Are you looking for ways to simplify life? Here are 20 ideas to inspire you.
Hello, I’m Jennifer, and I’ve considered myself a minimalist for nearly a decade now. During that time, I’ve done many things to simplify. Some of these changes have been huge and others, less so—but overall, it’s the sum of these choices that have led me to the life I have today.
If you’re curious about the minimalist lifestyle, then here are 20 ways that I’ve simplified my life. These changes have made a considerable impact, and I’m sharing them with the hope that something here will inspire you.
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How to Simplify Life
One quick note before we get started … Please understand that this is not a definitive list of milestones every aspiring minimalist must “check off” on their journey. I know for a fact that many of my choices aren’t suitable for everyone, which is fine because minimalism is not one size fits all.
I’m sharing what has worked for me because it might inspire something that works for you—but if it doesn’t, that’s perfectly fine. You know what’s best for you and you’ll make the final decision about how to simplify your life. Take inspiration where you find it and feel free to ignore the rest.
LIVE IN A SMALL HOME
One of the most significant changes I’ve made since embracing minimalism is learning to live in a small home. Of course, a “small home” means different things to different people—and it has meant a multitude of things to me during different stages in my life.
When I first discovered minimalism and decluttered my life, I lived in a small studio apartment with a shared kitchen and bathroom (about 120 square feet). During this period of my life, everything I owned fit into a few suitcases.
It wasn’t always easy living in such a small space but it was 100% worth it because I was able to save a TON of money. I became debt-free for the first time in my life and then I saved enough to go on a seven month honeymoon!
After I came back from my honeymoon, we lived in a similar-sized studio apartment for a few years—but then I got pregnant and we decided to upsize.
We currently live in a two-bedroom apartment. It feels huge to me (compared to our old place!), but at 660 square feet, I think it’s still on the small side. We’ve been here for two years now, and I think it’s perfect for us in this stage of life.
It’s funny because, before minimalism, I lived in a two-bedroom townhome. It was almost double the size of where I live now, but I thought it was SO small! But now that I own less, I comfortably live in a smaller space, and it makes life so much simpler.
Do you want to learn more about simple living with a family? Check out my guide to minimalism with kids or one of these recommended reads: Clutterfree with Kids by Joshua Becker and Minimalism for Families by Zoë Kim.
RENT VS BUY
OK—I know this is going to be controversial but I think renting simplifies life SO much than owning your own home!
I was a homeowner for six years, and it always felt like a huge burden to me. After the first few months, the joy of owning my own place wore off and then it just felt like a weight on my shoulders. There were so many ongoing expenses, things to maintain, and I also hated the general feeling of being weighed down.
Now that we rent, I have so much freedom. We live in a high rise apartment so someone else does the yard work, cleans the pool, and worries about maintenance issues. Plus, if we want to leave, there’s no stress about selling.
Of course, I acknowledge that depending on the housing market, it can often make more sense to buy —but I hope that we’ll be able to continue renting for years to come.
DO LESS HOUSEWORK
Housework used to feel like a never-ending job and it would cause me so much stress—but fortunately, I don’t feel that way anymore.
In fact, I currently spend about 30 minutes a day cleaning plus about one hour a week catching up on loose ends (even with two children at home!).
I’m not sure how that compares to the “average” person but to be honest, it feels really good to me! Housework and cleaning used to be a heavy weight on my shoulders and now it genuinely feels like a non-issue.
I wrote an entire post about how to spend less time cleaning but in summary:
- Declutter your home
- Change your expectations
- Create minimalist cleaning routines
WATCH LESS TV
For most of my life, I was an obsessive TV watcher. If I was home, the TV was on, whether I was watching it or not. I just liked the noise in the background.
This changed after I discovered minimalism. I got rid of my TV and went without from 2012-2017.
We’ve since decided to own a TV again but taking a break completely changed my viewing habits. I no longer watch it mindlessly; instead, I’m intentional about only turning it on when there’s something specific I want to watch.
It’s a small change but I definitely feel like it makes my life simpler. As a family, we spend more time talking, listening to music, and just enjoying each others company when the TV is off.
EMBRACING SIMPLE EATING
Another place I’ve simplified my life is in the kitchen. I follow a simple eating philosophy, which means I don’t meal plan. In fact, I very rarely do “meals” in the traditional sense at all (i.e. a main dish with sides or similar).
