Simple Ways to Uncomplicate Your Life.

Overwhelmed by life’s complications? It seems we have more and more things in our lives, but less and less time to spend with them. Simplifying your life will save you time, money and energy. Try some of these ideas:

100 Ways to Uncomplicate Your Life

  1. For every item you bring into your home, take one out.
  2. When adding a new activity to your schedule, choose one to discontinue.
  3. Stop watching news on TV.
  4. Spend less time on personal calls. Learn how to end conversations graciously.
  5. Cancel magazine subscriptions.
  6. Lower your expectations about how clean your house has to be.
  7. Wear clothes more than once before washing (if still clean).
  8. Use bath towels more than once before laundering.
  9. Rather than rushing to the store when you run out of something, shop only once a week for groceries, toiletries and other items.
  10. Clear out your fridge and pantry before going grocery shopping.
  11. Take a list when you go shopping, and stick to it.
  12. Become more resourceful. Find creative solutions instead of shopping for more things.
  13. Eliminate impulse-buying by keeping a list of anything you see and want; wait 30 days before purchasing it.
  14. Cut ties with people that drain you.
  15. Don’t accept invitations to social events you’d rather not attend.
  16. Let go of all but one or two volunteer obligations.
  17. Stop volunteering to do things out of guilt.
  18. Reserve one weekend a month (or at least one day) as ‘down time’. Do only what you feel like doing – even if it’s absolutely nothing.
  19. Just because the phone rings doesn’t mean you have to answer it. That’s what voicemail is for.
  20. Put together two weekly menus and rotate every second week.
  21. Avoid automatically turning the TV on when you enter the room.
  22. Limit the time you watch TV – and only do it purposefully.
  23. Trade babysitting duties with another parent on a regular basis.
  24. Set aside one morning or afternoon a week to run all your errands at once.
  25. Avoid buying things you have to assemble.
  26. Stop watching infomercials.
  27. Reduce the amount of credit cards you own – or at least that you carry.
  28. Pack only half of what you think you’ll need when you travel.
  29. Drop any activity you are only doing to meet someone else’s expectations
  30. When someone offers helps, accept it.
  31. When you need help, ask for it.
  32. Before purchasing things you will only use occasionally, consider borrowing or renting instead.
  33. Simplify your time management system so you’re not spending too much time keeping it up to date.
  34. Delete (or delegate) any task that has been on your ‘to do’ list for over a year.
  35. If you’ve been meaning to have a garage sale for years, call a charity to pick up your stuff instead.
  36. Let of go perfectionism.
  37. Give yourself extra time to get to where you’re going.
  38. Refuse to engage in gossiping.
  39. Eat your meals at the table (not in your car, at your desk or standing over the countertop).
  40. Stop trying to do two things at once.
  41. Learn to say ‘no’. Feel the guilt and do it anyway.
  42. Go to bed half an hour earlier.
  43. Get up half an hour earlier and have a leisurely breakfast.
  44. If you can walk there, don’t drive.
  45. Shop early in the day to avoid crowds.
  46. Explore options to work closer to home or from home.
  47. Do what you can to avoid travelling during rush hour.
  48. Let go of trying to control everything and everyone.
  49. Let someone else do it for a change, even if it’s not done to your standards.
  50. Stop living in the past.
  51. Stop living in the future.
  52. Each time you do a task, ask yourself how you can do it easier and in less time.
  53. Make bed-making easier: Reduce the number of decorative pillows. Use a duvet instead of several blankets. Eliminate the top sheet.
  54. Let go of the expectation that you have to read everything you come across. Be selective.
  55. There are many situations when closing the door is the best option.
  56. Get rid of high maintenance plants.
  57. Get rid of worn-out towels, chipped plates, and warped food containers.
  58. Limit the amount of decorative items on your shelves and tables, to make dusting simpler.
  59. Resist buying so-called ‘convenience’ items you don’t really need (bread maker, pasta machine, food dehydrator).
  60. Create more breathing space in your kitchen cupboards by getting rid of all the ‘convenience’ gadgets you seldom use.
  61. Buy all-purpose cleaning products and put one on each floor of your home. Use up or get rid of all the others.
  62. Don’t let the dishes pile up. Rinse plates as soon as you’re done using them.
  63. Wipe spills right away.
  64. If you use something, put it back where it belongs as soon as you’re done.
  65. Sort the mail daily.
  66. Get off mailing lists and phone lists.
  67. Simplify your wardrobe. Avoid trends. Limit your color scheme.
  68. Move to a smaller home.
  69. Move to a home with less property.
  70. Borrow books from the library instead of buying them.
  71. Eat the same thing for breakfast with a little variation. (Oatmeal, with blueberries today, raisins tomorrow).
  72. Buy pre-packaged snacks. They cost a little more but save you time.
  73. Shop closer to home.
  74. Before you bring something home, decide where you’ll keep it.
  75. Request that your friends and family stop buying you (and your kids) gifts, and instead spend time with you – or contribute to your favorite charity.
  76. Reduce your gift list. Stop overloading other people’s lives.
  77. Look at where you are doing things ‘over the top’ in your life and scale back.
  78. Resist taking on other people’s problems.
  79. Take steps to stop the worrying habit.
  80. Give yourself permission to let go of that unfinished project you never get around to.
  81. Stop doing things you feel you ‘should’ do in order to be other people’s idea of ‘perfect’ (perfect wife, perfect mother, perfect employee).
  82. Stop rushing. Drive slower. Eat slower. Live slower.
  83. Go for a walk every day. Preferably in nature.
  84. When you have something to say, speak up – don’t suppress.
  85. Don’t wash your hair every day if you don’t have to.
  86. Reduce the amount of make-up and skin care products. Do you really need 10 different eye-shadows?
  87. Look for ways to simplify your grooming routine.
  88. Streamline your household chores by focusing on just one thing each day. (Dust every Monday, vacuum on Tuesdays).
  89. Wash your colors with your darks. (Use cold water)
  90. Adapt to your natural rhythm. Work when your energy is high and relax when it’s low.
  91. Get enough sleep.
  92. Have breakfast foods for dinner on nights you are busy or too tired to cook.
  93. Get ‘caller display’ and let unfamiliar callers leave a message.
  94. If you answer the door or the phone to a sales pitch, save your time and their’s by immediately saying ‘no thank you’.
  95. Make sorting socks simpler. When buying socks, buy several (7-10) identical pairs – so you don’t have to mate them. Wash and dry each family member’s socks in their own mesh bag.
  96. Avoid buying clothes that have to be ironed.
  97. Don’t print things if you can save them on your computer.
  98. Resist bringing papers into your home if you don’t have a specific use for them. (Brochures from a show, pamphlets collected on vacation, business cards from people you’ll never contact.)
  99. If you’re not already using online banking and automatic bill payment, consider setting it up.
  100. Resist scheduling every last minute of your day.

