15 Ways to Simplify Your Life & Reduce Stress


Stressful, isn’t it?

Working on your goals.

Getting your finances in order.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and practicing self care.

Dealing with work stress.

Balancing school, family, maybe even a side hustle.

Keeping up with that endless to-do list.

Basically, just trying to juggle all the things you’ve got going on.

I hear you. 

Life is hard!

And it can be overwhelming, especially in this digital age of information. It seems like everything is urgent and we are always on call.

There’s the constant pressure to perform, compete, succeed.

It’s not surprising that so many of us are stressed out. Or sick. Or that so many of us have anxiety.

Thankfully, there are ways to live a more peaceful, simple life in this modern world.

Here are 15 ways to simplify your life and reduce stress:

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1. Declutter Everything, Including Your Brain

declutter to simplify life

Physical clutter causes stress, distracts us from what’s important and prevents us from getting work done.

(But surprisingly, clutter actually boosts creativity.) 

I find it difficult to concentrate when there’s too much stuff everywhere. Everything takes too long and even small tasks seem insurmountable.

That’s why it’s important to simplify your life by getting rid of the things you don’t use.

Start by getting everything out in the open so you can see what you have.

Donate or throw away things that you don’t use and things that:

  • Are broken/don’t work
  • You don’t use (if you haven’t used it in a year, it’s probably time to let it go)

  • Another area that needs to be addressed is digital clutter.

    Email inboxes, old documents, newsletter/marketing subscriptions and old accounts could probably use a good spring cleaning.

    Discard anything that you no longer need and consolidate when possible.

    Finally, don’t forget about your brain! It also needs periodic decluttering.

    Have you ever done a brain dump? 

     
    * Download your free Brain Dump Worksheets
    from the Freebie Library to get started! *

    2. Clean & Organize Your Space

    clean and organize to simplify

    Once everything is decluttered, then you can clean and organize your space to simplify your life even further.

    You may want to start with a certain room or type of item. For example, your closet or paperwork.

    Your goal is to make it easy to get to the stuff you use frequently.

    So, create habits and systems that you will realistically maintain.

    There’s no sense in having everything look nice for the moment if it’s just going to fall apart when you actually use it.

    (For example, storing clothes folded one on top of the other makes it difficult for you to get to items in the middle or on the bottom of the stack. It usually isn’t long before that neat stack becomes a messy pile! So, either hang your clothes up or store them rolled/folded & “standing up” in drawers.)

    One system I have had in place for a while is putting my keys in a bowl by the front door.

    I always put them there as soon as I come in the house so I always know where they are.

    3. Do a Digital Detox to Simplify Your Life 

    simplify life with a digital detox

    One of the most effective ways to simplify your life and reduce stress is to unplug.

    Even just temporarily.

    If you read my article on social media detox, then you know about my three-month long hiatus from the internet.

    Of course, it’s not always possible to disconnect for that long and that’s O.K.

    You can find small ways to detox from technology, like:

  • Turning your phone off/putting it down one hour before bed
  • Designating a certain time slot during the day for social media
  • Read a book instead of watching TV
  • Start by tracking your usage to see what social media platforms are sucking the most time.

    Then, you can set some limitations for yourself. You may even want to let others know that you won’t be available during certain times.

     * Download your free Social Media Detox Usage Tracker
    from the Freebie Library to get started! *

    4. Clear the Decks

    During law school orientation, one of the professors advised us to “clear the decks”.

    What he meant was, get rid of emotional clutter.

    All of the toxic relationships, all of the people who are weighing you down and holding you back.

    It was really good advice.

    When you’re pursuing a big goal, you can’t have distractions.

    And you especially don’t want “haters” interfering with your success.

    So, simplify your life by getting rid of that emotional clutter that’s draining your time, energy and attention.

    Work on forgiving those who hurt you, even if they're not sorry. You’ll feel a lot lighter without all that negativity weighing you down!



    5. Follow a Routine

    routines simplify your life

    Routines make life simpler.

    When you have a routine, you don’t have to think about it. You don’t have to worry about it. You just go through the routine.

    There may be self-care routines you already have like showering in the morning, brushing your teeth before bed, or writing in a journal once a week.

    My routines help me so much, especially since I work from home.

    One of the most important parts of my morning routine is making my bed.

    It’s surprising how this one simple habit can have such a huge impact on the rest of your day!

    Your brain registers making your bed as “a win”, which subconsciously motivates you to continue accomplishing more tasks.

