Learning how to simplify your life when you need to can reap some serious benefits in all departments.
I had a conversation with my mom a few weeks ago about how I miss the type of life I never had. Things like getting together with fellow women to scrub laundry and chatting about everything under the sun. I don’t really miss scrubbing laundry by hand…In reality what I miss and crave in life is simplicity, connection. Do you feel the same?
We live in a time now where we often have every hour planned out to the minute and if we happen to have time to “spare,” we fill it with social media, Netflix or some other sort of digital addiction.
If you’re feeling anxious, overwhelmed or stressed, due to all the moving parts in your life, you’ll appreciate these 19 actionable tips for simplifying your life.
Related reads and resources that will help you simplify your life this year:
- FREE Evergreen Printable Budget Binder
- Marriage + Money – Eight Tips You Don’t Want to Hear
- Three Ignored Marriage-Must-Do’s That Lead to Porn
- Want a Stronger Marriage? These Three Books Will Change the Way You Do Marriage – For the Better!
- The Seven Bank Accounts Every Family Should Have
- Three Things Distancing Me From Heaven – A Letter to Latter-Day-Saints
Life isn’t perfect, that’s a given, but every once in awhile I get this heavy feeling in my chest that makes me want to run, fight or hide from something. I’ve learned that I get this awful feeling when I’ve got too much going on.
More importantly, I’ve learned that most of the time it’s not just the busyness of my schedule, but rather things that I’m not doing that are complicating my life. Perhaps you feel the same?
Below I’ve listed 20 ways to simplify your life, but please don’t try to shove them in (or quit them) all at once. Take a look at the list and decide on the ones that will benefit you the most and start with those.
20 ways to simplify your life this year
1. Watch less tv (or Netflix or hulu or amazon prime or...)
TV is such a time waster! Imagine all the awesome things you could do with all the time you spend watching TV each week. You could work on making some extra money, or you could improve your marriage by actually spending time with your spouse instead of just being in the same room… the list is endless!
I implemented this tip for simplifying life last week and BOY have the benefits been incredible. My husband and I were watching on average, one and a half to two hours of TV each night. Sound familiar? I know we aren’t the only ones…
Guys! That’s about 14 hours a week in zombie mode. Just over a week and a half and we have had our butts parked on the sofa for a full 24 hours. That equals roughly two and a half days a month, and about 30 days out of a year.
If you are feeling the urge to simplify your life, cutting back on TV is as simple as a push of a button (or lack thereof).
2. Get off social media + put your phone down
I could talk until I was blue in the face about the negative effects of social media and smartphones. I remember the first time I was phone snubbed in high school by my best friend. Here we are ten years later with social media addictions and phone snubbing as the social norm-while suicide rates and mental health issues are on the rise.
The influence of the adversary is too easily introduced into our lives through social media. Pornography is ever present on Instagram while Snap-chat is too often the medium used to send personal nudes to others. There is a multitude of benefits that would come from getting rid of those two apps alone.
A simple, though perhaps not easy way of simplifying your life would be to take a social media fast. Get the apps off your phone completely, go through the withdrawals as eloquently as you can (because oh baby, they’re real). Then when they are over, enjoy the peace and quiet you feel in your heart and mind that comes from not comparing yourself to everyone else’s best, and having a constant stream of media influence pour into your mind.
It’s definitely not easy at first, but I think you’ll really enjoy the benefits that come from taking a break indefinitely from social media. I do this a few times a year and am always shocked to find out just how addicted I was. It is totally one simplification that is worth every effort.
3. Pay Off Debt
I’ve talked about getting out of debt a lot on the blog (like here and here for example) because consumer debt is the worst kind of ball and chain. It is a social norm that ruins marriages and is detrimental to families.
Imagine how much simpler life would be if you weren’t worried about meeting your minimum payments this month.
A lot of the stress we feel and the chaos that consumes our minds comes from debt. Being indebted to someone else is literally a mental prison.
Perhaps you’ll need to do something bold so you can get out of debt quicker. Maybe you’ll have to sell your car and buy something used, or perhaps you’ll have to go on a major spending freeze while you tackle your credit card debt.
