100 Ways to Scale Down Your Life
By Christina Laun
In an ideal world, you’d be able to balance work, family, friends, personal time, fitness and everything else in your life without ever breaking a sweat. In reality, sleeping with your Blackberry, trying to put on makeup in the car and never quite getting enough sleep is more of the norm. What you may not realize is that it truly doesn’t have to be. Even if your life feels like it doesn’t have any place where things can give, the reality is that if you want to maintain your health and not die young from stress-related illnesses, there has to be. Here are a few ways you can start scaling down your life, to give you more time to spend with family or doing all the things you love but don’t have time for. General Get some general tips on cutting back on things in your life with these helpful pointers.
1. Identify what’s really important to you. Chances are good that there are things in your life that you’re committed to or involved in that you really don’t have a true attachment or investment in doing. Evaluate your priorities and determine what things can fall by the wayside and what things you want to bring to the forefront in your life.
2. Appreciate simple things. It’s easy to get caught up in all the complications in your life, sometimes so much so that you forget to take time, slow down and appreciate all the little things that make your life great. Whether it’s finding a close parking spot or discovering a new favorite restaurant, make sure your life is designed to allow you to appreciate every good thing that comes your way, not just the big stuff.
3. Do what you love. Whether you choose to apply this to what you do for a living or just what you do on the weekend, it’s a key element to simplifying and paring down your life. By putting the focus on doing things that you love instead of drudging through things you hate, you’ll enjoy life more, be happier and much less stressed. Do your best to think of creative ways to make even the most painful tasks more bearable by integrating elements of things you love into them.
4. Make your time count. Perhaps one of the easiest ways to simplify your life and to have more time to spend doing things you want to do is to make the time you spend on anything, whether it’s with the kids or at work, count. If you’re present, concentrating on your tasks and getting the most out of the situation you’ll be able to finish more quickly or enjoy what you’re doing more fully.
5. Learn what’s enough. If you’re constantly in a quest for perfection you’re likely putting in more work, effort, time and important parts of your life into things that really could get by with less. Figure out what is good enough to get the job done but doesn’t leave you up all night, pulling out your hair and stressing over it.
6. Live deliberately. Once you realize that no one is in charge of your life except for you, then you’re ready to get the most out of every situation that’s presented to you. Make choices that help you find the greatest amount of happiness and that eliminate all the things that don’t really matter to you so you’ll have more time for the things that do.
7. Create routines. If you find getting ready in the morning is an uphill battle, you can help to streamline and scale back your life by creating routines. These will save you time, help reduce stress, and won’t leave you running around trying to get things together at the last minute.
8. Make time to do nothing at all. For many workaholics, sitting around doing nothing can be a hard thing to accomplish. But if you want to scale back, it can be just the thing to get you started. Time to rest and relax is important so don’t let the tasks in your life eat into it.
9. Turn off the TV. Studies have shown that most homes have more TV than people and that families spend hours upon hours watching television each day. While watching TV is fine, it also can eat into time that could be better spent talking, playing games or going for a walk with your family. Get the most out the time your family spends at home together by turning off the TV, even if it’s only for a few nights a week.
10. Slow down. Most people spend a good part of their day and their lives rushing from one place to another, trying to cram in as much as possible in one day. Besides not being healthy, this isn’t really fun either. Scale back by making sure your day includes a little bit of time to slow down, relax and simply be you.
11. Get rid of time wasters. The Internet is a great place to get all kinds of things done quickly and easily, but it’s also full of millions of great distractions. This, along with the dozens of other distractions that tempt us each day, can make getting the stuff we actually need to get done impossible. Try getting rid of a few of these time wasters. You’ll get more done, and feel much less stressed.
12. Stay organized. Want to scale down your life? Take the first step and get yourself organized. By knowing where things are and having a place for things at home and work you’ll save time, effort and stress and make it easier to figure out what’s important and what can get pushed aside.
13. Take control. You can’t scale back if you let others make decisions about your life, so step up and take control of everything that’s going on. When you’re the boss you’ll be able to figure out what really matters and cut out what doesn’t.
