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42 Ways to Make Life Simpler

Image by notsogoodphotography (license).

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”

“The aspects of things that are most important for us are hidden because of their simplicity and familiarity.”
Ludwig Wittgenstein

I love simplifying my life.

It makes me more effective and life less stressful. It makes me calmer, more energetic and happier.

So today I’d like to share 42 ways to make your life simpler. I hope you’ll find something inspiring and helpful among these tips.

1. Mix things up. Try the opposite. Have the vegetarian dish if you always go for the meat. Walk away from a stupid conflict instead of making it worse. Let one thing go if you often cling to things. Make a habit of mixing things up to grow your life in small or bigger ways. And to make it easier and simpler to step out of your comfort zone in general when you really need to.

2. Get up 20 minutes earlier. This will help you to reduce stress in the morning and during the rest of the day.

3. Be 10 minutes early for meetings and appointments. This will help you to make your time of travel a time of rest and relaxation instead of stressful. And you will not be late.

4. Single-task. You be more focused, less stressed and get to done more quickly. So do one thing at a time and do it with your full attention.

5. Ask yourself: am I keeping things extremely simple? If not, figure out how you can do that in the situation you are in.

6. Ask yourself: will this matter 5 years from now? Or even 5 weeks from now? Do this to avoid making mountains out of molehills.

7. Buy things with the money you have earned and saved. Avoid getting into debt.

8. Learn a few recipes and cook. You’ll save money and probably eat healthier.

9. When you cook, cook more than you’ll eat. This will help you to spend less time on cooking and washing dishes. And you’ll have an extra dinner or two to just reheat when you don’t have time or energy to cook.

10. Write things down. Pretty much everyone’s memory is leaky. So help yourself. Write down what you need to do or shop for today. Write down what your top 4 priorities in life are and post that note where you can see it every day.

11. Remember that life is larger than you may think it is. You do not know everything and you are not always right. Remembering this makes it easier for me to learn things, to accept other viewpoints, to create changes and to stay more open.

12. Risk making mistakes. Learn from them. Then do again with that helpful new experience and knowledge in mind.

13. Do what YOU really, really, really want to do. Do not get stuck in trying to live someone else’s dream.

14. Go grocery shopping once a week. You’ll save money and time if you make the effort to plan for a week and to shop for it all at once.

15. Go grocery shopping when you not hungry. You’ll buy more healthy food instead of impulse buying yourself through the store.

16. Enjoy the simple pleasures. An apple, the latest episode of your favorite show, fresh and clean bed sheets, a hug and kiss, holding hands, the sun and blossoming nature after a long and cold winter.

17. Have a glass of water. Instead of eating when you are bored or when are having a craving have 1-2 glasses of water. This will help you to keep to those cravings away until the next meal and to maintain your health and weight.

18. Eat slower. Make your lunch time a time of relaxation rather than a time to just add to the stress of your morning. Try putting down the fork between bites to slow down the eating.

19. Be kind. Be kind to other people and especially to yourself.

20. Write shorter emails. 1-5 sentences is often enough.

21. Write emails only once a day. Batch and process them all at once all the way to an empty inbox.

22. Learn about ways to keep stress down and try them out. Examples would be mindfulness, setting human standards for yourself and saying no. A few such habits can help you to drastically cut down on the stress in your life.

23. Give everything its home. Then you know where to put the item when you have used it. You’ll know where to find it when you need it again. And you’ll reduce the clutter in your home or work space.

24. Slow down and enjoy and pay attention what is actually happening today. Instead of just rushing through the day and always on to the next thing.

25. Spend more time with people who make life simpler. And less time with people who make life unnecessarily complicated.

26. Exercise every week. This will reduce stress, up your energy levels and in my experience reduces negative thoughts.

27. Declutter. Declutter your life of the things that aren’t really that useful or meaningful for you anymore. Give that stuff away to someone who needs it. Or throw it out. A question that can help you to know if it is time to declutter something out of your life is: have I used this item in the last year?

28. Look for advice from people who have been where you are. Learn from people who have been in the situation you are in and had the challenge you are having.

29. Stop trying to please everyone. There will always be people who you don’t get along with or that do not like you for some reason.

30. Break a task down into smaller and actionable pieces. Single-task that first piece until it is done. Then do the same with the next piece. And so on.

31. Stop trying to do things perfectly. Go for good enough instead and when you are there you are done. Get things all the way to done this way and then move on to the next thing.

32. Take a minute and just breathe a couple of times a day. This will help you to reduce the stress and overwhelm of your day. It will help you to reconnect with the present moment, to create a habit of living more mindfully and to focus all your attention on what is happening right now.

33. Spend just 20% of your time on dwelling on a problem and 80% of your time focusing on a solution. Instead of the other way around.

34. Focus on a few priorities in your life. Keep things simple to be able to put enough effort, attention and energy into those most important things. Rather than becoming spread too thin, rarely finishing things and being distracted by all those many other things you want to do or that feel you need to do too.