Whatever it is, getting out of debt is one of the best ways to simplify your life for good.
4. Quit being a victim
Do a lot of bad things happen to you? Are a lot of people rude to you and seem to wrong you time after time? The solution to this might be a quick self-assessment through a magnifying glass- you’re a professional victim.
Whether or not bad things have happened to you is not the point. Dwelling on those things that have happened to you or the things people said or did to you is the issue. It is such a waste of energy!
Holding on to those negative feelings and stroking your grudge is not going to make you feel better or improve your future. Nor does it help you simplify your life. All it does is complicate relationships with those who are willing to spend time with you despite your negativity. Don’t burn the bridges you do have!
It’s definitely so much easier said than done, but if this sounds like something you are struggling with work on letting go of the things you are currently spending time stewing over.
If you have problems with certain people, pick one person at a time and work on finding ten things a day you appreciate about that person. This small exercise can help train your mind to find the positive no matter the circumstances instead of dwelling on the negative.
Learning to say positive things, see others in a positive way and look at your life through rose colored glasses is a wonderful way to simplify your life.
5. Eat Healthy as a way to simplify your life
God put us on this planet with a bunch of healthy foods to help take care of bodies. Then man got
smart dumb and made the Pop-Tart.
Eating healthy foods will simplify your life by making you feel better. And when you feel better, you will have more energy for what really matters to you.
Processed foods often have so much sugar in them that after you eat them you experience a massive drop in your blood sugar resulting in that lovely groggy, “meh” feeling that we all know too well.
Start small by incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet as snacks and as you get used to that, start cooking with fresh fruits and vegetables instead of processed and packaged foods. After a while, it will become so easy to cook with fresh produce and meat that you’ll wonder how you ever survived so long on processed nonsense.
6. Read more Books
There is so much knowledge out there to be gained by reading good books. When is the last time you sat down with an awesome page-turner?
Reading a good book is also a wonderful alternative to spending time on social media. Your mind is able to focus on a story or be elevated by new ideas, but above all, just settle down-which is impossible on social media.
While reading a book you aren’t thinking about or comparing your imperfect life to someone else’s filtered life, nor are you planning ways to post a filtered version of your own life to inflate your ego (if even only subconsciously).
When it’s just you and a good book, great things happen.
7. Downsize your closet
I absolutely love this new minimalism trend that has hit like a storm, don’t you? I’ve felt so much inner peace by just having less stuff.
Go through your closet and get rid of anything you haven’t worn in six to eight months (unless you’re pregnant, then girl you’ve got to wait longer). That allows the weather to do its thing through different seasons and for you to realize what you’re needlessly hanging on to.
I’ve learned that having fewer options for things to wear has been a great benefit. We are doing less laundry, it makes choosing something to wear super simple and keeps the overall clutter down in my home.
One thing I love about getting rid of old stuff is that it makes room for new things in my life, whether that be a cleaner house, new clothes or less laundry, it’s all a welcome change.
8. Declutter your closets
I have a game closet that just makes my skin crawl every time I walk past it. Just thinking about it makes me edgy. It needs a major overhaul, and it’s going to take a while.
Perhaps you also have a few closets in your own home that require a hard hat just to crack the door open? Decide a date to clean them out – then do it. Here are a couple of closet organization ideas to get your brain thinking:
9. Declutter Everything with a bad vibe
I don’t mean to just declutter physical items, I mean to declutter everything in your current life that is weighing you down. Good vibes only!
At my rec volleyball game last week, we were comparing steps with each other on our smartwatches when one of my friends said “I quit wearing mine. I was only averaging 2,000 steps a day. I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life!”
We all had a good laugh, but it got me thinking, she totally has a point. Every time I don’t meet my daily step goal I feel a small pang of disappointment. I never felt that until I had something tracking (literally) my every step.
What types of negativity are you hanging on to just because they are “supposed to, one day” help you do, be, or look better? Maybe it is your Fit Bit like my friend or your gym pass that you never use. Perhaps it’s a subscription to a service you don’t use anymore or weekly commitments with the neighbors you just don’t want to keep up anymore.
