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5 Ways to Simplify Your Life

5 ways to simplify your life22Like you, I am busy. I work full-time, try to blog daily, try to exercise a high-energy dog, try to break a sweat myself, cook healthy meals, keep a house clean and oh, try to have some downtime. I’ve been feeling absolutely crazed lately so I’ve been trying to identify ways that I can simply my life. Recently, I’ve made five little tweaks to my simplify my life and those little things add up to a calmer, less frazzled me.

5 Ways I’ve Simplified My Life

1. Not renewing (every) magazines (subscription) and recycling unread ones. I subscribe to a ton of magazines: Elle, Cosmo, Women’s Health, Shape, Time, Wine Spectator, Money, Marie Claire, and probably others I’m forgetting. They pile up because I can’t read them fast enough – especially Time since it’s a weekly publication – and then they stress me out because getting through them is one more thing on my to-do list. So I haven’t renewed my subscription to any that have come up recently, and if I don’t read the current issue before I get the next one in the mail, I just recycle the older one. It’s amazing how that simple act has reduced my stress level – magazines are supposed to be fun, dammit!

2. Wearing less make-up: only one shade of eyeshadow and no mascara on the lower lashes. I find that I spend the longest time on my make-up trying to blend my eyeshadows and cleaning up gunk that I inevitably smear under my bottom eyelashes. By nixing those two altogether, it frees up at least 5 minutes every morning (which is a lot for me – every minute counts in the AM!) and it gives me a more natural look that’s perfect for summer.

3. Not drinking wine during the week. I love me some wine. Having a glass with dinner is one of my favorite things. But wine, even one glass, makes me very tired the next day and usually reduces my productivity at night. So I’ve replaced my glass of wine with dinner with sparkling flavored water from Whole Foods. It’s refreshing, much cheaper and doesn’t give me the next-day drag that wine does. (Bonus: it has fewer calories – ie. 0 – than wine.)

4. Choosing my outfit the night before. Every morning as I get ready for work, I stare at my closet for about 5 minutes before picking out an outfit, and then oftentimes will change 2-3 times. That’s 10-15 minutes in the morning that I don’t have to spare. I spend that time at night selecting an outfit, hang all the pieces (top, bottom, belt, jewelry, etc) on a closet door hook, put that outfit on in the morning, slip on some heels and head out the door. If it doesn’t look quite right – which happens often since I love to mix bright colors – I throw on a basic black dress instead of trying to create a new outfit. (oh, and I used to do this as a kid. I’d lay out the outfit and shape the arms to look like the hand was on the hip. My mom even took a picture of it once after I’d gone to sleep so I have proof I was always this OCD...smart. 😉 )

5. Throwing away one thing a day. I hate clutter. Unfortunately, I have a lot of it. I’m one of those… “Well, I might need it…someday…” people. So to combat ending up on Hoarders, I’ve started throwing away one thing a day. (Not counting food scraps or junk mail.) A crappy pair of socks, lotion that I never use, etc. Doesn’t matter what, as long as it’s something. (Please tell me that another Arrested Development fan automatically went to “doesn’t matter who” when they started reading “doesn’t matter what.)

K, your turn – tell me one of your tricks to simplifying life.

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61 Comments

  • Reply
    Lindsey
    at

    Planning my meals and workouts before the start of each week. Saves me tons of time and makes the week so much easier 🙂

    • Reply
      Teri
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      I need to do that! I used to be good about it but not anymore.

  • Reply
    Caryln @ carylnrambles
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    Making lists! I have always been a big list maker and I think it helps simplify things for me.

    • Reply
      Teri
      at

      I <3 lists. Let me tell you why.

      1. they rock.
      2. hehehe.
      3. i think i'm funny
      😉

  • Reply
    Maria
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    I love this! I’m always looking for ways to accomplish a simpler life. One of my favorites: I don’t allow myself to buy new clothes until I donate a grocery bag of clothes/shoes to Goodwill. I’ve also stopped reading magazines and use my Kindle for books which results in less book clutter.

    • Reply
      Teri
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      I totally agree about the book clutter. I need to just get rid of all mine! You inspired me!

  • Reply
    RLR
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    Letting the newspaper and magazine subscriptions is a good one! I let my last subscription run out at the end of last year. Haven’t really missed it.
    I wish I was better about packing my kids’ lunches the night before – I used to be better at this. With two days of school left, it won’t be an issue again until August – but I usually end up skipping breakfast to pack lunches in the morning. That’s no good!