35. Keep a journal. By writing the facts and your thoughts and feelings down in a journal it becomes easier to work through a challenge and to find a good solution. You can also use a journal to track your actual results instead of guesstimating how your life is going. And to better remember all the things that you did well or that went well if you worry often or have quite a bit of negative thoughts.

36. Stop doing what you don’t like doing anymore. Life changes and so do you. If you you don’t like doing something anymore then perhaps it is time to stop doing that (even if it may take some time before you can do so by for example switching jobs).

37. Use a very simple workspace. My work space is just a laptop on a small black desk made out of wood. I use a comfy chair and there is room for my glass of water beside the computer. That’s it. There are no distractions here. Just me, the computer and the water.

38. Spend 15 minutes each Sunday to plan the next week. Write down your plans for the week, organize your prioritized to-do list and get ready for the week before you are in the middle of it all. This will help you to find more clarity, get more of the most important things done next week and minimize stress.

39. Cancel subscriptions for TV-channels, newsletters and magazines you rarely get around to watching or reading anyway.

40. Ask instead of guessing. Reading minds is hard. So, instead ask questions and communicate. This will help you to minimize unnecessary conflicts, misunderstandings, negativity and waste or time and energy.

41. Make one change at a time and start small. Focus on one habit or area at a time. If you want to start running or decluttering, start with doing just a few minutes of that activity a day or week. Then gradually increase the amount of time you spend on that activity to make it easier to adopt the new habit.

42. Be lazy. By using the tips in this article you’ll be able to get things done more quickly and in a simpler way. This will give more time in a regular week to simply be lazy. To just take it easy alone or with family or a friend, to not do much at all. I highly recommend spending time with being lazy every week to relax, to mindfully enjoy the small pleasures of life and to recharge yourself so that you can be effective and focused again later on.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Great list. I especially like the suggestion about breathing, often overlooked! I try to start the day with several belly breaths, and I try to remember to shift my breathing from my chest down to my belly when I catch myself tensing up or getting agitated. Definitely a great way to simplify things.

  • I love the spirit from this article. And having as simple life as possible is always what I am chasing. Because I believe life is the simpler, the better and the happier.

  • I especially like #11(life is larger than you think) and #40(ask instead of guess). People seem to be so afraid of not being enough. If people would just learn to accept that they are not everything and they can learn from what is around them, I think they would be much better off.

  • Loved all the points.

    #2 is dead on, but I times it by 6. I get up two hours earlier than I used to and I find I’m much more relaxed because I have that extra time in the day.

    And I needed #6. I seem to be surrounded by inconsiderate neighbors who think little about anything but themselves – but your tip to ask yourself: will this matter 5 years from now – is something I need to focus on. I can’t remember the things that bothered me 5 years ago, and I’m sure I won’t remember this 5 years down the road. I will remember the joy spent with my dogs and husband though so that should be my focus.

    Great post.

  • I love this list. Especially that it isn’t just about simplifying, but also about making every minute count AND making life more interesting, intentional (a favorite theme in my work) and meaningful. It’s going on my bulletin board this week.

  • I like 34. It helps to stop trying to save the world.

  • These were EXACTLY what I needed to be reading today, thank you. :) I already do a lot of these things, but it’s nice to have the reminder to simplify, declutter, enjoy your surroundings, and lead a happier life. Have a great day! :) -Kristin

  • Henrik,

    As always, thanks for sharing. I really enjoyed how the list covered so many aspects of life…applicable at all hours of the day!

    In the spirit of appropriate overlap, #10 and #34 really drive home a great thought to focus on life’s big priorities. So often, we take on everything BUT those. We put out all the small fires and ignore the big ones burning inside ourselves!

    Many thanks again for sharing…great stuff.


  • Thank you for some wonderful suggestions!

  • I am new to your blog and also blogging for myself. I have dabbled before but now I’m really hooked and working hard to make a great blog which leaves people feeling inspired and happy.

    Your blog is such great reading and I particularly love this post. What a great reference point when we are stuck for ideas and amazing a life where they are all implemented regularly.

    Thank you Henrik for such an inspirational blog.

  • Jenny

    Hi Henrik,

    I just wanted to say thank-you for compiling this incredible list and let you know that you are truly helping me and many others to live happier and simpler lives. So thank you!

  • I have so many people come through my doors who just dread getting up and facing another day. Unhappy, negative, rainy-day attitude that they spread to others like “Typhoid Mary”. The ones coming to me are desperate and feel they have run out of options. People, you need to read an do. This site has great tips. Even with small changes, it is like the sun is coming out and shining again. Cudos to you, Henrik.

  • Life is truly simple. Minority will agree with this; but only a small portion of the minority will actually go ahead to live a simple life. This post truly addresses a simple, happy way to live life.