Creating a Life Free From Chaos

5 Ways to Cut the Chaos When You Work a Full-Time Job

This is a guest post from Colleen Valles of SlowSimpleLife

5 Ways to Cut the Chaos When You Work a Full-Time JobSimplifying is work, and the process of simplifying can seem like a full-time job. Especially at the beginning: there’s decluttering to do; hard decisions to make about how to spend your time and money; the stress of family and friends who might not understand what you’re doing and why.

It’s enough to exhaust you before you even start, especially if you’re contemplating doing all this before or after a full day at the office.

So what if you do have a full-time job outside the home — how do you fit in something that can seem like a whole lot of extra trouble? It is possible, and it’s worth the up-front effort because it does, by nature, get easier as you go along. But it’s important to do it in a way that avoids burnout.

Below are some steps that can help you cut the chaos and get you to the life you really want to live.

Set realistic goals

Working 8-plus hours a day, commuting and still having to do all the regular stuff like making dinner, grocery shopping and cleaning takes time and energy. It’s important to know your limits and how much you can realistically accomplish in a day because setting goals that you can’t achieve will only discourage you. And things will come up that need our attention, so don’t beat yourself up if something derails your plans, but remember that urgent doesn’t always mean important. Make sure whatever comes up isn’t just another distraction.

Take baby steps

Don’t try to tackle a job like decluttering the whole house in one weekend. While some advocate for doing things all at once, I have found that doing what you can when you can yields better, more lasting results. Start small, and you’ll build momentum to work your way up to the hard stuff.

Say no

Living a simple life means recognizing that you can’t do or buy it all. Learning to say no can be hard, but it’s an important step in making the lifestyle and mindset changes that will set the tone for a simpler life. Start by saying no to the easy things, like shopping that’s not a necessity. Replace it with something like a hike or a picnic with friends or family. Then move onto all the little time sucks — those things that bring little value in relation to the amount of time and energy they take — anything from social media to an after-work good-bye party for someone you barely know. Get in some practice, and saying no will get easier.

Set routines where you can

As with kids, adults like to know what to expect and don’t always want to think about their next steps or make yet another decision. Setting a routine can free up brain space, streamline your time and help keep you on track. The easiest place to start is with bedtime and morning routines. Plan out exactly what you’ll do and the order you’ll do it in, and enjoy being on autopilot for a while. You’ll probably have to tweak your routine a little, but once you get it set you won’t have to worry about forgetting things or being late.

Get help

Most of us aren’t living in a vacuum. We have spouses, kids, family, and friends who need our time and energy along with our work. So if you’re simplifying, enlist these loved ones — especially your kids — in the work of simplifying. Have kids help declutter their own spaces and help make decisions on what activities they want to spend their time doing. On other days, ask your parents or friends to watch the kids while you and your spouse tackle decluttering the kitchen. People want to help, and there are a lot of ways they can.

Most importantly, keep your eyes on the prize. Remember why you want to simplify. Is it for better relationships? More time to do what you love? Living a greener life? Keep the reason in mind, and go back to it as often as you need. If you really believe in it, it’ll keep you motivated and will help you find the energy to declutter one more drawer or the strength to say no to that get-together you didn’t really want to go to anyway.

How do you simplify while working full-time? Tell us in the comments!
Colleen Valles

This is a guest post from Colleen Valles of SlowSimpleLife. Colleen is a writer, mother, knitter, pet mama and tiny house enthusiast who truly believes that everybody should slow down and simplify to make room for what they love. She’s on a journey to do just that, to spend more time with family and friends, riding her bike, and working in the garden. Sign up for her newsletter at or follow her on Twitter @colleenvalles or at