5 Quick Tips To Simplify Your Life

January 4, 2019

5 Quick Tips To Simplify Your Life
A few years ago, I looked around my home and realized that much of my beautiful decor was choking me. Decorating had always been my passion, but suddenly the volume of accessories and accent pieces felt overwhelming and I decided that a lot of it had to go.

I wanted only my very important treasures and the lovely lines of our cottage to stand out. I was tired of things falling on me when I opened a closet and I didn't want to spend my entire weekend dusting anymore.

Nope. I was done with all of that.

So little by little, I cleaned up and out in an effort to simplify my home.

It took a while to get through all the rooms, saying goodbye to certain items was slightly painful and the pang of regret did hit me once or twice, but all in all, I was happier with my lighter load and I found myself wondering why I hadn't done this all years ago.

And then, sometime this fall, it hit me. I had been reading my friend Teri's blog, where she chronicles the joys of living simply and I thought, I need to go further.

Decor Styles Now and Then

Why have I just been focusing on decor? Why shouldn't everything in my life be simple?


In reality it wasn't a clean home I desired. I had a clean home, a little overstuffed maybe, but it was certainly functional. And to be honest, if you came into my house today versus two years ago, you wouldn't really notice a change.

But it was there. The house was lighter. I was lighter. I was free from the responsibilities that came along with managing all that stuff and I wanted to feel that way in all aspects of my life.

In one fell swoop it all made sense. Simple was going to be my new mantra, my word for the year. I was going to live it and I told everyone about it.

That's nice. But what exactly does that mean? My husband wasn't trying to be unsupportive, but his words hit me hard. Because he was right. What did I mean?

I struggled for a few days trying to explain what was I hoping the new year would look like, but it was hard to express. Apparently simple wasn't going to be so simple.

After a few exasperating days, I sat down in front of the computer and figured it out the way I usually do.

In black and white.

I began to think about my life, the way I had been thinking about each room in my home. I broke it down and methodically identified a few key areas that needed change and went back to my simplified decorating formula, keep what you love, ditch what you don't.

How To Simplify Your Life

The House: Declutter and Ditch All The Stuff

How To Declutter Your Decor

You can't have a simple life with a ton of stuff. It's just not possible. Things, even though not alive,  need to be cared for and tended to and I don't want to devote the time or energy to that anymore.

I've already spent the last several years parting ways with anything I didn't love, that wasn't useful on a very regular basis or sentimental to a point that I would be sad if I lost it. If something didn't fit into one of those categories, bye bye.

After Thanksgiving, I dove into the process I started two years ago, full force. I mercilessly went room by room and made another list of what needed to be cleaned out and organized...dressers, benches, closets and crawl spaces. No area was safe and every item was fair game.

The kitchen was the best. I'm not a cook and yet, I had more gadgets than Williams Sonoma, some in triplicate, many broken. Why? Who knows? Some were gifts, others were hopeful purchases, but either way, most of them were just cluttering up the cabinets and they had to go.

At the end of one very fruitful purge, the neighbors asked if we were moving, based on the size of the garbage pile at the curb. Of course, the donation pile was even larger.

This winter's task is to finish that work. The basement rooms need to be tackled.

Of course, the bigger job for the rest of the year is to keep all the spaces as clean as they are now, by being very mindful of what comes into the house. It's a tall order since we are bred to be consumers, but I'll be giving it my best shot. Wish me luck!

Meal Planning: Follow Your Gut

Eat The Rainbow Is Still Good Advice

Food is my nemesis. I have horrible eating habits and a bad stomach. I don't consume enough vegetables and I don't cook often enough. I grab what's easy and that's a bad plan. At my age, I know better and I should make better choices, but I tend to make it very difficult. Too difficult.

I read about the proper things for my particular issues, the latest theories, food plans and fads, but I never put them into practice for very long.

