Inside: a realistic guide on how to make life easier. As a mum of two small kids with a home and business to run, I’ve learned there are little things we can do to reduce stress and overwhelm in daily life.
Like many people, I have a lot on my plate. Between work, home and family, my life has the potential to bury me. There’s always something to do, something else to worry about—am I right?
Well, the truth is, it doesn’t have to be this way.
I’m not promising perfection, of course, but I’ve spent the last decade simplifying. Slowly but surely, small changes to my daily routines and habits have made a big difference in my quality of life.
This isn’t a magic solution and I’m not denying the systematic challenges that many face, but if you want an easier life I think it’s worth experimenting with a few new habits. Here are 15 things to try if you want less stress and more joy at the end of the day.
15 tips that will make your life easier
As you read through this list of simple living tips, I encourage you to think creatively about how to apply these ideas in your own life.
What works for me might not be appropriate for you but I think most of the broader principles are universal tips to make life easier. If something doesn’t work, tweak it until it does.
- 1. create your own boundaries and write a “yes/no” list
- 2. options for simplifying mealtime
- 3. practise the ‘pause’ before making decisions
- 4. go to bed earlier at least once a week
- 5. do a ‘pain point audit’ + look for quick wins
- 6. find a home for everything
- 7. what can you repeat or automate?
- 8. declutter your home and life
- 9. be intentional: ask “why am I doing this?”
- 10. create flow in your schedule
- 11. Create morning + evening routines
- 12. transform difficult tasks into something easier or enjoyable
- 13. set daily intentions that prioritise joy
- 14. shift your spending from ‘stuff’ to services
- 15. make peace with slow progress
1. create your own boundaries and write a “yes/no” list
I’m probably not the first person to tell you that boundaries are important. We all need to know our limits and ask others to respect them. If you’re not doing this, check out this list of personal boundaries and start implementing them.
But that’s just a starting point. In addition to setting boundaries with other people, You can also set boundaries with yourself.
Here’s an easy way to get started. Pull out a pen and paper, and ask yourself two questions:
- What do I want more of and less of in my life?
- What are some simple ways I can implement this on a daily basis?
For example, when my kids were young, I wanted to spend less time cleaning and more time resting! And as impossible as it might sound, there were things I could do to achieve this. Things like not doing housework while my daughter was napping.
There were trade-offs, of course. My house was messy during the day until my husband got home and then we’d tackle it together. For some, that would only add stress, but for me, giving myself permission not clean during naptime was a huge weight off my shoulder.
I wasn’t wasting my valuable time and energy each day debating over what I should do because I already made the decision.
This is so important because I found that it was indecision—the mental load of second-guessing myself—that really sent my stress levels through the roof.
This is just one example of something I implemented in my personal life, but I’m not suggesting you should do the exact same thing if you have younger kids. But be creative; think about the ways you spend your time, money and energy. What else can you pre-decide to make life easier?
2. options for simplifying mealtime
Growing up, no one ever warned me how much time and energy I’d one day spend deciding what to make for dinner every night.
Seriously, does it ever end?
I’m kidding, of course, but I think most people would agree that simplifying mealtime makes life so much easier. There are many options, and here is a list of ways for you to consider:
- meal planning – a great option if you don’t mind having a regular schedule and you’re good at sticking to a plan
- meal prepping – this is meal planning on steroids, not only do you decide ahead of time but you prep meals too
- meal delivery services – there are so many choices, from fully cooked meals to dinner kits
- simple eating – this is a method where I take the concept of a capsule wardrobe and personal uniform and apply it in the kitchen.
Everyone is different and there is no one right way to simplify mealtime. However, if feeding your family is a source of stress, then investing time and energy to find a system that works for YOU is essential.
3. practise the ‘pause’ before making decisions
This is one of the most simple yet powerful life hacks you’ll ever hear.
Practice pressing ‘pause’ before you make any decision.