    Increased productivity is not the only benefit of making your bed. This study found that people who make their bed are happier than people who don’t.

    Try this self care Sunday routine for rejuvenation. 

    6. Only Set One Big Goal at a Time

    organize your thoughts

    It’s a common mistake among high achievers.

    Setting too many goals at once.

    It’s generally a good idea to only set one big goal at a time.

    If you’re focusing the right kind of energy into it, there really shouldn’t be room for any other big goals.

    Especially since the ultimate goal is to simplify your life.

    You don’t want to get so overwhelmed with trying to reach so many goals that you end up reaching none of them.

    The same can be said for hobbies and social commitments and personal development plans.

    Don’t say yes to everything. Try to limit yourself to only the activities you love and the events you really want to attend.

    If you spread yourself too thin, eventually there will be nothing left to give.

    So, don’t overbook yourself. And remember to leave some time in your schedule for self-care.

    7. Establish Daily Priorities

    establish daily priorities

    You won’t be able to reach your big goal in one step.

    There will be many little steps you need to take along the way.

    So, chunk your big goal down into smaller, more manageable mini-goals.

    Each one of those mini-goals should get you one step closer to your big goal.

    Keep chunking it down until you get to the daily level.

     * Download your free Goal Setting Worksheets from the Freebie Library to get started! *

    When you have specific daily tasks to focus on, you don’t get so overwhelmed with the big picture.

    You just take little actions each day that move you closer to your big goal.

    Not only does accomplishing little goals along the way help keep you motivated, but it also saves you a lot of frustration.

    There’s no need to stress yourself out by thinking about all the things all the time.

    8. Single-Task to Make Life Simpler (& Healthier)

    focus on single tasks to simplify

    One of the biggest hindrances to simplifying our lives is multitasking.

    Our brains are not made to focus on several things at once.

    If you force yours to do so, you’ll end up being less efficient and your performance will suffer.

    In this way, multitasking is counterproductive. It negates the whole reason why you decided to multitask in the first place!

    Dealing with constant interruptions decreases your productivity – some studies suggest by up to 40%.

    Each time you switch tasks, your brain has to switch gears.

    And that takes a lot of mental effort.

    According to this study, it can take up to 23 minutes to regain focus after being interrupted!

    So, multitasking doesn’t increase productivity.

    But there is something else it increases – stress.

    According to researchers, multitasking actually increases cortisol (stress hormone) levels and can even lead to permanent brain damage.

    So, simplify your life by focusing on one task at a time and giving that task your full attention.

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    9. Plan Ahead

    One of the biggest reasons we want to simplify our lives is because things feel out of control.

    There’s just too much going on and we can’t keep up with it all.

    That’s why I find that being prepared helps to reduce anxiety.

    If you don’t have to worry about things at the last minute, life is a lot simpler!

    Of course, there are loads of things you cannot possibly prepare for.

    But, there are also some things you can do ahead of time, like planning/preparing meals and choosing your outfits for the next day/week.

    Think about your schedule and try to plan ahead where you can so that you’re not left scrambling at the last minute.

    You can also prepare for stressful times by creating a DIY self-care kit. Then, whenever you're feeling down, you'll have a box of goodies to help you cope. 🙂

    10. Prepare Meals in Advance 

    meal prep to simplify your life

    Meal planning and preparation can be stressful.

    I love to cook but even for me sometimes it’s hard to come up with an idea for a delicious, healthy meal with what’s in the house!

    You can make life much simpler by planning what you/your family will eat one week in advance.

    If you’re not sure what to make, there are tons of great recipes on Pinterest.

    To really keep things simple, look for “one pan”, “sheet pan” “three- ingredient” or “crock pot” recipes.

    See what you’ve got in your fridge and pantry so you don’t accidentally get something you already have.

    Then, pick up all the ingredients you will need for the week’s upcoming meals.

    You could even prepare your meals for the week in advance if you want to be extra efficient.

    11. Simplify Your Finances

    simplify your finances is part of simplifying your life

    A huge part of simplifying your life is simplifying your finances!

    Money is probably the hugest source of stress for many people.

    Anxiety and other negative health effects can develop due to:

  • not making enough money/having too many expenses
  • having too much credit card and student loan debt
  • the ever-increasing cost of living
  • Some sources of financial stress must be improved over time. Until they’re gone, there’s always that debt looming overhead.

    But, other financial stressors can be alleviated pretty quickly and easily.

