6 Ways to Simplify Your Life (Without Becoming a Minimalist)

This weekend, I was in the States and am too cheap to incur roaming charges. I switched my phone off and brought my laptop along for a once-a-day email check, just in case my group members from my classes have a crisis that can’t be solved without me. I checked my email once a day – that’s it – and went into my dashboard and approved outstanding comments.

When I got home on Monday night, after checking but not responding to my email, and having to write a post for Tuesday and approve a days worth of pending comments and catching up on what’s going on with my stats, it took me about an hour.

That’s it. An hour.

Apparently it doesn’t take that long to respond to 15 emails, read and press approve on comments, and check up on things. Especially when you’re doing it on a laptop instead of an iPhone. Even from 3 days. Granted, email and blog activity do slow down over the weekend, but still.

So this got me thinking. I had such a simple weekend. I had a plan for what I wanted to do on the internet when I got back home. I checked email once and didn’t check my phone at all. I lived in the moment – there were definitely times when the boyfriend would say “I wonder what ______”, and I wish I had my phone on so I could Google it, but it wasn’t the end of the world.

email meme
credit: quickmeme.com

Nothing blew up, nothing went awry, and people didn’t even notice that it took me a little longer to respond.

In fact, I found myself relieved of a lot of the pressure I put on myself, constantly, to always be accessible. Instead of checking me email and obsessing over answering it right away, I just left it and forgot about it until I could write back. I love getting email, but when my inbox is getting cluttered, it can be stressful.

After simplifying things in such a small way, it got me thinking of how I can simplify my life further. I'm not a minimalist and while I can appreciate simplifying your life by getting rid of unnecessary objects and living on less, it's just not me. I like me some stuff!

So while thinking of how to simplify your life, here's what I've come up with.

Checking email only 3x/day

Because I get overwhelmed when I log-in to my email inbox and there is a lot to tend to, I won't be checking it only once a day, but 3 times per day is a lot less than I have been in the past. I'd check my email anywhere between 10-15 times/day before.

Today I've challenged myself to checking it only three times, and have been successful so far.

Giving myself enough time in the morning

I hate being rushed in the morning. I'm lucky that I have an internal clock that wakes me up at exactly 6:00 AM or earlier, so I never oversleep, but sometimes I don't give myself enough time in the morning. I get caught up in reading blog posts, checking email, and scrambling around trying to get everything together that it can cause me to feel frazzled all day.

Even giving myself a few extra minutes in the morning to get things together would help in simplifying my life a lot.

Turn my phone off at night

My phone, unless it's dead, is never off. Ever. I don't just turn it off (unless of course it's incurring roaming charges when I'm in the States). I turn it on silent but make sure that the vibrate setting is on just in case, because then I can usually feel it and it wakes me up.

I really don't think I need to keep my phone on at night anymore. I've had a couple of interrupted sleeps if my friends call too late and I fall asleep reading, or if somebody texts me really early in the morning (I'm a light sleeper) it can jolt me awake.

I doubt it would hurt to turn my phone off at night, and especially since I don't do well if I am not well rested.

Unsubscribe to unnecessary things

One thing I hate seeing is my Google Reader with 400 unread items, my email inbox littered with marketing campaigns, and my Twitter filled with spammy Tweets. When I first joined Twitter, I followed everyone and anyone.

I've pared the tweeps that I'm following down by about 200 in the past month and it feels SO GOOD to not have to read through spam to get to the tweets that I actually want to read.

I also did some spring cleaning of my Google Reader, which also felt awesome - I had so many spammy blogs on there and blogs that I've lost interest in or who have stopped posting. I still am subscribed to a lot of blogs, but they are all ones that I actually read and enjoy.

Finally, I've been going through my junk mail and unsubscribing from all of the emails that both tempt me and fill up my inbox unnecessarily. It's a lot of work at first, but makes things simpler later.

Planning

As a planner, there's not much long-term stuff that I don't plan, but planning the little things would help make all of our lives simpler. Having an idea, at least, of what you'll wear tomorrow if you are the type to panic at the last minute, or knowing what order you'll do your errands in so you're not driving around aimlessly. These are things that definitely simplify life and save time.

Outsource

Sometimes, allowing yourself wiggle room to get away from the things that you don't like doing is worth the money you have to spend to get rid of a task.

I've outsourced a very small amount of my blogging work - just carnival submissions - but if/when I want to get a new theme for the blog, you'd bet that I'll be outsourcing that. I outsource some of my advertising management as well.