  • Reply
    Heather (Heather's Dish)
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    oh, i like that last one a lot! i’m totally a “throw it away” person but nate has turned me into a hoarder of sorts…i think i’ll start making us both practice throwing something away daily!

  • Reply
    Amber @ Busy, Bold, Blessed
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    Ugh, my boyfriend signed up for a ton of magazine subscriptions years ago and he’s still “stuck in the contract” so I’m just waiting for the day they all stop coming! We have enough clutter, we don’t need 800 magazines!

    I need to implement the throw one thing away a day thing! We recently helped a friend move and the amount of crap they had accumulated in their house made me want to go home and throw everything out lol. My boyfriend isn’t great at throwing things out, but I’m trying to encourage him!

    • Reply
      Teri
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      i totally feel your pain about the magazines. except mine was self-inflicted! 🙂

  • Reply
    Sarah
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    This is seriously kind of scary because I’m doing 4/5 of these every day.

    *makeup–I’m not wearing eyeliner or lipstick anymore! Just gloss and
    mascara and maybe some eyeshadow if I”m going out!
    *wine–also have cut it out on weeknights & only 1 night on the weekend
    *outfit–this is kind of funny, but I hop on Pinterest and the first outfit I see pinned that I can somewhat replicate? That’s what I wear.
    *throwing away–I recycle all the “art work” we’ve produced at the end of the day 🙂

    Great minds think alike. Hmm…maybe I’ll turn this into a post…

    • Reply
      Teri
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      We do have great minds that think alike, i.e. we both hate Pea Kitty.

  • Reply
    Lauren
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    I love the idea of wearing less makeup. It’s funny because I never use to wear mascara on my bottom lashes until recently and now I realize it really does take more time. And you know what, I don’t really notice a difference.

    • Reply
      Teri
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      It’s kind of funny when you think about it. In fact, I think i look BETTER without it on my lower lashes!

  • Reply
    Holly W
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    what a great post! We can all use a little simplifying in our lives. Being that I leave the house before anyone wakes up in the morning, I make all our lunches at night while I’m putting dinner away (since we usually all eat leftovers for lunch). I also make our overnight oats then as well.
    As soon as I get home from work, I clean out my gym bag from the morning, and I pick out the next day’s outfit right then and get my bag packed so I’m not having to do it in the evening when I’m completely dragging and ready for bed.

    • Reply
      Teri
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      Wow, you are GOOD! That’s a great idea to do the gym bag and outfit right when you get home!

  • Reply
    Trisha
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    Making my lunch the night before, and picking out my outfit. Always saves time in the morning!

  • Reply
    Mrs Type A
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    I need to start picking my outfit the night before. Most days I can choose rather quickly but at least once a week I get stumped and spend 20 minutes staring at my closet and end up running late.

    I always throw out or donate clothes that I don’t wear anymore when I buy new clothes so that the clutter doesn’t build up.

  • Reply
    Stacey
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    Love this! I constantly am giving away clothes! Mine and my 2 children’s! I hate clutter!

  • Reply
    Claire @ Live and Love to Eat
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    I started picking out my outfit the night before just to disturb my husband less, and it definitely helps simplify my mornings! I also try to take a walk during my lunch hour on busy days when I worry I won’t get to exercise after work.

  • Reply
    [email protected] Kay Makes It
    at

    I try and prep a week of lunches on Sunday. I picked up some inexpensive food storage thingys with separate compartments, and I stock them full of yummy foods on Sunday. That way I can grab a box from the fridge, a few snacks, and be out the door on time all week.

    I’ve also cut back on makeup, since it’s summer and I sweat it all off anyway. You don’t realize it, but it truly is a huge time saver!

  • Reply
    Brooke
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    I like throwing away something every time I buy something new. It also goes with cleaning out the fridge every time you bring home new groceries.

    • Reply
      Teri
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      ummmm i am terrible at cleaning out the fridge 🙁

  • Reply
    Grace
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    I am having very bad problems with acne and everything the doctors have given me just complicates thing so last night I decided to try and go a simple and natural route and get rid of the prescriptions that aren’t working anyway!

    • Reply
      Teri
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      i hope the simple route works for you!!

