There are times when life isn’t meant to be easy, those are the time to struggle and push for progress, but it’s easy to fall into the trap of making things overly hard for yourself. Sometimes making life easier just takes a simple habit or a quick life hack. Over the years of optimizing my life, I’ve come across these methods you can use to consistently make your life easier.
When life becomes too complicated and too busy, it’s time to simplify. So make life much easier by using one of these ideas every single day.
1. A Braindump to Reduce Stress & Anxiety
One of the things that makes life harder is the non-stop swirling of ideas and tasks around your head. Things you need to do, remember or tell someone that day are all up in your mind trying to hold on and not be forgotten.
David Allen, the author of Getting Things Done, says, “Your mind is for having ideas, not for holding them.”
There is a little magic in this simple sentence. If you stop using your brain for storing information, you won’t feel weighed down anymore, and your brain will feel relaxed and ready to take on the day.
A brain dump will make your life a whole lot easier.
A brain dump is nothing complicated. All you need to do is sit down and write out everything on your mind. You don’t need to write in sentences. A list of the things in your mind will do. Use this three-step process to help
- Write down anything on your mind right now
- Write down anything you want to do
- Write down things related to the areas of your life (home, work, family, food, hobbies, friends, finances, health, etc.)
You can do a brain dump anytime the stresses of the world start to get the better of you or you want a quick pick me up. Don’t worry about what it is or what you need to do. Just write it down. I promise you’ll feel better when you finish.
Once you’re done, add tasks to a to-do list or task manager; once it’s served its purpose, you can throw the rest away.
2. Purging: Mo’ Things, Mo’ Problems
Purging is throwing things away. It’s that simple. Throughout our lives, we all accumulate stuff, lots of stuff. Regular purges have a few benefits.
- Purging means you have less stuff to maintain.
- Purging makes cleaning and tidying easier
- Purging makes your home more spacious
- Purging makes you think about what’s important
There’s no magic formula for purging; pick an area of your life and throw away the things you no longer need, want, or no longer serve you. Some say only to keep what fills you with joy; I wouldn’t recommend that (my printer doesn’t fill me with joy, but I still need it.)
Here are some things you can purge. Don’t try purging every area of your life at once. Just pick one thing to purge and go from there.
- Kitchen Cupboards/Fridge
- A room (living room, study, bedroom, etc.)
- Digital Files
3. Decluttering: Open Up Your Living Space
Decluttering differs from purging because it’s not only about throwing things away. It’s about maintaining them in a way that’s easier for you.
The number one reason people lose their keys is that they don’t have a designated place for them. So when they come home, they don’t know where to put them, so one day, they put them on the side, another on the table, or in the kitchen. A simple bowl or hook in the doorway gives them a home. You can then start to build the habit of putting them there.
The same is true of decluttering within your home. Does your iPad always get left on the sofa, coffee table, bed, or somewhere else? Even when you spend time tidying up, it never gets put away. It might be because you don’t have a home for it. The same is true for any new product you buy. Give it a home to give yourself a chance to put it there. You can only put it away if it has a home.
When you declutter, put things where they go, then start organizing.
It’s one thing to have all your books in one place, but unless you organize them well, you still won’t be able to find the book you want. The same applies to your clothes, photos, passwords, or travel memories.
4. You Deserve Some Self-care
Studies show that we all have a default happiness level which we always return to; psychologists call it the “hedoic setpoint.” It’s why lotto winners may be ecstatic for a short period but eventually say that they don’t feel any different, even if they live drastically different lives. It’s why a new phone might make you happy for a day or two, but then you don’t even notice it anymore.
But our happiness set-points are individual. Yours might be lower than your friends, so they always seem happier than you.
We can’t change our baseline level, unfortunately, at least without medical intervention. And when buying big gifts or events like vacations or new tech items is expensive and won’t give you long-term results, what’s the answer?
Give yourself small regular gifts to temporarily increase your happiness level instead. For example, a nice cup of coffee from your favorite cafe might only cost a couple of bucks, but it will make you feel happier for an hour. A new phone might make you feel better for a few hours, but it costs hundreds more.
Gifts to give yourself include:
- A sweet treat
- A professional massage
- A new book
- Facial or other treatment
- A long bath
5. Create a Morning Routine
A morning routine will change your life. One of the ways we make life hard for ourselves is by reinventing the wheel daily. Do you wonder what to make for breakfast each day? Or what to do with your morning? A morning routine will take the burden off your shoulders.
