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20 Ways I’ve Simplified My Life

Inside: Are you looking for ways to simplify life? Here are 20 ideas to inspire you. 

If your life is busy and cluttered, then I see you, and you are not alone. For years, I lived in a constant state of stress and overwhelm until making the conscious decision to pursue a simplified life.

It wasn’t easy; I was a shopaholic and workaholic accustomed to too much stuff and too little time. Slowing down to enjoy the little things felt like a fantasy a decade or so ago.

But since then, I’ve simplified and surprised myself with the results. (I even went as far as to embrace the minimalist lifestyle, which has been liberating in many different ways!) But whether you’re interested in minimalism or not, you can still enjoy the benefits of a simpler life.

Here are 20 simple things you can do to simplify and create a little space to breathe along the way.

"20 Ways I've Simplified My Life ideas to inspire simplicity" in a white box with an image of a woman writing in a journal with a bouquet of white flowers laying on the table beside her.

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How to Simplify Life (What Worked for Me)

Before I share the long list of things I’ve done to simplify my life, I need to make one thing clear.

My way is not the only way or even the best way. I share my story hoping it will encourage you to take a closer look at your everyday life and identify opportunities that align with your values, priorities and lifestyle. If this blog post helps anyone take a deep breath at the end of the day, because they have less stress and more space, then I’m a happy camper.

But don’t feel pressured if my journey to a simple life looks different to yours. We all walk our own paths in life, and you’ll find no judgement here. So on that note, let’s dive in!

1. Downsize your home

One of the most significant changes I’ve made since embracing minimalism is learning to live in a smaller 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 nearly six years now and have added a second child to the mix, but it still feels like home.

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. 

2. Rent instead of buying

OK—I know this is going to be extremely controversial, but I have found that renting simplifies life so much more than owning your own home! 

I have some experience; I was a homeowner for six years before downsizing, 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 was just 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 I might eat my words in the next few years, depending on the market. But for now, there’s less mental clutter when we rent, and that can only be a good thing in this season of life.

3. 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:

  1. Declutter your home
  2. Change your expectations
  3. Create minimalist cleaning routines

4. 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 (although we did have access to YouTube and movies on our laptops).

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.

Of course, this is harder with kids who want to watch their ‘shows’, but it’s an opportunity to set clear boundaries around screen time. I’m actually more intentional about using my phone or being on social media because I know the little eyes are watching.

5. Embrace 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 or cook elaborate meals. Instead, I keep things relaxed and simple by embracing a “food uniform”, which is similar to uniform dressing. I have a few go-to meal structures (like big salads or stir-fries), but I rarely follow recipes. Instead, I buy simple food that I like, and then I eat what I feel like!

It’s a simple process, but it can be a bit hard to get your head around at first (just because it’s so different from what people are used to), so I wrote this post explaining all about simple eating. It will save you money at the grocery store and time in the kitchen, so it’s worth checking out!

6. Automate, automate, automate

This refers mostly to my financial life—almost all my banking and bill paying is done automatically online—and my business, 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 a small thing, but since I know I’ll always use deodorant, it’s just one less thing to think about! I do the same with toilet paper and laundry detergent too.

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! 

7. 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 your bank account makes your financial life so much simpler. 

Having an emergency fund gives you breathing room, so you have time and space to make more intentional decisions

8. Dress with a minimalist wardrobe

As a former shopaholic who 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.

Sold on the idea of a minimalist wardrobe? Here are some posts that will help you get started:

Want a sneak peek inside my closet? Click here for a behind-the-scenes tour!

The Simply + Fiercely Show With Jennifer Burger

The Simply + Fiercely Show is a podcast for women who want to clear their clutter and create space for freedom and joy. If your life keeps getting bigger—but not better—then it’s time to declutter from the inside out. LISTEN NOW

9. 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.

10. 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, regretful 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.)

But one habit that 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 me 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, 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.

Related Post: How to Stop Buying Clothes You Never Wear

11. Stop reading magazines or any other medium that encourages unhealthy comparisons

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.

12. 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 marketer’s dream—they know exactly how to prey on your insecurities, and I fell 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.

13. Use rules and filters to manage your inbox

In almost every email management system (Google, Outlook, Apple Mail), you can set up rules or filters 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 them when it suits me.

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

14. Try time-blocking and energy tracking

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 definitely helps simplify because I get more done in less time.

But if you want to take things a step further, combine time-blocking with energy tracking. Pay attention to your energy levels—when do you have the most energy or feel the most focused? Use this information to help you plan your time blocking, and I think you’ll be surprised by what happens!

15. 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.

16. Drive one car or go car-free

In an ideal world, I would love to go car-free, but we’re not quite brave enough to give up our car with two kids. However, we have been a one-car household for over a decade, which makes life simpler and cheaper.