Get rid of it! Get rid of it all and start with a clean slate. Then over time, intentionally add the things back into your life that are going to help you love yourself more fully and truthfully.
10. Pray More to simplify your life
There is a God out there that loves you more than you can fathom. He wants the best for you and can guide you to the correct decisions to help simplify your life if you choose to seek his guidance.
I don’t know about you, but I am pulled in so many directions each day, my head feels like it’s on a swivel. The guidance of Heavenly Father is a welcome aid in this crazy world.
As I’ve tried to hand my life over to the Lord and seek guidance and direction from Him I’ve learned that what is best for me always falls into place and everything else falls out. I know the same will happen for you if you try.
If you need to simplify your life this year, but don’t know how, pray and then pray again.
11. Schedule alarms and reminders on your smart watch or google calendar - Seriously, dO IT
My college life was rigid and scheduled nearly down to the minute. I never slept through a volleyball practice and I was only nearly late to weights once in five years. Fast forward to motherhood and I swear I’m brainless. Sound familiar?
Life is busy. We need reminders. And that’s totally OK! Technology has come so far that we literally can get reminders right on our smartwatches. Take advantage of that!
There are very few things more frustrating than forgetting about an appointment or some other important commitment. Set reminder alarms on your smartwatch, set reminders on your phone, set them on your computer, write them down on the calendar hanging in your kitchen.
Having multiple reminders helps you be where you need to be when you said you’d be there. And that alone takes a lot of stress off your shoulders and simplifies your life.
12. Organize the paper clutter
I would bet that mega stack of papers on your counter is a mix between bills waiting to be paid, medical statements, coupons, and your kids’ artwork. Am I right?
Keeping a stack of paper clutter around adds a lot of stress to your life. The clutter is incredibly annoying but more importantly, the bills just chilling in that stack of paper too often miss their due dates.
Go through that stack on the counter and file away what needs to be saved into one of those cheap file folders you can tuck in a drawer, then pay the bills and throw everything else away.
And my incredibly organized sister tells me that the secret to keeping it from stacking up again is to become a “do it now” type of paper clutter person.
When the mailman brings junk mail, throw it away – right then! When the kids bring their paperwork home from school, take care of it – right then! When bills come, pay them, then file them away- right then. I’m sure you’ll love seeing your countertop again.
13. Set up and (actually) fund your emergency fund
There is so much heartache that accompanies an emergency in life. During the loss of a loved one, or loss of a job, wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t have to worry about finances at all?
People have been encouraged to save up for a time in need since the beginning of time, yet roughly only 40% of Americans could cover an emergency expense of $1,000 if it were to crop up.
Please don’t wait for something devastating to happen to finally learn you should have saved money for a time in need. Three to six month’s worth of expenses would provide you and your loved ones with the much-needed peace and comfort in case something went terribly wrong.
As for all the other things we pretend are emergencies (but aren’t), such as the car breaking down, a home repair or new clothes, just make a few extra accounts for things like that so you can save your emergency fund for what it’s truly intended for- emergencies.
14. Take a "Think weekend"
My hubby and I got this idea from the documentary “Inside Bill’s Brain-Decoding Bill Gates” and think it’s absolutely fabulous.
Every once in a while, Bill Gates takes what he calls a “think week.” He loads up a bag of books and takes off to a tiny cabin somewhere by himself and dedicates the coming week to thinking and learning.
I would imagine that realistically for most people, an entire week would be hard to do more than once a year, but a weekend is definitely do-able. You could snag a last-minute deal at a nearby hotel and spend the weekend with some books just destressing and learning.
Doesn’t that sound like a wonderful way to simplify your life by simplifying what’s going on in your head?
15. Wake up early
“When you realize who you really are, you’ll be sorry you didn’t try harder.” – President Henry B. Eyring
I was jolted out of my lazy slumber by that quote last week. It just hit me like a ton of bricks. Why aren’t I taking advantage of the wee hours of the morning so I can have a few hours to myself? Why aren’t I trying harder? Whoooo am I?