Slow down and stop for a moment before you:
- make a new purchase
- decide what to eat
- say ‘yes’ to an invitation
You get the idea. It just takes a minute (or often, seconds) but slowing down helps me make more intentional choices. I act in alignment with my values and priorities, instead of reacting to the situation and making impulsive decisions.
It’s a small thing but it makes such a difference in the long run. Think about it—when you consider your biggest problems, how many came from hasty decisions?
Slowing down is one of the best ways to avoid stress before it happens, and if you happen to find a little time for yourself along the way, even better!
4. go to bed earlier at least once a week
I don’t care who you are—one of the most important things in life is getting enough sleep.
When you’re tired, everything in life is harder. Simple daily tasks take twice as long, small things get under your skin, and it’s hard to focus on important jobs.
I know this because, between my two kids, I went nearly three years without getting more than two hours of uninterrupted sleep. So on that note, I know that going to bed earlier or getting more sleep isn’t always possible.
But if it is, prioritise it.
From experience, I know that when your physical health suffers so does everything else. If you need to order a pizza or leave the dishes in the sink once a week, then do it. Getting sleep and putting your own needs first are absolute lifesavers in the long run.
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5. do a ‘pain point audit’ + look for quick wins
This is an idea inspired by Denise Duffield-Thomas, an author and money coach. She talks about it in terms of upgrading your life, but honestly—I think it’s even simpler than that.
All of us have problems in life that we just have to accept and deal with. For example, nothing on this list is going to make the stress of dealing with a sick loved one disappear.
But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth improving (or hopefully eradicating) the little things that trip you up each day. And the best place to start is with a pain point audit.
Here’s how it works. Close your eyes and imagine that you’re walking through your everyday life. Or you could just pay attention as you go through your day, but I know that’s harder sometimes. Regardless, you’re looking for friction.
What are the little things, the pain points, that you put up with because they’re seemingly insignificant? For example, maybe you’re always low on petrol (gas) for your car, or maybe you can never find your keys.
On their own, these things are a minor inconvenience, but they add up day after day until it creates an underlying level of stress in your life.
So start brainstorming. Get creative and look for the easiest way to remove each pain point. Buy a hook for your keys, put a phone charger in every room, or start ordering your groceries online.
I know you’re going to tell me that finding time is a problem, but sometimes you have to slow down to speed up. A couple of minutes here and there might be all you need to iron some of the wrinkles from your busy life.
6. find a home for everything
Having a home for everything isn’t about being a clean freak or obsessing about organising everything.
Instead, it’s about less stress, less decision-making, and a lighter mental load.
When everything has a place, you don’t have to waste valuable time or energy figuring out what to do next. And this applies to everything, not just physical stuff. Develop a system for capturing to-do list items and appointments too—when you get things out of your brain and into reliable systems, there’s less for you to worry about.
7. what can you repeat or automate?
I think we tend to overestimate how much variety we need in life, to our own detriment. We’re constantly looking for new recipes, new outfit ideas, and so much more—but why make things so difficult?
Instead of reinventing the wheel, why not make things easier by looking for things you can repeat:
- Dress with a capsule wardrobe and wear the same outfits on repeat
- Have regular theme nights for dinner, such as Taco Tuesday
- Use canned responses to answer questions you’re frequently asked
These are just a few ideas but think outside the box and stop making unnecessary work for yourself—you don’t always need new solutions to old problems.
Also, if you want to conserve mental energy, look for things you can automate. Get your toilet paper delivered once a month, and automatically transfer your savings to your bank account; technology is changing every day so always be on the lookout for things that you can take off your plate.
8. declutter your home and life
As a general rule, less stuff equals less stress. It’s just math; when you have less to clean, less to buy, and less to do, your life gets easier.
Decluttering frees up time, energy and even money—resources that are in short supply for most of us—and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. As a shopaholic turned minimalist, I learned there are so many ways that minimalism can change your life.
If you’re interested but need help getting started, I wrote a free decluttering guide. Subscribe below to get your free copy!
9. be intentional: ask “why am I doing this?”
Create the habit of regularly asking yourself: “Why am I doing this?” and if you don’t have a good answer to the question … then maybe you need to reconsider what you’re doing!
