9 Realistic Tips To Simplify Your Life
A ten-minute read: realistic, simple living tips to reduce the overwhelm and instead live a simpler, more joyful life.
I was beating myself up about being so unorganized. Again.
I just couldn’t keep up.
With the house. The finances. The meals. The kid’s activities. Forgetting important things and
feeling like I was losing my mind.
The daily schedules were full. And I couldn’t ever really relax.
There was always stuff that I should be doing. An endless to-do list.
And don’t get me started on the clutter lurking around the house.
I desperately craved less stress and chaos. And the ability to switch off. To enjoy the most important things in life and to be fully present.
Turns out, that being unorganized wasn’t really the problem.
I was just completely and utterly overwhelmed. With life. And all the moving parts.
I wanted a simpler, calmer life, but didn’t quite know where to start.
Do you just start throwing out all your belongings, cease all commitments and wear the same clothes each day?
But it turns out that there is nothing at all simple about simplifying your life.
It’s an eye-opening, and often slow journey. But one I wish I had begun sooner.
So if you’re starting out on your own simple living journey, or if you've been struggling with the concept, here are 9 realistic tips to get you started. You won’t regret it.
1. Get Clear on Your Most Important 'Things'
There are limited hours in the day. Despite advances in technology, this isn’t going to change.
And often once you finally get all the 'urgent' stuff done ...well, there isn't much time left in the day, is there?
Get reacquainted with the most important areas of your life and ask yourself if you’re giving them the time they deserve.
Rework your daily schedule to include your top priorities and work everything else around them, instead of the other way round.
If you’re struggling to get clear on your priorities, the quickest and best, no-nonsense way is to build your own mission statement. You can do it here at Franklin Covey….it will take about 15 minutes....
I’ll wait right here.
And, if you're already clear on your priorities, but struggle to balance all the most important areas of your life, check out this article on creating a Balanced Life.
While technology has brought a whole set of complications to modern day life, it’s supposed to be a convenience. So, use it to your advantage.
Set & forget errands such as:
- Bill payments
- Savings & debt repayments
- Medical & dental check-ups that can be automatically scheduled in advance
- Automotive services and house maintenance, such as pest inspections, carpet cleaning etc - these can all be pre-scheduled.
Basically, anything you can set up and automate will remove it from your to-do list and simplify your life.
3. Set Up Simple Routines:
Love them or hate them, routines can make life so much easier.
They can save you time and money, keep you organized and reduce the overwhelm.
But it’s also easy to get a bit carried away.
Setting up elaborate or ridged routines will only make life boring, tedious and even more stressful.
Don’t do that.
Keep it simple and flexible and pick a few routines that will truly simplify life for you.
- What areas of your life aren’t working for you right now? (are your finances a mess? not 'finding' time to exercise?)
- What routines will save you time and money? (are you often paying late fees? wasting food?)
- What tasks do you find boring and mundane? (cleaning? laundry?)
Check out this post about working out the Routines you Actually Need
4. Reduce the Physical Clutter:
Decluttering is hard. The ‘stuff’ seems to quickly accumulate and before you know it, it’s gotten out of control.
Unless you have uninterrupted time to dedicate an entire weekend (who does and who really would want to?) then let’s start by being realistic.
Work out a plan to start working through your home, one room/one drawer at a time, creating quick-wins and building momentum.
Related Article: How To Declutter Your Home Fast
Small but consistent steps is the key here.
5. Reduce the Mental Clutter:
While not as ‘in your face’ as the physical clutter that you can see around your home, the mental clutter is probably even more harmful on your quest to simple living.
Those unanswered emails, those calls you need to return, that endless to-do list…..your brain is aware that they are unfinished tasks, they’re incomplete and basically causing a mental mess!
Never. Letting. Your. Mind. Rest.
The best way to counteract this is to do a brain dump of all your ‘incompletes’:
Be sure to include:
- Projects and hobbies not yet started, or half completed
- Calls to make, emails to answer, appointments to make, thank-you notes to send,
- Any little thing you have been putting off or haven’t had time to do.
Don’t make multiple, elaborate lists. And you don’t need a fancy notebook.
Getting it down on paper in the one place does wonders for reducing the mental clutter you’ve been carrying, and you often find that some things are no longer relevant (e.g. that crochet Koala project I thought I wanted to complete) and you can let them go.
Prioritise your ‘incompletes’, and make a plan to work your way through them.
6. Reduce the Digital Clutter:
Is your computer and digital life also a source of clutter?
Take a look at your computer - your emails, your photos and important documents. Are they all neatly arranged? Is it easy to find a document quickly or are you left scrambling to find it?
Go through your computer and set up a filing system that works for you.
Declutter all files and documents that you no longer need and organize what's left in a way that makes sense to you.
I find that organizing by topic and then date order makes it easier to find documents quickly.
7. Reduce the Emotional Clutter:
Just like clearing your physical, mental and digital clutter from your life, you also need to reduce the emotional clutter that you carry around with you.
Whilst this is a whole different topic for another day, I will say that:
- negative talk,
- negative people,
- negative news articles, television shows and movies
can all affect your ability to simplify your life.
Because, let’s face it - they all just create unnecessary stress and drama.
Be aware of how such things affect you and reduce your exposure to them as much as possible.
Instead, focus on surrounding yourself with positivity.
While life can't always be rainbows and cupcakes, you can control what you listen to, read and watch. It's amazing the difference it can make.
8. Make Sure your Goals have a Strong 'Why'
There is no denying that goals can take up a lot of time and energy – so make sure you really want them.
Revisit your ‘why’ for any future or current goals that you may have.
Be honest with yourself and realistic as to what they will mean for you.
Do you really want to achieve them or just the idea of them?
Is the time and energy required to complete the goal worth it to you?
You may find that a goal you thought you always wanted to achieve one day, was no longer important to you. Or you may just need to pivot?
If so, let it go and clear up the mental clutter of that long-held goal, leaving yourself open to think about goals that are more in line with what you truly want.
9. Learn to say 'No' more often:
Do you over-commit to activities, events, weekend catch-ups?
Perhaps accepting invitations and when it comes to the day…. you don’t want to actually do it? Feeling guilty if you back out, or worse, resenting having to go?
The best advice I was ever given about this, is that when being asked/invited/pressured, don’t commit there and then.
Gracefully accept the invite and let the person know that you have to check ‘your calendar’ before committing. It provides you time to really think if it’s a priority for you and if you want to attend.
Therefore, saving the time in your schedule for your most important things.
Embrace Simple Living
For me, one of the biggest benefits of simplifying life is being able to reduce the stress and overwhelm.
By setting up routines to handle the process type tasks of life and automating everything that you can, you will find more time available to focus on the most important things in life to you.
Living a simpler life allows you to be more present with loved ones, as you know that everything else has been simplified and taken care of.
Whilst your to-do list will never fully go away, your surroundings are uncluttered, your mind is uncluttered and everything in your control is taken care of…. leaving you to be fully present and enjoy life.