Monday, October 8, 2018

20 Ways To Simplify Your Life

What's the most important thing you do to "simplify" your life? Are you trying to save time? Money? Make things less complicated?

I have figured out quite a few things that help me in my quest for a kinder, gentler, more simple existence.

Hopefully some of these tips will help you, too!



This one is a no-brainer for me because I don't care about clothes. At all. For those of you who do care, you may be horrified by this suggestion, but it's one of the best parts of my own personal system.

I have a summer uniform and a winter uniform.

For winter, I wear a white T-shirt and black pants. I layer that up with hoodies, cardigans, jackets, vests, etc. But the basic uniform is white T and black pants.

When I shop, I buy a bunch of the exact same item to simplify this process. So, I have about 10 short-sleeve white T-shirts from LL Bean, and 10 black pants (half are work-out pants and the other half are easy-wear black pants from J Jill).

My summer uniform is a white T-shirt and cropped linen pants. 

That's it!

Wearing a uniform makes shopping easy and dressing easy. I can get ready in the morning in under five minutes.


If you want to jazz up the uniform, accessorize. I have fun jewelry, cardigans, hair clips, etc.



Hee hee. I know. Crazy! But this is pretty much the extent of my beauty routine. I wear no make-up, or just minimal make-up for a night out. It takes a couple of minutes. That's it.

My soap is lemon-scented. I love lemon!

I only buy cruelty-free products for everything. Please look for the cruelty-free mark when purchasing beauty products.


I use various brands of shampoo/conditioner for white/gray hair--I'm not partial to any one product. I finger-comb out the snarls in the shower. My only post-shower hair product is hair cream--also various products, whatever works. If I don't use the hair cream my big curly hair turns into a frizz-ball!

I get hair cuts a couple of times a year. No more coloring appointments. This has cut down care, cost, maintenance, etc. I have embraced the white/silver/gray hairs!

My "hair styling"--if you could call it that--is either to let my curly hair down naturally, or to wear it twisted up in a clip.

Easy. Fast. Cheap.




I don't have a gym membership. Walking is the cheapest, easiest, most flexible work-out.

It's free, you can do it anywhere. You can squeeze it into any time of the day, while you are doing errands (walk to the post office), etc.

I'm pretty much obsessed with walking.


Okay, this is sort of embarrassing. If the weather outside is really icy or a blizzard or a monsoon or something, I walk in the house.

No, I don't have a treadmill.

I have a loop I do inside the house, from my husband's office, through the kitchen, through the living room, down the hallway, and back again.

I listen to music while I walk. The cool thing about walking inside is that I can stop and dance (I'M A 1980s GIRL!) or do strengthening exercises any time I want to and my neighbors don't look at me like I'm a nut.

Cheap, easy, no equipment necessary!



This is probably the easiest (and most ridiculous) thing that has improved/simplified my household chores.

Make sure to run the dishwasher at night.

(Or, clean the dishes/kitchen at night).

In the morning you wake up with a clean kitchen. De-cluttering is one of the most important things to help with your mental well-being. Studies show that being surrounded by clutter in your home can greatly impact your anxiety and depression.

Turn on the music and wash the dishes. Even if you're tired!

By running the dishwasher at night, I wake up to a clean kitchen. I unload the dishes while my daughter gets ready for school, and then the dishwasher is empty and ready to be filled up during the day. Huge improvement on having dirty dishes collect all day causing more clutter.

Such a simple thing, but it totally improved my life!

I love the lemon-scented Mrs. Meyers products. I use 
the Mrs. Meyer's multi-surface every day cleaner with the lemon verbena scent. Also, the lemon verbena hand-soap.

Another helpful kitchen tip: I have a split sink, so I fill half the sink with soapy suds during the day. If I have pots/pans/anything that needs to soak, I throw them in there to make washing easier later. And the kitchen looks tidier without dirty pots all over the place.

Love the lemon-scented candle, too!


I start a load of laundry first thing in the morning before I go for my walk. It's ready for the dryer when I get home. This way, you get at least one load done per day.

Because I have back issues, I cannot carry super heavy laundry baskets. My new discovery (compliments of my college-age son) are these black collapsible bags. They hold a small load (not too heavy) and I can drag them around. 


Have a little bucket of your cleaning products in the bathroom. Hide it in a cabinet or behind the toilet. I've found that if the cleaning stuff is where you need it when you need it, it gets used. If it's on the other side of the house in a closet, forget about it.

I have wipes, a bottle of Lysol spray, and Meyer's spray for quick cleans of sink, toilet, tub.


I highly recommend creating a kitchen garden if you have the space. I have a variety of herbs and fruits/veggies in our garden. It's wonderful to be able to step outside, trim a bunch of fresh basil, and use it while cooking dinner. We harvested bowls and bowls of fresh raspberries this summer. Having a kitchen garden simplifies your weekly shopping and opens up a whole new culinary world! 