Yes, I have allergies, yes, I have IBS. So do a lot of people. There are a ton of choices available and stores to shop at with appropriate menu items in my town. The bottom line? I need to stop with the fancy diets and books and just follow my gut.

Eat the rainbow. Eat whole foods. Stay away from what triggers allergies or stomach issues and don't put the Mallowmars in the cart. If they're not in house, I can't eat them. It's really not that complicated to do the right thing in this area.

I just have to do it.

Simple. Right?

I'll keep you posted.

Exercise Regiment: Just Move

You Don't Have To Get Old

Exercise isn't really my thing either. I have bad lungs, so it generally doesn't feel good to workout. However, after I've exercised for a while, I do feel better and it is good for my overall health. So I vow to make it a part of my life every single year and every single year, I fail. Miserably.

Yes, I've taken a yoga class here and there, or I've started a walking regiment with friends, but eventually something comes up and and it all comes to a screeching halt. It doesn't take much to throw me off track.

I've contemplated joining a gym and yoga punch cards, but that takes planning. And leaving the house. And some days that just doesn't happen. You know, snow...

What's a girl to do?

Well, the simple answer is just move a little every day and the easiest moving, is of course, walking. It's effective and doable. So that's what I'm going to do.

No rules, no tracks, no friends, pedometer. I'm just going to walk when and where I can. And if it can't be a beach or neighborhood stroll, well, then it will be from the furthest spot in the parking lot to the grocery store. Or like today, from one end of the mall to the other. And back.

On days I can't leave home at all, I'll walk the stairs several times in a row or trot in place while I fold the laundry. I may even throw in a pirouette if no one's home.

They'll be no memberships to ignore, special clothes or supplies to (re-)clutter up my home and absolutely no excuses.

Just walking. Simple as that.

Budgeting: Cash Is King

Cash Is King When Staying On Budget

When I was growing up, my mom drilled it into my head, that when it came to money, I should always know how much I had and how it was being managed. With that in mind, when I got married, I made sure we tackled the bills together. We planned and saved and paid as a pair.

However, as my husband's work responsibilities took up more of his time, I became the household finance girl. We still discuss the big things, but I basically deal with the budget and bill paying on my own.

Over the years, I've come up with a great system that includes a strict savings plan, a custom budget sheet and other than the mortgage or cars, a strict policy of no debt. We do use credit cards, because there are obvious benefits to doing so, but they must be paid off at the end of the month.

And it used to be so simple. Until.

Until we amassed a ton of store cards, because of all the rewards programs or that extra 20% off if you sign up now and keeping track of them all became very time consuming. Which has a balance? When is it due? How much is the payment? Is it a paper or online statement...aaaahhhh!!! Too much.

This year's plan is to close what we don't use regularly. Go back to using cash or the one bank issued, cash back rewards card we love, when necessary. The end. Yes, our credit may take a short term hit to close them, but our rating is so high because we use credit wisely that I'm not worried.

And yes, we may lose out on some discounts or reward dollars towards a new purchase, but let's face it, we'll probably save more in the end. Rewards usually come in five and ten dollar denominations ~ just enough to lure us back into the store ~ and most people spend way more than that to redeem them.

No thanks. I vote for a simplified wallet.

Daily Routine: Leave Space

Make It Simple But Significant

This one is the most difficult. While everyone would love their daily routine to be simple, it doesn't always work out that way. I don't think anyone wakes up in the morning and says, Wow, I'm really looking forward to a complicated and frustrating day!

No. But it happens. Life is unpredictable. Plans get disrupted. Things come up and days become jammed with responsibilities and chores and work. Confrontational and needy people cross our paths. Or it snows. You get the picture and frankly, no one can control these things.

But I can control myself. I can control how I fill my calendar, who I choose to associate with and how I react and handle difficult situations when the arise. This year, I have decided to leave space in my day to compensate for the unexpected, room, physically and emotionally, to deal with the fluff that makes its way in.