Instead, I keep things pretty relaxed. I have what I call a “food uniform” that I follow—a few basic structures like big salads and stirfries—but I rarely follow recipes. Instead, I buy simple food I like and eat what I feel like.
If you want to learn more about simple eating, I explain all the details in this post. It’s a process that saves me a lot of money on groceries and I spend less time in the kitchen too! It takes a little practise to get used to it but once you find your rhythm, I think you’ll be surprised by how much simple eating can simplify your life!
AUTOMATE, AUTOMATE, AUTOMATE
This mostly refers to my financial life—almost all my banking and bill paying is done automatically online—but in recent years, I’ve learned there are more things I can automate to save time.
For example, I really love No Pong natural deodorant, so I have an automatic subscription. It’s just a small thing but since I know I’ll always use deodorant, it’s just one less thing to think about!
One word of warning: be sure to review any bills, expenses, etc. you automate on a regular basis. Sometimes we “set and forget” things even when they’re no longer relevant in our lives!
SAVE AN EMERGENCY FUND
I know this isn’t very glamorous, but as someone who spent the first fifteen years of her adult life living paycheque to paycheque, I can tell you that having a nest egg in the bank makes life so much simpler.
Having an emergency fund gives you breathing room so you have time and space to make more intentional decisions.
DRESS WITH A SIMPLE WARDROBE
As a former shopaholic (I once owned more than 100 pairs of shoes), I can’t tell you how liberating it is to downsize your closet and dress with a simple wardrobe!
It might sound silly but until I discovered minimalism, I had no idea how much time, energy and money I was wasting on clothes. (OK—I knew I was wasting money!) But I had no idea that my closet was draining me in other ways. I can see now that I spent a ridiculous amount of time shopping and even just thinking about what to wear.
Having said that, I will admit that downsizing my wardrobe wasn’t easy. It was a mix of lacking practical knowledge (not understanding my style) and also dealing with emotional baggage (turns out the reason our lives are so cluttered often goes deeper than bad shopping habits).
It took me a few years (and many failed attempts) but I was finally able to declutter my closet and I haven’t looked back since! If you need some help, I detailed exactly what worked for me in this post and I have even more tips in this post.
Want a sneak peek inside my closet? Click here for a behind the scenes tour!
(List of 20 Ways I’ve Simplified My Life continues below.)
If you’re enjoying this post, you might also enjoy learning more about my minimalist journey:
Also, if you’re interested in learning more about minimalism, you might find these popular posts helpful:
- 6 Gentle Reminders About Minimalism
- Getting Started with Minimalism: 5 Things Not to Do
- Struggling with Minimalism? 6 Tips to Help You Make Sustainable Change
- 6 Tips to Stop Mindless Shopping
- Minimalism “Do’s and Don’ts”
Finally, you might also enjoy Mindful Decluttering, a free guide and workbook with step-by-step instructions on decluttering your home and life. It includes practical advice, personal stories, and a troubleshooting guide to help you overcome your decluttering challenges! Subscribe to get your free copy.
MAKE LAUNDRY DAY EASIER
This is a quick but powerful tip: don’t buy clothes that are hard to care for! Personally, I don’t buy anything that’s dry cleaning only or requires ironing. It’s just one less thing to worry about.
PLAN TO SHOP
This change has made a HUGE difference in my life!
In the past, shopping was something I did on a whim, usually when I was bored or stressed. I shopped often and almost always walked away with impulsive purchases—the kind of fast fashion finds that you wear once or twice and then never again. (Such a waste of money and resources. I’m definitely not proud of this.)
One habit that really helped me overcome my shopping addiction was planning to shop. When I wanted something new, I’d write it down on a list instead of going shopping right away.
This would give some time to reflect. Often, after a day or so, I’d realise I didn’t really need anything after all! It was usually just an impulse triggered by something I saw in a magazine or because I was having a bad day.
On the occasions when I did need to purchase something new, planning meant I made better choices. I did research, I bought higher quality items, and greatly reduced the number of regrettable purchases. I bought less overall but when I did shop, I bought things I knew I’d love and use.
NO MORE WOMEN’S MAGAZINES OR FASHION BLOGS
I used to read both women’s magazines and fashion blogs obsessively but I’ve since realised that neither contributed anything positive to my life; instead, both left me feeling insecure and craving things I didn’t really need.
