When Dwight and I were first dating, we would fantasize about how we would arrange and live our life together. After getting married and getting busy working full time, we’ve mostly defaulted to doing everything the way we always have growing up. Many of the behaviors and traditions we learned from our families are meaningful and useful. But some of them are merely automatic reactions and could use an update to better suit our desired lifestyle. By pausing to evaluate our routines, we are able to better appreciate what serves us and correct habits that we aren’t satisfied with.
In our culture of busyness, there often isn’t enough time to stop and think about the small things. It’s too easy to focus only on the tasks at hand as the years slip by. But life is made up of the small moments, and big changes are comprised of many small steps. There are many easy changes you can make today to simplify and minimize the stress of your daily life.
Simplify your home
- Find a place for everything in your house – If you can’t find a place for it, do you really need it?
- Clear off your tables, counters, floors and other surfaces
- Declutter your house – It might sound like a lot of work, but your time will definitely pay off because less stuff means less to clean up! Donate and throw away what is not used or needed.
- Designate bedrooms as technology free zones – Bedrooms are for two things, and checking email isn’t one of them.
- File or throw away all paperwork directly after receiving, instead of letting it pile up
- Follow the two minute rule – If you think of something that can be done in two minutes or less, do it right away rather than designating it for later.
- Plan your day the night before – This way you know how your day will flow and can better prepare yourself for success. Whether that means packing a bag, planning an outfit, setting out food, a little preparation goes a long way!
- Share items with a family member – DJ and I share a lot of things. One thing we share that many may not even consider sharing is a car. Only having one vehicle to pay for, repair and insure cuts down on a lot of expenses. If public transit and other services like Uber and Lyft are available in your area, reducing to one car may be very useful.
Simplify your kitchen
- Plan meals weekly or biweekly – Its easy to jot down a few meal ideas for the week ahead. If you are having trouble coming up with ideas, get your family’s help or check out your grocery store’s sale circular. Then you can grab what you need all at once, rather than going back over and over. This alone saves a lot of time.
- Make the same meals each week – This way your meal planning is halfway done! We are loving Mexican Monday, Pasta Tuesdays, and Burger Thursday. Here is our post with 25+ of our favorite meals if you want some ideas!
- Reuse meals- Make extra and enjoy the fruits of your labor multiple times! There are many ways to work this out. We typically enjoy last last nights dinner for breakfast or lunch. Sometimes I will make 2 dinners and freeze one, if its a meal that will reheat well.
- Drink water instead of your usual coffee, soda or alcohol for one meal per day – Its healthier, there is less to buy at the grocery store, and there is less waste.
- Enjoy fresh seasonal produce!
- Clean out your fridge, freezer and pantry
Simplify your wardrobe
- Realize that shopping is not a form of leisure – How many warm fuzzy memories do you have from shopping do you have? Not too many? Now compare it to how many memories you share with your loved ones!
- Edit your belongings into a capsule collections – Having only your favorite pieces makes getting dressed so much easier. Check out my guide for more info!
- Follow the one in, one out rule to avoid re-crowding your wardrobe.
- Quit fast fashion – Rather than buying disposable pieces, select clothing that will last. You will spend way less time and less money in the long term.
- Buy items that are easily cared for – Who has time for dry cleaning or ironing?
- Switch to a low maintenance beauty routine – For years, I religiously went to the salon for a touch up every other month. Six months ago, I switched to a style that requires hardly any maintenance. It has been great! I have saved so much money and I get to spend my weekend mornings sleeping rather than in the salon.
Simplify your social life
- Spend free time with loved ones rather than favorite TV show characters – Or at least invite them over to watch shows you have in common.
- Take a day to unplug and appreciate nature
- Explore your local parks and community – There are so many things to do in a growing community. Lots of shops, restaurants, music and arts venues. Support these options so they may thrive as well!
- Identify your top priorities for this week, this month and this year – Living without clear priorities or goals is like driving around aimlessly. Try to prioritize smaller goals or checkpoints that ultimately set up the foundation for your “bigger picture” goal.
- Say no when opportunities and invitations don’t suit you – Use your time wisely and don’t get pressured into invitations to take part in activities you aren’t interested in. Be sure to seek out and act on only what is best for you.
- Get enough sleep – A well rested mind and body will help prevent illness and fatigue.
- Cut gossip and complaints from your dialogue – Keep your mind positive and out of the affairs of others.
- Leave work on time – Why sacrifice everything to your job? Finding a way to balance work and home is much more fulfilling both short and long term.
Simplify your online life
- Unsubscribe from unwanted emails and followings on social media – Social media can actually be a great place if its filled with posts from people you love and admire! Any person or organization who is not a positive influence simply doesn’t deserve your time.
- Clean out your email inbox and clear your computer desktop of old files – This goes for work and home. Having everything nice and neat is way less stressful than 200 unread emails and searching all over for the file you need.
- Shun trends – One of the downsides of being so connected is that we are constantly exposed to so many advertisements. Companies are always pushing the next big idea, and it is so tempting to try to keep up with the Joneses. But it’s all just a moneymaking scheme. Don’t buy into advertisements, let your life trend organically according to you and your loved ones’ goals and priorities.
Simplify your financial life
- Quit bargain shopping and only buy what you need – Why waste time in shopping if you don’t need to? DJ and I would rather be enjoying our own time rather than waiting in line at some store.
- Understand your weaknesses – We can’t seem to checkout at Target without spending more than $50, even if we just came in for one thing. If one store or category is prompting you to overspend, try to remove yourself from the situation.
- Consider renting rather than buying large or expensive items – We love the flexibility that goes along with renting our home, and we don’t hesitate to rent needed items for trips and projects that we likely won’t use again. Renting is often cast in a negative light, but it’s usually way cheaper and much less work.
- Deliberate new purchases for a set period of time before buying – Waiting will prevent impulse purchases and ensure you have ample time to research your options.
- Update or re-purpose existing items rather than purchasing a new one – Old jeans can be cut into shorts, stools can become side tables, the possibilities are endless.
- Discontinue unused services – Examples include cable, netflix, home phone, magazine subscriptions and other memberships.
- Opt for reusable rather than disposable products – This is huge. How much money and time do you spend on buying and re-buying disposable products? We are looking into phasing out our paper plates, napkins, coffee cups, water bottles, paper towels and many other products! It will be great to omit these items from our grocery list.
- Create a budget, stick to it and develop an emergency savings – Living paycheck to paycheck is anything but simple.
Hope at least a couple ideas stuck out to you! Send us a comment below if you have any additional tips!