I’m not kidding when I say that living simply is something that I think about throughout majority of my days. I’m constantly asking myself how I can improve, am I living the life that I truly want, what advice would I have given myself years prior, and what can I share with all of you that could help you skip over the trial and error that I endured? Fortunately since it’s a way of life that I love and value, it doesn’t keep me up at night ;) but I’m so hopeful that these posts resonate with each of you and feel authentic and attainable. Any advice or tips that I offer here on the blog is honest content as a reflection of my own life. Things that I suggest you do are things that I’ve either tried, or have implemented into my day to day and have seen positive results.
And I know how daunting it can be when you just want to close your eyes, open them, and have the simple life you think about day in and day out. I also know how daunting it can be when your reality is that you’re wrapped up in chaos, or heartache, or a boss who needs their hand held at all times, etc. The hardest thing to do is to start, but it doesn’t have to be. I sat with myself for a long while yesterday while having my coffee outside on the deck of the house we’re renovating in Traverse City (will share this all in a post, soon!) and thought: what are 5 things that I wish I would have done from the beginning? What are 5 things I can offer anyone who may feel stuck, or who’s afraid to begin?
So, here they are:
How to simplify your life: 5 attainable, easy things you can do in just one afternoon
The bonus? I promise you’ll see (and feel) the results immediately. All you have to do is decide how bad you want this life change, and then begin.
This is something I was always half good at. I would go paperless when it came to some of my bills, but not all of them. I would still hoard paper receipts, stash bills in a file box, print every invoice from past clients, etc. While the system worked for me in some ways, it hounded me in others. Every move I made, these huge file boxes were having to come with me. And do you think I ever needed to revisit one of those paper invoices or bills from months prior? The answer is a definite no. So I decided once and for all I would go 100% paperless.
Pay your bills online.
If you bank with Chase (and I’m sure other banks do this as well), you can pay your bills through your online checking account, which I love.
Auto Pay your credit card(s).
Sign up to ensure your credit card bill is paid right on time every month. Still be sure to put a reminder in your phone so that you check your statement to make sure everything looks good – but it’s one less thing that’s weighing on your mind, and it helps your credit score in the process.
Say yes to emailed receipts.
I opt out of paper receipts whenever I’m able and instead have them emailed. If you hate getting subscribed to emails (who doesn’t?!) create an address especially for things like this.
Take photos of your receipts and then toss them.
Not all places are set up to email receipts, so instead, you can take photos of your receipts and create an album in your phone for them, so they’re easy to access if necessary. You can also download this app that was created to take photos and file your receipts accordingly.
(and for those of you who have a business…)
I do all of my client invoicing via an online platform called 17 Hats. Not only does it allow me to have all of my invoices in one place, but it takes care of all of my bookkeeping as well. I can’t even begin to tell you a) how much time this has saved me and b) how many trees are still standing because of this program ;)
Outsource the things you don’t enjoy
I wrote a post on this a while back regarding how I outsource my life, and I find it so insanely helpful just delegating a few simple things that I don’t fully enjoy doing myself. Or maybe I don’t mind it much (cleaning) but there are days where I can certainly think of more fulfilling things to do with my time.
Hire a cleaning service.
Whether you want someone to come once a week or once a month, hiring a cleaning service to take care of your home is one less thing you need to deal with. I for one love cleaning as it’s a form of therapy for me (ha), but there are days where that just doesn’t sound good, or I know my to do list is a little fuller than usual, so I’ll opt to have someone swing by and help me in that area.
Try a meal delivery service.
Companies like Blue Apron and Hello Fresh were created for people who are either uninspired in the kitchen or don’t have the schedule to be able to drop by the store on the way home from work to get fresh ingredients for dinner. Not only is it such a time saver, but you save gas in the process, but you’ll up your cooking game as well.
Schedule USPS pick ups.
If you’re someone who’s often having to go to the post office whether it’s because of your business or you just really love sending care packages ;) scheduling USPS pick ups to come to your door. You simply sign up on their website, order a scale, and print your label straight from home. Leave it outside and they’ll come by and grab it at your desired pick up time. SO easy.
Hire a virtual assistant.