By setting up a morning routine, you pre-decide the best practices, best habits, and most productive things you could do in the morning and create a routine for yourself. Then, when you get up in the morning, you don’t need to think or make any decisions. Instead, you just follow the routine.
We’re groggy and half asleep when we wake up in the morning. It’s not the best time to decide the best thing to do with your day. There are lots of excellent morning routine ideas that you can incorporate into your mornings to make them more productive, more spiritual, more healthy, or just more fun.
6. Evening Routines Help You Sleep Better
You don’t want to schedule your whole life into a routine that you just repeat every day, I get that, but some practices will make your evenings and your sleep better.
If you’re like most people, evenings are the least productive part of your day, and you’re much more likely to spend them doing things you wish you didn’t. Do you spend hours watching shows you don’t even really like? Do you spend hours on YouTube or social media and feel guilty afterward?
In Willpower: Human’s Greatest Strength, psychologist Roy F. Baumeister says that our willpower is like an energy bar in a video game, and by the end of the day, it’s depleted. So you can resist temptation in the morning when you’re fresh, but later in the day, it will become more challenging.
By creating an evening routine, we take responsibility for resisting temptation away from ourselves. We don’t need to resist the call of that screen or that junk food; we just need to follow our routine.
7. Build a Second Brain or Productivity System
If you’ve never heard of a second brain, it’s not what you think. A second brain is a way to hold information outside of the brain. For example, notes, to-dos, reminders, and just cool stuff you don’t want to forget can all be added to your second brain. If you use it regularly, you’ll have a vast interconnected web of things representing you.
Browsing through your second brain will be motivating and inspirational, but most importantly, it is a catalyst to improve your life. Keeping things out of your head reduces stress and overwhelm, but you need to act on those ideas if you want to improve your life. A second brain ensures that you won’t forget the tasks you have and help you do the tasks that will make a difference in your life.
8. Regular Exercise Brings a Better Quality of Life
By now, everyone knows that regular exercise is one of the most important things you can do for your personal and mental health, but how does sweating in the gym make your life easier?
You may not realize it, but we all will get ill, get old, and deteriorate. Regular exercise will slow that process down. Without it, your life at 50 could be much harder than it needs to be, you could have health issues and trouble moving around or doing basic tasks. Alternatively, you could still be physically healthy at 80 and doing what you love.
So even if you don’t want to look like a Greek god or be strong and powerful today, see exercise as an investment that will make your life better in the future.
9. Fix the Stresses in Your Life
Life won’t always be stress-free, but you might allow more stress into your life than you need.
- Does a friend of yours cause you nothing but anguish?
- Is your job making you miserable?
- Are money problems stressing you out?
- Do you feel overwhelmed by all your responsibilities?
You’ll be surprised how much people put up with in their lives. So often, it takes little more than a single decision to remove a whole load of stress which has been weighing down on you for years.
Of course, you don’t want to get rid of all your friends or responsibilities anytime they give you a little stress, and giving up your lifestyle to save money isn’t always the best solution. But sometimes, that one change can make your life worth living again.
- Cut the friend out of your life.
- It’s time to change jobs.
- Reduce your expenses by cutting something out of your life or moving to a cheaper place.
- Say no to some of your responsibilities. The world won’t end.
10. Set Goals
Everyone should have goals they want to achieve in their lives. Goals will make their lives easier. You should have goals because they give you something to aim at. In addition, they will let you know when you’re wasting your time.
If you want to own your own company but spend all your time working for someone else, something’s wrong. But, unfortunately, without a list of goals, you might not realize your mistake till it’s too late. But when you keep track of your dreams, you’ll find yourself figuring out how to make them a reality.
Many people keep a list of goals for this year to ensure they make progress in the short term and a list of life goals to ensure they’re moving in the right direction.
11. Wear the same outfit or a small rotation
For those who love fashion, shopping, and clothes, their outfits can be a huge source of positivity in their lives. But for others, buying, maintaining, and deciding on outfits are a complication they don’t need. A quick solution is to wear the same outfit every day.
Steve Jobs famously wore the same outfit of jeans and long sleeve black top for over a decade. Mark Zuckerberg and even Barack Obama have also used this life hack. It reduces decision fatigue, saving your brain power for decisions that matter. There are a few unexpected benefits to wearing one outfit:
- Organizing your wardrobe becomes much easier
- Laundry is simpler
- Your drawers automatically look neater and more organized.
