11 Ways To Simplify Your Life

Life can overwhelming, from endless hours of work to piles of clutter around the house.  Even if you’re well on your way in your journey to a more minimalist or zero waste lifestyle, the hectic parts of life seem to have a way of creeping back up.  Simplifying your life means removing what’s dragging you down and adding activities and habits that create peace and joy.

I spent much of my time in university feeling as though I was drowning in an ever increasing amount of tasks, with less and less time to focus on the important things in life.  These eleven straightforward — and often quick and easy — ways to simplify your life are all things I did, and still do, to reduce my stress levels and find more enjoyment in every day.

1. Prioritize Your Day
Try organizing your day by priority.  Each morning, know what your main tasks are.  To make it easier, try to have no more than three crucial tasks each day — tasks that are so important you feel as though you can’t sleep until they’re done.  Try to plan your day around what must be accomplished, rather than all the things you’d like to do.  Once you’ve completed your most important tasks, you can move on to other to-dos and enjoy your free time without the weight of important assignments and responsibilities hanging over you.  

2. Borrow, Re-use, or Make Your Own Rather Than Buy
Maybe this sounds like more work, but buying new things is both time consuming and clutter-creating.  For example, borrow a book from the library instead of buying; re-use a glass or stainless steel water bottle instead of buying more plastic ones; make your own soup, mylk, or smoothie mixes rather than purchasing them.

3. Go Paperless
Certainly keep what you need (I love my planner and notebooks), but consider using your phone, computer, or tablet to jot down ideas, make plans, and write up lists.  It keeps all your ideas in one place and takes up much less space, too.

4. Make Lists
Whether using a paperless method or jotting things down in a notebook, make lists ahead of time — things you need to order or pick up from the supermarket, what needs to be cleaned, what you’re running low on, etc.  Having lists allows you to know your needs ahead of time and prevents time wasted on second trips to the grocery store or forgotten birthdays that leave you scrambling to find a gift or send a card in time.

5. Unsubscribe from Useless E-mails
It’s undeniably stressful to have a cluttered inbox, and junk e-mails are often the worst part.  Take a few minutes in the morning and evening, when you check your e-mails, and unsubscribe to store promotions and newsletters that aren’t relevant to your life.  After a few days, your inbox should be a lot less hectic and you’ll only be getting the important stuff.

6. Connect with Nature
Connecting to the earth is often overlooked in our busy lives, but even a few minutes in nature can help you clear your mind and feel more relaxed.  Whether it’s a quick walk around the park, picking flowers, or taking a picnic to the park, fresh air and nature are an integral part of feeling calmer and happier.

7. Spend Less Time Online
So much time is wasted scrolling through websites and apps.  Being online is a great way to connect with friends, learn new things, and unwind, but try setting a limit each day to allow yourself to do other things and rediscover hobbies you used to enjoy.

8. Keep Only What You Need and Like
This idea can extend to many aspects of your life — furniture, decorations, clothing, activities you’re involved in, food in the fridge, music on your phone, books on your shelf.  If you don’t like it and it doesn’t serve a purpose in your life, then let go of it to simplify your life and make more room for the things you do love.

9. Plan Your Meals Ahead of Time
I’m not talking about making your Monday-Friday meals on Sunday (but that’s cool if you like to meal prep).  Instead, take the weekend to simply jot down the meals you’ll cook (perhaps with a corresponding shopping list).  It’s so much easier to, at the very least, have an idea of what you’re cooking rather than staring into the fridge, waiting without answer, as you look for what to make.

10. Get Enough Sleep
Easier said than done, of course, but getting a solid 7-8 hours makes it much easier to accomplish things and plan ahead.  After several years of living on 4-5 hours of sleep each night, I found I was more productive and happier with more sleep and by prioritizing, planning ahead, and spending less time online, I discovered there’s often a little bit more time to squeeze in some extra sleep.

11. Find A Relaxing Activity To Do Every Day
Two of the biggest reasons to simplify your life are to feel happier and to have more time to do the things you love.  Having an activity that you love might not simplify your life, but it’s a great motivator to focus on the important things.  Even if you’re still short on time after simplifying aspects of your life, find something to do for yourself that only takes 5-10 minutes — a nighttime meditation, a quick morning yoga session, a brisk walk after work, coloring or crocheting while watching TV.  The more you can find time to give back to yourself, the easier it is to get the important things done.