Again, if you have your own business you may feel like some days you’re drowning. This only sets you back and strips away your creativity – so why not think about hiring a virtual assistant? I thought about this for a while before asking good friend Erin to come on board part time and help me with certain tasks within my businesses. It’s not only given me so much peace of mind, but it’s been incredibly healthy for me to have someone else to bounce ideas off of, since I’m generally working alone 100% of the time.
Design your tasks around days of the week
Not all days should be structured (some spontaneity is healthy!), but to have some sort of flow to your weeks can be so incredibly helpful when it comes to simplifying your life. For instance, since I have two businesses (this blog and my photography business and print shop), I arrange days of the week where I will solely be working each one Monday, Wednesday and Friday are generally all things related this blog. Tuesdays and Thursdays are centered around photography. It gives my week some outline, and allows me to better plan for what I need to get done, and when. I generally sit down on Sunday evenings and jot down a rough outline of what the week will look like in way of to-dos. Not only does it make my week that much smoother, but I sleep better, too.
Filter your life
This may sound broad, but I’ll narrow it down for you :) Filtering your life is so crucial to living simply. It’s something I’m still working on every day. An example of what it could look like is to clear out your phone of numbers that are relevant to your life.
Clean out your phone.
If you haven’t spoken to someone in your phone for over 6 months, delete the number. You probably don’t need it. Especially if you don’t even recognize the name (been there so many times) Seeing your contacts go from hundreds to double digits is so freeing (at least I think so!)
Unfriend on social media.
For me, Facebook is problematic. I don’t enjoy it, nor does it add any real value to my life (a huge discussion platform over on my Instagram went down the other day on this subject – I loved hearing other people’s thoughts) So I decided instead of being impulsive and deleting it once and for all, I went through my friends list and kept only my family, friends that I chat with on a semi-regular basis, and people that I’ve met in real life. At first I felt a little guilty because I didn’t want people take it personal, but then I realized it’s not about them – it’s about what feels good to me and my life. (and honestly, they probably wont’ even notice)
Maybe you’re asking “why don’t you do that on Instagram?” Well, I kind of do. I only follow people that uplift, inspire and put forth a positive message. Quality over quantity in all areas of life, my friends.
Make room for your fulfilling and committed relationships.
I wrote this post a bit ago about toxic relationships and how to navigate them, but pruning relationships that weigh you down, make you feel like you aren’t a priority and perhaps make you feel unworthy are relationships that should have no place in your life. Let them go using whatever means necessary (again, some tips on that in the linked post) and use that space for others who uplift you (or use it to spend more time with yourself)
Keep your fridge somewhat empty
I know, what? But think of it this way – how many times have you opened up your incredibly stocked fridge only to be sit there and think “what in the heck am I going to make?” So overwhelmed with choices, you end up ordering a pizza and before you know it, the food you bought and intended on cooking has since gone bad. (been there!) But when you have say, a handful of items, your brain quickly goes to “I’ll just throw these things together.” Less distractions, easier decisions.
Opt out of the bulk grocery run.
Rather than do your weekly bulk grocery run, try running out every couple of days and getting only what you need. I keep things like almond milk, avocados, spinach, peanut butter and sprouted bread on hand at all times, because I know I’ll have it every single day (or just about, anyway) but in regards to my lunches and dinners? I try to only shop every 48 hours after I’ve given some thought to my schedule, and what I can actually get away with cooking. I totally understand if your work schedule doesn’t allow for you to stop at the store. So maybe one of the options I mentioned above is a better fit (Blue Apron/Hello Fresh, grocery delivery service, etc)
Write down a soft meal plan.
I never really know what I’m going to want for dinner when I wake up in the morning, but I know myself well enough to know that I recycle the same few ingredients each week. Give yourself a soft meal plan and jot down ideas for the week. Take a peek at it every couple of days to see what catches your eyes (er- stomach), and shop for what you’ll need to make it happen. Having a visual is always so incredibly helpful.
If it will keep, make a lot of it.
If you’re making a soup that you know you’ll probably want later in the week, go ahead and make a batch of it and put it in glass containers. This will save you from having to go through the motions of making the same recipe twice, and you’ll only have to shop for those ingredients once.
I hope these are helpful – and please, as always, if you have any questions or want me to dig a little deeper on any of the subjects or what it is that I do in my own life, you can send any and all emails to hello@thecalmcollective, or head on over to Instagram where I’m always responding to DMs. Cheers to making positive, mindful changes, and to creating the life we want. x