You want to simplify your life this year, right? Who doesn’t!
But what’s the point of simplifying things? Well, if you noticed, this blog is called The (mostly) Simple Life, and I love helping people simplify. But what is that (mostly) all about? The (mostly) of The (mostly) Simple Life is all about the parts of life that are complicated, but worth it.
We want to simplify as much as possible so that there is time and energy for the most important things! Hobbies, travel, family activities, career changes, education, relationships, and so much more. These things aren’t always simple, but they are what makes life great!
So I figure that if we can simplify everything else (schedules, finances, homes, routines, etc.) there is more room for the good stuff!
We want to keep things simple. Mostly. And the (mostly) is what’s worth being a bit more complicated for! Did that make any sense at all?
Let’s get real now. How can we actually simplify things in day to day life? What does that look like? Well, here are 19 things you can do to simplify your life in 2019!
1. Write Down Your Current Priorities
This is where it all starts. What are your priorities in life right now? Clarifying this will help you determine exactly where you should spend your time and energy.
There are many great ways to spend your time, but you can’t make them all a priority.
Family dinners seem like a great idea, but if your priority is getting your kids engaged in after-school sports, you’re going to be frustrated when you can’t make both work. They’re both good ideas, but pinpointing the real priority will give you clarity as you sign up for activities and schedule each week.
What is your biggest priority right now?
- Paying off debt
- Recovering from a major illness or operation
- Quality family time
- Getting your master’s degree
You can see how the way in which you spend your time, energy, and money would look very different depending on which is your current priority.
Write it down. Maybe write it on a sticky note that you post on your mirror or in your day planner so that each day you remember what the #1 thing is in your life right now. Knowing your priorities will simplify so many other parts of your life!
2. Use the Monday Rule
Simplify the start to every single week by following the Monday rule: Don’t schedule any extra appointments, meetings, or activities on Mondays.
If you have activities or meetings that regularly occur on Mondays, you’re probably used to them and they’re not a big deal. But I find that anything extra or abnormal on a Monday (like a doctor’s appointment) starts the week off a bit wonky. I can’t fully relax on Sunday because I know there’s something extra I need to remember. Plus, I don’t fully get into my rhythm first thing on Monday, which can throw off the week.
Simplify your schedule by keeping Mondays free of anything extra and you’ll start each week well.
3. Single Task
Simplify your mind by focusing on one thing at a time. Here’s the deal: Studies show that multitasking doesn’t really work. It just makes it so that you don’t fully engage in anything.
I find that multitasking gives me a frantic, overwhelmed feeling. Each individual task ends up taking me longer than if I had just slowed down and focused on one thing at a time until I knocked it out.
If you’re trying to focus on one thing and find that other tasks are getting you off track, pull up the notes app on your phone or grab a sticky note and jot down everything else you need to do, then get back to your original task.
I find that this allows the paper to “remember” everything instead of me feeling like my brain needs to keep track of it all. When I’m done with the original task, I can pull out my list and move on without worrying that I forgot something important.
4. Clock Out
Since I work from home, I find it difficult to fully leave work at work. Even if you don’t work from home, the idea of clocking out can help you relax more and spend less time scrolling on social media.
Here’s what I mean by clocking out: After dinner, when we normally hang out in the living room, I put my devices in the kitchen. I have a bad habit of checking email and social media “for work” but I’m not actually doing any productive work — it’s just a bad screen habit. By putting my phone, tablet, and computer in the kitchen, I keep myself from mindless scrolling when I could be doing something that’s actually fun or relaxing! I can still hear my phone if I get a text or a phone call, but it keeps me from mindlessly grabbing and scrolling for no good reason.
If you want to have less screen time, try clocking out and put all of your devices in another room for a few hours. You’ll quickly realize how addicted you are to your screens and how much time you actually have for other things!
5. Say No
Remember when we set our priorities? In order to make sure those priorities aren’t nudged out of the way by other random stuff, you’ll need to say no other non-priority things. These might be really good things, but they will keep your from your priorities.
It can be helpful to buy yourself some extra time so that you can decide if a new activity or commitment will work with your schedule and priorities. Simply say “I’ll have to check my calendar” or ” Let me check with [spouse’s name]” so that you have time to decide.