Let me know which of these ideas you’ve tried and how they worked. Also, feel free to share other ways you’ve simplified your life, in the comment section below.

 

 

 

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This post has 43 comments

  • Susie Kline says:

    I love your list! I’ve done a lot of them, but there are some I need to work on. Especially, bringing one thing in, throw one thing out! And clearing surfaces so I can dust easily.

    I feel a de-cluttering session coming on!

  • Twila says:

    Oy! I like no. 3! I haven’t watched news, particularly local news, except for the weather, for years, and I can’t say I’ve missed it at all. I can’t believe people start their days and end their days with everything that’s going wrong in the world, and listening to how cruel people can be. And how can people watch the news while they eat — ingesting all this hate and ugliness along with their food.
    And while I’m at it — turn off the news channels in waiting rooms everywhere! Especially at health facilities — who needs more anxiety at those moments?

  • Just Lovely– Thanks Hellen ♥ I’m re-posting link to my FB Wall!

  • Irene says:

    A great list! As a mom of 10 kids (10kids.com), let me add two more things to your list. Fill your sink with sudsy water when you get in the kitchen. Wash as you go during food prep, get family members to wash their own dishes and then there’s little at the end. Also cook way too much for one meal, so you can have it for other meals, whether suppers or lunches.

  • Stacy Leigh Strickland says:

    I love lists! And this is a great one. I especially like the idea of doing one chore a day, so I’m not stuck doing it all on the weekend. Thank you, Hellen.