I’ve learned there are things that we do every day, either out of habit or because it’s what we think we “should” be doing, that add absolutely no value to our lives.
Asking this simple question helps identify the purpose of our actions (or the lack thereof), which in turn helps us to clearly see what we need to let go of.
10. create flow in your schedule
Another great way to make life easier is by creating flow in your schedule.
You’re probably already doing this already because sometimes it just makes sense. For example, my gym is next to a grocery store, so I do most of my grocery shopping after my pilates class. Pairing these two errands together saves me running all over town, but it’s more than that.
One of the best things you can do to create flow in your schedule is to pay attention to your energy.
Try writing a list of tasks that require high energy and those that require low energy. Then think about your energy levels and compare the two, keeping in mind that life is naturally easier when the two align.
For example, I don’t mind folding laundry so for me, it’s a low-energy task. I can easily do it while on the sofa, watching TV at night, so it doesn’t make sense to do this chore at midday when I’m at my most productive.
This simple trick helps me get more done without more effort. My to-do list doesn’t change, but it feels so much easier because I’m in the flow.
11. Create morning + evening routines
I was always very hesitant about creating routines until my daughter was born. Then suddenly I had a daily routine for everything—naptime, playtime, bathtime, bedtime and more!
And you know what? I loved it, and my daughter did too! Instead of being restrictive like I feared, it made life easier because I didn’t have to think about what needed to be done. Instead, I could just relax and enjoy the moment.
Your routines should be a reflection of your lifestyle and preferences, but here are some ideas for a simple morning routine to get you started.
12. transform difficult tasks into something easier or enjoyable
No matter how much you simplify your life, there will still be times when you have to do things that you don’t want to do. But there are ways to transform difficult tasks, instead of complaining about them.
For example, no one likes a long commute but if it’s unavoidable, then work with what you have. Listen to a podcast, catch up with friends, or play good music!
Be creative and think outside the box—dance while you’re washing dishes or put on a face mask while you’re cleaning the bathroom. After all, if you’re going to do something difficult anyway, you may as well do everything you can to make it a pleasant experience.
13. set daily intentions that prioritise joy
Every morning, ask yourself “What do I need to have a good day today?” and then set your daily intentions. This is powerful for several reasons.
First of all, it helps you identify the priorities on your to-do list. Instead of beating yourself up by trying to get everything done, you can focus on what will really make a difference. This is a simple productivity hack that’s proven to work.
But life is more than what you do. It’s also about how you feel.
Your well-being matters and you should think about it, at least as often as you think about your to-do list (if not more!). I know you’re busy but you also need to make time for yourself, even if it’s just something small.
Set daily intentions that prioritise your joy as well as your to-do list, and life will only get easier.
14. shift your spending from ‘stuff’ to services
As a former shopaholic, I know how easy it is to waste a few dollars here and there, buying things you don’t really need. Trust me, I’m not judging you—but I am inviting you to look at how you’re spending your disposable income.
Try asking yourself this question: If I had $100 each month that I had to use to make my life easier, what would I do with it?
Would you hire a cleaner? Or maybe a babysitter? Someone to mow the lawn so you don’t have to do it yourself?
I recognise that not everyone has money to spare, but if you do would your life be easier if you spent more money on help and less money at Target? For some reason, most people feel more comfortable buying ‘stuff’ than paying for services.
But remember your time is valuable and worth more than anything you’ll find on the clearance rack.
15. make peace with slow progress
Life is hard when we try to do too much all at once. Of course, some things are beyond your control, but how often do you stress over arbitrary deadlines just because you want things done quicker?
If the answer is too often, work on making peace with slow progress.
Never forget that you can only do so much on any given day. We all have limits, no matter how much we “hustle”—so the only question is will you give yourself the gift of moving slowly or will you beat yourself up for not doing more?
In my experience, the output is more or less the same. The only difference is how you feel about yourself. So slow down, celebrate the small wins and allow your life to be easy.
Sometimes giving yourself permission is the most challenging step.