  • Reply
    Andrea @ Vegvacious
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    I started menu planning a few weeks ago and it’s saved me tons of time because now I have our lunches planned and made the night before and I already have an idea of what’s for dinner the next night. It reduces time running to the grocery store after work to grab that one ingredient I don’t have and the time I spend trying to “decide” what we’re going to have.

  • Reply
    Melissa
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    Yes! Perfect timing for this post.

    I have gotten into a rut of NOT planning for the next day when I really need to.

    Some of the things I do (or will be doing again):
    * Plan outfit–make sure it’s ready to go (ironed etc) and shoes are as well. This morning I could not find my other sandal and looked for at least 10 minutes!
    * Pack gym back the night before
    * Plan lunch and pack ahead if possible

    For just me personally-
    * Recycle or give away old magazines. I will take magazines to nursing homes or my salon or give to kids to use to cut up for projects
    * Stick to staple items for makeup. I used to be a huge makeup whore and now I just my holy grail items the most
    * Eat leftovers for lunch and dinner or find a new way to use them for a new meal. Clean Eating is a good resource for this.
    * Use what is in season at farmers market for meals

    • Reply
      Teri
      at

      I love the ideas of donating magazines to other places – reduce, reuse, recycle! And you are right – buying what’s seasonal really does simplify life. Fewer choices can be a good thing, especially when they are better, fresher quality!

  • Reply
    Sarah (I Dream of Beets)
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    I LOVE this post, and I can totally relate. I will definitely use your anti-hoarding trick: I am a saver too, and it drives me nuts. I look at my boyfriend’s habits – his sparse closet, his clean eating, his organization – and I’m totally jealous. I love dresses and dresses and dresses, but I also long for the simplicity of a clean, well-composed closet:) I collect books like they’re going out of style (and, let’s be honest, they kind of are – darn kindles!). I am not good about getting into an eating routine – though that’s my project this summer:) – and inevitably end up spending too much and the grocery store and then throwing out food later. Super wasteful.

    Here are some tricks that I’m good at:
    1 – No makeup in the summer…just a little gloss, and if it’s a special occasion, some mascara

    2. Air dry and let my curls fly free

    3. Dresses – no outfit coordination necessary

    • Reply
      Meghan
      at

      I agree with #3! The easiest outfits ever!

      • Reply
        Teri
        at

        I’m jealous you have curls 🙂

        haha- i laughed out loud at your comment about books going out of style. they really are. but unlike most styles, i don’t think they’ll be making a comeback in 25 years.

  • Reply
    Cookie and Kate
    at

    Great tips! I unsubscribed to 95% of the enewsletters that were junking up my inbox. I’m way less distracted now!

    • Reply
      Teri
      at

      that is a GREAT idea. I’m going to do that right now.

  • Reply
    StoriesAndSweetPotatoes
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    I love to throw away stuff I don’t use. I go crazy when I’m moving and give like seven huge bags to Goodwill. I’m not a fan of having a ton of material things around and I feel better when I have just what I need. 🙂

    • Reply
      Teri
      at

      I like your comment about having just what you need! That will really help me with purging!

  • Reply
    Janetha
    at

    Oh my gosh, I love you!!! You are the best! I have so many magazines stacked up that it is overwhelming. I have stopped renewing, too. I only keep Real Simple and Oxygen now. I need to adopt the throwing one thing away habit and pick my outfit out the night before! xoxo

    • Reply
      Teri
      at

      your comments make me happy. i like to be loved! 🙂

  • Reply
    BroccoliHut
    at

    Good ideas! I could definitely stand to throw away a few things in my tiny apartment. There’s no room for anything!
    My tip: I pre-sort my silverware when I put them into the dishwasher. It seems silly, but it actually saves a lot of time when I’m unloading the dishwasher–just grab the handful of forks (or spoons or knives) and dump in the drawer!

    • Reply
      Moira
      at

      That’s a great idea! I hate sorting silverware!

    • Reply
      Teri
      at

      seriously that is such a good idea about the silverware! But do they not, like, “stick” to themselves, for lack of a better word? Like the spoons all spooning each other and then not getting clean? Do you know what I mean?

      • Reply
        RLR
        at

        I don’t know about your dishwasher, but my silverware section has a “lid”that has silverware-sized holes to keep that from happening. Pretty cool, though it wasn’t really a deciding factor in the purchase.

  • Reply
    Meg
    at

    Oh I love this post! So helpful. Your one-thing-a-day-declutter rule… SO GOOD. I am going to try and implement that… I love to declutter, but I usually do it in massive spurts. I like this once-a-day maintenance idea.

