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27 Ways to Simplify Your Life and Focus on What's Important - Happier Human

27 Ways to Simplify Your Life and Focus on What’s Important

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Let’s face it!  Life can be complicated.

And noisy.

There’s information everywhere.

Cutter all around us.

Decisions to be made.

Many of us live life in an overwhelmed state.

Always reacting to things, and not really living the life we want to be living.

As a result, we walk around with emotions such as anxiety, sadness and depression, instead of happiness, contentment and joy.

But what if you could simplify your life?

How would that make you feel to have less “noise” in your life?

Less clutter.

Less decisions to make.

And less distractions?

Sounds like a recipe for a happier life, doesn’t it?

When you take the time to take a step back and simplify your life, you’ll have more time to focus on what’s important to you.

And when you focus on what’s important to you, it will lead to more joy, contentment and happiness.

So how do you actually simplify your life?

Where should you begin?

Sometimes thinking about ways to simplify your life can seem impossible. But there are a number of small actions you can take to make life easier. 

So here’s a list of 27 ways you can use to simplify your life.  

1.  Live According To Your Values

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Living according to your values can help guide you when it comes to making decisions throughout the day.

First and foremost, it’s important to know what’s important in your life.  What do you value?  Once you know your core values, then you can live by them with intention.  Most of us struggle with our choices because we have so many decisions to make each day.  This is called decision fatigue.  This is where your core values can help you.  If you’re really committed to living with intention and according to your core values, then your values can help guide you when it comes to making decisions throughout your day.

2. Meditate (Breathe)

Meditation can prevent overthinking.  It can also help slow down a busy mind.  If your brain goes “a mile a minute” with thoughts, especially when you’re laying in bed, try meditation.  It will bring you a sense of calmness by helping you control your thoughts and emotions. 

3. Express gratitude

The benefits of gratitude are many!  They include increased happiness and optimism and reduced materialism. When you focus on the positives in your life, it clears your mind of negative thoughts.  When you focus on all the good you already have, it reduces your desire to have more stuff.  Pull out a journal each morning and write what you’re grateful for and why you’re grateful for those things or people in your life.  This will put your brain in a positive mindset to start your day.

4. Purge and Pretend Like Your Moving

When you’re getting ready to move, you have to take inventory of everything that you already have, right?  Believe me, as someone that seems to move to a new apartment practically every year, going through everything you already own is a pain. 

But it’s eye opening!  When you take inventory of everything you already have, you’ll realize how much crap you own, and how much stuff you don’t really need.  And if you’re like me, you probably will have a lot of stuff you can donate.  Like bags of clothes and boxes of books, and some household goods.

5. Eat Mindfully

Mindful eating is paying attention to what you’re eating. Instead of putting food into your mouth, almost unconsciously, you notice your thoughts, feelings and sensations.  Some ways to eat more mindfully are to put your utensils down after each bite, aim to chew eat bite a certain number of times, unplug while you eat your meal – no smartphones or television.  Really be aware of the look, taste and smell of the foods that you’re eating.

6. Unplug

While technology has a lot of benefits, let’s face it – it can lead to a cluttered mind, a negative mindset and more complexity in your life.  Now, you might need to work in front of a computer all day.  There might not be a way to get around that.  But what you can start to change is now much time you spend on social media each day.  And you can take a deeper look to see if you’re addicted to your smartphone.  

Look, balancing life and technology in this digital world isn’t easy.  But believe me, if you can master the art of taking some time to unplug each day, you’ll decrease much of the noise in your head.  Unplugging will increase your energy and give you more clarity.  It will also take your stress levels way down. 

A good place to start?  Unplug from 8 pm to 8 am.  So no phones in your room after 8 pm – yes you need to physically detach from it.  And don’t touch it before 8 am the next morning.  Need something else to do in the morning before work besides mindlessly scrolling Facebook or Instagram?  Find a morning routine that adds value to your life.

7. Delete Apps From Your Smartphone

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Delete apps from your smartphone that you don’t use anymore.

Start by deleting all apps you don’t use anymore.  Remove social media.  That doesn’t mean you can’t use it altogether.  Just don’t use it on your phone.  You can then put your 5 most used apps on your homescreen.  For your other apps that you use less frequently, create a folder and put them in there.  While you’re at it, browse your contact list and delete numbers you won’t ever need again.

