Simplify Your Life

The first few weeks of the new year are over, how do you like the year so far? How about your new year’s resolutions? Have you been setting (financial) goals for the new year? Probably you feel like time is already flying by. Some days you get many things done, other days you just scroll down your Instagram feed. Simplify your life this year. Take charge of the year and go for it!

It can be difficult to sort out your life, especially your financial life! You have to balance saving, paying bills, taking care of your family, work, social life, and more. Most of us live life in clutter; mentally and physically. We have a job we don’t like, we have too much stuff, we have debt. When this kind of stuff is taking up all your life, it is hard to focus on living the life you truly want.

If you want to manage all of this, the best advice is: simplify your life! This will help you with the clutter that is taking up physical and mental space. It will lower your stress and enable you to focus on other things. You will have more time life to do the things you love, you will have more control and be happier this year!

Not every tip I listed below is for everyone, some things you like and others you simply don’t. Take whatever tips you like and implement that in your life. When you are done, I suggest to come back to this post and finetune the other things that you skipped before. It will help you to keep this year simple!

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How To Simplify Your Life Right Now

1. Less Social Media

Think about all the social media that you use throughout the day; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, etc. Think about where you’re doing it; on the train, at work, while eating breakfast/lunch/dinner, while spending time with family, and more. What amount of time do you estimate to spend on social media?

I have read some statistics, about people under 25 spending an average of 34.3 per week on social media. That is 5 hours per dag spend on social media! People over 25 spend an average of 3 hours per day on social media.

I love social media. There, I said it. At the same time, social media takes up sooo much of my time. As stated above, I think I’m the average person here. I love connecting with friends, family, and my readers on the social. On the other hand, there are times where I find I’m just scrolling for the sake of scrolling or procrastinating. This is completely unproductive and I don’t even enjoy it that much, so this will my #1 focus to simplify my life this year.

Besides wasting your time, it will also lead you to compare yourself with others constantly. You are comparing your everyday situation to someone else’s highlight reality (depending on who you’re following, I recommend only following people that lift you up). This can impact your happiness, so if you feel like I’m talking to you, please try to cut down your time on the social for the sake of your happiness and quality of life.

One way to efficiently cut your time of social media is creating time blocks in which you can access social media, and creating time blocks where you cannot access your accounts.

2. Declutter Your House (And Your Mind)

Decluttering your house will also lead to decluttering your mind. When you get rid of things, you will open up new space for other things to show up!

If you want to declutter your house you will feel much lighter! It will lead to:

  • Less cleaning, since there is less stuff to clean
  • Less maintenance, which saves you time and money
  • Earn money, you can sell the things that you run into that are still worth a decent amount of money

Decluttering always helps me to get more perspective and to literally free up space for other things. I do not buy new physical things, it helps me to free up space mentally and physically.

3. Take A Step Back

A lot of people are doing all that they can, when they can, without paying much attention to the things that it will cost them. If you want to step up your game, you might have to take a step back to get the overview.

When you are doing too many things at once, it might be too overwhelming for you. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, taking a step back and making small changes can help. If you’re overwhelmed this can result in you getting nothing done after all, while still having the feeling of wanting to do it. Set your priorities and take a step back when you feel like you need it.

No need to rush, take things easy so they will flow more easily to you!

4. Focus On The Things That Matter

To simplify your life, it is important to focus on the things that matter. All too often we are doing things for the sake of staying busy. I want to ask you to pause for a second, and give yourself the opportunity to evaluate. Ask yourself if what you are doing right now on a day-to-day basis is adding to your overall happiness.

Are you familiar with the 80/20 rule? This rule claims that 80% of your results come out of 20% of your efforts. Ask yourself what this 20% is, and focus more time on this.

Mostly, the things that work are the things that you love. People will feel what kind of energy you put in, and this is what they will take away from whatever you did. Whether you wrote a blog post, posted to social media, met with your friends, had dinner with your family. They will remember the energy you put out there.  

Put simply: focus more time on what you love, and less on what you don’t love!

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5. Don’t Get Caught Up In Your To-Do List

There are so many time-saving hacks and things you can do to be more productive. I tried to keep up with them for a long time, but not so many hacks work for me. One thing that I can recommend is waking up early! I’m not the type of person to keep to a time planning, I want to finish what I’ve started and I get too distracted.

One way to prevent you from getting distracted as well is by setting up a to-do list. Or rather, a can-do list. I love to write down all the things that I can do in a day, and then focusing on them. I will never finish this list and that’s okay. There are always more things that will be added at the bottom.

Every time that I finished one task, I look at my can-do list and I pick the next task that I feel like doing at that moment. This prevents me from getting caught up in my to-do’s and wanting to finish everything on the list to feel productive.

I remember trying to plan my studying while I was at university, never worked. I would always dread it and only get one of two things done, until the night before the exam.. This can-do list is something I recently discovered, which makes me feel less obliged to do certain things.

So try to simplify your life, by focusing on your can-do list!

6. Quit Multitasking

This is a big one! A lot of people think that you can save time by multitasking, well I rather would call it switch-tasking. When you are switching your attention between tasks, there will always be a gap where you have to get into the task again if you got distracted.