    For example, automating your monthly bills ensures that they are always paid on time and there is one less thing for you to remember.

    Other ways to simplify your finances include:

  • Calculating your monthly expenses & creating a budget
  • Consolidating accounts
  • Using cash as much as possible
  • Getting rid of superfluous credit cards
  • Switching to online bank/credit card statements
  • 12. Just Breathe

    to simplify your life just breathe

    Do you ever just breathe?

    In fact, when was the last time you did nothing?

    It’s really amazing how we humans always seem to be doing something!

    Especially now with smartphones and iPads, etc etc. It’s easy to be checking, answering and searching instead of being fully present.

    But, becoming aware of your breath and consciously breathing is one of the quickest ways to slow down, put things in perspective and simplify your life.   

    The power of breathing is remarkable.

    Not only is oxygen necessary for every human function, but proper breathing builds resilience to stress and helps induce a more peaceful state of mind.

    There are some great guides on how to breathe properly out there like this one. But, the basic principles are:

  • Breathe in slowly through your nose
  • Inhale deeply so the air fills your diaphragm and your belly pushes out
  • Develop a rhythm and breathe steadily
  • Extend your breath cycles for as long as possible (long inhales, long exhales)
  • Breathe quietly and do not strain
  • 13. Be Mindful

    Animals can teach us a thing or two about living a simple life.

    Ever notice how blissfully “in the moment” they always seem to be?

    That’s because they are generally unencumbered by the worries that plagues humanity.

    “Ruminating”, “catastrophizing” and “anxiety loops” are just not part of their vocabulary.

    You don’t have to meditate or even set aside time specifically to be mindful.

    Mindfulness can be incorporated into every-day activities like breathing, eating and walking.

    And it really changes your whole perspective.

    Next time you go about a mundane task, be mindful.

    Engage all of your senses and turn your full attention to the present.

    For example, if you are making tea, listen to the sound of the water boiling, notice the color of the tea, breathe in the aroma and savor the taste.

    Do not think about stuff like:

  • the errands you have to run later
  • what you should have said to so-and-so yesterday
  • how you shouldn’t have eaten so much baklava

  • *Ok, maybe that last one is just me, but you get the idea! 

    Focusing on the present, not the future or the past really goes a long way towards simplifying your life.

    14. Scale Back Your Wants

    scale back your wants to simplify your life

    Sometimes things are only complicated because we make them that way.

    An extremely effective way to simplify your life is to scale back your wants.

    This can be challenging in today’s society. Everywhere you look, it’s an advertisement for something.

    Companies have a lot to gain by convincing you that you need the newest, biggest, best thing.

    But, the problem is- it’s never enough.

    Think about a time when you really, really wanted something.

    A better job. A bigger house. A new outfit.

    Then, when you finally got it, you didn’t stay exuberant for long. It eventually waned and before long, you probably discovered something else you wanted.

    This is a phenomenon called the hedonic treadmill.

    It means that, regardless of the positive or negative things that happen to us in life, we generally return to our baseline level of happiness.

    Events/objects don’t make us happy or sad forever. Eventually, the initial spike of wears off as we adapt to the new normal.

    Get off that hamster wheel! It’s a vicious cycle.

    Stop wanting so many things and be grateful for what you already have.

    15. Appreciate the Simple Things in Life

    if you want a simpler life appreciate the simple things in life

    Appreciating the simple things in life can really help put things in perspective.

    One of the ways I do this almost every single day is by going for walks outside.

    Nature’s ability to clear my mind and lift my spirits never ceases to amaze me.

    If you’re feeling overwhelmed, try to notice the miracles that exist in your life. Look with fresh eyes. See the good.

    There are so many incredible, spectacular, breathtaking, awe-inspiring things all around us.

    When we take time to appreciate the simple things in life, life becomes much simpler (and more enjoyable).

    Conclusion: It is possible to live a simpler life in this modern world!

    Start with small things like establishing a morning routine, expressing gratitude for what you already have or spending less time on social media.

    All the little changes you make to simplify your life will have a big impact on your mental health and overall well-being over time, especially when it comes to reducing stress.

    Over to you … tell me in the comments - what’s one of the simple things in life that you appreciate?



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    About the Author

    Kalliope Archondis, JD, LLM. 👋Hi! I'm Kalli, lawyer turned freelance writer and founder of 3dsuccess.org, a personal development blog dedicated to helping you reach your goals and achieve your definition of success - without all the stress & anxiety. You can read more about me & 3D Success here.