Maybe it’s the current Kon Mari craze that’s inspired me, but today I’m sharing ten of my favorite ways to simplify your life! Specifically, ideas and practices I’ve adopted over the years to help my daily life run as smoothly as possible. This is a topic I’m passionate about – I’m constantly trying to think of ways to hack my life and to do list – and have found that focusing on less stuff, fewer commitments, and consistency to be my personal keys to living a simpler, happier life.
That said, simplifying can mean different things to different people. To some it may mean taking a “less is more” approach. To others it might mean implementing schedules, keeping lists, and staying organized. To me, simplifying means all of the above. When I think of the word ‘simple’ in how I often describe my recipes, many times it’s combined with the words ‘quick’ and ‘easy’, which is exactly how I’d describe these 10 tactics: quick and easy ways to simplify your life. Let’s dig in!
#1 Start a Grocery “Weekly List”
This awesome idea comes from Ben – it’s creating a list of staples we buy at the grocery store each week. In the past, Ben would offer to go grocery shopping for the family but I’d decline as I knew the basics we’d need – bananas, deli meat, milk, snacks etc – in my brain only. Now I have a permanent list of specific foods and brands we need to stock up on every single week so either one of us can do the weekly grocery shopping. I use Evernote which syncs to my desktop, phone, and tablet – couldn’t live without it!
#2 Create a Schedule
Scheduling everyday tasks and activities helps life feel more manageable and predictable (in a good way!) For example, I take every Friday off from work. On Saturday I take the day off from EVERYTHING, including chores. On Tuesdays and Saturdays I bathe Gwen (Ben showers the boys a few times each week.) I wash the kids’ laundry every Sunday, and Ben’s and my clothing every other Sunday. I meal plan on Thursdays. Work out the same two nights each week. We eat pizza for dinner every Friday, and order PF Chang’s takeout almost every Sunday night. Most importantly, my wine club meets every other month. #priorities Starting and sticking to a schedule for activities like these makes my days and weeks feel so much more productive and predictable (read: simple.)
#3 Own Less Stuff
I recently saw a quote that set my soul on fire: “owning less is better then organizing more”. YES! If you find yourself constantly organizing/moving stuff around – pause and ask yourself if you’d miss the object/collection in a month. If not – goodbye! I also love the saying “a place for everything and everything in its place.” For me, if there’s not an obvious, easy place for it, it’s not staying or coming into my home. Clutter stresses me out more then anything.
#4 End the Paper Trail
We choose paperless billing and statements for everything, use Venmo or Paypal as often as possible, and registered with the National Do Not Mail List to help reduce the amount of paper that comes in and out of our house. Paper is one of those things that I tend to move around in piles over and over again – drives me nuts! Starting with less paper in the first place is a big help.
#5 Automate Everything
One of my favorite ways to simplify life is automating as many things as possible – the more “oh, I can’t forget that!” items I can take off my mental plate, the better. Currently I automate the payment of monthly bills, food deliveries (I use Fish Fixe for seafood and Butcher Box for meat,) clothing deliveries via Stitch Fix, and diapers and air filters from Amazon. The sky is really the limit for this one.
#6 Reuse Dishes
I feel like I’m constantly loading and unloading the dishwasher. I mean, we do have a large family and I AM a food blogger, but it’s still out of control. Recently I’ve started reusing the same plates and bowls for each meal of the day – rinsing after meals – which has cut down on the amount of dishwasher loads like you wouldn’t believe. So for example, in the morning the boys each get a plate, bowl, and cup, then I reuse them for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Game changer.
#7 Set Alarms
Alarms – not just for waking up! I set alarms for when it’s time to leave to pick up Lincoln from school, when to start on different tasks during work days, when to start making dinner, etc. We’ve talked about the overwhelming mental load many people carry here on IGE before, and the use of alarms really helps reduce some of that load. The more things I don’t have to tell myself to remember (which I NEVER do) the easier and more simple my life is. While you’re at it, Google Calendar EVERYTHING. I put appointments in there of course, but also reminders, notes, birthdays, etc. We’re living in a digital world, and I am most definitely a digital girl.
#8 Say No
2018 was the year of “no” for me and it was incredibly freeing. I turned down countless projects and opportunities that might have stung a bit at the time, and I felt terrible for having to say no to, but knew it was in the best interests of my family and sanity. Going one step further, 2019 is the year of no and not feeling bad about it. This may sound cold hearted, but you can say no without having a reason other then you don’t want to. It’s YOUR life! People will understand. To me, less commitments = a more simple life.
#9 Start a Capsule Wardrobe
There are few things I hate more then clothes shopping, so the idea of a capsule wardrobe is extremely appealing to me. Basically you widdle your clothing (socks and underwear not included,) down to 40 items or less, then mix and match them for an entire season. Removing the “what should I wear?!” question from your daily life is such a time and stress saver! And if you think 40 items of clothing sounds like a lot, I triple dog dare you to go to your closet at this very moment and count how many shirts/pants/dresses you have on hangers. You will be SHOCKED at the number – and that doesn’t even include pants/shorts! Report back. :)
#10 Do Something Hard Today
After a long day, the last thing I want to do is empty the dishwasher, fold the laundry, or write that last dang email, but do you know what hurts more? Trying to unload the dishwasher while feeding the kids breakfast, opening a dresser drawer and not finding the pants I need, or having to apologize for not returning an email in a timely fashion. A few wisely-spent minutes today can make a world of difference tomorrow!
