Creating a Life Free From Chaos

18 Ways to Simplify Your Life in 2018

It’s a new year, and I bet you have some goals or resolutions that you’d like to achieve. Getting organized, decluttering, or revamping your schedule may be on that list. (They’re on mine.) Don’t think of these as big projects — breaking them down into smaller tasks or goals makes you much more likely to actually achieve those goals. I’ve pulled together 18 ways you can simplify easily this year, based on the areas readers tell me bug them the most. Some take just minutes, while others may take a few days, but they are all achievable!

18 Ways to Simplify Your Life in 2018

  1. Organize yourself with a planner — either a premade planner, a digital organizer, or a simple notebook bullet journal. This year, I’m using the Nomadic planner. A paper planner is a perfect place to take notes and set up reminders and lists — much handier than loose scraps of paper or a computer monitor covered in sticky notes. Use your planner to schedule tasks too — if you don’t plan time for it, there will never be time for it!
  2. Update your calendar or planner with your kids’ school activities, extracurriculars, and other family details. Add in any work commitments outside normal working hours, or where you’ll need special gear (such as when I host webinars!) Put your spouse’s or significant other’s commitments in there too. Pencil in vacations and travel plans. Keep all this information in one central place for the whole family to access, such as a shared Google calendar, in addition to any planner you’re using personally. I live and die by the calendar — if it’s not there, it probably won’t get done. 
  3. Clear off all the counters in your kitchen. Put away rarely used appliances, clean the dust and food bits away, and keep it clean so you can enjoy the serenity of clear countertops and have food prep space. I promise you it’s an amazing feeling to see those shiny, clear counters.
  4. Once a week, set a timer and spend 25 minutes (the Pomodoro Technique) decluttering or doing those dreaded deep cleaning tasks. Dust off all your lampshades. Clean the baseboards. Declutter your linen closet. Clean the windows. Purge your paper pile. Keep a list in your planner of tasks you want to do during your weekly Pomodoro session.
  5. Clear off the counters in your bathroom. Store frequently used toiletries or cosmetics in a basket, and keep the counter clear with just hand soap by the sink. Hang up your towels, and keep some spare toilet paper handy. A clean bathroom is a welcome sanctuary to start and end your day.
  6. Clean out your wallet of any unused credit cards, store loyalty cards, and business cards. Consider paying off and canceling rarely used credit cards. Carry only what you need.
  7. Create a budget. Even just a simple list of bills, income, and regular expenses can help you get a handle on your finances. Create a debt snowball by listing out your credit card balances, student loans, car loans, and anyone else you owe, and arrange them smallest to largest. Tackle paying off the smallest one first, and work your way down the snowball, until you’re debt-free. Yes, this may take more than a year, but it’s vital to simplifying your home finances and purging financial stress.
  8. Clear your mobile phone of unneeded and unused apps. Consider deleting any “time waster” apps that you find yourself killing time with. If you have a smartphone, organize your apps in folders by subject, such as Travel, Finances, Games, Shopping.
  9. Organize your email folders. Your inbox is not meant for storage. Create folders for your most used subjects, and sort or delete email as you read it. Take action right away, and don’t let the email pile up! This is an area I’m still working on — I spend some much time in work email that my own email gets neglected and stacks up!
  10. Create a gratitude journal and write down five things each day you’re grateful for. Gratitude helps satisfy that need for “enough.” If you don’t want a separate journal for this, you can keep this list in your planner too.
  11. Clean out your fridge and freezer of old food. Fill it with fresh foods you’ll actually eat. Create a meal plan for the next week, and try shopping according to your meal plan to save time and money.
  12. Turn all your hangers in your closet backward. As you wear and wash items, turn the hanger back the right direction. Each season, clear out any clothes you haven’t worn. They’ll be easy to identify since they are the ones that still have their hangers backward!
  13. Clear your computer’s desktop. Toss the outdated files you’ve downloaded, and plunk the rest in a “sort me” folder to deal with as you have time. The clear desktop will be a welcome sight, and you’ll be able to find the files you need much faster.
  14. Get in the habit of finishing your laundry loads. Start a load of laundry, and actually finish to completion — it’s not done until it’s put away! It’s true that the laundry never ends, but it shouldn’t be lying all over the house either.
  15. With your calendar or planner handy, make your next doctor’s appointment for a check-up. Schedule your kids too. While you’re at it, make any needed dentist or eye doctor appointments. Most medical professionals book months in advance, so getting on their schedule early means you’re more likely to get the date and time you want. When you have an appointment, whether visiting the doctor or getting a haircut, make the next appointment before you leave their office so you don’t forget. If I don’t make the appointment right then, I know I won’t, because I hate making phone calls. If I don’t make the appointment in person or have the option of online scheduling, I will procrastinate for months before making that call.
  16. Declutter your linens. You only need 2-3 sets of sheets per bed and 2 sets of towels per person. Pare down the number of blankets you have. Get rid of the old, holey stuff, and keep the best. Donate old linens to animal shelters for use as bedding for dogs and cats. Your linen closet will thank you.
  17. Set up a “blessing box” by the door or in a closet. This is the spot to place items you want to declutter as you decide to get rid of them. Decluttering doesn’t have to be a big event — you can identify items daily that you no longer need. Put them in the box right away so they don’t get swept back into your home. Donate the box whenever it gets full, and start a new box.
  18. Theme your days, both at work and at home. For example, at home, you could theme your house cleaning with Monday as bathroom cleaning, Tuesday as kitchen deep clean, Wednesday as changing and washing sheets and towels, etc. Workwise, you can theme your work days with administrative tasks, deep work, training, and planning. For your family, you can designate days for Scouting Monday, Taco Tuesday, Friday board game night. You can also theme specific weeks or months for larger projects, such as cleaning out the garage or organizing your finances.

I’m going to work my way down this entire list, and I encourage you to choose a few to try too! Let me know in the comments which tasks you want to tackle.

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