If you ask any successful person, they would probably tell you to get up early. Getting up early plays an integral part in successful people’s careers. I would also guess that they play an integral part in happy people’s lives as well.
The early hours of the morning allow time to exercise, eat breakfast and have some personal time before the family wakes up or you hit the office for the day. Those are all very important things for overall health. And filling your own cup first is a wonderful way to simplify your life.
Some things never change. It will always be a good idea to exercise and always be a bad idea to be a couch potato.
In high school, I remember my sports medicine teacher saying one day that people who run typically don’t run because they like running, they do it because they love how they feel afterward.
Having an active lifestyle has so many benefits, It pumps your body with endorphins (a.k.a. the feel-good hormones…who wouldn’t want those babies?), it can keep your weight down and your self-esteem up, and it teaches you that you can do hard things! Not to mention it keeps your body healthy and strong so you age better, lowers your risk of cancer, heart attack, osteoporosis, and type II diabetes.
If you are looking for ways to simplify your life this year, exercising would add benefits all over the dang place!
17. Get out in nature
One of my church leaders counseled last winter to get outside even though it is harder to do in the cold months. During winter, a lot of people get seasonal depression but he said that if we would make the effort to get outside, we would feel better.
Turns out that it’s scientifically proven that being out in nature has a whole slew of benefits. It boosts your energy, is good for your vision, mitigates pain, boosts your immune system and enhances creativity… just to name a few.
If you have the opportunity to do so, try something new. Hit the mountain and go trail running, hiking or biking. If you live by the water, use that to your advantage. Whatever it is, use the beautiful outdoors to simplify your life this year.
Perhaps you’ll finally understand why people who love the outdoors call themselves “outdoor enthusiasts.”
18. Automate your bills
We live in such a busy time. Things are not going to slow down and simplify for us unless we do so intentionally. Choosing to automate our bills would take quite a few “to-do’s” off our plate.
Plus, financial stress is one of the top complaints of families and individuals so automating your bills would be a smart way to simplify your life this year.
Many companies have it set up so they will automatically withdraw the payment from your account when it’s due.
Or if you’re more comfortable working through your bank, they most likely have automatic bill pay online and will send your bills to their recipients when they are due.
Whatever you choose, automating your bills would help you pay your bills on time, could possibly help you get out of debt and would definitely take some stress away from you by simplifying your finances.
19. Really decide on your priorities to SImplify your life
I totally believe that Satan’s favorite way to pull us away from God is through distraction. There are so many things we can choose to do with our lives that it’s easy to get lost in stuff that isn’t even important to us, let alone to our Heavenly Father.
Take the time to really think about what is important to you. What are you working toward as a family? As a couple? As an individual? What are your goals? What do you want to accomplish with your time on earth? What steps are you going to take to accomplish those things?
Once you have decided on the answers to these questions, decide what in your life is helping you get there, and what is distracting you from it.
Living each day is so much simpler when we have a clear purpose and we aren’t just being tossed about by the winds of distraction and insignificance. Knowing your purpose will simplify your life this year by giving you a clear direction.
20. Talk positively to your subconcious
One of the most life-changing books I have ever read is “Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.” It talks a lot about how our thoughts have the power to mold our future.
Imagine what we could do if we believed in ourselves completely despite what everyone else thought. When it comes down to it, we are the only ones stopping us from accomplishing our goals. At the end of the day, we either keep pushing forward or give in to defeat or negative thoughts.
Definitely a bummer, but at the same time, such good news because we are in total control of our efforts! Make a plan to start talking and thinking more positively to yourself. Take the idea that your mind is a garden and you need to plant flowers instead of weeds.
You are literally a child of God with an eternal destiny and infinite worth. That is a truth that no-one can change. Telling yourself this every day with emotion and faith is sure to change your own perspective, improve your self-esteem, help you feel greater love for your family as well as feel the love of God.
Experiencing the benefits of all those things is sure to simplify your life this year.