Herbs are basically weeds. They are SUPER easy to grow. Some of my favorites include basil, mint, oregano, lemon balm, lemon verbena, edible flowers (like Johnny Jump-Ups and Nasturtiums), and chives. Favorite veggies include English peas, radishes, pumpkins, tomatoes, eggplant, and hot peppers.

My kitchen garden is very low-maintenance. I hardly ever weed and let things get a little bit wild. Everything still tastes good!

We had an early summer batch and late summer batch. Yum!


One of my favorite things is to meander around my yard and collect flowers for a lovely (free) bouquet for the house.

Favorite plants include hydrangeas, ornamental grasses, peonies, herbs, flowering trees.

Bouquet picked from my front yard!


Worst part of taking care of the garden: WEEDING. Ugh!

My way of dealing with this...relax your expectations. It's okay if you have a few weeds in the garden. No one will die.

If I have the time/inclination to weed (ha!), I pick a small chunk to work on so I am not overwhelmed. Making small goals/tasks in the garden will keep the stress down.

You can also decrease the need to weed by covering spots with ground covers, herbs, mulch, etc. Simplify your life!


13. Daily Planner

Some folks have a planner on-line, some use a cute little journal. I have washi tape, stickers, colored markers for fun. Whatever floats your boat! I use my journal for these things:

**Daily schedule, including appointments
**Food journal
**Exercise journal
**Inspiration for writing projects
**Morning start-up routine

What is the "morning start-up routine?" At the top of each day I have these things written on the banner...


I check them off as they get finished. Once these things are done, I'm ready to start my day. I always feel better mentally when the bed is made (our bedroom is on the first floor, so people can see hiding the messy bedroom), the kitchen and bathroom are quick-cleaned, and laundry is started. For my health, I take my heart pills and go for a walk.

Five things done each morning. This structure helps with my peace of mind immensely.


Some people hate lists. It adds to their anxiety. For me, it's the opposite. I have weekly lists (goals), monthly, yearly (long-term), and sheets for each member of the family. This helps me to keep on top of medical appointments for everyone, school/camp schedules, conferences, etc.

I also do a separate sheet for writing/publishing goals and a schedule for this.

I have all the sheets in a clipboard next to my desk.

I LOVE checking things off the list. BEST FEELING EVER!


Having a regular schedule can be a huge stress-buster. I used to do this for weekly dinners...Monday (chicken), Tuesday (pasta), Wednesday (quesadilla), Thursday (vegetarian), Friday (soup/salad/sandwich night), etc. It made grocery-shopping easier, and evenings more relaxed. I wasn't running around like a nut trying to plan, shop, and cook meals.


To make sure your fridge, freezer, and pantry are stocked with all your favorites and go-to products, make a master list and save it on your computer. Print up a copy each week and circle the stuff you need to purchase.

It only takes about 15 minutes to create, and it will save you time and make you less forgetful.


Sunday is catch-up day and prep for the week. This simplifies your weekly schedule and combats stress.

**Try to finish up all loads laundry. It's nice to start the week with a bunch of clean clothes!

**Clean out fridge and pantry.

**Plan meals. Grocery shop for the week.

**Do some meal prep. I will hard-boil eggs, make a few containers of chopped veggies for snacks/salads. Chop up fruit in containers for my vegetarian daughter. All this stuff makes weekly mornings flow better.

**Are you on a diet? Try this! I have a shelf in my fridge filled with healthy snacks so when you find yourself totally starved, you have healthy options ready to go. This shelf includes cheese sticks, hummus, yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, containers of crunchy veggies, and buttermilk ranch dressing for dipping.


I've started this trend since my daughter enrolled in private school. If you attempt to use cash to pay for things (vs. credit cards), it will make you more mindful of each purchase. Do I really need this [fill-in-the-blank]? 

My husband and I are astounded by how much money we have saved this year. 

I still use my credit cards, but much more judiciously than I used to. 

Try this for a month and see what happens!



I try to incorporate the Danish concept of "Hygge" (being cozy, happy, leading a mindful simple life) into my every day schedule. 

The  most important thing for me...nature. Favorite activity: walking in the woods. If I don't have time for this, I might collect flowers, visit a plant nursery, spend a few minutes looking at birds in the neighborhood, even weeding the garden helps! I just need to connect to nature for a few minutes to keep me in my zen place. This is simple, cheap, easy, and guaranteed to improve your emotional well-being. Those Danes know what they're talking about!


What's a simple way to ensure you are taking good care of yourself each day?

Add HYGGE onto your daily to-do list!

To combat the long to-do list filled with errands and chores, I make sure to include something on my list every day that is just for me, something that makes me happy. It can be a small and simple thing...splurging on a flower bouquet at the market, having coffee with a friend, a walk on the Audubon trail. It doesn't need to be expensive or complicated. It's simple self-care.

One thing I have noticed over the years...just when I think I have things figured out, something changes and my plans for simplification no longer work. You have to be flexible! Especially as your kids grow and change. That's the biggest adjustment.

Figuring out what works for you and maintaining a system can be a life-saver.