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.
This post contains affiliate links, which means I recommend products and make a small commission on purchases at no additional cost to you. Click here for the full disclosure statement.
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
- 2. Rent instead of buying
- 3. Do less housework
- 4. Watch less TV
- 5. Embrace simple eating
- 6. Automate, automate, automate
- 7. Save an emergency fund
- 8. Dress with a minimalist wardrobe
- 9. Make laundry day easier
- 10. Plan to shop
- 11. Stop reading magazines or any other medium that encourages unhealthy comparisons
- 12. Stop experimenting with beauty products
- 13. Use rules and filters to manage your inbox
- 14. Try time-blocking and energy tracking
- 15. Surround yourself with awesome people
- 16. Drive one car or go car-free
- 17. Spend on things that make life easier
- 18. Slow down + spend time outdoors
- 19. Leave traditional 9-5 employment
- 20. Cultivate self-acceptance
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:
- Declutter your home
- Change your expectations
- 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:
- How to Create a Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe (A Complete Guide)
- What To Do When You Have Too Many Clothes
- 7 Reasons Why You Struggle to Declutter Clothes + What to Do About It
Want a sneak peek inside my closet? Click here for a behind-the-scenes tour!
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.
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
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:
- 17 Heart-Centred Ways to Simplify Your Life
- 7 Journal Prompts to Inspire Simplicity
- 13 Simple Living Tips: How to Stress Less + Enjoy Life
- My Minimalist Daily Routine: Embracing Slow + Simple Every Day
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!)
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