  • Great list! a few zingers on there for me LOL, we do the no news thing, the same socks thing… and a 7 minute dinner recipe with chicken, rice n veggies … helps for not having cereal for dinner especially when under project deadlines (although eggs are always yummy)

    • LOVE the blurb in your new book

      …when moving from one task to another at your desk, get up and move around, get a drink, or stretch…

      I’m sure this will prove monumental for me, as the “hourly” stretch wasn’t jiving

      My chiropractor will be very happy! LOL

      (even though I have an ergonomic chair, his was response was… you’re still a human being, and humans weren’t designed to sit that long without moving)

  • joni edwards says:

    hello hellen i love your shows keep up the good work by-by

  • Wanda says:

    Hi Hellen:

    Thanks so much for your list. A lot of things on it, but it comes at a good time for me, & you don’t need to do them all at one time.

    The one about the “news” is a good one, especially with all the negative, fearful stuff this week !

    Thanks for being there for us.

    Sincerely, Wanda

  • Danene says:

    Awesome list. I do some of the points already, but need to work on some others. Will definately keep this list! Thanks

  • Mrs Burnham says:

    Txs Hellen, I have to say that I use at least 80% of this list on a daily basis and am so happy you gave me new ones to try.

    Moving next door to where I work has changed my life dramatically. In the time it takes my co-workers to get to work everyday, I have time to workout and have breakfast with my husband. In the time it takes for my co-workers to drive home, I have time to do all of my groceries and laundry or read my fav book.

    More importantly, my stress levels have gone to almost zero and not owning a car has left my bank account with so much money, we have decided to pay down our mortgage in 10 years or less instead of 25.

    Thanks again, keep it coming!

    Sincerely

  • Thank you, simplicity is one of my core values. Many of these ideas resonate for me, especially those that involve eliminating TV, letting go of perfectionism and being more mindful of the present rather than worrying about the past or future. On a personal note, I find it difficult to read through such long lists – however valuable the advice. Much prefer your shorter, simpler blogs and articles.
    Yours positively,
    Juliet Landau-Pope
    Declutter coach, London, England

  • Elizabeth says:

    Thanks a lot! Just to save my life today, especially at emotionally level.

  • Melissa says:

    Thanks Helen, you always inspire me to try something new! An idea from our house: for my birthday I asked my husband for a year of pool care service instead of things I don’t need. I have been doing it myself for many years to save money. However, sometimes I didn’t always do it correctly, which cost money to fix. Or if my schedule got hectic I couldn’t always care for it when or how I should. What a load off my mind and schedule! Yes, it will be a bit more of an expense, but worth it to be able to enjoy the pool because it is being taken care of properly, without me feeling guilty.

  • Renee says:

    Love this post! Adding it to my to-do list and beginning to incorporate into my life. Thank you!

  • BETTY says:

    THANK YOU HELEN, YOU GAVE ME THE PUSH I NEEDED. I DEFINITELY WILL DOWNSIZE MY PROPERTY (FARM) AND BUY A SMALLER HOME. USE THE LIBRARY AND STOP SUBSCRIBING TO MAGAZINES.

    I COULD GO ON, BUT THE LIST IS A GREAT START. THANK YOU AGAIN.

  • Wendy Marlow says:

    You’ve outdone yourself this month Helen! Thank you for sharing your wisdom. I learn something every time I read your newsletters, this time about 90 new things! These are the kinds of tips that can make a world of difference for my small business consulting clients too. Thanks again…

  • Kate says:

    Great list! One more idea: have everyone in your family use the same online calendar. It is a fantastic communication tool that helps to avoid scheduling conflicts. We all have iPhones, which makes it very easy for us all to check the calendar throughout the day.

  • Christina says:

    This is brilliant, yet so simple! Thanks Helen for the great tips.

  • Marie says:

    Thanks Helen. This list is great. I have already uncluttered my condo of anything I don’t use, but there is always room for improvement (without becoming perfect at it). The Salvation Army has been the recipient of anything I do not use or don’t wear anymore. I have stopped my impulse buying (except for books, that’s a weakness of mine – but I have given a number of older books away) and noticed that if I wait before purchasing the item, more often than not, I can do without.

