20 Ways I’ve Simplified My Life

May 7, 2016

I’ve considered myself a minimalist for the last four or so years and, over that period, I’ve simplified my life in many ways. 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’m living today.

If you’re curious about minimalism then please enjoy this list of 20 ways I’ve simplified my life. I hope something here will inspire simplicity in your life too.
Curious about minimalism? Here are 20 ways I've simplified my life over the past few years. I hope something here will inspire simplicity in your life too.

One quick note before we dive in:

Please understand this is not a definitive list of milestones every aspiring minimalist must “check off” on their minimalist journey. I know for a fact that many of my choices aren’t suitable for everyone, which is fine because minimalism looks different for everyone.

I’m sharing what has worked for me because it might inspire something that works for you, not because I think I know what’s best for you!

(And on that note, if you’ve got an idea that might inspire me, please let me know in the comments!)

Now, on to the 20 ways I’ve simplified my life! 🙂


Since embracing minimalism I’ve chosen to live in:

  • a studio apartment with a shared kitchen and bathroom (furnished)
  • a room in a friend’s basement (semi-furnished)
  • a studio apartment with private facilities (furnished)

This is a huge change from my pre-minimalism/post-college years when I lived in two or three bedroom apartments (and always used one of the spare bedrooms as a walk in closet!).

When I chose to live in a smaller space, I knew this would save me money and allow me to live closer to the city, but I expected it to be a sacrifice. After years of living in bigger homes, I wasn’t sure I’d actually enjoy small space living—but the good news is, I was pleasantly surprised! Living in a small home is actually liberating; it’s so much easier to clean and it’s a weight off your shoulders knowing you’re only responsible for a small space.


I was a homeowner for six years (I lived in my home for two years and then I was a landlord for four after that). I finally sold my house last year and let me tell you—I am in no hurry to buy again anytime soon, if ever!

It is so much simpler to rent than to buy: goodbye mortgage, ongoing expenses (taxes, insurance, maintenance) and just a general feeling of being weighed down!

In full disclosure, where I live it’s much cheaper to rent than to buy. Obviously, my opinion on this might change if the rental market changes too.


There is no clever life hack here; I just do less housework. My home is not a wreck and the world will not end if you add an extra day to your vacuum cycle. (And by the way, your clothes will last longer if you wash them less!)

RELATED POST: Doing Less + A Lesson in Self-Worth


I haven’t owned a TV since 2012. Granted, I have a laptop and I spend a lot of time on it, but I still think it’s different from having a TV mindlessly blaring in the background. Not owning a TV means I watch less and it’s also one less big, heavy, expensive thing to own, clean, move and worry about.

(Update—in 2017 I bought a TV! But I try not to have it on unless there is something specific I want to watch.)


This may be controversial, but I don’t meal plan. In fact, I very rarely do “meals” in the traditional sense; instead, I just buy simple food I like and eat it without worrying about following recipes. The result is I save money on groceries and spend less time in the kitchen.

RELATED POST: Simple Eating: How I Learned to Save Money, Reduce Stress + Spend Less Time in the Kitchen


Almost all my banking is done automatically online. I go to the bank maybe once a year. I don’t have a chequebook and I actually haven’t seen one in person since I’ve moved to Australia!


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.


My simple wardrobe philosophy is very similar to my simple eating philosophy—I stick to what I like most and I don’t bother with anything else. As a former shopaholic (with a 100+ shoe collection) I can tell you this is liberating!

If you need help creating a simple wardrobe, then check out this post where I share the method that finally worked for me (after many failed attempts at downsizing my closet!).

Curious about minimalism? Here are 20 ways I've simplified my life over the past few years. I hope something here will inspire simplicity in your life too.

(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:

How I Became a Minimalist // How Minimalism Changed My Life

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

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.


I don’t buy clothes that require dry cleaning or ironing. I also don’t buy anything white because I only do one load of laundry a week (so no sorting!).


I only go shopping when I know I need something specific and I make sure I have a clear picture in mind of what I need for before I go. This means I spend less time in the shops and make fewer impulse purchases.Click here for 5 more tips to stop mindless shopping.


I used to read both obsessively but I realised 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!)


I use to obsessively browse the beauty aisle and I was always picking up some new “miracle” product to try, but I’ll be 35 next week. That means I’m old enough to know what works for me and what doesn’t. I’m not saying I’ll never try anything new again but I know it’s unlikely that anything I pick up in Target will revolutionise my beauty routine.

RELATED POST: Confidence + Minimalism (Find the Courage to Chase Your Dreams)


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.

These articles will help you set up rules in Gmail / Outlook / Apple Mail.


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 my workflow.


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.

RELATED POST: 15 Things to Declutter that Aren’t Things (Ideas + Mindsets to Let Go)


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!


I’m a minimalist but that doesn’t mean I’m frugal and I often spend money on things that make my life easier. In the past, this has included: a personal trainer, a blogging course, a house cleaner, and really expensive Italian leather boots (comfortable yet stylish shoes are worth every penny!).