The current plan is to go to bed and wake up early, say yes to more of what's easy, what makes me smile and no to more of what I don't want do or stresses me out. Kindness will reign, I will not overbook myself and if other people are complicating things, I will just walk away.

Day by day.

By day.

And I'll be getting my exercise in, too.

How simple is that?

Could you use a little simplifying?


  1. Your post inspired me to follow your lead. I'd love to have a copy of your budget spreadsheet (without numbers of course) so I can use something to build my own. I don't have a clue... thanks in advance if you don't mind sharing.

    1. Hi Margy, thanks so much for the comment! I’ve actually received several requests for the sheet so this weekend I’ll make up a blank one and share it. It really has helped me out. It’s super basic, but it does the job. I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  2. I love this post. I have always found that I can't breathe when my life or my home becomes too complicated or cluttered! and so I don't let it! it truly takes so little to enjoy life. and buying more or newer STUFF has become an entertainment to most people!
    Courtney of the 'Be More with Less blog' once said on there …
    "lets quit telling people how busy we are." that seems brilliant to me! it's like... "what are you trying to prove?" !!! has the competitive streak in people even reached the point of "I'm busier than YOU are!?"
    I just love what she said. because it says it all. some people (parents mostly) are so busy they are even really missing their children's childhood! a fellow employee once said to me that her young son asked her
    "Mom! can't we just stay HOME for a change?" she had every spare minute of their lives filled with sports or music practice or scheduled activities and all she did was drive them to all those activities!
    this is a fabulous post. but then I'm a lover of simplicity in all things. and you've covered them all!
    Kudos to you darling bean!!! keep the faith! XOXO

    1. Oh Tammy, I hear you loud and clear. I have always aimed for simple, but somehow things just took on a life of their own, especially when my mom got sick a few years ago. Nothing was simple. When the kids were younger, I was the non-joiner mom. They got one or two activities each season and luckily they had the exact same interests so I wasn't running all over the place. We didn't do camp either. They played all summer long, no schedules to attend to or lessons to hurry off to...well, except swimming lessons. They are a must when you live on an island and have a pool in your yard. I'd like to get back to those lazy days and get rid of all this self-imposed business. I need to go check out that blog. Sounds like I would be her perfect reader! Happy New Year my friend! ❤️

  3. I started purging my home two years ago, and I’m still working on it. Not that I had that much stuff, But just like most, I had things in drawers and closets that hadn’t seen the light of day for years! Craft supplies that I was clearly not going to use, as I hadn’t been “crafting” in years! All of it went, in the garbage, because I knew I’d never be able to sell it, most of it was outdated crafting items. I’ve gone through closets and drawers and now only keep what I need. My husband is another story that I won’t go into here�� he has a hard time getting rid of anything, so that’s another issue. My eating habits have always been good, I’ve always been into working out, ever since I ballooned up with my last pregnancy 38 years ago! I have no health issues at all, thank God for that. But my greatest love is cycling and I’ve only been doing it for 3 years. In 2015 I promised to “pay”
    Myself first, before anything else got done I rode my bike, and purging afforded me the guilt free time to do it. In 2017 I rode in RAGBRAI for the first time and it is the best thing I’ve ever done for MYSELF. If you’re not familiar with RAGBRAI, it’s a bike ride across Iowa, my home state. At 62 years old I rode 371 miles over 5 days and I felt amazing when I was done. I plan on doing it again this year. It is amazing how purging can lift a weight off your shoulders and what a good work out can make you feel!! So here’s to you, living you’re simpler life, and finding a fitness plan that works for you.

    1. Rhonda that is amazing!! 371 miles?? I am totally impressed. That is a goal worthy of a hearty congratulations. 😊 I hope to get back to basics around here, too. I still have a full house which does leave me with a few extra responsibilities and a few more pack rats running around the place. They aren't nearly as enamored with the purging as I am...and neither is my husband. So I get your other story!! I guess it's just one foot in front of the other, trying to keep it simple day by day....although, biking does sound like a lot of fun. Hmmm....thanks for sharing your journey. It really is inspiring!!

