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21 practical things to do to simplify your life and cut down daily stress

21 practical things to do to simplify your life and cut down daily stress

What parent doesn’t long for a life where all of the nagging little daily stresses are gone? The good news is you really don’t have to do lots of big things to simplify your life. There are plenty of small, practical changes that you can make to start your simple life right now.

Simplifying you life is not something which is done once. It’s an ongoing process (and I guess a practice) that you continually do throughout your day to day life. Here are my favourite ways to get practical and remove many of the niggling stresses of everyday life.

1. Put a ‘NO JUNK MAIL’ sign on your letterbox

Not only will you have less clutter coming into the house from the letter box, you will also be less likely to head out to the shops to buy more clutter. If you really do need to check out a catalogue, look online for a clutter free version.

2. Cull your makeup and beauty items

Go through your make up and beauty products and get rid of any you haven’t used in the last month. Keep going until you only have one or two of each item (trust me you probably wear the same make up 90% of the time anyway). Fewer choices save you so much time in the morning

3. Plan your outfit the night before

This is such an easy way to simplify your life: it’s always easier to choose what to wear the night before. You can check you have the clothes you want, make adjustments to your outfit if you need to, and in the morning, get dressed without having to worry about what to wear!

Time wise: A smart evening routine will take the heat off your mornings

4. Use a family calendar

Whether it be an old fashioned paper calendar, google calendar or some app, having a central calendar where all of the family’s activities are recorded makes life so much easier. You are less likely to over commit yourself, or forget something important if everyone’s schedule is written down.

Use a calendar to simplify your life

5. Organise for your bills to be delivered by email or direct debit

Paper bills have a way of coming into our house, opened, and then I forget to pay them, until the day after they are due. It’s a particular talent of mine to remember bills only when they are overdue.

No wonder I love direct debit. The bill is emailed to me, I check there is enough money in the account to cover the bill, and don’t think about it ever again. Too easy.

6. Store your keys and purse in the same place, every time

If you spend five minutes looking for all your bits and pieces every time you leave the house, consider designating a drop zone to keep your keys, purse, phone, and anything else you lose, all in the one place. This no-fuss way to simplify your life will save time and stress every single day.

7. Check email only once or twice each day

By only checking your emails at specific times each day, you become master of your emails, rather than the other way around. Any one who needs an answer sooner will phone you anyway. There is rarely a time where you really need to check more often.

8. Put your loose change in a jar

At the end of each day, dump  all your spare change into a jar. No only do you get rid of the annoying coins that float around in your purse or pocket, but when the jar is full and you take it to the bank, the money feels like bonus savings. Double win.

Saving your coins is an unusual way to simplify your life

9. Eat dinner as a family around the table

Want to connect more with the family, and unwind from the day? Eat your evening meals with the whole family around the dinner table, at least a couple of times a week.

There are so many studies which emphasise the benefits of regularly sitting down as a family to eat. Everything from reduced incidence of obesity, through to increased resilience for the kids.

Not to mention it’s just easier to cook one meal and serve it all at the same time.

Read this too: Family conversation dinners can help you connect

10. Unsubscribe from newsletters

It seems that every time you buy something online, you end up subscribing to a newsletter. Your inbox can easily fill up with unwanted emails, which make it difficult to find the emails we actually need to see. Spend 10 minutes going through your inbox and unsubscribe from all those unwanted newsletters. There are even apps that can do it for you! Do it again every couple of months, to enjoy a much simpler inbox.

11. Let Netflix/Foxtel go

One way to keep things simple is to have fewer calls on your time. Netflix, Foxtel, and all those other subscription entertainments do provide plenty of interesting things to watch, but they can easily suck a whole lot of time (and money) out of your day. Build some space in your day by avoiding too much screen time, and the things that make screens so tempting.

12. Eat meat free several times a week

Meat free meals are not only usually cheap and nutritious, they can also be quick and easy to prepare, cook, and clean up after. All good reasons to include meat free meals regularly in your diet. This is one way to simplify your life and make it so much healthier too.

13. Have a ready-to-go donations box

I’ve mentioned the donations box several times before, but having a plan to get unwanted stuff out of the house quickly is super important if you want to simplify your life. When you find things you no longer want or need, pop them in the box. Then, when you next head out of the house, take the box with you and drop the contents off at a local charity shop.

Keep permanent donate and return boxes ready to go

14. Label everything

One of the best things I did in our house, was to label the kids toy boxes. It sounds simple, but labels tell everyone where something belongs. It means that your belongings are more likely to return to the correct spot at the end of each day. It also means that it is easier to find what you’re looking for.

Consider labelling the shelves in the linen press, all your containers in the pantry, the kids’ clothing cupboards, and even the shelves/cupboards in the laundry. It will make life so much easier.

15. Remove five unused items each day

Sometimes a big declutter is just not possible. So do a gentle declutter each day by taking just five items (or even 10 if yo can manage it) that you no longer use, and getting rid of them. Here’s a list of things to get you started.

16. Make a list before you go to bed

If I have a lot I need to remember for the next day, I find I will sleep badly that night. This is because, even in my sleep, I’m trying to make sure I do not forget what I need to remember. Writing a list before bed helps you to be sure that you haven’t forgotten anything, so you can relax and sleep properly. Essential if you need to get through that list in the morning!

17. Choose one brand for the whole family 

This works for shampoo, conditioner, or just about any other product that family uses. Instead of each person having their own individual pack, buy one large pack for everyone to use. It saves loads of space in the shower or vanity, and makes shopping so much easier as you don’t need to buy five different brands of the same product.

18. Turn the TV off in the morning 

If we have the TV on in the morning, I can guarantee that my kids will take a million times longer to get themselves ready for school. By the end of the morning I feel like I have spent the entire time nagging them. By comparison, when the TV is not on, they generally get themselves dressed, fed, and ready for school with out needing any reminders.

We avoid having the TV on when ever we have a time sensitive deadline (eg. the school bus), as it just adds pressure to the situation. Keep the television off unless someone is actively watching it, and avoid having it on during the morning or evening rush.

19. Have a separate email for junk

We do a lot of our shopping online. The distances we have to travel to get clothing makes it is easier to just get online and buy what we need. Years ago I set up a hotmail account which we use exclusively for when we are shopping. All the junk emails from the various purchases end up in the one account (which I can then unsubscribe from regularly), as well as all the information about the purchases, deliveries, and so forth.

KISS with a notebook and your smartphone

20. Turn off notifications

Social media can be awesome when we are the master of it. When we become a slave to the notification, our days become interrupted, and it becomes impossible to find stillness. Master your social media by turning off the notifications. You can still see the cat video your aunt tagged you in, when you choose to, but your day won’t be interrupted with lots of meaningless pings.

21. Make your bed each day

I’m not sure why, but a made bed just makes you feel calm and in control. We have doonas (quilts) on our beds to make it easier to pull up the covers, but the two minutes it takes is definitely worth it!

Read this next: Dear Children: Please, just make your bed

Practical ways to simplify your life

Feature image by dominik hofbauer; all other images courtesy of Jo Southwell