Ten easy, actionable steps you can take today to simplify life and make your days easier to get through. Cut the clutter and the noise by clearing more space, re-thinking your hobbies, building routine into your days and making sure you finish what you start.
1. Unsubscribe from all the email you don’t need
Time: 20 minutes
This is such an easy one to do, but many of us just ignore most of the email in our inbox and pick out only the important ones to read. The rest sit there, taking up space, and potentially hiding more pressing things that need our attention.
Over your lunch break, or perhaps while you’re sat with the kids watching CBeebies, open up your email inbox. Don’t try any heavy organisation, instead just open and unsubscribe from everything that you know you don’t ever read.
It will cut down on the noise and make sure the emails that matter remain at the top where they will be seen.
2. Clear the floors
Time: 30 minutes
Nothing makes a house look or feel cluttered like having stuff all over the floors. Even if you do nothing else, getting everything off the floor except the furniture will make the house feel like a cleaner, calmer space.
Put all the toys away, collect up all the washing, and find a home for everything else that you have piles of. Don’t worry about getting it perfect, just get the floors clear and enjoy how it feels. Bonus points for hoovering up afterwards!
3. Clear off your kitchen counters
Time: 20 minutes
In an ideal world the kitchen would be for cooking and nothing else. A great way to simplify life (and to help you make difficult decisions on clutter) is by ensuring that each space in your home has a defined purpose.
Keep the kitchen functional for mealtimes (which means less stress when preparing food), by taking everything off the counters. Piles of paperwork, stray pieces from toy sets and board games, batteries, broken items and all other clutter does not belong in the area that you use to plan and prepare food.
4. Clear The Table
Time: 10 minutes
Get everything off the dining table and use it for meal times. It’s not a desk, office, storage area or cupboard. Having that clear space in your house invites you to sit down and use it, instead of piling junk on top of it and creating visual clutter that increases stress levels.
It has taken a long time to get into the habit of doing this in our house (we have one table which we use for eating, but also for homework and everything else). Most evenings after dinner I will ensure that the table is clear for the next morning and it means less stress, everyone eats where they should, and less stuff gets knocked over.
5. Eat At the table
Time: None! Just do it!
Do you eat at the table or on your lap? Define your mealtimes by sitting at a table to eat. Whether with a family, or on your own, taking time to sit and eat your meal is mindful, gives you breathing space between all the other to dos, and can be a time to enjoy socialising with others, or reflecting on and enjoying the food you are eating.
Eating while watching TV, reading emails, or flicking though a magazine is proven to distract us enough that we physically eat more than we need to. Part of learning to simplify life is learning how to do one thing at a time – and enjoy it.
6. Get Rubbish Out Of The House
Time: 1 hour
By this I don’t mean empty your bins. I mean make a point of disposing of things that you’ve been putting off getting rid of. Broken items, garden waste, piles of recycling, piles of things for the charity shop and things that you need to give back to someone else.
Get all these things out of your house and off your to do list. Decluttering is not just making the decision to let something go, it’s getting it out of the house as well. Do both and your decluttering will be a success. Do the first and you’re just creating trip hazards and adding to feeling that there is too much to do and not enough time.
7. Cut out excess hobbies
Time: 1 hour
We cannot possibly do everything. We live in a world where we are exposed to almost infinite amounts of information. But we only have one lifetime. If you’re interested in lots of things you may have acquired a huge amount of stuff over the years, some of which is bound to be gathering dust.
There is nothing wrong with changing your mind and starting new endeavours, but focusing on one or two things you love will bring you greater reward in terms of mastery than dipping in and out of 20 different interests.
Face up to who you are and how much time you have. Maybe you don’t need to learn to rollerblade and crochet after all. Perhaps increasing the depth of your skill in the hobbies you really love will give you greater satisfaction that flitting from one thing to another and never really settling on anything.
8. Set a bedtime
Time: 2 minutes
This might sound odd, but mentally allocating a time for lights out does two things:
- It helps to stop you from staying up late four nights a week watching crap TV or surfing the web mindlessly, because you have no real bedtime to aim for, and,
- It give you extra energy in the form of more, and more regular, sleep
The simplest changes (like aiming for lights out by 10pm most nights), can become habits that sustain us by enhancing our health and wellbeing. Sleep is notoriously lacking in most people’s lives. Make sure you are getting enough.
9. Finish something
Unfinished stuff is the story of our lives. Get into the habit of finishing what you start. Pick one thing that you haven’t finished yet and get it done. Having less half-finished stuff in your inbox, in your house and in your life makes for more peaceful days.
Getting into the habit of finishing things also helps you to focus on one goal at a time. Not only that, but completing projects gives you a sense of confidence in your ability to see things through to the end, making it more likely that you will finish the next task you start.
10. Know when To Call It Quits
Time: right now
There are some things that you don’t need to finish. Half sewn dresses, scrapbooks, DIY projects, and myriad other items that are begun and left languishing. These things all use up mental space and often physical space too. If something really needs to be done, can someone else help?
Don’t be obsessive about getting to the end of everything. Forgive yourself for taking on too much, and acknowledge that you will think more carefully about how you decide to spend your time in the future.
Your time is an asset – don’t waste it on things that don’t improve your life. Learn to discriminate between what matters and what is just another thing you’ve added to your to do list without thinking it through.