused. It’s true! Science has proven it over and over.
Get rid of your clutter
If you want to simplify your life you’ve got to simplify your space. That’s pretty much a no brainer. They say that our environment represent our internal mindset. If your space is overrun with clutter and messes, what does that say about your mental state. Chaos attracts chaos. Calm attracts calm. Reduce your clutter and reduce your chaos. Start striving for that clutter free and therefore, calmer home.
Start small if you need to. Maybe begin with an area that causes you a bit of frustration any time you use it. For instance, if your make up space is a cluttered mess, fix it. It’s stressful to deal with that first thing in the morning and we always seem to have more make up than we need, or we realize. I think when you begin the process to simplify your life, this is the easiest place to start because you can immediately see changes.
Also, try simplifying the things you hate. If you hate doing laundry, reduce the amount of clothes you own, rewear clothing between washes, limit yourself to two towels. Figure out a system that works for you and simplify the chores you despise.
Declutter your closet
And speaking of simplifying your clothes, really go through your closet. It helps eliminate a hundred extra decisions to make a day. Many of the most successful people have a “uniform” that they wear every day to help minimize decision fatigue. Having a simple wardrobe filled only with things you love and use makes you feel more confident and less overwhelmed. You’ll suddenly always have enough to wear and it’ll be less stressful in the mornings to find your other shoe. Laundry will be easier. And that chair in your room will likely have less clean laundry piling on it every day.
Do a brain dump
Sometimes I find that my mind is so full of thoughts and clutter that I can’t figure out what I’m even thinking anymore. At those times I do a brain dump. Grab a piece of paper and a pen and just write out everything that is cluttering up your mind. Sometimes the lists are longer than a CVS receipt, but still! write out the jumbled thoughts you have about work, friends, shows, to do lists, whatever. Just get everything out and then take a breath. Sometimes just getting it out there can help your brain feel less like a construction zone run by screaming chickens.
Fresh air, vitamin D, nature, and exercise. All are important, all improve your quality of life + improve your mood. Even if you can only get out for 10 minutes a day, you’ll see improvement in your well-being. It is important that there is more than your work, friends, family, and stressors. Not to mention it puts life in perspective. Simply put, the world keeps turning, nature continues, no matter your problems it’ll keep moving for. So take more time to stop and smell the roses and you may find that when you take a moment to slow down, your life may follow suit.
Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.Lao Tzu
Make your bed daily
This may seem silly, but a small consistent routine can make a big difference in your days. Also, on a bad day, which are inevitable no matter how simple your life is, it really is lovely coming home to a fresh made bed that is ready for you to crawl in. Planning ahead for those little things (like a bad day) can help prevent a bad work day from turning into a bad week. I guess I feel like it’s mental health damage control.
*Edit* studies have now shown that people who make their bed daily are more productive and happier with their work than those that don’t. It’s true!
Reading keeps your mind sharp. It keeps your imagination fluid and keeps you innovative. Today that is even more important than the past. It also provides an escape of some sort. You get to experience someone else’s story, learn and gain insights from them, and grow as a person. If you don’t think you have time to read, my friend, you are so wrong. Audiobooks are easily available now from the library, Amazon’s Audible app, or many sources. Simple living doesn’t mean you stagnate. You still should grow, life is always evolving, so should you.
You are a continually evolving human with immeasurable potential – don’t waste it by refusing to grow. Read more, learn more, and try more.
Meditation has numerous benefits, not least of which is an improved sense of calm and purpose. When the world is spinning so fast you feel like you can’t keep up, taking 5 minutes to come back to center keeps things in perspective. You may not be able to control what is happening around you. But by simply keeping yourself grounded + calmer you’re less likely to freak out. Which when everyone and everything around you seems to be freaking out, life is just so much simpler.
Pamper yourself once in a while.
Life is about balance. And life is meant to be enjoyed. You’re not here to just survive or deprive yourself of the fancy things in life. Enjoy some cake, take a bubble bath, take yourself out to brunch. Obviously, excess pampering can lead to more trouble (like for your bank account), but a little recreation never hurts anyone.
Get your finances together
Okay, nothing is more stressful than having messy finances. It can lead to not knowing how you’re going to pay bills or leave you stuck with a month of eating only ramen. It may not be super simple to get them figured out/under control but once they are, your life will be so much simpler. Start by figuring out what you want your life to look like financially. Then begin tracking what you spend your money on, make a budget, and automate you monthly payments. Then begin to grow an emergency fund.