14. Ask for help if you need it. You don’t have to go through life trying to do everything on your own. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t be too proud to ask for help. It can be a great way to get things under control without stretching yourself too thin.
15. Prioritize. Figuring out what is most important to you in your life is a big part of how you can pare things down. Spend more time doing the things that matter most, then let the rest get done if you have time. Don’t spend hours on tasks that don’t really matter to you when you could be doing things that do like spending time with your family.
Around the House Having a messy, cluttered home can be reflected in the rest of your life. Here are some ways to clean out and minimalize your home.
16. Clear out the clutter. Do you really need all the stuff that’s filling up your closets, drawers and garage? Spend less time caring for things you don’t need and make your home and life simpler by getting rid of it all.
17. Get a smaller house. While having a lot of space is nice, it also requires you to spend more time cleaning, maintaining, heating and financing it. If you have more space than you need, consider getting a smaller home or apartment. It’ll save you money and time in the end and make your life simpler.
18. Keep only the essentials. If you’re like most people, your kitchen is full of all kinds of specialty gadgets that you rarely use. If you don’t use it regularly, there probably isn’t much reason to have it. Pare down the things around your home to the stuff you actually need, want and care about.
19. Find a place for things. Save yourself time and make your days simpler by creating a place for everything in your home.
20. Realize that even free things come at a price. Who would turn down an offer for a free printer or a complimentary t-shirt? While these things may not cost you anything out of pocket, they do cost you your space. Before accepting free things, determine if you really need them or if they’ll just be something else to dust.
21. Understand that bigger isn’t always better. SUVs, big houses, big TVs and super sized meals are all parts of the American lifestyle. But bigger things aren’t always better. Big things cost more, take up more space and sometimes cause you to waste what you can’t use. Simplify your life by buying things that fit the size of your life.
22. Borrow, don’t buy. You can scale down your budget and the amount of things around your house by borrowing or renting items instead of buying them if you only plan on using them for a short time.
23. Make your home a sanctuary. When your home is a relaxing, ordered place to be you’ll be happier and more able to de-stress no matter what your day has been like.
24. Go low maintenance. You may love fine silks and suedes but these fabrics and others like them can be difficult to clean and maintain. Try buying clothes and furniture that can be easily cleaned and maintained so you’ll be able to spend less time and money caring for them.
25. Buy classics. Save time and make life simpler by buying household items that are classic in design. Trendy items may be cooler in the short term, but you’ll get more mileage out of items that are designed to be stylish until they wear out or break.
26. Don’t get attached. If you’re looking to pare down your things, try not to get too attached to household items. While some things may carry memories, you may not always need to hold on to them to value those memories.
27. Simplify your wardrobe. Unless you’re working at a fashion magazine you likely don’t need a closet that’s overflowing with clothes. Create a basic wardrobe that you can work around. It’ll save you time getting dressed in the morning and space storing clothes.
28. Create a simple yard. Few people love doing yard work. By keeping your yard simple, you’ll be able to spend less time weeding, mowing and planting and still have a yard that looks presentable.
29. Stay on top of messes. Waiting days to do the dishes or letting papers pile up on your desk may seem like it’s saving you time, but in the long run it can make things harder for you. Spend a few minutes cleaning up each evening before you go to bed so things don’t pile up.
30. Minimize the time it takes to clean. One way to keep your cleaning time to a minimum is to create a cleaning schedule and process that minimizes that time you spend working. Try vacuuming all at once or cleaning one room each day.
At Work You spend hours at work each week, so finding ways to scale back and simplify it are important. Here are a few ideas to get started with.
31. Work smart. Spend less time at work by streamlining your processes. You’ll get less done in more time and be much less stressed.
32. Manage your time. If you’ve got a lot on your plate, make time management a priority. Learn what works best for you and make it work to your advantage.
33. Make the most of your commute. If you’re stuck on the train for an hour each morning, don’t spend your time just idly watching the scenery. Catch up on emails, write letters, read a book, study or anything else you are interested in doing.
34. Don’t take on more than you can reasonably do. A new project may seem like the ticket to getting recognition around the office, but if you’re already swamped don’t take on more work. Pare down your work schedule to what you can reasonably do in a given time period.
