Monday, January 6, 2020

Ways You Can Simplify Your Life in 2020

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I'm reserving Mondays this year for all things simple living.  Minimal Mondays.  You know how I feel about alliteration.  I love it almost as I love simplifying my life and encouraging others to do the same.  And one of the best ways I simplify is by removing and reducing decisions I have to make each day and the things I have to remember.  So to start out 2020, I have some ways that you can similarly simplify your decisions and therefore your life this year:


Set up your desk the night before.  Before leaving the office or your work space, set it up so that it's ready to go with tomorrow's work.  Neatly, of course.  Organize the papers and e-mails you need to work on and make sure any books or supplies are at hand so you can efficiently get your work done.  I find that when my desk is set up with the day's important tasks, I don't waste time when I first come in finding all the supplies and papers and wondering where I should start.

Plan easy decisions the night before.  Why waste morning decision making power on simple things when you can just as easily get it done the night before?  Check the weather and commit to an outfit.  Lay it all out if you need to.  Commit to lunch and dinner plans and make sure the right ingredients are defrosted or otherwise prepped.  Make a to do list for the next day, which brings me to:

Keep the next day's to do list at 3 items.  Yes, that's it.  Three.  It's great to keep a running list of nagging things that can be done sometime during the week, so when you have time you can tackle those things, but when you're making your to do list of 'must get done tomorrow' items, keep it to no more than the top three.

Turn off notifications and move your phone out of the room while you work, sleep, or want to spend time with someone.  Text and social media notifications aren't important, and do nothing but pull your attention away from the task at hand, whether that's work or sleep or quality time with people.  You have to decide stop what you're doing to read the message and then decide to react to it.  You'll find your days are simpler and more efficient when you dedicate small, spaced out windows of time to checking your phone.

Maintain a 'someday' list.  Just a place to write down potential future projects, things you want to buy, vacations you want to take, etc.  If you're constantly shuffling through these in your mind, you're just creating all these open loops in your brain.  By writing them down (on paper or electronically), you can close that loop and know that you can return to the list when you have the time.

Maintain 'errands' and 'shopping' lists.  Writing things down makes life easier in general - we never remember everything we say we're going to.  By making lists for the various errands you need to run and the shopping you need to get done, you don't need to constantly bring those things to the forefront of your thoughts.  And when you do find the time to run that package to the post office, you can easily check your list for things like dry cleaning and library books and get all your errands done, feeling confident you didn't forget anything.

Create a stock list of things you regularly buy.  I apply this mostly to groceries and household supplies like laundry detergent but you could probably apply it to things like makeup, skincare, and office supplies too.  If you buy the same staples over and over, stop making the same list and wondering whether you're out of something while you're already at the store.  Make a list of all the must-have items, so you can note when anything runs out.

Unsubscribe and unfollow.  I regularly recommend this.  As in, on this blog.  Every couple of months I remind people to unsubscribe and unfollow.  E-mails, instagram accounts, Facebook frenemies, all of it.

Minimize makeup and clothing clutter.  The less you have, the less decisions you'll have to make each day about what to wear or what eyeshadow color to use.  If you have special occasion clothing and makeup, find a way to separate it from your everyday stash so you aren't sifting through everything you own each morning.

Commit to using things up completely.  The whole thing.  Before you buy a new product, use the old one all the way up.  No more decisions about which moisturizer to use or which half empty bottle of shampoo is the oldest and possibly expired.  And knowing that it takes you more like 8 months to go through your bottle of face wash as opposed to 3 will keep you from constantly buying backups you may never get to.

Give everything a home.  The 'where to put this' decisions are the worst.  Make it once and stick with it, and teach everyone in your family to do the same.  If something doesn't have a home, you'll end up leaving it out all over the place, causing more clutter and the annoyance of never being able to find things when you need it.

Carry one bag and carry only what you need in it.  My mother would be appalled by this suggestion.  She likes bags for different seasons and outfits.  Which is fine, if you can maintain that system and it doesn't stress you out.  But if you're looking to cut down on decisions like moving purses?  Commit to one neutral one and use it for everything.  And downsize, so you can't be tempted to carry your entire life in it.  Just the essentials.

Make a rule that you do not accept free things.  I mean, you need a new vacuum and your mom offers you a free vacuum, you take it.  But I'm talking about those freebie things that are marketed with logos.  You get handed them at various events, or when you make a donation.  Branded mugs and shirts and frisbees.  Make it a personal rule that you do not accept free things, ever.  Easiest decision to make.  Now you don't have to accept them, cart them home, try to find a place for them, use them once, decide they're clutter, decide how and when to donate them - it's nonsense.  Just don't accept them.

Learn 5 simple meals.  That you actually want to eat.  The second part is key.  But in general, you'll simplify your life and decisions so much if you can commit to learning 5 very simple (I'm talking 5 ingredients or less and ready in 10 minutes) meals that you can keep the ingredients on hand for and make on those really long days where you're too tired or annoyed to cook a long meal.  Rather than resort to takeout, wasting money and time, have a meal to fall back on that you know is fast and convenient and well-loved.  And if that happens to mac and cheese from a box, no judgment here.

Create morning and evening routines and write them down.  I've posted about mine before, and I try to simplify them each time I revise them.  They don't need to be long, they just need to include the important things you don't want to forget.  So write it down if you need to.  I love working off a checklist so I know I didn't miss anything.

How are you planning to simplify your decisions and life in 2020?

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