We spend less on insurance, registration fees, parking permits, petrol and maintenance—and it all adds up! Plus we walk or take public transport more often.

17. 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 add value to my life.

This fluctuates depending on my season of life, but here are a few examples:

  • 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 affiliate link)
  • quality items that will last (comfortable shoes are a must!)

18. Slow down + spend time outdoors

I’ve found that the more time I spend outdoors, the more I simplify my mind. Being in nature helps me slow down and be present.

19. Leave traditional 9-5 employment

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. But I suppose that’s the heart of what simple living truly means.

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).

20. Cultivate self-acceptance

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 your life:


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!)

I created 7 Simple Days for anyone who feels like their life is cluttered, busy and out of alignment. It’s a short course designed to help you find clarity, define your priorities, and take small, practical steps forward.

Here are what just a few of the more than 2,500 like-minded souls that have participated in 7 Simple Days have to say about the experience:

Wow I just think that anyone wanting to change how they manage their life should look into this course. It was a real eye opener. After the death of my husband last month I needed help to understand my new life and how to prepare going forward.” -Robin J, Maryland, USA

I’m on day four and already I feel a clarity in my life. My wife and I are doing 7 Simple Days together and we’ve found that it helps us get on the same page. It’s strengthening our marriage and making us happier.” -Jenna W

I realised that my ‘ideal life’ is not about external circumstances, but small rituals that I can put into place now. I experimented with scattering them throughout my day and felt better for it.” -Lauren, 24, UK

“Over the years I have done research, reading blog post, following workbooks etc etc. on personal development, minimalism and living intentionally. 7 Simple Days summarizes everything I found out and experienced in my life in such a clear and inspiring way, PLUS I learned more by asking a lot of questions. Thanks!” – Ellen F

“Very thought provoking exercises. They really helped me to understand what I value most and take steps to make sure I’m dedicating more of my time to those things. Thanks for sharing this mini-course. It was fun, eye opening and helped with self improvement. Tonya E

Ready to get started? Click here to learn more about how you can join 7 Simple Days and kick-start your simple and intentional living journey today.

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48 thoughts on “20 Ways I’ve Simplified My Life”

  1. My motto must be, “What if I need it one day?” (books, bowls, pots n pans, etc.)
    How can I get beyond this? Also, I seem to want to ORGANIZE my clutter rather than getting rid of it. Thus, I never have ENOUGH time to get it organized. Help!

  2. AWESOME. If this were a checklist for my life, I’m missing only 2 checks (#13 and #16). I owe 2 vehicles bc I need a truck for my business. Setting up more email filters has been added to my to-do list!! ** If I can be so bold as to add one caveat: if someone already owes a property (as you did), renting a room or gaining a housemate is worth exploring. I’m a landlord for several houses, yet I don’t live in any of them. I rent in the southern U.S. so I can enjoy a better climate in the winter months.

    • Hi Maria, I love that idea about renting out a room — thank you for the addition! I think it’s so important to brainstorm all the different ways we can simplify because it’s not one size fits all. Have a lovely day and thank you for reading 🙂 Jen

  3. Hi Jennifer! Been following you awhile. Been on my own “rightsizing” journey since buying an 800sf home after a corporate layoff 25 years ago. I’ve been living many of your minimalism “tips” & I’m a frugal Yankee😉. As age progresses, I’ve been invited to join a family real estate project, by renovating a loft in the 3000sf newly purchased “compound”. My concern, my two sisters, the new owners are major consumers. Not sure I share their economic pursuits, either. Any thoughts for a smooth transition?

  4. Hi Jennifer!
    I love that kind of topic which speaks directly to my heart and life principles.

    Like you mentioned in your guide to being present, we don’t need to meditate for hours to appreciate the benefits of it. In fact, I do it only 10 minutes each morning just before I start to work.

    I’ve found that it helps me start the day more positively, calm and focused.

    I also love to read a few words and quotes like by famous and sometimes lesser known author.
    Here are a few I like:
    With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts. Eleanor Roosevelt
    Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud. Maya Angelou
    Keep looking up… that’s the secret of life. Charlie Brown

  5. your lifestyle seems complicated compared to mine. I don’t do gym , don’t own a car etc etc. But then I think Americans are great consumers and don’t really know what minimalist living really is.

  6. 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: https://www.simplyfiercely.com/what-it-really-means-to-be-a-minimalist/ I think this will help clear things up 🙂

  7. 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

  8. 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!

  9. 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 http://www.simplyraza.blogspot.com 🙂

  10. 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!

  11. 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 ♡ http://www.alwaysinspiredlife.com

  12. 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

  13. 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.

  14. 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

      • 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 😀

    • 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 🙂

  15. 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.

  16. 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


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