Detox from social media
Social media has be finally proven to cause increased rates of stress, anxiety, and depression. It can be hard to remember that much of social media is staged. Thus, you’re only the highlight reel of someone else’s life. If you find yourself getting sucked into the black hole of obsessively scrolling, wait for likes, comment, and shares, it may be time to take a time out from social media. You deserve to live a good and fulfilling life, so take a break from social media and go create your own amazing highlight reel. When you simplify your life, you find that you don’t want to make room for that negativity and you’ll begin to see that building a life you love is more important than your FOMO.
Take some time to relax
If you are always running at 100 miles an hour, you’re going to crash at 100 miles per hour. That’s going to be a much more distressing mental crash than if you just slow down a bit and take some time to breathe and relax. I promise that you’ll still be busy (mainly because you keep making yourself ridiculously so) tomorrow so you can take a nap for an hour. It won’t kill you, instead it’ll actually help. Relaxing, even in times of busy, keeps your to-do lists feeling manageable and keep you more balanced and happier. Relaxing isn’t lazy either. Relaxing keeps your brain from over heating and exploding.
Identify your priorities
Did you know that the word priority didn’t have a plural form until rather recently? Yeah, turns out we have been creating too many “priorities” in our lives. Surprise, surprise. Sit down and really try to identify what you truly prioritize. What do you value? Is your job really your priority? How about your travels? Whatever you decide is very personal and 100% your decision. There is no right or wrong answer. Once you identify what are truly your priorities, you can begin to eliminate or reduce the non-important things. That in it of itself creates a simpler life.
Work on accepting yourself. Accept the things you cannot change. Start accepting that you cannot change others’ behaviors, only your reactions to them. Accept that you have limitations but also accept that you can change something important. Honestly, when you can accept things like this, your path forward becomes less cluttered. Simplifying is about illuminating the way a little better. A path that is less full of non-necessities and a bunch of bs. Simplify your life by accepting what you cannot control and I promise you, you’ll feel so much better.
If you want to know more about accepting yourself, check out my Self-Acceptance post here!
Delegate when needed and possible.
You can’t do everything. I mean you can try, but it’s definitely not simple. When possible relinquish some control and delegate. Ask for help when you can’t do everything. And you can’t simplify your life when you expect yourself to do everything. You can ask your colleagues or friends to edit a presentation for you. Or you can ask your roommate to pick up some eggs for you at the store when they’re already going. If you have the cash flow you could even hire a personal assistant for a day. Apps like Fiverr let’s you pay people to do simple tasks for you. Humans are social creatures, we are designed to do things as a group and to need help once in a while.
Clean as you go.
This is something my grandmother instilled in me from a young age. (Not that I really listened until I got older).Cleaning up as you go is so much easier. Your dishes are done before your meal is even out of the oven. Your living room rarely looks like a hurricane ripped through it. After moving in with my boyfriend I realized not everyone lives like this. It was the most stressful part of moving in together and after several arguments and time *cough* 2 years *cough* he finally agreed with me. When you clean as you go, cleaning seemingly takes no time or energy. When you leave until later, it builds and it becomes so overwhelming it’s paralyzing. Not only that but it takes hours, rather than seconds or minutes. Can you imagine how much stress that would relieve for you?
Enjoy the journey.
As cheesy as it is, life really is about the journey. You don’t want to wake up in 30 years and realize that you accomplished everything you wanted and still aren’t happy. Being destination happy only makes you happy when you’re looking towards something else. That’s not sustainable and it brings a lot of stress and worry. Enjoy you good moments, your small wins, and your mundane days. Let your life unfold in beautiful moments and don’t miss the good things by staying focused on your final destination. True happiness comes from the little moments added up over time. Don’t miss them. Your life is getting ready to bloom, you can’t rush it or you’ll miss the whole thing.
That all being said, simplifying doesn’t have to be hard. Often it is just the constant decision to maintain simplicity. Life will always have ups and downs, and simplifying is a journey; not a destination. You can easily start this list today just by making a conscious decision to make life easier and better for yourself. When you simplify your life you really, truly can help make space in your life for what matters most. Whether your struggling online, at home, or just inside your own head, there is always a way to simplify. Life is simple, it’s the humans that make it complicated.
So get rid of the things that don’t matter to you, take a deep breath, and prioritize creating a life you genuinely love.