I have long been a believer in living simply. As a youngster, I would buy Volkswagen magazines with the dream of one day living in a VW camper van.
Now at 43 years old, as a User Experience Designer it has clicked that I was right as a kid. You don’t need the stuff to make you happy. You need to concentrate on the important things in your life such as loving relationships, family time and your passions.
“I need to design my life like my well designed applications, iterate and simplify!”
Here are 20 things you can do:
1. Clear your wardrobe
Take everything out of your wardrobe and pile it on the bed. Create 3 piles; things to go to charity, to sell or to the bin. Anything you haven’t worn in the past 6 months goes straight to one of the piles. Work your my way through each item, asking yourself whether you really need it. The rest goes back into the wardrobe, sectioned off into each type of clothing. Less choice means less time spent thinking about what to wear.
“I want to clear my life to make it so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this community,”
Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook on his wardrobe and why he mainly wears the same clothes:
2. Trim your wallet
Take out all the cards in your wallet and go through what is needed on a regular basis. Get rid of your coffee loyalty cards, and any cards that are rarely needed put in in a safe place. The result is you have less to carry and getting to the card you need is easier.
I have a wallet that my brother bought me years ago. It is from tightstore.com in America, it’s slim, minimal and very usable.
3. Shred your old paperwork
This is something you can do early on as an easy win. My advice would be to buy a paper shredder. Follow the number of sheets it can take at once and don’t run for too long in one session. I didn’t follow these rules and ended up killing mine. Make sure you recycle the paper.
shreddersales.com.au (these guys have a pretty wide range)
4. Get rid of your Smartphone
“It interrupts our own story, interrupts our ability to have a thought or a daydream, to imagine something wonderful, because we’re too busy bridging the walk from the cafeteria back to the office on the cell phone”. (Steve Jobs’ thoughts on mobile phones)
This is a big one! Smartphones are a huge part of everyday life. I’m a big fan, but I was starting to use it too often. It had become my go to ‘thing’ wherever I am; in the lift, on the train, walking to work, sitting on the sofa at home. Many of the reasons I was using it was not adding value to my life.
Go back to basics and buy yourself a simple phone. Try it for onemonth and see how you go. Many things you are using your smartphone for are time fillers. You can read emails at home or at work. You need to plan for banking and google maps, most things you can live without. The smartphone camera is one part that may cause you some pain!
This is a trial for me to see how I go. I’ve found a few smartphones that would be pretty cool to own. I see that Nokia are bring bringing back the classic 3310.
My smarter phone! Harvey Norman
5. Unsubscribe to emails
This is an area of my life which has frustrated me in the past. I have cancelled emails and started again due to too much overload. We are bombarded with so much noise on a daily basis, it distracts us from what is important.
Only subscribe to things which are going to add value to you. Be tough on this, as your email address will be sold on. One subscription could mean lots of unsolicited emails.
Have a look at services like Unroll Me*, they work well to clean up your inbox. Turn off your email notifications unless they are crucial. Get in the habit of deciding when you want to see your emails and not the other way around.
An article reviewing several apps that clean up your inbox: sgd.com
*Since I wrote this article Unroll Me has had some pretty bad press. They’ve accused of selling people’s data. Whatever tool you use do your research and see what fits best for you.
6. Less Social Media
If you’re taking a break from your smartphone, you can take a break from social media. Trial a week or so without social media and see how you feel. You’ll be surprised how much you don’t miss it!
Try pulling out a book or your kindle before your phone, it’s a nice change!
7. Get rid of your credit cards
Get rid of your credit card or make sure you pay it off every month. I haven’t had a credit card for about 5 years. It is one less thing I need to have in my wallet and in my mind. My mother always told me that if you can’t afford it don’t buy it. Debit cards can do most of what you need these days.
8. Change your commute
Think about your morning commute. Can you improve the way you travel? This doesn’t mean a faster route, it could mean a nicer route or a more comfortable way to travel. Don’t battle the time it takes to get to work, make it enjoyable and use it wisely. Take the time to read, meditate, listen to music or a podcast. Relax on your way to work!
I used to take the ferry then the train to work. Now I replaced the train with walking. This gives me a 25-minute walk, which is a great time to gather my thoughts for the day. Walking through the city I change up my route each day to give me variation. Mix up your commute to work, small changes can make a real difference.
9. No sugar in your coffee (in turn less coffee!)
Try your coffee without sugar and after about 3 days you start to enjoy the real coffee. Without the sugar craving, you drink less coffee.