  4. I’m so jealous! I’ve purged and purged and still have too
    Much. I so want to simplify too. I need to get rid of those card too. I don’t really use them and they don’t save in the long run. I have managed to downsize my clothes, gaining weight will do that! I did join the gym. $10 a month was simple to me and I won’t feel bad if I don’t go!

    1. Clothes were the hardest, Susan. I don't know why getting rid of pair of jeans I bought 25 years ago, don't fit into anymore and are out of style and threadbare was so tough. But I finally did it. Even if I even did weigh the same thing as I did when I was 25, nothing is in the same place anymore!! Ha!! Good luck at the gym!

  5. Yeah! I love your plan and attitude! Now I need to go into my kitchen and purge!

    1. I say go for it, Penny! Putting away the dishes is a dream now! Good luck!

  6. Kim, we have had this conversation before, haven't we? You would be so proud of me. Am in the process of taking down Christmas and cleaning out totes that I didn't use this year and I already have two boxes of stuff to donate and one box of throw away. Maybe it is going to stick this time! I am pretty good about food though. We do eat pretty healthy (does not mean we don't indulge!!!! at times) but at the end of the week the frig is pretty empty so we don't buy more than we need. Will be writing about a new appliance we got for Christmas that makes some pretty good meals. I also have (what my doc calls slight IBS) She put me on meds and wow,, what a difference. That was not fun!! Meds are Cholestyramine powder. One scoop per day with 4 oz of water and it really works well for me. It is prescription though so doc needs to order it. Just FYI..Thanks for the incentive that you always give me. It might be starting to work. Wouldn't that be wonderful?.Happy New Year..xxoJudy

    1. Judy, we certainly have had this discussion before. I didn't realize how many posts I'd written about "simplifying" until I went to find them to link up here. I guess it's been on my mind for a while. I hope it sticks this time...for both of us! And thanks for the IBS information. I will look it up for sure! Happy New Year!! xo

  7. neatening up is what I like to do in January. Nothing much else to enjoy. and it makes the indoors nicer. Good tips all of them. Thank you.

    1. Thanks so much, Jane!! And I agree, January is a great month for tidying up...everything!!

  8. Oh Kim, your post really resonates with me. I have lots of the same things needing improvement. My daughter suggested that we do the January Cure from Apartment Therapy so I am doing that and my sister's gift to me was a piece of exercise equipment that she has started using and she said that it is very stress relieving so I am going to try that. I am trying to improve my diet by adding fermented foods. That is probably the opposite of simplify though. I am making kefir and it is almost as much work as taking care of a toddler. Good luck, I will be cheering for you.

  9. Kim,
    I feel your pain in our recent remodeling "experience" I kept adding additional rooms for the contractor to paint and re-carpet. This led to a big surprise, re-carpeting means empty closets and that meant keeping my promise to get rid of non useful"stuff" in each one. While unloading beds and desks from the bedrooms and den I realized that over the years I had become a bit of a hoarder of nothing less than office supplies, and specifically binder clips in all sizes. It is now the new family joke! The good news in a house with enough closets to please most anyone, I am now down to 2 small coat closets and a large Christmas items/craft storage closet that will be clean the week after Epiphany when we take the villages down and put away the Christmas china. I have always kept just my true treasures but my dh says "nature abhors a vacuum" and believes it is his responsibility to fill it with what ever he can find that fits. Amazing how opposites attract!

  10. Thank you so much for your kind words about my blog. I love all that you are doing to simplify. I find that it is a work in progress. It always seems there are more and more ways that I can simplify if I only look around our little home. I hope that you have a blessed New Year.

  11. I love this! I've been trying to simplify the house and have had plans to really go through it this year, but I love your thoughts on simplifying life too. It makes sense.

  12. These are the same goals I'm working on. We have definitely decluttered and simplified here at our house and it feels good!