35. De-stress. Scale down your busy work day by allowing yourself time throughout the day to de-stress and relax so you don’t get overwhelmed.
36. Assess career goals. It can be easy to get caught up working at a job simply because it pays the bills or because it doesn’t give you time to think about getting another one. Take a step back and assess if all the hard work you’re putting in at your current job really meets your ultimate goals. If not, think about cutting back on hours, working towards a job you really want, or finding a different job altogether.
37. Create systems. You’ll save time and scale back the hours you’ll be spending at work by creating simple systems for getting things done at work. Have specific times to reply to emails, organizers on your desk, or anything else you need to keep things moving smoothly.
38. Take breaks. Working nonstop at your desk can be overwhelming and can actually make you less productive. Make sure to take breaks throughout the day to keep you fresh and ready to tackle anything that comes your way.
39. Say no. You don’t always have to say yes to any projects or tasks that come your way. If you’re spending too much time at work, just say no if someone asks you to stay late or take on more work so you can maintain a balance in your life.
40. Unplug. The constant influx of email, instant messages and other information can wreck havoc on your workday productivity. If you can, unplug for a little bit each day to keep constant contact from taking up all your time.
41. Take tasks one at a time. Make things simpler when you’re working by doing one thing at a time instead of trying to multi-task doing a million things at once. You’re less likely to get off track and you can check things off as you accomplish them.
42. Live close to work. If you can, cut out the commute by living nearby your workplace. It’ll save you time and money and make your day less stressful overall.
43. Clear off your desk. There’s nothing that will stress you out quite like clutter. Keep your desk clear of random clutter. It will be easier to find what you need and keep you from feeling overwhelmed.
44. Simplify your tools. Computer apps and Web tools can be great ways to make things quicker and easier, but you may need to evaluate if these tools are really making your life easier. Find out what tools you truly need to do your job and eliminate the rest.
45. Reduce distractions. Life is always full of distractions and work is no exception. Try to pare down the number of things that are able to distract you on a daily basis so you can get your work done and go home on time.
46. Set boundaries. If you’re not careful, work can overwhelm your life. Set hours when you’re available and when you’re not. Everyone deserves to have a personal life and ensure your work isn’t stealing yours.
Personal Life Make your personal life easier and less messy with these tips.
47. Merge personal and work calendars. Save yourself the time of switching between two calendars and possibly double booking yourself by keeping your personal and professional calendars synced.
48. Make time to spend alone with a spouse. Spending time with those that you love is an incredibly important part of building a healthy relationship and staying happy. Make this a big priority in your life and don’t let work or school overtake it.
49. Let things go. You could spend the rest of your life being mad at a spouse, friend or family member for some wrong they’ve done against you. Learn to let little offenses go and you’ll be less stressed and happier.
50. Enjoy quiet time. Everyone needs some time just to have quiet to read books, do a crossword or just enjoy doing nothing. Try to simplify your life by incorporating a little quiet in each day.
51. Get active. You’ll feel better and maybe even look better too if you use a little of your free time to get up and move around whether you’re working out or just doing work around the house.
52. Evaluate your commitments. Is your dedication to organizations, sports or hobbies stealing time away from things that are more important to you? Take a look at where you’re spending your time and figure out if it’s prioritized according.
53. Be present. Make the time you spend with a spouse or other loved ones count by being fully present when you’re together. Filter out all those thoughts about things you have to do at work or around the house and truly enjoy the moment.
54. Enjoy small things. Making yourself happier and simplifying your life doesn’t always have to be about the big things. Enjoy a long bath, walk around the blog or the smell of fresh sheets on your bed.
55. Carry around less stuff. While women with huge purses may be more guilty of this, men with huge wallets and addictions to technology may also want to consider paring down what they bring with them each day. Bringing less with you means less to worry about and less weight to lug around.
56. Express yourself. Whether you love to write, paint, garden or any other hobby make sure you have time to express yourself creatively especially if this is an important priority for you. Take advantage of this Jackson & Perkins coupon to save on your gardening expenses.
