by Sam of Financial Upside
“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more difficult. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move swiftly in the opposite direction.” –E.F. Schumacher
A simple life has a different meaning and a different value for every person. For me, it means getting rid of some of life’s complexities so you can spend more time with people you love and do more of the things you love. It means getting rid of the clutter, and eliminating all but the essential, so you are left with only that which gives you value.
The Short List
For the cynics who might say that the list of 30 ideas below is too long to be ‘simple,’ there are really only two steps to simplifying:
- Identify what’s most important to you.
- Eliminate everything else.
Of course, that advice is not terribly useful unless you can see some examples of how to apply this concept to different areas of your life; so I present to you…
The Long List
There can be no step-by-step guide to simplifying your life, but I’ve compiled an incomplete list of ideas that should help you move in the right direction. And of course, not every tip will fit your lifestyle, so just choose a few that do and apply them accordingly.
- Resign from a commitment you’re not passionate about.
- Stop trying to be perfect.
- Implement a basic cleaning schedule.
- Automate your finances by signing up for automatic bill pay and automatic savings deposits through your bank. (Read I Will Teach You To Be Rich.)
- Clean out your media collection and keep only the items you love.
- Clean out your purse or wallet.
- Put a paper shredder next to your mail spot.
- Winnow your wardrobe down to pieces that work together.
- Delete any social networking accounts you don’t actually use.
- Add your number to the do-not-call list.
- Create a car maintenance schedule and post it somewhere you’ll see it.
- Enjoy life’s simple pleasures.
- Start your day with a healthy meal.
- Turn your phone off when you need quiet time.
- Single-task as much as possible.
- Design a filing system that you can stick to. Read David Allen’s book Getting Things Done for some practical organizational guidance.
- Set one good goal, and go achieve it.
- Record your good “shower” ideas and then implement them. (Don’t we all get our best inspirations in the shower?)
- Write to a friend with (gasp!) pen and paper.
- Set limits on your bad habits, and reward yourself when you stick with them.
- Always be honest with yourself and others.
- Don’t worry too much about what other people think about you.
- Stop trying to be a saint and indulge yourself in something fun every once in a while.
- Pay off your credit card debt.
- Avoid watching commercials and reading advertisements.
- Rediscover the pleasure of reading purely for enjoyment.
- Plan two weeks of delicious meals ahead of time and skip the nightly grocery run.
- Go to your doctor for a preventative checkup.
- Learn to ask for help.
- Make mistakes, learn from them, laugh about them, and move along.
Want more simple ideas you can implement to simplify your life? I highly recommend reading The Joy of Less. And of course, check out my blog for advice on simplifying your financial and professional life.
Hope & Sugar says
Some of these things are really helpful. Waiting to implement them and start simplifying my life. Thank you for this amazing post.
Michael Robinson says
Excellent article! Simple, practical advice that we all should follow.
Great post. Reminds me of the quote: “Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful.”
Now I’m off to simplify…
Napoleon Nalcot says
This post is very helpful. It reminds me of what George Santayana had once said: The spirit’s foe in man has not been simplicity, but sophistication. Thank you for posting.
Your posts are really amazing, you’ve really helped me through a difficult year, I’m starting to find my light & my laugh again – thank you
Dan Garner says
16.Design a filing system that you can stick to.
That’s the one that I need to work on. I have notes, printed articles, lists, etc… spread all over. My wife keeps financial and business papers filed because she knows that I’m disorganized. I really need to work on organizing my personal things.
Dan @ ZenPresence.com
Words cannot express how much I love your posts! Thank you so much..
You guys really are great! You’re making a difference! Thanks!
Actually, I’ve been living or trying to live quite a few of your “thirty simple ways …”, but I’m also hearing from people around me that in this world of babble, stress, and confusion I should act the other way round in order to keep up with the times (“You’re not multi-tasking?! … Man, you’re so out of sync”, …. and other such advice). So nice and reassuring to hear you guys saying that I’m not alone in searching less hectic directions.
Keep your site going; it’s a-class.
Some were reminders, and some were “A HA” moments.
Will @ Dream About Life says
“Identify what’s most important to you.” Simple yet often overlooked!
Great list. I think #22 should be ” Don’t worry at all what other people think of you”
Great insight though. Lists like this are great reminders to re-focus and get back on track to our end goals.
okwir boniface says
Hey Marc & Angel, what would we be without you? This particularly is absolutely amazing and useful advice!
The Ninja Baker says
LOL at the short list, Marc. You boiled down the essentials to two sentences. Bravo!
As for the long list, a very wise compilation, indeed. And as one who has worked with and attended many workshops facilitated by Mr. David Allen, I’m very glad you’ve mentioned his book. He’s a wonderful man and teacher!
Thanks again, for your lovely site.
Mary Ellen says
Great! It surprised me how many I have actually instituted into my daily routine. Thank you.
Nice post… Simple and Sweet. 🙂
All smiles over here. Thanks so much everyone. So glad you enjoyed this post. And I’ll leave you with one of my favorite simplicity quotes to contemplate…
“I do believe in simplicity. It is astonishing as well as sad, how many trivial affairs even the wisest thinks he must attend to in a day; how singular an affair he thinks he must omit. When the mathematician would solve a difficult problem, he first frees the equation of all incumbrances, and reduces it to its simplest terms. So simplify the problem of life, distinguish the necessary and the real. Probe the earth to see where your main roots run. ” ? Henry David Thoreau
Jerrywhyte Obamwonyi says
Thanks again Marc and Angel. What an amazingly excellent, and bluntly expressed, article.
J J says
Love your Blog. First thing I do in the am while the coffee is brewing. ….before doing something productive for self development. I am off to write a letter to a friend.
Thanks for all the inspiration
Perfect and simple… I could use a little more work on a few of these.
Jeffrey Friend says
“Set one goal, and go achieve it.” This is so key to continuous improvement, one step at a time. Start with small accomplishments, even if it’s just doing the dishes after you dirty them. Then you can move up to accomplishing bigger goals, one day at a time. Great post!
It all comes down to Simplify. Simplify, Simplify. And in our modern world so many people have never learned to manage that concept. Simple Life. Simple Magics.
Tarun Saini says
Simply superb ideas. I’d like to add: listening light music while going to sleep.
Thanks! Great reminder to me as it is an ongoing project to simplify – so easy to forget and add too much.
And for motivation and advice to simplify your stuff I recommend Don Aslett’s Clutter’s Last Stand.
Good one. “Put a paper shredder next to your mail spot.” 🙂
I have to start implementing these because my life feels out of control. I am good about paying the bills each month once I find them, I need a filing system.
I need to do better maintenence on my car then just the oil changes. I recently found out my car needed wheel bearings which were in dangerous condition.
I need a cleaning schedule and to stick to it. Some tasks are easy for me, like the dishes and laundry and some are left too long undone like vacuuming and dusting.
I love the one about ignoring commercials. They irritate me and I would be better off to jump on my recumbant bike for the 3 minutes.
Great suggestions which lower stress and make life easier!
Tunji Bankole says
This post is great. You just simplified my mentality in a few areas. Thanks.