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13 Ways to Simplify Your Life

Would you be willing to accept a reduction in pay if you could work fewer hours to spend more time with your family? It is a lovely thought, but how realistic? Working less usually means earning less—hardly an option for most people.

But that doesn’t mean we cannot take small steps to simplify our complicated lives. A little bit here and there, and before you know it your efforts will add up to something significant.

vInterior of classic kitchen with white and grey walls, concrete floor, white countertops and cupboards and comfortable white island


Too much stuff leads to more stuff. And even more and more! All that stuff weighs us down, and robs our joy and precious time because everything becomes so complicated. Getting rid of clutter is a cheap, fast, and effective way to become physically and financially sound. It’s also the path to emotional and intellectual happiness. Dejunk your home one drawer, cupboard, closet, and room at a time. Expect to experience a new feeling of “lightness.”

Give everything a home

We know the rule—everything has a place, everything in its place. Adhering to that ideal can be quite another matter. But truth be told, once everything has a home, it’s easy to maintain a clean and functional space. Cleanup is quick and easy because it’s simple. Whatever it takes to reach the everything-has-a-place goal will be so worth the effort.

Track your money

Statistically, we know that money is leaking out of our lives at a rate of at least 10% if we are not keeping track of where it is going. One of the most helpful things you can do to simplify your money is to download an app like Personal Capital.

Personal Capital allows you to aggregate your financial accounts so that you can easily see your financial situation. You can connect accounts, such as your mortgage, bank accounts, credit card accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts, and more. Plus, it is free.

Phone control

Just because it happens to be a convenient time for someone to call you doesn’t mean it’s convenient for you to answer. Let your calls go to voice mail. Every instant message does not deserve an instant response. Telling your phone who’s in charge will greatly simplify your life.

Run dishwasher once a day

In most homes, the dishwasher has a tendency to fill up quickly. Here’s a workable routine that will bring simplicity and calm to your home: Every morning, after breakfast, run the dishwasher and then empty it right before lunch. Now you can put the dirty dishes from lunch and dinner directly into the dishwasher and go to bed with nothing in the sink.

Record it

Write down what you need to remember and forget everything else. Don’t allow your mind to dwell on things over which you have no control. You will never regret making this a new habit.

Share, lend, borrow, rent

Part of the reason we have such a love affair with shopping and consumerism is that we think we need to personally own everything we use. Before you agree to complicate your life further with yet another possession, consider the alternatives.

Stop paying for cable

Due to hidden fees on top of basic service,  the average household cable package is now $217.42 per month, which is more than the monthly average U.S. household pays for all major utilities combined ($205.50). Cutting the cable is a good step toward simplifying your life, and quite frankly, something you may never regret. With so many free or at least cheaper options, you might not even miss cable TV at all.

Take a break

You may not realize how screen time is affecting your purchasing and lifestyle choices. If you are addicted to Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, and television in general, taking a break will simplify your life. If you’re not willing to go cold turkey, at least disable notifications. Then limit the number of times each day that you check your various feeds. FOMO (fear of missing out) is a real thing that has no merit—a fake fear.

Drive a simple car

High-end, luxury automobiles are nice to drive but can complicate one’s life. Typically they are gas-guzzlers and expensive to insure, register, maintain, and repair. It’s a simple step, but one that may take a while to achieve—but totally doable.

Select a patterned carpet

Light-colored, plush carpeting is beautiful but can be life-altering. It shows every speck, spot, fleck, and crumb. If you want your carpets to look good without having to spend all your free time spotting, vacuuming, de-flecking, and un-crumbing, go with something speckled, patterned, or multicolored.

Get up earlier

The best hour of the day is the one right before you normally get up. It may take you a few weeks to truly enjoy that hour right before dawn, but when you create the habit you will be amazed by the simplicity that 60 quiet, stress-free minutes will add to your day.

Cultivate contentment

Decide to be happy with what you have. The social imperative that we must consume to be happy breeds dissatisfaction and nonfulfillment. The constant ratcheting up of standards demands that we constantly upgrade in order to keep up. It takes a conscious effort to desire less.

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14 replies
  1. Holly says:

    I am interested in getting rid of cable as you suggested. I do live in a small town, but I don’t understand the things available out there and how to use them. I am paying dish 112.00 for the top 120 and there is nothing there. I mostly watch Fox, Hallmark and reruns. I live on fixed income. Explain what I can do and how? I can’t stream in because of the location of my computer and my tv. thank you

    • leslie says:

      if you are on the internet there are facebook groups that will help you cut the cord. also if there is a nextdoor group in your area, the people on it may also be able to give you suggestions.

  2. Jackie says:

    Our cable bill isn’t the problem since we just have basic to get reception. Our internet service and fees are about $80/month. How do I cut that down?

  3. Cathy down on says:

    This column reminds me of the old saying, “we spend half of our life accumulating stuff and the other half giving stuff away.” I think we all reach an age when we start losing out loved ones and we find out what really matters in life and it “ain’t” stuff!

  4. Cathy down on the Farm says:

    Just love these columns. My dad left me the farm that has been owned by his parents and then my parents with generations of “stuff”. I am so grateful for this gift but it is still overwhelming to me after almost two years of decluttering. I have given away so much but have even thrown more broken stuff out. I am cleaning and organizing for my kids so that they don’t have the burden. I am going to exercise fasting in various forms this year;.. fasting from food and fasting from shopping and just live on what I have for a month at a time. I tried fasting shopping over the month of August and it was much harder than I thought it would be. It really is an amazing discipline.

  5. Terri says:

    One of my dearest neighbors told me that she was getting rid of 3 things each day by giving, donating or discarding items. Her reasoning was that when she died, she wanted to save her daughter from having to decide what to do with all of her stuff. Taking those decisions out of her daughter’s hands was an incredibly thoughtful gift.

  6. Loretta says:

    Started serious decluttering in November of 2019. My goal is to get rid of half my stuff by November 2020. So, that will continue. Next up is getting rid of time wasters (too much phone/computer use) and way too much time looking for things. Finally, I’m clearing my head as I clear my closet. Emotional clutter is harder to deal with than physical clutter, but it’s ALL going effectively IMMEDIATELY.

  7. Kay Jones says:

    I agree with your suggestions and have a few that I have used. Take an honest look at yourself and surroundings. I have physical limitations that I didn’t have 3 years ago. My housekeeping suffered and really bothered me. Rather than focus on what I couldn’t do, I leaned a new way of doing it and got new tools. I now have a long handled dustpan and just sweep my floors without having to bend over. I have one of those sweepers that they use in restaurants that works on my bare floors, leaving me to manhandle the vacuum less. No cable, but streaming that I share the subscription cost with my children. They have the code and can use it. Same with Amazon Prime. One person has the account, we split the cost and all use it. Enjoy the look on your kids faces when you give them something BEFORE you die. I’m not using the fine china……let someone else enjoy it. Same thing with art work, Christmas treasures and so forth. Cook with them and pass on family recipes. If you plan your day around sharing and passing on things, you will never have a bad day.

    • Lija Wills says:

      “If you plan your day around sharing and passing on things, you will never have a bad day.”
      What a great insight! I am going to start telling that little gem to my friends. Thank you.


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