There are just things that I don't like doing and things that I don't understand, for whatever reason. It's not helpful to my life to struggle with these things, so outsourcing is the only way, sometimes.

 

Simplifying your life can be incredibly gratifying and can free up time for other, more important things.

How do you simplify your life?

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45 thoughts on “6 Ways to Simplify Your Life (Without Becoming a Minimalist)

  1. Katie

    I need to give myself some extra time in the morning also. I get up early enough but then I check my email or comments and time passes me by and soon enough I am rushing out of the door.

    I do usually plan my outfits a day in advance, so that makes the mornings a little less hectic.

  2. All great ideas. One thing I seriously need to do is NOT check my iphone while at stoplights. I never text while driving or really even use the phone in any way except for that. The crazy part is I'll check it when I'm about a mile away from getting home and can check it then. It's like I can't just sit at the light and do nothing. So that's my goal.

  3. One way I simplify my wardrobe is to stick to a certain color palette. My closet is mainly comprised of black, gray, navy blue, and purple/lavender colors. With some cream, rose, and olive green thrown in. Those colors look good on me and go with everything else in my closet. This means I won't be tempted by a cute neon yellow sweater that's 50% off sale because I know it will never get worn after the initial excitement.

  4. I love the idea of turning off your phone and only checking emails a certain number of times throughout the day.

    Those are things I definitely need to work on and I'm getting better at it. I'm always on the computer and checking miscellaneous crap always takes up too much of my time.

  5. John @ Married (with Debt)

    The main way I've minimized is basically the things I care about. I have learned to not care about tasks more than the person who SHOULD care more than me. I've also stopped associating with people who complain or otherwise cause unneeded drama. I don't check work emails after hours or on the weekend, either.

  6. I definitely check my e-mail way too often too. I dunno if I could get by on just 3 times a day, but I can limit it at least a bit. I probably check miscellaneous stats too much too. I need to develop more of a routine where all that kind of stuff is done on a minimal basis. I do try to unsubscribe from unnecessary e-mails, but I have let my rss reader get quite cluttered. It might be about time to clean that up.

  7. Dollar D @ The Dollar Disciple

    I felt the same sort of freedom when I was just in Barcelona. I didn't have access to the internet and you know what: it felt great! I kind of missed that disconnected feeling when I got back my access.

  8. We've all become so addicted to technology and it can easily take over our lives, especially when we are online everyday blogging, tweeting and just trying to keep in touch. Turning off your devices and cutting back on checking email is a great idea, and so is outsourcing. For me, I only use my cell for emergencies so it is not on, but I am addicted to email.

  9. Love these suggestions! Checking email less often is a big one for me, as well as unsubscribing from unnecessary stuff. I cleaned up my Google Reader and Twitter recently too and I feel much more productive now that I'm not wading through stuff I don't care about.

  10. Anthony Thompson

    Simplifying my life has done wonders for me over the years. These suggestions have served me well, because they've help me to better manage my life and unclutter my mind. The one that meant the most to me overall was giving myself enough time in the morning. Using this method has helped me get through the day far more efficiently, and has also reduced stress.

  11. I need to unsubscribe to many emails too..I spent a lot of time DELETING things from my inbox or marking them as spam....sigh.

    What's sad is that I have twitter up all day as well as my email and phone. I check 5 emails a day and then I have a million tabs open. Everyone always makes fun of me!

    I need to simplify my life but I have been pretty good at getting away from computer and twitter/text/email after work and on the weekends. I don't think anyone really notices and I don't find the need to talk to people all night haha. There's always tomorrow!

  12. I completely agree with unsubscribing from unnecessary things. I spend way too much time going through all of the the discount offers everyday in my email. This is a great way to reduce the daily email clutter.

  13. I'm a big fan of simplifying. I think many people go too far and wander down the path of minimalism, which usually becomes restrictive and backfires.

    I've found that when I begin to feel overwhelmed and stressed about life in general, there's some simplifying to be done. That's when I step back and question whether I really need this or that and can I do without them. Sometimes it's just a change in the way I do something, but whatever form it comes in I always feel much lighter and a real sense of calm after I go through it.

    In the past, I've consolidated bank accounts and closed old accounts. I've consolidated my spending onto a single credit card. Those things help me to simplify my finances and stay on top of things without getting stuck in a quagmire.