57. Stop trying to keep up with the Joneses. Expensive purses, new cars and the latest technology may be nice, but they likely won’t buy you any lasting happiness. Letting this desire to keep up in material processions go will make your life simpler and maybe even happier.
58. Try something new. Keep your life new and exciting by trying out new things every once in awhile. Whether its sampling an exotic food or running in a marathon, these simple new experiences can truly enrich your life.
59. Indulge in small luxuries. You don’t always have to buy big or expensive things to make yourself feel pampered. Treating yourself to a fancy coffee or a favorite dessert is a great, simple way to make yourself happy.
Kids Having kids can make everything chaotic and time-consuming. Here are some tips for scaling down life with kids to the basics.
60. Help kids become self-sufficient. Taking the time to do every little thing for your kids can eat up a lot of your day. Help kids learn to do little things like get dressed, brush their teeth and get ready for school on their own. This will save you time and give your kids a sense of accomplishment.
61. Make clean up easy. With kids, toys are going to be lying around no matter what. Make clean up a cinch by keeping organization and storage simple. It’ll save you time in cleanup and keep your home clutter free.
62. Prep the night before. Don’t make mornings a hectic experience. Scale down by getting lunches together the night before, laying out clothes and other tasks that can save you loads of time in the morning.
63. Don’t over schedule. It’s natural to want to enable children to pursue all their interests but when there are too many you can spend far too much time shuttling kids to and from lessons and practices. Scale down to the things they love the most.
64. Set aside time for each child. Make sure each of your children feel special and valued by you by setting aside time to spend alone with each one.
65. Come prepared. Parents will quickly learn that it pays to come prepared for any situation. Save yourself hassle by creating kits that allow you to meet the majority of needs your kids will have.
66. Spend less, do more. You don’t need to take your kids out for a night on the town to have a good time. Arrange times to play games or watch a favorite family-friendly movie together. It can be just as fun at a fraction of the cost.
67. Create routines. You can cut back on the time it takes to get kids ready for bed or off to school if you create a routine. Kids will learn what to expect and things will be streamlined and easier for everyone involved.
68. Dress kids simply. Kids grow out of clothes so fast that there’s no sense in buying them complicated or fancy outfits. Get kids simple clothes that they can mix and match, so they can dress themselves.
69. Celebrate traditions. Make the time you spend with your children special and memorable by paring down the holidays to traditions that truly matter to you. Whether it’s putting up a Christmas tree or baking special holiday treats, make the holidays super special for your children.
Finances A lot of time is spent on paying bills, saving and worrying over finances. Make things a little simpler with these tips.
70. Cut up some credit cards. Do you have more credit cards than can even fit inside your wallet? Simplify your finances by only keeping the cards that you use the most and getting rid of the rest.
71. Decide what expenditures are really needs. Chances are good that you don’t really need that cup of coffee and a bagel on your way to work each day. Figure out little ways that you can cut back on your spending and focus on the expenses that are really needs, not just conveniences.
72. Trim the fat. Your budget is probably full of bloated expenses that you could cut out if you took the time to. Get rid of memberships you’re not using, subscriptions to magazines you don’t read and anything else that’s unnecessarily eating up your cash.
73. Buy on need. Stores are set up to entice you to buy all kinds of things you don’t really need. Try to start only buying things that you truly need. It might be challenging but you’ll have loads of savings to show for it in the end.
74. Stop shopping. Shopping may be a fun way to spend an afternoon and a great way to bond with friends, cheer yourself up after a bad day or just pass the time, but can be tough on your wallet. Cut back on the spending so less stuff is coming into your home and more money is staying in your accounts.
75. Eliminate debt. Before you start making any financial decisions, come up with a plan to eliminate your debt. You may only be able to pay a little bit each month, but that little bit moves you closer and closer to getting rid of the burden od debt and making your life simpler.
76. Protect your future. Take a big weight off of your shoulders by ensuring that you look out for your future when you’re doing financial planning. Start a retirement fund or just start saving and you’ll thank yourself in the long run.
