21 Ways to Simplify and Minimize Your Life to Reduce Stress

Updated on January 6, 2019
gerimcclym profile image

Geri McClymont is a minimalist. She has experienced great freedom and reduced stress by living a simple and minimalist lifestyle.

Simplifying and minimizing result in increased peace and reduced stress.
Simplifying and minimizing result in increased peace and reduced stress. | Source

Minimize and Simplify Your Life

Sometimes we’re so used to doing things the same way, we don’t stop to consider that we don’t have to keep doing them that way, that we can adopt new habits. Not only is it possible—it can be life changing!

Two of the most liberating things I have done are minimizing and simplifying my life.

Minimizing and simplifying have given me the freedom to devote more time and energy to more meaningful pursuits, such as engaging in hobbies and activities I enjoy, and spending real time with friends and family.

Added benefits have been reduced living expenses and a significant decrease in the overall level of stress in my life.

Have you tried to minimize and simplify your life?

See results
Keep your contact information up to date.
Keep your contact information up to date. | Source

1. Update Your Contacts

Delete all old contacts. This will enable you to locate people more easily when you need to reach them, as you won’t have as many names to sort through.

Likewise, add all new contacts to your list and make sure all phone numbers and email addresses are current. Be sure to include less frequently called but critical numbers such as your auto insurance and homeowners (or renters) insurance companies.

Having updated contact info at your fingertips without the unnecessary clutter of old contacts is an easy start to simplifying your life.

2. Clean Out Your Email Folders

If your electronic mailboxes could use a good cleaning, stop putting it off. If the task seems overwhelming, make it a point to delete twenty emails per day until you get rid of all unnecessary mail.

It's so nice to only see important emails when you check your inbox, without the distraction of messages you'll never need.

Make it a habit to delete unwanted emails as soon as you receive them. Many of them have an unsubscribe option at the bottom—use it!

Keep a planner for all upcoming appointments and events.
Keep a planner for all upcoming appointments and events. | Source

3. Use a Personal Planner

Record all appointments in your planner as soon as you schedule them. Make it a habit to always have your planner with you so you don't end up scheduling overlapping events.

Also record yearly reminders such as updating your computer security software and preparing your tax return, as well as more regular reminders like taking your car in for oil changes and attending parent-teacher conferences.

Writing down all events in advance enables you to plan accordingly and avoid the stress of sudden surprises later.

4. Silence Your Phone

I can't remember the last time I received a phone call that warranted my immediate attention. Silencing your phone enables you to listen to your messages at a more convenient time and to gather your thoughts before you call back.

If you must keep your ringer turned on, screen your calls and be selective as to which ones you pick up. Allow the rest to go to voicemail so you can attend to them later.

5. Create a Birthday Calendar

Use it exclusively for noting the birth dates of friends and family. Post it beside your regular calendar and leave it there as an ongoing reminder of upcoming birthdays.

Reuse it each year and add names as needed, such as the birth of nieces, nephews, and grandchildren. Record other special events on it too, such as wedding anniversaries or anniversaries for the loss of loved ones.

Keep a collection of cards on hand for special occasions.
Keep a collection of cards on hand for special occasions. | Source

6. Purchase Greeting Cards and Gifts in Advance

Keep a file box of cards sorted by special occasion—birthdays, anniversaries, get well cards, etc—so they're handy when you need them.

If you prefer to send e-cards, preschedule their send dates —e-card sites allow you this option.

For gifts, take advantage of sales throughout the year. Buying items in advance not only saves you the stress and hassle of last minute shopping, but allows you time to prewrap your gifts too.

7. Shop Online

Crowded parking lots, busy stores, and long checkout lines can be bypassed when you shop online.

In addition, many items can be found online at a fraction of their retail price, even with shipping and handling fees included! Stick to reputable sites, such as Amazon.com. If you're an Amazon Prime member, shipping and handling fees are dropped altogether for thousands of items.

We often take for granted all the cultural attractions in our own city!
We often take for granted all the cultural attractions in our own city! | Source

8. Enjoy Local Excursions

Traveling out of town can be exciting and refreshing, but most of us take for granted the cultural attractions and outdoor activities we can enjoy locally. Visit your county’s website to find museums, nature gardens, hiking trails, and other hidden treasures in your own backyard.