6. Plan Your Meals
Food is a big time, energy, and money suck! The best way I know of to simplify the necessity of eating is to meal plan.
When you take the time to plan what you are going to eat and buy the groceries you need to make those meals, you simplify your life in a big way. There’s no more brain power spent multiple times per day trying to figure out what to eat. Plus, there is no more time spent on last-minute trips to the grocery store. And don’t even get me started on how it can simplify your finances by saving you thousands.
You can get the printable that I use to plan our meals every week if you enter your info below!
7. Grocery Shop Weekly or Bi-Weekly
Once you’re simplifying your life with meal planning, try planning your meals for an entire week or for two weeks so that you can go to the store less often!
Shopping less often means that you will spend less on impulse purchases. Most people pick up a few extra things each time they’re at the store. If you’re going to the store less often, that’s less extra things purchased.
You will also free up time in your week with fewer trips.
- How to Stick to a Weekly Grocery Shopping Routine
- What We Eat in a Week: Our $70 Weekly Meal Plan
- What We Eat in a Week: Low Sugar Diet Edition
8. Create Outfit Formulas or a Uniform
Having some kind of routine for how you dress can be a huge life-simplifier. It makes is easier to get dressed in the morning. It also makes shopping simpler since you can limit the kinds of clothes you’re looking at.
Using a uniform is the more strict option. You would literally buy multiples of the exact same items and wear the same outfit daily. Of course, you would make sure that your uniform is something that you love and that makes you feel and look great! Imagine how quickly you could get dressed in the morning when there is no question at all about what to wear!
If you still like some variety in your life, you could create a uniform just for work, or a weekend uniform.
Developing outfit formulas can give you more flexibility but you’ll still get a lot of the same benefits of the uniform. Some classic outfit formulas:
- Jean. T-shirt. Sneakers.
- Dress. Cardigan. Flats.
- Leggings. Tunic Top. Boots.
I have my own outfit formula! I only purchase black or dark grey bottoms (Leggings, yoga pants, capris, or corduroys. I don’t wear jeans.). I buy colored tops so that any top can go with any bottom. When I buy a cardigan, zip-up fleece or other type of warm extra layer, I look for ones that are black, grey, or white.
This makes my entire wardrobe interchangeable! Black on bottom. Color on top. Neutral colored warm layer.
9. Create Helpful Morning & Evening Routines
Truly helpful routines can help simplify your entire day.
Routines take a lot of the questions out of the day:
- When are we going to make lunches?
- When are the chores going to get done?
- How can I find time to read or exercise?
While you can create routines for any part of your day, I find that morning and evening routines are especially helpful.
While most people focus on their morning routine, I actually find that my evening routine is more vital because my evening routine gives me less to do in the morning. Somehow, a 5 minute task in the evening takes 15 minutes in the morning when I’m still waking up.
If you want to work on your morning routine, I highly recommend the Make Over Your Mornings Course!
10. Automate Payments
Automating any payments that you can frees up brain space! You don’t have to remember when something is due, risk making a late payment, or question if you made the payment or not.
If you pay through a service’s website, you can usually set up an automatic payment there. You can probably also set up a recurring payment with your bank if you use their bill pay feature.
Taking a minute to set this up will simplify your finances going forward.
11. Automate Savings
Automating your savings can be a great way to save more.
You can schedule part of your paycheck to get sent to a separate bank account by talking to your HR department at work. You could also schedule a transfer to happen from your main bank account to a special savings account on the days you get paid.
If your company offers a 401(k), that’s a great way to automate your retirement savings. The money comes out of your paycheck before you have a chance to notice it.
Since I’m self-employed, I have money automatically get deposited into an IRA each month for me. I also use Acorns, which rounds up all of my purchases to the next dollar and deposits the spare change into a retirement account for me. I don’t even notice it happening, but I’m saving!
12. Get on a Budget
I find that my budget simplifies my life in a big way! It takes away a lot of stress and questioning. I don’t have to question if I can afford something or not. I don’t have to worry about having enough money to pay for an upcoming bill.
I’ve budgeted my money and made a plan for how I will spend and save it. This means that I know when I can go out to eat or buy some new shoes. I also know that buying some new shoes won’t hurt my ability to pay the electric bill.
You can download the spreadsheet that I use to make our budget each month and track our spending by entering your info below! YOu’ll be able to customize it for yourself and get started budgeting.