    You know how I used to love Zumba? Well those days passed when our teacher moved but lately I've been doing Leslie Sansone walking videos. They are really misnamed because if you choose right, they are like light aerobics videos. Bet you can find some you like. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVl6ZdslZz2Zj-34bMJFPbg

  13. Great post Kim. Purging is a great feeling. I am doing more and more of that. I hope to tackle dressers, closets, etc. A new year should feel clean and tidy. Happy New Year!

  14. This was a wonderful post! As I've gotten older I want less "stuff" around me. We still have a LOT (too much probably) but over the past couple of years I've gotten rid of A LOT! I plan to continue along this path. Working now to use up or share some of my craft supplies. It's a very good feeling to know I will be leaving behind less for my family to have to deal with someday:) Wishing you a very happy and very "uncluttered" and "unstressful" year!!!

  15. This sounds so much like my life recently. I have purged a TON of stuff...after retiring I said goodbye to most of my clothes and shoes. We moved and I said goodbye to many knick-knacks and kitchen items. After Christmas, the decorations were weeded-out. As far as diet and exercise are concerned, I never did like exercise, so walking is my thing, too - when I can. We eat pretty well, avoiding processed food and growing our vegetables, but we keep finding additives in food that bother our stomachs...it's a learning curve! Happy New Year, Kim. Here's to taking care of us!

  16. Kim,
    A fantastic New Year's post, thank you. Cash is King.. we are on that path this 2019 as well. It just makes sense to me and makes me feel better slapping down money to pay for my purchase.
    I also will be cutting out the stuff that does not make me happy, I don't do more to please folks. I have cut this out big time starting in 2012 and 2017 I made another big leap. It feels so good, I just need to stay on track and SAY NO, even if I feel guilty about doing so, because that can happen to little ol me. ;-)
    Happy New Year!

  17. I've read your post three days in a row, Kim, cheering each time. And yes, figuring out exactly what you want in your days and homes is not as simple as it looks. And once you know that, just carrying it out is so easily defeated by the dailyness and demands of life. And it happens by steps, just like you write about. But each year can bring us closer to what we want. And Christmas, or post-Christmas, is a wonderful place to start. Each year has found me making strides over the year before but I'm still at it, still paring down and giving away. Maybe some day I'll be at the point where I just have a tree and put Christmas greens and flowering plants around the house. The strange thing is that that is exactly how the families I knew while growing up, including my own, celebrated Christmas. Maybe they had a smart idea after all.

  18. Happy New Year Kim. I love your new word to live by. Simple simplified simplicity. How is that we tend to clutter our lives and spaces with meaningless things? I've slowly been decluttering our home, but I have to put more effort into it. It's like I've committed half way. Maybe I'm not quite ready to let go completely yet?

  19. Simple has never been simple for me, but I'm inspired to make 2019 the year of simplicity. Thanks for the encouragement Kim!

  20. Moving has many times as we have over the years has allowed us to reduce lots of clutter and items we don't need, want or use. It was difficult at first but I have found that it has become easier each time I clean out a cabinet or a closet. While I don't have alot of "sit around" things, I'm working on eliminating more of those items. I get tired of dusting around them and barely notice them anymore, except to clean. Photos are the hardest things for me to get rid of. I have boxes and boxes full of photos. My plan is to purchase a photo scan, scan them all and get rid of the ones no one in the family wants. That will be my most difficult challenge. My motto for the year is less stuff, less stress. Love and hugs!

  21. You really hit a nerve Kim. I spent the weekend watching Marie Kondo and then I watched this decoumentary called Minimalists which talks about the same exact thing you are telling us about now. I am so on board with all of this. Life is too cluttered and it hurts! My word is also Simple this year! Just make sure you don't go out walking today in that freezing cold! Happy New Year!!