77. Live within your means. Keeping up with friends that are big spenders can be a tempting and easy thing to do but if you’re living outside your means you’ll regret it in the long run. Keep things simple by saving up for indulgent purchases and not buying things you can’t afford.
78. Be frugal. Being frugal doesn’t mean you have to give up everything, but it does mean scaling down your spending and helping yourself save whenever you can.
79. Try living without a car. With gas prices at an all time high, not to mention insurance and maintenance fees, having a car can be expensive. If you can get by without a car, try it. It will save you money and it’s good for the environment too.
80. Buy things that are high quality. While cheap might seem better in the short term, the reality is that money is better spent on a high quality item that will last longer and need fewer repairs. Simplify your life by looking for quality, not just the price tag.
81. Keep track of your expenses. Don’t just assume that your credit card statement is in order or that you’re spending a normal amount each month on food and gas. Keep track so you’ll know where every dollar went and if you’re well over budget on expenses.
82. Set up automatic bill payments. Save yourself the trouble of mailing bills each month. Set up automatic payments for credit cards and utilities and have your statements sent to your inbox instead of your mailbox.
83. Consolidate your accounts. If you’ve got accounts at multiple banks you can save some time and effort by combining them into one account.
84. Use direct deposit whenever possible. Don’t make unnecessary trips to the bank every time you get your paycheck. If your work offers direct deposit take advantage of it to save yourself time and make sure you get your funds right away.
85. File efficiently. Don’t let your financial records pile up on your desk. Set up a system to put them away once a week or at the end of the month. This way you’ll never get too far behind and you’ll always be able to find what you need.
86. Use online account management tools. The Internet makes it easy to keep track of your finances. Use online tools to track investment performance, write checks, transfer funds and much more so you almost never have to go to the bank.
87. Keep materials together. When it comes tax time you can be stuck hunting around for the records you need if you don’t keep them in order. Ensure your life is simple and stressed is minimized by keeping all your financial records in one safe, secure and organized place.
Health Make taking care of yourself a simple and rewarding task by using some of these suggestions.
88. Slow down and enjoy your meals. Eating can be a major pleasure in life and a simple one that you can enjoy if you take the time. Slow down and savor each of your meals. You’re likely to eat less and you’ll get a chance to relax.
89. Make workouts fun. Want to make working out simpler? Make it fun for yourself. Find a partner, make a great workout mix, or workout during your favorite TV show so you can watch and work.
90. Eat healthier. What could be simpler than eating basic fruits and veggies? Make these a major part of your diet for a scaled down and simple way to stay healthy.
91. Sleep. Most people aren’t getting nearly enough sleep. Scale down on all the distractions that steal away from the time you should be sleeping and put that time towards getting some extra z’s.
92. Do double duty on fitness. Not all workouts have to happen in the gym. Working around the house and doing yard work can also be a workout. Instead of going to the gym, tackle your project of cleaning out the garage and you’ll get two things done at once.
93. Meditate. Nothing could be simpler or more scaled down than meditation. If you’re feeling things are too hectic or overwhelming take some time to meditate and regain your zen.
94. Get rid of the workout equipment. Do you really use that treadmill that’s taking up a whole room in your house? Get rid of the workout equipment you don’t need and use your own body as a workout tool through running, playing sports and simple exercises.
95. Cook simple meals. Don’t make cooking at home a huge deal. You can make simple, healthy meals without investing too much time and effort.
96. Get outside. Getting outside can make you feel good both physically and mentally, so make time to get some rays of sun for at least a few minutes each day.
97. Cut back on drinking. Scale down the partying by drinking less. You’ll feel better and likely have a lot more money in your wallet after the weekend.
98. Pay attention to your mental health. It’s easy to ignore mental health but it can have a big impact on pretty much everything in your life. Don’t just take care of your body, but your mind as well.
99. Stop worrying. Worrying about things isn’t going to make them go away or even solve them, so give your brain a break from the worry and take things as they come.
100. Stay in motion. You can burn loads of extra calories by staying in motion as much as you can during the day. Don’t just slump on the couch when you get home, take a walk, clean your house or play with your dog.