Don’t Miss These Related Posts:
- The Fastest Way to Create Your First Budget
- How to Live on $2500 Per Month: Our Actual Budget
- 19 Expenses to Cut When Money is Tight
13. Pay Off Debt
We paid off all of our debt except for the mortgage in 2018 and it definitely helped simply our lives. We get fewer bills in the mail, have fewer payments to make, and don’t have to give up large chunks of our income to debt payments.
This takes a load off of us! We can live on a lot less money each month because we don’t have debt payments to make. This means that if we were to suffer a big illness or job loss, we would need less money to get by.
If you have debt, I highly recommend that you work on paying it off.
Check Out These Helpful Posts:
- How We Paid Off $18,832 of Debt in 10 Months
- How to Have Fun While You’re Paying Off Debt
- When to Save and When to Pay Off Debt
Mozzie is modeling with our debt payoff thermometers in the picture below. If you enter your info in the form, I’ll email you the debt payoff thermometer printable so that you can track your debt payoff too!
Meditation is a great way to quiet your mind and let go of everything happening around you.
Contrary to popular belief, meditation is not about thinking about nothing. It’s about focusing your mind (usually on your breathing) and letting other thoughts pass you by.
Austin and I try to meditate for a few minutes each day with the HeadSpace app and I highly recommend it! It tells you exactly what to do throughout each meditation session.
15. Read More Books
I’ve found that another way to quiet my mind and focus my attention is to read more books.
The way that we read on the internet is usually in tiny bursts of headlines, social media posts, and mini articles. It can make your mind feel frantic.
Getting into a good book is the opposite for me. It’s an engrossing experience and I can focus my mind on what I’m reading, which is much more relaxing.
16. Create a Drop Zone
An extra-practical way to simplify your life? Make sure you can always find your keys and bag. Nothing makes me more irritated than needing to leave the house and not being able to find the essentials.
Get a cute bowl or tray and set it next to the door you go in and out of most often. Get in the habit of dropping your keys in it every time you enter the house.
Install a hook on the wall right inside the door as well. If you don’t want to screw into your wall, you can look into other options like suction cup wall hooks or the 3M ones that don’t hurt your wall. Hang your purse up immediately when you walk in the door.
You’ll never have to conduct frantic, last-minute searches again!
17. Clear Off All Flat Surfaces
Visually simplify your life by clearing off the flat surfaces in your house.
Flat surfaces like your kitchen counters, dining room table, and end tables are clutter magnets! Do a little experiment and clear them off completely. Put away everything that is sitting on them.
It’s very possible the the things sitting out don’t really have a place where they belong, which is why they’re cluttering up the flat surfaces. Give everything a proper home.
How does it feel to have things completely cleared off? For me, it’s easier to keep a surface 100% cleared off than to let a few things sit out. The stuff attracts more stuff. Give it a try and then you can decide what you actually want to sit out.
18. Figure Out Your Most Important Daily Chores
What kinds of mess drive you crazy above all else?
For me, it’s stuff left out and dirty dishes. Because I know this about myself, I’ve incorporated doing the dishes and tidying up into my daily routine.
I know that if I can at least get these chores done, I’ll be able to enjoy living in my house so much more.
Figure out what your most vital daily chores are and either incorporate them into your daily routine or delegate them to other family members. If other chores don’t happen, oh well. At least the most important tasks will get handled.
19. Set Alarms and Reminders
Setting alarms and reminders can free up a lot of brain space so that you can focus on what you’re doing.
Our recycling bin gets picked up every other week. I could spent time each week trying to remember to put it out and trying to figure out if it’s a recycling week or not. Instead, I set up a bi-weekly alarm on my phone that lets me know when I need to put it out. No brain space needed.
When I have an appointment, I often set an alarm for when I need to leave. This allows me to get fully engrossed in what I’m doing (a work project, a nap, a TV show — whatever!) without having to watch the clock. My alarm will let me know when I need to get going.
Utilize the technology on your phone so that you can live in the moment without having to remember when other things need to happen!
There are many practical ways to simplify your life. Think about the frustrations you have day to day and see if one of these ideas could be a solution.
Whether it’s your home, finances, meals, wardrobe, or you just want to live in the moment more, there are plenty of ways to make it happen this year!