I am now using an Aeropress to make nice clean coffee at work. It makes great coffee, I use less milk and it is cheaper than buying a coffee. Check out this video about The Aeropress
10. Clear your countertop & desk
A clear kitchen counter top is a great way to walk into your kitchen in the morning. Put your toaster in the cupboard if it is not used everyday. Get rid of trinkets and clear it up before heading to bed. I tried to put the kettle away as it’s not used much but my wife put her foot down!
I make sure to keep my desk clear at work if I can. Fewer distractions mean fewer things to think about.
11. Slow down and breath!
Life is busy. Take time to slow down, breath and smell the roses! Be conscious of your surroundings and enjoy the moment. Get out of the office at work, go for a stroll, read a book in a coffee shop for 20 mins. When things get on top of you concentrate on your breathing, this will focus your mind and calm you. Get into meditation, this will benefit you no end.
These guys have an interesting read/watch on meditation: 10percenthappier.com
12. Reduce your goals & things to do list
A few online courses, a few books and trying to achieve too much in one go is hard. Split out what is big and important and list down to what is small and less important. Do one big and important thing at a time. Only start a new one when you have completed the last one. Be sure to say ‘no’ to things which might make your to-do list unmanageable.
13. Eat Less & eat better
Eat a big breakfast, small lunch and a tiny dinner. If you’re sitting at a desk all day then you’re not burning much energy so you don’t need to eat 3 big meals.
For breakfast I have 4 eggs and an avocado. During the day I snack on fruit, nuts, bars I make with dates and almonds (like the bars at bluedinosaur.com.au). For lunch I do salads, fruit, nuts or a healthy snack. For dinner you can snack on what is in your fridge. Everyone’s different but if you eat more than you burn you’ll struggle as the years go by. Too much processed and sugary foods will make you sluggish.
14. Drink less booze
It’s pretty simple, don’t over drink. Drinking too much makes you fuzzy and less productive. You don’t sleep well if you drink too much and it get’s expensive.
I grew up in Scotland and drinking was very much a part of the culture. As students, we would drink to get drunk. Now at 41 with 2 kids it is not so appealing. I like a drink but not too many and not to often.
15. Sit less
Whether sitting is the new smoking I don’t know, but most of us sit a fair bit at work. Ask your work if you can get a stand up desk. If not you can buy one that goes on top of your desk and elevates up and down.
If you can’t stand at work, get up from your desk every hour or so. Set a reminder, then after a week you’ll have created a habit. Get out of the office at lunch and walk about. The human body is not designed to sit for 8 hours a day. Move around, stretch and get away from your computer screen.
Good range of stand up desks at reasonable prices: officeworks.com.au
16. Shop less, buy online
Shop less and buy online for regular purchases. Support local suppliers that can deliver online at a competitive rate.
I found a great Australian company called Who gives a crap that supply loo paper. They give 50% of their profits to Water Aid, they’re a small business, have a great little story, and bring it with humour. Loo paper is one less thing I need to worry about each month. I just order it online and it comes to me.
Finding companies that do this can save you lots of time and energy. You can automate payments and deliveries, reducing things you need to do.
Any Australian companies that deliver food and household goods, please let me know.
17. Clear your Macbook’s desktop screen
Many people have busy desktop screens crammed with files. I was one of those. I did some research and started using Dropbox. Now my files are stored in the cloud. I can access them from anywhere on any computer. I pay a monthly fee of about $14.00 and have all my files and photos stored safely. One less thing for you to worry about, the fee can be tax deductable and your desktop can be clutter free. Go to Dropbox and they explain how it all works.
18. Less plastic bags
Use less plastic bags. Carry a couple of tote bags in your work bag or car. Reducing waste and helping the environment is something to consider.
19. Less debt
This is an important one. If you owe lots of people money, there is pressure to pay it all back. Buy a simpler car with cash, rather than a fancy one with debt. You could even get rid of your car. Get rid of credit cards. Shop more sensibly. Make a budget. This is a hustle but worth it. If you nail this one number 20 becomes possible!
20. Four day work week (less work)
This is the way we should all be heading. If you can supplement your 5th day of work from more earning or savings then it can be done.
Think out of the box to change up your work week, life is for living.
How do you make your life easier and less stressful?
Would love to hear your thoughts on living simply and how you do it.
→Please let me know what you think by clicking 💚 or leave me a comment if you have any questions, cheers