Not only will you reduce the hassle involved with traveling, you'll learn more about your city and save a lot of money at the same time.

9. Get Rid of the Land Line

Why pay twice for the same service? If you have a smart phone with good signal strength, a land line is superfluous. I’ve been living without a land line for years and never missed it. I especially don’t miss the extra phone bill.

For international calls, use Skype with or without the video feature. If both you and the person you're speaking with have Skype accounts, it's free for both of you.

10. Pay Your Bills Through Your Bank

Most banks have a user-friendly online bill payment option which enables you to enter all of your payees' names and contact information. For each payee, you can set up recurring payments or pay each bill manually whenever you want.

Paying your bills online through your bank allows you to pay all of them from one location rather than making separate payments via snail mail or through each of your payee's individual websites.

Limit your use of the TV and keep it in a room other than your bedroom.
Limit your use of the TV and keep it in a room other than your bedroom. | Source

11. Give Up the TV

I know this suggestion will hurt many people’s feelings, but I assure you it will revolutionize your life. Giving up the tube will leave you with time to engage in more, dare I say, productive activities.

If you can’t give up the TV, try limiting how much time you spend watching it. Consider dropping cable and tapping into basic channels for free with only an antenna.

Always keep the TV in a room other than your bedroom so it’s less likely to interfere with your sleep.

Things to Do Instead of Watching TV

call a friend
read a book
bake cookies
send a card
have a cup of tea (or coffee)
grow a garden
visit an elderly person
invite a friend over for dinner
write a letter
make a craft
take a walk
learn to knit (or crochet)
go hiking
play with your pet
visit a museum
get rid of clutter
volunteer for your favorite cause
donate unwanted items
tutor a child
learn a new language
go for a bike ride
 
 
 
Reward yourself with an activity you enjoy after spending time each day decluttering.
Reward yourself with an activity you enjoy after spending time each day decluttering. | Source

12. Get Rid of Clutter

Decluttering is a significant way to minimize and simplify your life. Most of us have more items than we need or even use just sitting around gathering dust. Getting rid of unwanted and unneeded items will lighten your load, free up space, and make cleaning your home much easier.

Here are some ways to start small so the task doesn't overwhelm you:

  • Make one trip to a charity or thrift store each week to drop off unwanted items.
  • List one item to sell online per day.
  • Call consignment stores in advance to schedule drop off dates for your items.
  • Plan one big yard sale for the summer.
  • Devote a few hours each day to decluttering one room at a time.
  • If you can, solicit help from friends and family.

After spending time each day decluttering, reward yourself with something you enjoy, such as a long walk or your favorite drink!

Moving into a smaller home may indeed be the most effective way to minimize and simplify your life.

— Author
A large home can be a lovely sight but also a great burden.
A large home can be a lovely sight but also a great burden. | Source

13. Downsize Your Home

We often buy a larger house because we see it as a wise financial investment. What we don’t often foresee, however, are the hidden costs (time and monetary) of maintaining a larger house.

Moving into a smaller home may indeed be the most effective way to minimize and simplify your life.

A smaller home means less square footage to clean, fewer rooms to furnish and decorate, and less space to accumulate stuff in! Not to mention lower utility bills and less maintenace and repairs to stay on top of.

We often overspend because we are trying to fill an emotional gap in our lives. No object will ever satisfy your soul.

— Dave Ramsey

14. Stop Buying Stuff

Really, just stop.

Most of the stuff we buy ends up in the garage after a few seasons because we never really needed it to begin with.

Instead of buying or paying to download books and music, check out books and music CDs from your local library.

Rather than buy new clothes, create new outfits with clothes you already have by combining pieces you've never worn together before. Accessories such as scarves and jewelry can bring an outfit together beautifully!

Before you head out to the grocery store, check out your freezer and pantry. You likely have enough there to create ten meals.

How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe - 7 Easy Steps

15. Clean with White Vinegar and Baking Soda

Avoid toxic chemicals found in most cleaning products by cleaning your home naturally. Do you know that most items and surfaces in your home can be cleaned with distilled white vinegar and baking soda? I use distilled white vinegar, diluted in an equal portion of water, to clean my kitchen, bathrooms, and vinyl floors.