Spending time outdoors simplifies my mind (and now that I’m not shopping every weekend, I have more time for adventure). I swear to you that when my mind is busy and I’m starting to feel overwhelmed, getting out into nature is like hitting the reset button on my brain.


Last year I quit my full-time job and at the moment I have no plans to go back to permanent 9-5 work (although I may do some temp jobs over the next few months).

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! At the moment I’m starting to explore freelance work and I do a lot of side hustles to make this work for me. Still, I only have the freedom to experiment with my life because I’ve simplified my life, so I’m keeping this on the list for now.


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.

What are some of your tips for simplifying your life? Big or small, I’d love to hear your ideas! Let me know in the comments x

PS: I wrote a free, 18-page guide and workbook called Mindful Decluttering to help you finally clear the clutter for good. If you’d like a copy, don’t forget to subscribe below or click here! Here’s what people have to say about it:

“I loved the connection you made with mindful decluttering – others talk about becoming more mindful as part of a minimalist journey, but the fact you’ve made it part of the framework of the process itself sets it apart. It’s brilliant – excited to see this coming into the minimalist landscape. You have a fresh, supportive and enquiring voice.” —Christina J, 38, St Albans UK

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  • Thanks for including me in such a magnificent post! I certainly can relate in many ways. I found minimalism (intentionally) when we moved from Thailand to Cambodia, when we had no choice but to downsize, but for sure, the biggest deal was getting rid of my clothes and all the stuff I had accumulated here through friends leaving. “Oh, I’ll take it.” was my motto for years.

    It is incredibly freeing to have less and to take care of less as well. I hope I can maintain this lifestyle because, I fear, it would be all too easy to go back to buying/having/spending.

    • My motto was “I deserve it” or “oh, what a bargain!” haha, so yours isn’t too bad. I’ve had the same fear – I’ve downsized before when travelling and then gone back to my old ways, but I embraced minimalism before going on this trip so I think I’m pretty safe. I’m sure you will be too no matter where life takes you – just focus on what you want most out of life (or at least that is what worked for me!)

      And thanks so much for stopping by (and for writing such an inspiring post yourself!) x

  • You’ve really encouraged me with this post as I develop minimalism in my own life, Jennifer! (And I adored Lani’s post too.)

    I’ve become more minimal in my relationships myself and I’ve noticed it’s made them more meaningful. Self-acceptance is also something I’ve learned and it’s freeing. Minimalism in general is freeing. ❤️

    Thanks for the links to how to do rules in email btw! I keep thinking I’ll get around to doing it but never make the time. I’ve bookmarked them to work on when I get back in the office tomorrow.

    • I only started with the email rules a few years ago, but it makes inbox clutter so much better! I’m glad you enjoy this post and I definitely agree – minimalism is freeing! xx

  • Carmen

    Your post inspired me to make up a list of my own. Thanks for the inspiration! I could not agree more about magazines and beauty products! =) Here’s my post, I could only come up with ten:

    • Hi Carmen, that’s awesome, I love your list! I think I’m going to steal quite a few of your ideas (I like how you describe your kitchen set up and definitely the fruit water thing!) I also have pretty simple hair although it’s long. Because it’s thick I only wash it about twice a month, which saves me SO much time and energy. Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

  • Unaiza

    Loved your list!
    One thing I would like to add is to systemize things! That makes us focus on one task at a time and thus get better out of our lives 🙂
    Thanks for sharing such a beautiful article.

    • Hi Unaiza – yes, I totally agree about systems! But I didn’t mention them on this list because it’s one thing I’m not very good at … yet. I’m hoping to get there though – thank you for the reminder and for the kind words about my post!! All the best xx

      • Unaiza

        Oh yeah that’s the best part, isn’t it? to be always learning and adapting new things 🙂 I am always always learning and learnt a lot from your article as well. Thanks 😀

  • Jennifer, I love this post! You have inspired me to see what areas of my life I can simplify that I haven’t considered before now. Thank you for that!

    • Thanks so much Erin! I’m glad you enjoyed this list (and I’m super sorry for my slow reply to your comment!) xx

      • Please do not apologize for a slow reply! I am working on not jumping onto my phone each time I think someone may have commented on a post. The distraction takes away from living in the present, which is something I am working hard to rid my life of.

        • You’re awesome 🙂 I’m trying to get into a routine – say 3 mornings a week – for replying to comments/emails. It’s a work in progress though… ?

  • Becky Goddard-Hill

    really inspiraional thankyou

  • Mel G

    I found your blog through Pinterest, I am so glad. You have set a “tone” in your writing that is light, welcoming and as if we were friends chatting over a cup of hot cocoa. I enjoyed this article, and have deactivated my Instagram and Facebook as a way to cut the unnecessary noise in my life.