  14. Justin @ The Family Finances

    Something I try and do is when I get home from work in the evening around 5:30, I don't check emails, comments, or really do anything on the computer or phone until we put our little boy to bed at 8:30. Family is one of the most important things, and I don't want to skimp on our time together.

  15. I tried limit myself to email checking only 3x a day and it was a massive failure after 2 days. I have deleted soooo many blogs from my Reader/Twitter people/FB friends lately though. It's such a relief to not have to see what my BFF from grade 8 is up to or to read a headline from that-blog-I-subscribed-to-on-urban-planning-but-never-read.

  16. I think it's just great that you've simplified! GREAT job! And the thing is, most peopel won't notice if you don't respond immediatley to texts or emails... yo'uve got more time than you think.Funny you mention spammy twitter feeds... I have been following everyone who asks for sure, but now, I"m seeing the problem with that. Just like you, so many tweets are just spam junk. So I've also started unfollowing some of the spammy ones.

  17. Freaky..I was just thinking about this today as well. When I spent a year in the UK, I had nothing but a suitcase of clothes and it was one of the funnest years of my life. I had no car, no cellphone, no computer, and very few expenses or obligations to do chores or whatnot.

    Sometimes I dream about changing jobs just so that I can have a clean slate from an email perspective. I hate all the clutter we have in our lives, electronic or otherwise.

    Great post.

  18. I simplified my life 10 years ago when I got married. I didn’t know it at the time, but the house was always clean and food was always ready, so it was a great stress relief! 🙂

    Seriously though, I agree with you on these things. I’ve been pulling back on checking my phone and looking at emails. And yes, the world does still go on …

  19. I do need to turn my phone off at night and limit what I get in my emails. My first 10 minutes of my day is typically sorting through emails. Most of them I don't even read--I just delete them. And I cracked up when I saw what your post was about today.

  20. I have to admit, the thought of only checking my email 3 times a day sends shivers down my spine. This morning, for example - I slept from 5:30am to 11am, and I woke up to 38 emails. I've gotten probably at least that many since. When I see that number creeping up, I start to panic.

    That said, I do have to find a way to simplify. I scheduled myself for a day off today, and did it happen? Of course not! The only way I can take time off is to physically leave my house where I can't access the things I need to work.

    I do have an alarm dock for my phone that silences it at night, other than phone calls and alarms. So texts, emails, etc. can just gather during the night without me knowing about it. Otherwise I'd probably never sleep!

    Anyway, I'm rambling. This post has inspired me to think of some ways to make things easier but still workable. I'm going to ponder....in between emails that is! 😀

  21. These are some great tips. My Google Reader list is getting huge too and I notice that some of the sites I subscribed too a while back don't seem to continue to interest me anymore. I wish I wasn't such an email addict but I actually enjoy checking it. Maybe I should try to chill on that front.

  22. I keep trying to simplify my life but I don't seem to be making much progress. I think it would be easier if I could go on vacation for a week and then start fresh. I don't see that happening though, so I guess I'll just keep trying. 🙂

  23. I try to do as much as I can the night before. And I even have days I don't check my personal email! You're so right- people will survive if you don't get back to them immediately.

  24. Paring down can be a pain - I like to be picky about what I let into my life in the first place (blogs, Twitter etc). I still need to work on culling my email subscriptions. Email and blog checking is definitely also a bit of an addiction for me - need to cut down!

  25. Oh man I need to do ALL of these! My life's been a bit complicated lately - mostly from splitting my focus way too much.

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  29. This is just classy, good advice. This is not the popular way to live in the world right now, but I think it's such a healthier, more sane way! I am working on some of the same things myself. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

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  33. ugh I need to get better at this. I'm so overwhelmed with everything I have to manage. I know it could be better if I was just more organized about it, but I'm not there yet lol

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  35. Barbara Friedberg

    I love the name of your site!!!! It is so clever. I think I'll adopt it as my life motto 😆 I am constantly atttempting to simplify my routines. Great ideas here!!! It's way too easy to get caught up in the lure of the online universe.

  36. Johnny@MoneyCentral

    Thank you so much for this post! It is hitting me at a time where I need to hear it. I currently run a series of blogs for my job and an adult recreational sports league, so I work about 60 hours a week. Not to mention running my household and being a good husband and dad. I love all my jobs, but I get crushed by them as well. Recently, I hired an assitant and I think it will help tremendously. I just told her, if your work allows me to spend more time with my family, you can have all the hours you need.

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