  22. So many things to comment on with your wonderful post, Kim! As we've discussed before, I have gut issues, too - food intolerances and IBS. I think those issues are from too many years of unhealthy eating. I rarely have issues with IBS anymore since I now know what to eat and what not to eat (following a low FODMAP food plan is key - medication is not needed for IBS; it can be totally controlled with food). The only time I ever get an IBS attack now is if I'm under extreme stress.

    Me and my hubby both eat a very clean diet. I don't bring any junk food into the house. Once you stop eating it, you really do get used to eating healthy and realize how much better you feel. So then you have no desire for the crap that makes you feel like...well, crap! That's not to say we NEVER eat something "naughty"...we do order a pizza or Thai food once in awhile and I did have some cookies at Christmas. I think as we grow older, we truly realize how important good nutrition and healthy eating habits are for our overall health.

    Exercise...I know I could do better in this area, but I try to stay as active as possible. I'm usually moving. I try not to sit so much. I do yoga every day at home and I also take a weekly yoga class. I love it so much and every Wed morning is the highlight of my week! I think the key is to find something you actually like or love. Because if you don't enjoy it, you're not going to stick with it. My hubby and I take a lot of walks around our neighborhood or in the State Park. It's fun to do it together and even in the winter, we don't use the cold weather as an excuse. We bundle up and just do it. It actually feels good once we're out there doing it and we don't feel like such slugs in the evenings.

    We only have two credit cards: a VISA card - which we've had "forever" and use for major purchases and vet bills - and then a Kohls card. If we ever have a balance, it is paid off at the end of the month. When our boys were little and we had thousands of dollars in doctor bills and our old cars were breaking down, etc., etc., we had to use our VISA card just to make ends meet sometimes. It was awful. I don't even like to think about those times. Our bills were more than my husband's paychecks. I was babysitting and working through a temp agency when I could (when my best friend could watch my kids for free!) to bring in some extra money.

    Anyway! Organizing and decluttering...our main living areas are all pretty good. I don't hang on to old clothes that I don't wear or extra stuff in the kitchen that I don't use. However, the storage area of our basement is a holy terror. I've been saying for years that I'm going to get it cleaned out once and for all. The main problem is my son's old drum set behind the stairs - I can't haul that out myself and I need my husband's help, but he keeps making excuses. And I also have my grandma's old secretary desk down there, as well as a couple of other vintage pieces of furniture that I can't use but don't want to just give away. I'm going to ask my mom if she wants them and if not, I guess I just have to bite the bullet and donate them. And I have waaay too many tchotchkes/home decor items that need weeding out. My winter 2019 goal!

  23. Hi Kim, yes January is a great time to declutter the house. I organized my seasonal decorations and I got rid of 2 bags which was big for me! I need tackle some more areas in my house. I also need to get back to the gym as my membership ended in November. Thanks for this inspirational post.

  24. What a great post Kim, some excellent tips and ideas,thank you.
    Have a happy and healthy 2019, my good wishes.

    All the best Jan

  25. Oh Kim, we truly are kindred spirits! I'm with you on everything here! You really don't need fancy stuff to exercise. I either walk on the treadmill or around the neighborhood or use my "grandma" stationary bike. I'm the chief financial girl in our home too. I do all the bills, savings, college tuition, etc. And I also have a custom budget sheet! I have a master list with all the things we know we'll have to pay any given month. We're simplicity sisters! Lol!

  26. YES YES YES!!!! But unfortunately one of the things I need to simplify is to figure out how to work full time (necessary to pay bills) and yet also have enough time to do everything I need to do. Sigh. If only I had a clone....

  27. I decided to give away some pieces that I actually loved, but couldn't fit or work in this home. I accepted that I didn't want a better home or a vacation one. No, when we have funds, I prefer going places. Junk is another story. I am always cleaning and getting rid of it, bulk doesn't come often enough! Where does it come from? I swear it is reproducing, because this happens every January! Good for you on the yoga! I know it'a great, but it bores me, and if I wanted to be hot, I would shut off my AC. xo Su


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