8. Limit Or Eliminate The News

There’s a lot of ways to consume news these days.  I remember my dad used to come home from work and would put the news on the radio.  He’d also watch the nightly news each evening.  And read the newspaper each morning.  That’s a lot of media consumption.  And we haven’t even talked about the internet yet. 

The news is everywhere and it’s almost all negative.  News can dominate your life if you let it.  I personally don’t watch the news or look at it online, for the most part.  I don’t want all of these negative messages entering my mind.  If you want to try limiting your consumption of news, try a media fast.

9. Get rid of physical subscriptions

Subscriptions to magazines and newspapers can cause a lot of clutter around the house.  I should know – I used to subscribe to magazines.  And even with a dedicated basket to put the magazines into, I still sometimes wouldn’t do it.  And when I did, things just piled up.  Clear the clutter and get rid of your subscriptions. 

10. Get rid of digital subscriptions

You don’t have to get rid of all digital subscriptions, but getting rid of some will simplify your life.  For example, let’s look at something like Netflix.  Often, you make scroll through Netflix trying to find something to watch.  Before you know it, it’s been 20 minutes, and you still can’t decide.  It’s mentially exhausting.  Find which of your digital subscriptions take a lot of your mental energy and consider getting rid of them.

11. Get rid of TV

This is one of those things that isn’t for everyone, but I personally haven’t owned a TV for about 5 years and it really does simplify your life.  It just cuts back on the choices that you have in your life and the decisions you have to make.  There’s no having to decide what to watch.  Most television shows don’t improve our lives in any way.

12. Get rid of your car

This is another suggestion that’s not for everyone.  And it may not be practical for most people.  But there are more and more ways to get around these days, from old standbys like walking, biking and public transportation, to more modern ways like electric scooters and rideshares, like Uber and Lyft.  When you get rid of your car, you eliminate expenses like paying for gas and insurance as well as other costs like registration, safety inspections, maintenance and repairs.

13. Live in a smaller home

Tiny homes are really popular these days.  I’m not saying you have to live in a 200 square foot home, but consider downsizing to a smaller home if you can.  If you followed tip #4 and purged a lot of the stuff you don’t need, you might find you don’t need so much space. If you can be comfortable in a smaller home, it will not only be less expensive, but easier to maintain, and greatly simplify your life.

14. Live in an apartment

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There are benefits that will simplify your life if you live in an apartment.

Apartment life isn’t for everyone, but there are benefits that will simplify your life. There’s no yard work.  Have a leaky faucet, a faulty hot water heater or a light that goes out?  Instead of fixing things yourself or paying for things to get fixed, just call the maintenance team that serves the apartment, and they’ll fix everything for you.

15. Have groceries delivered

Nowadays you have more options than every for getting your groceries without ever setting foot in a grocery store.  Companies like AmazonFresh, Instacart and Walmart will do your grocery shopping for you!  And deliver right to your doorstep. 

16. Get meals delivered

You can simplify your life even more by having all of your meals delivered.  There are several highly rated meal delivery kit services, like Plated, HelloFresh, and Blue Apron that will ship all of the ingredients you need for your meals right to your doorstep. 

They’ll offer step by step recipe instructions so all you need to do is put the meals together.  Other companies like Freshly actually prepare the meals for you, and then deliver them right to your door.  All you need to do is heat them up and enjoy.

17. Bulk Prep Your Meals

If you don’t want to get your meals delivered, the next best thing is to bulk prep your meals.  As a fitness coach, one complaint I hear over and over again from clients is that many say they don’t have time to cook a healthy dinner after work.  Planning and prepping your meals ahead of time will not only free up time after work, but you’ll eat healthier because you won’t be tempted to grab convenience foods. 

Just pick a day where you have some free time.  For many people, it’s Sunday afternoon.  Sit down and take some time to plan out all your dinners for the work week.  Take it one step further and actually cook all your meals for the week, so that when you come home from work, all you need to do is pull a meal out of the refrigerator and heat it up.  You can do this for breakfasts and lunches too!