Multitasking actually causes many people to waste time since it will cost a lot of time to refocus on your task. If you approach your tasks separately, you will probably spend less time.

Think about it before you start multitasking, does it actually save time? Some things you could do at the same time, for example cooking and watching a TV show. However, some things you should not do at the same time. Like trying to finish your school project while watching a video on YouTube.

For the most part, focusing on one task will allow you to spend your time more effectively. This will contribute to simplifying your life.

7. Slow Down & Be Present

Over the next year, life will probably get busier than ever, people will be rushing through the year without paying attention where their time is actually going.

It is important to set goals and to think ahead, but it’s also important to enjoy the moment and slow down to look at what is going on around you. Be present.

One of the things that really learned me to slow down and live in the now is backpacking. I was living day by day, without other things on my mind, enjoying every moment as is. Perfect.

After I came back and started working it was harder to keep this attitude and trying to enjoy the little moments. When you’re in traffic, pay attention to the beautiful sunrise. If you’re standing in line, look around you what other people are doing. When you’re on the train, enjoy the landscapes you’re seeing.

Slowing down will learn you to enjoy the moment, and will automatically simplify your life.

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8. Update Your Calendar

Reminders in your calendar are a lifesaver, this is one of the easiest ways to simplify your life. When there is something I want to remember something I want to do, I always put it on my calendar. This makes life much easier. You don’t have to worry about forgetting appointments, important to-do’s, payments, etc.

You can use your calendar to remind you about anything, like:

  • When it’s time to pay bills
  • (Business) tasks and to-do lists
  • Doing medications
  • Birthday of a friend or family member (without Facebook)
  • When to issue your taxes
  • Certain events (birthday party, housewarming, etc.)

I personally use them mostly for my work tasks and to-do’s, events with friends or family, and when to pay bills.

This will definitely simplify your life, you will have to worry less and get done more!

9. Know When To Say Yes

Many people (myself included) will add more things to your life than you can handle, by agreeing to practically everything our calendar allows. I am a big advocate of saying yes and trying things outside your comfort zone, but make sure you know when to say yes.

You don’t need to say yes to everything. I noticed that saying no can simplify your life. You don’t have to go to events when you don’t want to, you only see friends that bring you joy, and you are spending more time on doing things that you enjoy.

When someone asks you something, ask yourself this:

  • Will it bring me joy?
  • Do the benefits outweigh the additional stress?
  • Will it enable me to get closer to my goal(s)?

If the answer to all of the questions is no, I think this will be the obvious choice. When there is some yes, you will have to decide for yourself what you want to do. Thinking about saying what to say yes to and where to set your boundaries is a good thing to do. This process will make you more aware. From trial and error, you will learn what you want to say yes to. Allow yourself some time, practice makes perfect!

10. Watch Less TV

For me, watching TV is such a time-waster. Until the age of 17, when I live at my parents’ house, I watched TV every day. Since I’ve been studying and living on my own, I don’t watch TV anymore. There was no cable at the house I lived in back then, for me that was totally okay! I’ve been watching shows online, but only in my exam weeks when I didn’t want to study. Today I think I watch a movie or documentary every month. That’s it.

The average person spends an average of 4.5 hours per day watching TV. For me these statistics are pretty shocking, this means that people watch an average of over 30 hours of TV per week. That’s a lot of hours! Can you imagine what would happen if you just take half of the hours back each week?

Taking back this amount of time in your week would enable you to do a lot of other things. You can spend more time with your family and friends, you can work on your side hustles, you can get outside, do some things that you wanted to do for a long time, and more.

Deciding to spend a few hours less each week watching TV is one of the easy and quick things to simplify your life.

11. Find Free Things To Enjoy

There are many ways to enjoy yourself that don’t have to cost a lot of money. If you are having to pay off a lot a high-interest debt that is stressing you out, one of the worst things to do is getting into more debt for the sake of entertainment.

There are many things you can do that don’t cost you a lot of money!

For example:

  • Go for a walk
  • Go for a swim
  • Check out free things to do in your city (free festivals, free museums, free concerts)
  • Go camping
  • Go for a bike ride
  • Take advantage of happy hours

12. Pay Off Your Debt

Paying off your debt will make managing your finances so much more simple, as you will have less debt to stress about. Whether you have student loan debt or credit card debt, I’m sure it will clear up a lot of mental space.

Debt can result in crazy amounts of stress, and getting rid of your debt is one of the most important ways to simplify your life. Don’t stress about paying off your debt, just focus on one small step at a time. That will prevent many future problems, like a declining debit card.

In this way, you will be able to focus on the long term finances you have and it will simplify your budget significantly.

Related reads: Earning more money with Side Hustles and 25+ Tips for Saving your Money

13. Pay Expenses Automatically

I want to give you something that can be done within 20 minutes. Automate your payments and get rid of the reminder that you will have to pay your bills every week/month/quarter/year.

What you can do is the following:

  • Automatically pay your bills (rent, utilities)
  • Automatically pay your credit card expenses
  • Automatically pay your health insurance (or pay annually if you can afford this, so you will get a discount)

Paying your expenses automatically will definitely simplify your life this year, it will clear your mind and your stress level!

How are you planning to simplify your life this year?

This article first appeared on Radical FIRE and is republished with permission.