If you’re looking for an alternative to traditional magazines, then I highly recommend Holl & Lane a quarterly publication dedicated to starting honest conversations from real women. (Note this isn’t a sponsored or affiliate link, it’s just something I genuinely love and enjoy!)
If you want to learn more, check out this interview with Sarah, the creator of Holl & Lane.
STOP EXPERIMENTING WITH BEAUTY PRODUCTS
I use to obsessively browse the beauty aisle and I was always picking up some new “miracle” product to try. I was a marketers dream—they know exactly how to prey on your insecurities and I feel for it every time.
But eventually, I reached a point where I realised nothing you can buy over the counter can make you feel good if you don’t already know how to love yourself. I started working on self-care and self-love, and spent less time in the Target beauty aisle.
This doesn’t mean I never buy new beauty products but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned what works for me and what doesn’t. I don’t feel the need to compulsively experiment all the time as I used to and it’s truly a weight off my shoulders.
USE RULES TO MANAGE YOUR INBOX
In almost every email management system (Google, Outlook, Apple Mail) you can set up “rules” to help you manage your inbox.
For example, I get promotional emails about flight deals from several airlines (which is how I found $70 flights from Australia to Thailand). These emails are valuable but I don’t need to see them all the time, so I’ve set up a rule to have them automatically forwarded to a special folder so I can review when it suits me.
USE TIME BLOCKING
Time blocking is a fancy word for doing one thing at a time, for a specific amount of time. I started using this productivity hack a few months ago and it has definitely helped simplify life!
SURROUND YOURSELF WITH AWESOME PEOPLE
I don’t have a lot of friends but the people I hold close to my heart are the ones who support me and encourage me (even if they don’t always understand me!). Don’t be afraid to let go of relationships that aren’t supporting you this way.
SIMPLIFY LIFE + DRIVE ONE CAR
In an ideal world, I wouldn’t need a car at all but for now, deciding to be a one-car household makes life simpler and cheaper. We spend less on insurance, registration fees, parking permits, petrol and maintenance—and it all adds up!
SPEND ON THINGS THAT MAKE LIFE EASIER
I’m a minimalist but that doesn’t mean I’m frugal! I often spend money on things that simplify life and make things easier.
Some things I’m not afraid to spend on include:
- my health (a personal trainer, a gym membership, yoga classes)
- my education (blogging courses, personal development)
- things that save me time (an occasional house cleaner and a really good vacuum)
- quality items that will last (comfortable shoes are a must!)
I’ve learned that sometimes spending a little extra will simplify your life in the long run.
SLOW DOWN + SPEND TIME OUTDOORS
QUIT FULL-TIME WORK
Over the past few years, I’ve gradually made the transition from full-time work, to intentionally part-time, to self-employed.
I’m not 100% sure if this belongs on this list because, while not having a full time job makes me happier, I’m not sure if it’s truly a simpler option! Being self-employed means I have a lot more control over my time but I also have to be more disciplined with how I use it.
On a side note, I should mention that over the years I’ve been able to intentionally work less only because of minimalism. It didn’t happen overnight but I’ve slowly reduced my cost of living, which has given me the freedom to experiment (and ultimately take the leap to self-employment).
Finally, I think perhaps the biggest way I’ve simplified my life over the past few years is I’ve started to accept myself for who I really am.
For a very long time, I was trying to be someone I’m not and, to be honest, it was completely draining. Right now my future has a lot of question marks but despite this, I feel secure and comfortable with the person I’ve become, and it doesn’t get much simpler than that.
RELATED POST: Doing Less + A Lesson in Self-Worth
More Simple Living Resources
If you enjoyed this post, here are more resources to help you simplify life:
- 17 Heart-Centred Ways to Simplify Your Life
- 7 Journal Prompts to Inspire Simplicity
- Minimalist Lifestyle Checklist: How to Get Started With Minimalism
- 13 Simple Living Tips: How to Stress Less + Enjoy Life
- My Minimalist Daily Routine: Embracing Slow + Simple Every Day
- 5 Easy Ways to Simplify Your Daily Routines
DO YOU WANT TO KICK-START YOUR SIMPLE LIVING JOURNEY?
If you’re feeling inspired by this post, why not do something right now to kick-start your simple living journey. (After all, you can read about simplifying your life on Pinterest or you can take action and make it happen!)
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