18. Don’t Let Dishes Pile Up

It’s so easy to let the dishes pile up.  You’ve just finished a big meal and you put the dishes in the sink, instead of washing them or putting them in the dishwater right away.  The next morning, the pile of dirty dishes is staring you in the face.  It just weighs on your a little bit.  Don’t let this happen. As soon as you finish a meal, wash the dishes or put them in the dishwater.  Something else that will help with this – always unload your dishwasher as soon as it’s done running.  Don’t leave clean dishes in there for days.

19. Keep A Schedule

Do things at the same time each day, week or month.  Eat your meals at the same time each day.  Do your laundry at the same time each week.  Pay your bills at the same time each month.  The more you keep to a schedule, the less decisions you’ll have to make.  So anything that happens on a regular basis, find a set time to complete the task and stick with it each time.

20. Clear The Clutter And Go Digital

The next two tips are someone contradictory.  But if you hate paperwork and have a lot of paper clutter laying around, one thing you can do is switch to paperless billing for your utilities and other monthly bills.  If you do this, just call your electric, cable, internet and other companies and let them know you’d like to receive bills through email instead of mailing them to you.  That will help you clear the paper clutter.

21. Clear Out Your Inbox

I just told you to get all of your monthly bills sent to your email in order to clear the paper clutter.  Now I’m telling you to clear your email inbox. While these two tips are somewhat contradictory, you can still get your bills sent to your email and clear your emails out at the end of each day.  These two things aren’t mutually exclusive.  One strategy is to pay your bills as soon as you get them so they don’t pile up. 

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Clearing out your inbox can help you clear up the paper clutter and make your email folder be more organized.

If you do this, you can immediately delete your digital bill, or move it to a separate folder called Utilities, if you want to save it for some reason.  Other email strategies to simplify your life are:

  1. don’t have your email program open on your computer all day long
  2. have designated times when you check email
  3. respond to emails right away that only take a minute or two.
  4. Emails that require more time, move to a separate folder and have a designated time to reply to those emails.
  5. Delete junk email immediately.

22. Unsubscribe To Email Lists

We’re probably all subscribed to way to many email lists.  Ones that we never read and don’t need.  Unroll.me allows you to instantly see a list of all of your subscription emails and unsubscribe easily from those that you don’t want.

23. Task Batch

Task batching is simply grouping similar tasks together.  It allows your brain to focus on one type of task at a time.  For example, responding to emails and social media messages call for similar mindsets.  Group them together so you don’t lose workflow. 

Task batching isn’t just for work either.  Try to imagine all the things in your life that need your time and attention.  You can batch errands together, like grocery shopping and the post office.  You can batch home tasks together like cleaning, laundry and organizing.  You get the idea.

24. Focus On One Thing

Multitasking is a big problem many people have.  It’s actually more accurate to say task switching – moving from task to task.  For many of us, this probably sounds familiar.  Your typical day might send you running from one unfinished task to the next. 

You’re juggling multiple tasks at once and reacting to things that pop up in your day.  Allowing yourself to be interrupted and unproductive.  You end up not getting anything done and your brain is exhausted.  A better approach to simplify your life, is to batch your tasks and focus on one thing at a time.  Focusing on only one thing at a time will not only clear the clutter in your head, it will allow you to be more productive and finish tasks more quickly.

25. Store Things In The Cloud

Instead of carrying a flash drive everywhere, or storing all of your files on your computer, start saving your documents to Google Drive.  You’ll be able to access your files from any computer.  And you’ll always know which file is the most current version.

26. Close Tabs

This is an easy one.  Having multiple tabs open on your computer takes up some of your mental energy. Instead of focusing on the task at hand, you’ll probably be tempted to click on another program.  That’s just the way we are.  We have short attention spans.  Get rid of this unnecessary clutter by closing all tabs except the one program you’re currently using.

27. Plan Your Day The Night Before

Take 15 minutes each evening to the next day and write your to do list.  If you wait until the morning to do this, it might interrupt your morning routine, or interfere with actually getting things done. So plan the night before, get things written down for the next day and get a more peaceful sleep.

So there you have it – 27 ways to simplify your life and focus on what’s important.  Start with one to three and build up from there.  And if you have any of your own ideas, please leave a comment below and share.

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Scott Colby is an adventure lover who has always created businesses around his passions. Although he has spent over a decade in the fitness industry, helping people create transformations, it was a trip to Guatemala that inspired him to create his latest brand – Say It With Gratitude.