    Keep the great ideas coming our way!

  • Joyce says:

    and Don’t forget the sunscreen…

    Great List!
    😉

  • Valerie says:

    Hi Helen….such an awesome list…thanks for inspiring us with great ideas! fyi…..absolutely miss you on HGTV…you have always been my mentor for organization…I think back to your shows and the inspiration you provided to others! Cheers, Valerie.

  • Catherine Oliveri says:

    Dear Helen: Such a fantastic list…..I would like to get a hard copy to try and pass around…..I have done numbers 1, 2, 7, 8 and am in the process of working on #5 and they really, really work…..would like to work on many other items on the list but I cannot do them all at once so will take one step at a time….thanks again!

    • Hellen says:

      Catherine, thanks so much for pointing out that you cannot do everything on the list all at once. I know it can be overwhelming to see a list of 100 things, but my intention was to give lots of options and ideas to uncomplicate our lives. Some will make sense to people, and others may not – based on their values and lifestyle. They do work and the effect will be much more powerful and manageable if you take it one step at a time. Thanks for sharing your wisdom here – I’m sure it will help others.

  • Andrea says:

    I agree with a lot on this list and I too miss your show but #5, cancelling magazine subscriptions, and #70, taking books from the library, would limit my ability to do #46, work from home! I am an author and editor.

    but this one “Let of go perfectionism.” That is one I need to work on.

    Andrea

    • Hellen says:

      Andrea, I had a feeling I would hear from writers when I wrote that 🙂 It’s just that in my line of work, I see so many people becoming overwhelmed with how much material they have to read. And it does take up a lot of their space to store it. But I hope people will take what they want from the list and let go of the rest – as you did. We are all different and what resonates with one person may not with another. By the way, I am a fan of reading magazines in the digital version, and with the success of e-readers and tablets, I don’t think you have to worry about your ability to work in your industry.

  • Nishat says:

    Hello Hellen!

    I love your list and always enjoyed reading your articles in magazines. When I realised I could subscribe to your e-newsletter, I was overjoyed! I already do most of the things on your list and want to work on others… The challenge is to get family members do the same. I share with them these tips and hope they will get into an excellent de-cluttering routine.
    Keep up the excellent work and all the very best,always!!!

  • Helene says:

    Great list! I went through it and I already do 88% of it! The rest is mostly sleep and TV-related… Those will be my objectives for the rest of the year, thank you!

  • Fi says:

    There are so many great tips! The one that jumped out at me was no 54. I read free daily newspapers found in Subway stations every single work day and I feel that if I don’t I will miss something I might find useful! I have so many freat books I want love to read but the newspapers always get in the way. Well, the timing of your list Hellen is spot on. I stopped reading the free daily newspapers this week and started reading books. I love it. Thanks for the reminder!

    Fi

  • Christina says:

    Thank you for reinforcing ideas for a less complicated life. We practice a substantial portion of your marvelous list.

    When we moved to Canada seven years ago, I couldn’t work because I didn’t have a work visa. It forced a lifestyle change where my husband works and I stay at home (now with our three year old). It has led to the most amazing life for all of us. We have time for all the things that matter to us because I’m home to take care of our personal life (errands, cooking, home renos, you name it). We have less money, but lots of time together as a family. Supper together every night is perhaps my favorite time of each day. All in all, it’s a pretty wonderful life.

    BTW, re:#53: no top sheet? Ewww 😛

    • Hellen says:

      Christina, that’s inspiring to hear. BTW, re#53: no top sheet, though not for everyone, it’s kind of like a sleeping bag. If you have a duvet and wash the cover regularly, do you really need a top sheet? Some will say absolutely but others can live without it if it saves them time and effort when making the bed.

  • Randah says:

    thanks Hellen,

    I found some nice ideas in here, and already doing a lot of them, but I found it a bit ironic to have a list of 100 things when the topic is to uncomplicate our lives. what happened to the top 10 or 20? 🙂 some of them seemed repetitive or redundant.

    just a thought.

  • Evelyn Lew says:

    Hi Hellen –

    This is a very good list.

    I’ll add something I do, but maybe this doesn’t fit in your list.