You might not want to give up all variety in what you wear or throw away all your clothes. Instead, why not wear the same thing when you go to work or only on weekends and see if it makes a positive impact?
12. Set Aside Some Time for You
Self-care and alone time is just as crucial as those productive periods of working hard. So start a hobby that builds some you-time into your schedule.
Alternatively, you can use these suggestions to occasionally reset, readjust and make your life a little easier.
- Get a massage
- Spend a day at a spa
- Buy yourself your favorite coffee and spend the afternoon in the cafe
- Do something you loved as a child (go to a ball game, theme park, play a videogame, etc.)
13. Hobbies That You Love
Take a moment to list your hobbies in your mind. If you don’t have any that fill you with joy, you need some new hobbies.
Your hobbies should make your everyday life easier, not more complex. Of course, you don’t want to take on more than you can handle, but adding the right hobbies into your routine can turn your whole life around.
If you’re a nerd and proud of it, find an awesome hobby for nerds. If you want some more peace in your life, try starting an indoor hobby you could do at home. There are hobbies for families and couples if you need more quality family time in your life too.
14. Financial Planning/Simplify Your Finances
Money makes life complicated. It gets in the way of our friendships and the things we want to do in life and forces us to do things we don’t want. If you can simplify your finances, it will make life easier for everyone around you.
The simplest way to organize your finances is a three-section review. Create these three sections on a piece of paper or a note-taking app:
Write down your monthly earnings in the first section and your monthly expenses in the second (if you don’t know how much you’re spending, try using a tracking app like Mint.)
If you take your expenses from your earnings, you’re left with your monthly savings. Times it by twelve to determine how much you can save in a year.
Now look back at your review. If you want to increase your savings, you need to remove something from the expenses section or add more to the earnings section. A best practice is to reduce your expenses in the short term while creating a plan to increase your earnings in the long term.
15. Make a List of Things You’re Putting Off or Don’t Want to Do
Are you putting off booking your next vacation or asking your boss for a promotion?
If you organize a list in a notebook, bullet journal, second-brain, or note-taking app of the things you’ve been trying to ignore or problems you don’t want to deal with, you’ll quickly start making progress with them.
The brain is a problem-solving machine. Its number one task is solving the problem of keeping us alive. But it can only respond to threats it’s aware of. So by putting problems or tasks on your mind, your brain will figure out a way for you to complete them.
Awareness of these issues will also stop them from becoming emergencies and blowing up in your face.
16. Learn to Say No
You only have so much time in the day, so don’t spend it doing things you don’t want to do.
Of course, there are things we don’t want to do that we must but are you spending time doing something that you don’t want to do that you don’t need to do? Defining your priorities will help, but you must also learn to say no.
Saying no is tough for some people, especially if they are high in personality trait agreeableness. You think that people will be angry or upset if you say no to them, but actually, you’ll find that people will start to respect your time more.
17. Define Your Areas of Focus – these are your priorities
Keeping things in an undefined state produces stress. Creating a short list of your areas of focus defines your priorities and where you should be spending your time.
Each of us has about 7-15 areas of our lives that need to be maintained and take up our time. But most of us need to learn precisely what they are.
When you don’t have your priorities clearly laid out, it’s easy to spend your time doing things you don’t care about. Creating a list of your areas of focus will give you back the power of your own time and help you say no to things outside your priorities.
Here are some examples of areas of focus to help you make your list.
18. Weekly Meal Planning
If you plan to live another 60 years, you will eat approximately 65000 more meals. So don’t spend 20 minutes a day staring blankly into your cupboards, wondering what you should have for dinner for the next 60 years!
A little bit of planning will go a LONG way here.
You don’t have to prep all your meals for the week and eat the same thing every day. However, that’s a great way to save time and money.
Creating a short list of goto meals you can make easily and quickly and always having the ingredients in the house will make your life much easier. And when you get bored of them, just make a new list!
Life Doesn’t Need to Be Difficult
Making your life easier by simplifying and organizing doesn’t mean you should stop putting in the effort to achieve your goals. It’s not about taking away all responsibilities or living a life where you don’t do anything.
Instead, make your life easier so you can focus on the few things that really matter to you and give yourself more energy for them.