    My major one is setting the timer for 10 minutes before I go to bed and picking up the kitchen or our living room for just the allotted time. I never want to do it, but even a small dent helps keep it from building up.

    • Reply
      Teri
      at

      I do it in massive spurts usually too. Like the day I spent 2 hours cleaning out ONE closet. Ugh.

      The timer rule is seriously so helpful.

  • Reply
    Emily
    at

    One of my favorite ways to simplify is to make my list of to-do’s for the next day before I go to bed. It usually happens throughout the day, really — I’ll be working on something and think “oh, I need to remember to do X tomorrow!” so I just go ahead and write it down then. That way, when the next morning comes, I don’t have to waste those few minutes getting my thoughts and tasks organized.

    • Reply
      Teri
      at

      that’s smart! plus, it would help clear my mind when i’m trying to sleep!

  • Reply
    eirinn
    at

    i use my written planner for everything. school, work, events.. it keeps me sane. i could never do it on iCal or any other app, despite my efforts. it is just not the same.

    • Reply
      Teri
      at

      i’m with ya. paper planners for life.

    • Reply
      RLR
      at

      Same here – paper calendar! I’ve tried the other, and it just didn’t work. I’m managing 4 schedules, so things can get a little crazy! Color-coding helps… 🙂

  • Reply
    Cathy
    at

    These are all really great tips! I don’t wear much make up which makes things easier, but could be better about picking out my outfit the night before and picking up clutter. Which means I should probably stop checking my Google Reader and pick up some of the things on our family room floor!

    • Reply
      Teri
      at

      hehee… now closing my Google Reader to pick up dog toys… ahem 😉

  • Reply
    Jessica
    at

    I’ve felt the need to simplify, too. The first thing I did was deactivate my Facebook account. It’s actually nice not feeling the need to see what my 347 “friends” are doing. We had a yard sale and got rid of all the crap that’s accumulated over the years. Made some money, said goodbye to junk. Win-win! Lastly, I’ve stopped blow drying my hair. That extra 20 minutes every other morning is a game changer.

    • Reply
      Teri
      at

      I rarely look at facebook except for my blog page. it stresses me to look at the personal side with so many people. then again, i’m a twitter junkie 🙂

  • Reply
    Kate
    at

    Such great tips in your post and comments listed above! Often it is the small things that really add up and make a difference. I always clean up for about 10 minutes before I go to bed. I wake up and feel a little organized for the day, which is such a great feeling. I also set my clothes out the night before– way tooo many morning sitting in my closet having no clue what to wear. Great post!

    • Reply
      Teri
      at

      that’s a good idea to pick up before bed – it really would help in the morning to feel less frazzled.

  • Reply
    Dawn
    at

    I get all of my magazines, books, cookbooks, etc. in digital form now, which has really helped eliminate a lot of clutter around the house. My makeup routine has been simplified, too – I just discovered the wonders of a tinted moisturizer!

    • Reply
      Teri
      at

      what tinted moisturizer do you use? i can’t find one that i like!

      • Reply
        Dawn
        at

        I use Philosophy’s Hope in a Tinted Moisturizer. It’s lightweight and has SPF 20. 🙂

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    at

    Great post! I also have a pile of magazines, but I’m thinking eventually I’ll get through them. One day. haha

  • Reply
    Diane Cosby
    at

    Thanks so much for your post. I started giggling and just got soooo tickled when I read it from the “healthy living daily buzz, simple life feature”.
    It makes me profoundly happy because I have long since discovered I have way too much stuff, don’t need all of these things and gave them up to a large extent. I only take one magazine and have doubts about continuing it, I gave up make-up because I am sure that at age 64 few people notice what I look like, drink wine only for special occasions, pitch lots of stuff daily, and except for monthly 4-5 day trips, only leave home once a week so I don’t spend a lot of time on my wardrobe planning.
    My once a week day out is for shopping, errands, visiting, and appointments. This also saves a lot of gas.
    “Things and vanity” have become quite unimportant and God, family, people, nature and my dog are of over-riding importance.

    It is quite refreshing to read that you and others are making the same discovery. Good luck on your quest. I find it to be ongoing and rewarding.

  • Reply
    Kumiko Mae
    at

    INTERESTING! i think i should try throwing out more stuff too. im also the type who holds on event o whats obvious to other people as garbage! shame!

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