    As part of trying to get things done, as I’ve “aged”, I don’t have the same pick up’n’go like I used to, rushing at 6 different things at the same time and getting it all done and according to rigourous standards.

    So what I do now is – of all the 101 things I have to get done, I pick one and I “set up” meaning I do all the preparatory steps necessary, short of actually doing the job, and then later in the day (sometimes it can be the next day) I dive into the job. Most jobs require a certain amt of prep work and just having to do all the prep b4 you can even start the job, can be enough to discourage you from starting. But if you divide it in half, then it’s a lot less onerous (both psychologically and time-wise) and b4 you know it, you’re tackling the job. This works for me, someone who’s lost a lot of that energy and get-up-and-go and do-it-all-and-amaze-everyone.

    Hope this might be helpful.

    • Hellen says:

      Evelyn, thanks for sharing this great system of breaking things down so they don’t feel as overwhelming. Getting the prep work done first is a smart way to get the ball rolling when you find yourself procrastinating on a task too!

  • Twila says:

    Evelyn — this is a WONDERFUL post! I like the idea of purposely and neatly dividing a task as you suggest! I’m sure this would work not just for those of us who need to stop and sit a spell during the day — but for any busy person, particularly working moms, and moms with young children. Or moms with older children who need to be driven to after-school activities!
    The trick is in the intention, in splitting a task into prep and execution. When the prep is done, you can be satisfied that you have met your goal, instead of feeling “oh dear, I’m only half done and I didn’t finish,” and beating yourself up.
    I am going to be good to myself and plan my big tasks like this. Thanks so much for this great idea!

  • Twila says:

    Randah — I had the same initial whoops! reaction. But everyone’s brains work differently, and we each have different life circumstances, so being able to choose from the list what suits best and helps most is good.
    Even 100 isn’t a “complete” list — there have been a few more good ideas submitted in this string of posts.

  • Syl says:

    I love the big list… It covered many things I already do, reminded me of ones I’ve been meaning to do and offered some new ones I hadn’t thought about… (love the suggestion to wait 30 days before buying on impulse). Interestingly your list made me question why I felt resistence in considering others…. (speak up when I have something to say… don’t suppress… sometimes seems simpler to keep it to myself than rock the boat… I’ll have to think about this one more). I know some of the readers may have felt this would have been way too much… but in my case I feel like I could have used some extra details… how to’s… like how to stop taking on others problems… aside from my current way which is to limit my time spent with them… lol. Thanks to everyone for the great suggestions on how to simplify further.

  • Janice says:

    Love your list of things to stop doing. I’ve been working on many of these things for some time and am still trying to cut back on “things to do” and finding ways to do less and have fewer things to take care of. The wardrobe ideas are great, keep things simple, everything goes with everything, no ironing, one color of socks. Brilliant! Also, all purpose cleaner, a bottle on each floor plus a broom and swiffer on each floor. I’ve struggled with housework for years. My husband and I decided to hire a house cleaner once a month even though it’s an added expense. She cleans thoroughly and we do our best to keep it up until she returns. Less than perfect but works for us!

  • Sarah Peters says:

    Great List – love the idea of doing one household task on a specific day.
    And to simplify processing all my paperwork I bought myself a scanner and now I scan as much as humanely possible to Evernote. If you haven’t tried it yet you all should – it has many benefits. I can keep information I think I will probably need without dealing with a filing system. I can find things quickly and easily with their wonderful tag/search system. No need to back up as they do that for you. Wonderful from a practical point of view and for peace of mind.

  • Karen says:

    Love the list! Over years, as a stay at home mom I learned the value of simplicity, that more isn’t always best.
    Since I’ve returned to work, I bring your organizing suggestions into my workplace, I’ve shared many, and incorporate more. I’ve even taken your list and made a top 20 list to uncomplicated your workplace. Thank you for sharing your insight.

  • Lynda says:

    Such a helpful list. Although I’m currently practicing over 2/3 of the ideas presented, it gave me ideas of areas I can look at to further simplify my life.

  • Rosario says:

    Hellen, love your show and list on common ways to eliminate what is stressing our lives and family.

    re: Walking…… I walk at least an hour a day during that time I try to returned phone calls or check in with my parents/family.

    Thank you again!