What are your favorite ways to simplify your life?
join the conversation
I can’t get passed reusing dishes. I mean, it makes sense for breakfast and lunch, but I would go crazy with extra dishes on my counters that never got put away from breakfast. Other than that – great list! I would just add using google calendar for scheduling has been a game changer for our family. Everyone’s schedule is color coded and it’s the ONLY way my husband and I can stay on track with the kids numerous sporting activities, his busy travel schedule, girls night out and more!
Loved this post, and would love to hear more details about your capsule wardrobe – awesome idea!
Loving these tips, especially #1 and #2! I’ve started a weekly schedule but I think I’m expecting a little too much out of each day and it’s stressing me out a little bit, i.e., expecting myself to wake up at 5:00 a.m. each day to work out; expecting my 3 year old to be on board with bathtime every night when he’d rather be playing. I would be okay with loosening up the “rules” of my schedule a little bit so we can all enjoy our days a little more. Thanks!
Erin Cranmer 01.30.2019
The BIGGEST time-saver/simplifier for us has been to do our grocery shopping online! Out local King Soopers has a service (ClickList) that lets you grocery shop through an app, then an employee will shop for you, and BRING THEM TO YOUR CAR for you to pick up during a certain time-window of your choosing. They charge $5 for the service and it is soooo worth it. The app also lets you save a “weekly list” of staples that you can add to your cart with just the click of a button.
Now, I can take 20 minutes Saturday night to menu plan for the week ahead, grocery shop from the comfort of my couch, and swing by the store Sunday morning to get groceries! No more rushing through the store with a toddler! Seriously, life-altering.
Lisa @ TechChick Adventures 01.29.2019
Your “reuse dishes” idea reminded me about our napkins. I got sick of just using a paper napkin for a little swipe on the mouth, and then throwing them away, so we now use fabric napkins! The same napkin gets used for almost all of the week, depending on what we eat. It’s amazing how little they actually get used, so why waste all of those napkins!
You have some great tips here. I am all about once a week shopping, and keeping everything on the calendar and organized!! A sanity saver.
A few years ago I ordered every family member a personalized tervis tumbler with their name and a symbol and that is THEIR cup. At the end of the day they all get washed and dry overnight. It has cut down on emptying an entire rack on cups from the dishwasher every 2_days. When I see someone reaching for a “real glass” my first question is “where is you tumbler?” ….the cabinet closes and they go find their tervis. Saves water, electricity and finding cups all over the house!!
Ashley Hicks 01.28.2019
Every evening I try to prepare for “tomorrow me”. For me this means, laying out my daughter’s clothes, putting all shoes, purses, backpacks near the door, have the coffee maker ready to go, having my coffee mug next to the coffee maker, lunch ready to go in the fridge or on the counter, dog food placed in their bowls and set on the counter. Anything that I can do the night before to help me in the morning, has made “tomorrow me” a very happy girl.
#8 Don’t forget that “No” is a complete sentence. You don’t have to explain anything :) great list.
I made a “more of/less of” list for this New Year, and one of my “more of” items was outsourcing. Right now, with my husband and me both working full time (plus) outside the home and two young kids, my time feels SO precious. We recently hired a housekeeper and starting taking advantage of our store’s online grocery ordering. Both of them have a monetary cost but the time it affords me with my family is a huge benefit. Looking for other things I can outsource too.
Lots of great ideas here, thanks for sharing ! I decided to work on a capsule wardrobe this year and it has been a process of learning but I have to say that getting dressed is much less stressful. I have been following Leanne at http://www.classyyettrendy.com and she has been super inspiring!
Allison Frederick 01.26.2019
I’m apparently 37 going on 80…. I have a traditional planner where I write down everything – events, to do lists, etc. I write my grocery list by hand every week after looking at the local ads. We actually have an Amazon Echo, but for some reason I can’t get into using it for anything but music.
I have thought about doing a capsule wardrobe, but getting rid of so much of my stuff feels downright scary! My weight unfortunately goes up and down, which I feel makes it so much harder to create an easy, small wardrobe; I feel like I need to hang on to clothes in different sizes to account for my size fluctuations.
Thanks for posting! I totally forgot that I had a printable grocery list that I checked off that was actually divided by fruit/dairy, etc. When DH goes he gets irritated because I give him a list with nothing in order. I am going to find my old list and print!
I work from home as a freelance medical writer and I use timers and alarms all the time. It’s almost like a big game of beat the clock. I give myself X amount of time to do something/write something and try and do it faster. I just attended the MA conference for women. Great sessions (all recorded now and online) and there were a few great talks/books that relate to some of this – soulful simplicity (she has the wardrobe go down to 33 items a season) and atomic habits (one great tip was after I X I will Y and continue to string them all together). Thanks for the great post! Some great reminders and some new ideas. As for the “NO” every yes closes the door to something better. I try and remember that when I am tempted to say yes to a project that I am not incredibly interested in.