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?