Vinegar can also be added to your laundry to help deodorize clothes and as a fabric softener. An equal ratio of white vinegar to baking soda can be used to declog drains. Baking soda by itself is perfect for removing coffee and tea stains off mugs. Just sprinkle enough to cover the stains, let it sit for a few minutes, and wipe off with a wet towel or sponge.

16. Make Easy, Healthy Meals

Prepare meals that require less ingredients and less time.

You don’t have to compromise on nutrition—the internet is loaded with quick and healthy recipes.

Stack up on your non-perishables, such as rice or canned beans, so you don’t have to go to the grocery store as often. Use spices to zest up your meals, and freeze extra portions for later use.

Give up soda and other drinks that may be sucking up a good part of your grocery bill while offering you no nutritional value. Replace them with water—it's free and so good for you. Add a slice of lemon, orange or cucumber for flavor!

17. Grow Your Own Greens

When you grow your own herbs, fruits, and vegetables, you avoid toxic chemicals without paying as much for organic produce in stores.

You don’t need a yard, so apartment living works too; many herbs and vegetables can be grown on balconies or on windowsills.

14 Store Bought Vegetables & Herbs You Can Regrow

18. Say No

It seems that everywhere we go, we are met with requests for donations for this or that. Many are good causes, but that doesn't mean we have to give in to all of them.

The next time you're asked for a donation, consider saying, "not today." This communicates that you may give tomorrow or next year, but just not at the moment.

You should never feel guilty saying no when you're asked to volunteer time or donate money you don't have. If you spread yourself too thin, you'll end up frustrated because you won't be able to give as much to the causes that mean the most to you.

Be selective about the causes you commit to. You can always reevaluate your situation as your circumstances change. For example, once your children are off to college, you may find yourself with more free time. Or if you get a pay raise, you have more money to spare.

19. Create Healthy Boundaries

Creating boundaries means not just knowing when to say no to requests, but also learning to keep people at a healthy distance when necessary.

We all have toxic people in our lives that are difficult to be around because of their negativity, critical nature or otherwise difficult personality. Consider if you need to limit the time you spend with some of them.

The book Boundaries, by Henry Cloud, revolutionized my life as it taught me the value of creating healthy boundaries with people I loved but whose actions were impacting me in a very negative way. It was so liberating to know it's okay and even necessary to back away from people I care about in order to be the best me, and sometimes to help them be the best they can be, too.

20. Know Your Triggers

Learn what triggers your stress and then learn ways to manage those triggers.

For example, if large crowds exhaust you, be intentional about avoiding them. Instead of going to shopping malls, shop online. Many stores have their own websites, and will sometimes waive shipping and handling fees. Do your grocery shopping in the early morning or after dinner, when fewer people are shopping for food. When attending large gatherings with family or friends, limit the length of time you'll stay, such as to an hour or less.

21. Use Essential Oils

Essential Oils have been used for thousands of years as natural remedies for a variety of health conditions such as stress, depression, anxiety, insomnia, and allergies. The easiest way to breathe in the benefits of essential oils is by using an oil diffuser. I use the Everlasting Comfort oil diffuser. The 400 ml. tank provides cool mist aromatherapy for over 13 hours and includes 4 timer options: 1 hour, 3 hour, 6 hour, and continuous timing. I add 8-10 drops of lavender essential oil (known for its calming effects) to a full tank of water and keep my diffuser on continuously through the night.

At the end of the day, simplifying and minimizing give you great peace of mind.
At the end of the day, simplifying and minimizing give you great peace of mind. | Source

Benefits of Minimizing and Simplifying

  • More time to engage in hobbies and activities you enjoy
  • More time to spend with people
  • More overall productive use of your time
  • Reduced stress
  • Greater peace of mind
  • Greater sense of freedom
  • Highly cost effective
  • Healthier mind and body

Questions & Answers

    © 2016 Geri McClymont

    Comments

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      • gerimcclym profile imageAUTHOR

        Geri McClymont 

        10 days ago

        I so agree that the benefits of minimizing are well worth it, Audrey. I hope you have made good progress with downsizing. Life seems so much simpler with less!

      • vocalcoach profile image

        Audrey Hunt 

        7 months ago from Idyllwild Ca.

        This is exactly what I've been working on for the last 8 months. These tips are just what I need. Circumstances have caused me to down size which gave me a good start.

        The benefits of minimizing are well worth the discipline of making good choices. Thank you.

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