  • Hi Mel, thank you so much for your kind words!! They really mean a lot to me ☺️

    Wow, I’m so impressed that you’ve deactivated your social media accounts! I try not to use mine too much (except for ‘blog’ related things) but it’s a challenge. That is really inspirational, thank you! x

  • I always love stumbling onto your blog posts because they are so thoughtful and useful. I love how you’ve simplified and even found some areas I can think more about!

  • Such a great post Jennifer and a confidence boaster. Simplicity really does make our lives a hell lot easier but unfortunately we try making it as difficult as we can by indulging too much in material possessions and negative thoughts. I am 34 and have been interested in a more simple life for the last couple of years. I am convinced less time/money spent on things will result in more time for the Kingdom. Your post may be just what I need to take the plunge. (I hope my husband want to jump in with me).

    Alina ♡

  • Varela Melissa

    Great post! I came across your blog on Pinterest and its heaven sent! You truly have inspired me into wanting to embrace minimalism! Thank you!

    • Hi Varela – thank you so much for your kind words! I’m so happy to hear that I’ve inspired you and good luck on your minimalist journey! ❤️

  • Raza Hasanovic

    I’m so happy I found your blog. I’m just starting out with my own and I aspire to make it as helpful and meaningful as yours!

    I’ve been transitioning into a more minimalist lifestyle this past year and I have genuinely found greater happiness. On top of that, I’ve been exposed to more and more information on intentional, minimal living. What an awesome community!

    If anyone wants to check out my blog and connect, I’d absolutely love that!
    My minimalist bedroom post just went live – Check it out on 🙂

    • Hi Raza, thank you for your sweet comment! And I LOVE your minimalist bedroom – looks like such a relaxing oasis! Thank you for sharing 🙂

  • These are great tips! Thank you. I just stumbled across your blog and I love it. I look forward to reading more of your content.

  • That’s just an amazing post! 🙂 I actually want to try make my life quite minimalistic and these steps will help me. Thank you. 🙂

    Lucie //

    • Hi Lucie! Thanks for stopping by and I’m glad you found these tips helpful 🙂 xx Jen

      PS: Your blog is beautiful!

  • Connie Gilbert

    At age 72, I am pleased to read young women simplifying their lives. You are wise before your time.

    Time blocking vs. multi-tasking: This one alone will be changing for the better.

    Trust my years of experience as a nurse, mother/grandmother, administrator/employer, teacher, choir director, and more.
    #1 There is no such thing as multi-tasking, Our brains focus on only one thing at a time. So we keep forcing it to change focus instantly from one thing to another. I cannot even imagine how much energy this takes.
    #2 Multi-tasking leads to mistakes, overlooks other possibilities and definitely is not efficient in the long run.
    #3 Employers that demand multi-tasking are setting you up for failure making it easier for them to deny pay increases and other advancements and fire you at will.
    #4 Honing your skills and talents will reap many more advantages vs. being “jill of all trades.”

    Jennifer, keep writing!

    • Hi Connie, thank you so much for your thoughtful comment and advice! I especially like #3 – I think it’s important to be mindful of how other people use your time. Thank you again and have a great day! 🙂

  • Great post, really enjoyable read, especially reading some of the comments after! For me living a small space has been one of the most revealing and surprising aspects of moving towards a minimalist lifestyle. I have lived in a Tiny House (my own), tiny garage apartment, and am about to move into a small two bed apartment. I just love smaller spaces (I think it appeals to my inner efficiency freak :). Cycling everywhere is another big money saver, a plus on the health front too. A big next focus is getting better at time blocking. For the first time in years I will soon have a big fridge freezer so the batch cooking sessions shall begin again too. Thanks for sharing this!

    • Hi Jim! Thanks so much for reading. Living in small space has definitely been amazing for me over the past 4 years – having a lower cost of living has given me SO much freedom to travel and explore a career change! As I mentioned in another comment, I’m about to move to a 2 bedroom place from my studio in a few weeks, which is an upsize, but I feel like now it’s a more mindful choice than it would have been pre-minimalism 🙂 Cheers Jen

  • Kathleen Kauffman

    Was wondering? Do I have to live in a studio to be a minimalist? So, maybe I am, but what if I get married, and he likes big houses? I haven’t discussed this change yet.

    • Hi Kathleen! I absolutely think you can live in any size house and be a minimalist; in fact, (I’ve lived in studio apartments the past 4 years, but I’ll actually be moving to a 2 bedroom flat in a few weeks! The key is being self-aware, knowing what size space you need, and being mindful of the tradeoffs your making when you upsize/downsize. For example, if you have a bigger house that you need and it takes time/money/energy away from things that matter most … that’s not being a minimalist. But sometimes a bigger house is necessary or something you personally value more – this is ok too! If this confuses you a bit, check out this post: I think this will help clear things up 🙂

      • Betty Salera

        keep your options open and be flexible!

  • Love these tips! I’m definitely going to look into setting up rules for my email inbox!
    Thank you <3

  • Jdeetwo

    This article is refreshing and inspiring! Thank you Jennifer:)