Life has its ups and downs. At times it can be fun and exciting, and at other times it can be challenging. With to-do lists that never end, important decisions to make, and not enough hours in the day to get it all done, many of us feel overwhelmed and exhausted every day. Actually, forget day-to-day. How about minute to minute? Many of us live our lives reacting and responding to things. In that sense, we’re not really living the life we want to be living, are we?
As a result, we walk around feeling anxious, sad and depressed, instead of happy, content and joyful.
But what if we could simplify our lives?
How would it feel to have less “noise” in your life? What about less clutter, less decisions to make, and less distractions? Sounds like a formula for a simpler and happier life, doesn’t it?
When we take the time to step back and simplify our lives, there’s more time to focus on what’s important to us. And when we focus on what’s important, it leads to more joy, contentment and happiness.
But how do you actually simplify your life?
Sometimes thinking about ways to simplify your life can seem overwhelming, or maybe you don’t know where to start. Here’s a number of small actions you can take to make it easier.
14 ways to simplify your life
- Meditate (Breathe) – Meditation can prevent overthinking. It can also help slow down a busy mind. If your brain goes “a mile a minute” with thoughts, and especially when you’re laying in bed, try meditation. It will bring you a sense of calmness by helping you control your thoughts and emotions.
- Express Gratitude – The benefits of gratitude are many! They include increased happiness and optimism and reduced materialism. When you focus on the positives in your life, it clears your mind of negative thoughts. When you focus on all the good you already have, it reduces your desire to have more stuff. Pull out a journal each morning and write what you’re grateful for and why you’re grateful for those things or people in your life. This will put your brain in a positive mindset to start your day.
- Purge and Pretend Like You’re Moving – When you’re getting ready to move, you probably take inventory of everything that you already have, right? Believe me, as someone that seems to move to a new apartment practically every year, going through everything you already own is a pain. But it’s eye opening! When you take inventory of everything you already have, you realize how much stuff you own, and how much stuff you don’t really need. And if you’re like me, you probably have a lot of stuff you can donate, like bags of clothes, boxes of books, and some household goods.
- Unplug – Let’s face it, while technology has a lot of benefits, it can lead to a cluttered mind, a negative mindset and added complexity in your life. Now, you might need to work in front of a computer all day. There might not be a way around that. But what you can consider is how much time you spend on social media each day. And you can take a deeper look to see if you’re addicted to your smartphone. Many of our phones have a “digital wellbeing” setting that allows you to monitor your social media time and set goals and timers to lower that time.
If you can master the art of taking some time to unplug each day, you’ll decrease much of the noise in your head. Unplugging can increase your energy and give you more clarity. It can also take your stress levels way down. What’s a good place to start? Consider a 12 hour digital fast. Unplug from 8 pm to 8 am, meaning no phones in your room after 8 pm. Yes, you need to physically detach from it as well. Many people find it too tempting otherwise. And don’t touch it before 8 am the next morning. Need something else to do in the morning before work besides mindlessly scrolling Facebook or Instagram? Find a morning routine that adds value to your life. What’s important to you? What are your priorities? Try things like meditating and writing in a gratitude journal.
- Delete Apps From Your Smartphone – Start by deleting all apps you don’t use anymore. Remove social media. That doesn’t mean you can’t use it altogether. Just don’t use it on your phone. You can then put your 5 most used apps on your homescreen. For the other apps that you use less frequently, create a folder and put them in there. While you’re at it, browse your contact list and delete numbers you won’t ever need again.
- Limit or Eliminate the News – There’s a lot of ways to consume news these days. I remember my dad used to come home from work and put the news on the radio. He’d also watch the nightly news each evening, and read the newspaper each morning. That’s a lot of media consumption. And we haven’t even talked about the internet yet. The news is everywhere and it’s almost all negative. News can dominate your life if you let it. I personally don’t watch the news or look at it online, for the most part. I don’t want all of the negative messages entering my mind. If you want to limit your consumption of news, try a media fast.
- Get Rid of Physical Subscriptions – Subscriptions to magazines and newspapers can cause a lot of clutter around the house. I should know – I used to subscribe to magazines. And even with a dedicated basket to put the magazines into, I still sometimes wouldn’t do it. Even when I did, the magazine basket just piled up. Clear the clutter and get rid of your subscriptions.
- Get Rid of Digital Subscriptions – You don’t have to get rid of all digital subscriptions, but getting rid of some will simplify your life. For example, let’s look at something like Netflix. Often, we scroll through Netflix trying to find something to watch. Before we know it, it’s been 20 minutes, and we still can’t decide. It’s mentially exhausting. Find which of your digital subscriptions take a lot of your mental energy and consider getting rid of them.
- Have Groceries Delivered – Nowadays, you have more options than ever for getting your groceries without setting foot in a grocery store. Companies like AmazonFresh, Instacart and Walmart will do your grocery shopping for you, and deliver right to your doorstep!
- Bulk Prep Your Meals – As a health and fitness coach, one common obstacle that I encounter with many clients is lack of time to cook a healthy meal after work. Planning and prepping your meals ahead of time is not only healthier, it also frees up time after work to spend with loved ones and friends. And I get it. Many of us would love to enjoy a nourishing and tasty meal surrounded by our families after work, but where do you find time to plan and prep? Great question! Start small. Pick a day where you have some spare time. For many people, it’s Sunday afternoon. Plan out a few meals for the work week. If this is your first time doing this, plan one meal. What’s your busiest day when you almost always order takeout? Plan a meal for that day, and make it super easy. Even without the preparation part of “plan & prep”, simply having a plan for a busy day can lower decision fatigue. Understandably so, many of us do not make the healthiest choices when we are exhausted and short on time. Planning simply removes some of the mental energy and stress around meals, making it easier on you! When you’re ready, take it a step further and cook some or all of that meal ahead of time. When you come home from work that day, all you do is pull that meal out of the refrigerator and heat it up or quickly put it together, depending on how much prep you did. As this process becomes easier, you can do it for breakfasts and lunches too!
- Keep a Schedule – Do things at the same time each day, week or month. Eat your meals at the same time each day. Do your laundry at the same time each week. Pay your bills at the same time each month. The more consistent you are, the less decisions you’ll have to make. Anything that happens on a regular basis, find a set time to complete that task and stick with it each time.
- Go Paperless – If you hate paperwork and you have a lot of paper clutter laying around (like I do), one thing you can do is switch to paperless billing for your utilities and other monthly bills. If you want to do this, call your electric, cable, internet and other companies and tell them that you’d like to receive bills through email instead of mail. That will help clear the paper clutter.
- Unsubscribe from Email Lists – Have you subscribed to way too many email lists, including ones that you never read and don’t want? Unroll.me allows you to instantly see a list of all of your subscription emails and unsubscribe easily from those that you don’t want. Just don’t unsubscribe to the Metabolic Living emails. 🙂
- Close Tabs – This is an easy one. Having multiple tabs open on your computer likely consumes some of your mental energy. Instead of focusing on the task at hand, you’ll probably be tempted to click on another program. That’s just the way we are. We have short attention spans. Get rid of this unnecessary distraction by closing all tabs except the one program you’re currently using.
There you have it – 14 ways to simplify your life and focus on what’s important. Start with one to three and build up from there. And if you have any of your own ideas, please leave a comment below and share.