Healthy Habits, Self-care, Self-Management

21 Ways to Simplify Your Life and Ditch the Overwhelm

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I’m here to tell you something: it is time you simplified your life, and it’s not at all what you think.

Be honest: aren’t you tired of constantly feeling overwhelmed?

But maybe you feel like it’s not your fault; that you are overwhelmed because “sooo many things are happening to you; that anyone else in your shoes would feel this way too!”

Well, you are wrong.

It is likely that you feel overwhelmed because you allow too many useless, negative, time/energy suckers in your home, mind, and heart.

And if you want to ditch the overwhelm and start the year on the right foot, then you need to simplify your life.

So, here’s a list of 21 essential, minimalist-inspired habits you must adopt to bring more simplicity into your life and stop feeling overwhelmed.  

personal transformation workbook

These habits will help you create a (way) less complicated and (way) more serene life.

And since we are on the topic: minimalism is not about having less furniture and an all-white kitchen. It’s so much more than that. And only once you accept it as a way of life rather than a trend can you fully reap the benefits of this new lifestyle.

Related post: 7 Things I splurge on as a Minimalist

Ok, enough with the chit-chat. How do you simplify your life?

1. Change your mindset

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

Theodore Roosevelt

Tell me if this sounds like you:

You feel stressed, so you sign up for three new relaxation apps, buy two new books on meditation and “mindset”, and save 22 YouTube videos on cold baths and yoga for later.

So, does this sound like you? Are you less stressed?

Because I’m stressed just reading that.

how can i simplify my life

Rather than thinking that you need something new/outside of you to fix your problems, how about adopting a different mindset? How about asking yourself this question instead:

How can I deal with this right here, right now, with what I already have?

I’m not saying you have to make your life difficult or live like a pauper. If your dishwasher breaks and you need a new one, get a new dishwasher.

What I am saying is that you need to learn to be more aware of, and control, your impulses for more, more, more.

Let go of the idea that external things, aka shiny new objects, will solve your problems.

Most of the time, they won’t.

They will, however, make your life worse, increase your feelings of overwhelm and add to the load of things you don’t have time to do, which will accentuate your feelings of inadequacy.

Related post: How I Got Rid of My Severe Anxiety and Depression by Facing and Solving My Problems

2. Declutter every aspect of your life

Let’s make one thing clear: decluttering is a process; it takes time and it needs the respect it deserves.

So, don’t put too much pressure on yourself to get it done in three days.

You won’t.

Decluttering every aspect of your life will take days, weeks, months, or even years.

I’m not saying this to demotivate you.

I’m saying this so that you stop looking at the end goal. There is no end goal. Like I said, it’s a PROCESS: a new way of life.

Now that we’re clear on this, it’s time to Marie Kondo your entire LIFE!

(For those who don’t know, Marie Kondo is a Japanese organizing consultant and author known for her KonMari method of tidying up).

clarity journal

Three questions to ask yourself in the process of decluttering:

  • Do I need this?
  • Do I use this?
  • Does this bring me joy?

Put every single element/person/thing/activity/memory/emotion in your life through this test, one by one.

It sounds big, but once you start, it’s easier than you think. I promise.

If your answer is no to all three questions, then thank that thing/person/activity, and then release it back into the universe.

Don’t cling to people, stuff, papers, documents, or memories. Stop carrying everything with you without discernment. It takes a toll on you. You must realize this!

You may think you are a victim of your circumstances, but YOU accept these things in your life, in your home, in your thoughts, and in your heart.

So, it’s up to YOU to identify what needs to be kept and what needs to be released, and to do just that.

Related Posts:

Why You Are so Needy and How to Stop

Should I Remove This Person From My Life? The Complete Guide to Help You Figure It Out

3. Stop being mean to yourself

Are you a hater?

Oh, you didn’t know? Being a hater adds complexity and overwhelm to your life, thoughts, and emotions.

Hate, (and negativity), is this unnecessary crap that you carry in your thoughts and your heart, and it’s time you got rid of it.

But you’re probably thinking: “I’m a good person! I’m not a hater!”. Well, maybe. But how can you tell if you are a hater or not?

Here’s how: are you insecure and mean to yourself? Do you judge and say mean things about others? Do you often say things about others you would not say to their face?

If you answered yes to the previous questions, then you are probably a hater.

Time to stop!

Being a hater not only affects your mental well-being but also adds unnecessary stress and complexity to your life, making it harder to embrace minimalism and simplicity.

4. Become obsessed with clarity

Do you know why you are overwhelmed and your life feels sooo complicated?

Because you don’t know what you want, you do a bunch of things that deplete you of your energy and don’t get you closer to your true desires, and you waste your time and energy on useless things, people, feelings, activities, etc.

clarity workbook

Want to make your life more simple? Then get clear on what you want and don’t want, what you feel, your goals, your values, and your purpose.

Become obsessed with clarity, self-awareness and figuring yourself out.

clarity workbook

Clarity helps you make better decisions, prioritize effectively, and stay focused on what truly matters.

Once you are clear about your intentions and desires, it will become easier to eliminate unnecessary tasks and distractions that do not align with your core values and objectives.

5. Learn to say no

Learning to say no is an essential skill for achieving peace. Without it, it is really hard to set healthy boundaries and protect your time and energy.

simplify-your-life-boundaries

Rather than letting yourself be a “victim” of external demands, learning to say no allows you to prioritize your own needs and commitments. By saying no to unnecessary obligations and distractions, you can focus on what truly matters to you and maintain a simpler, more balanced life.

Only once you learn to set boundaries, can you prevent burnout and ensure that your life remains manageable and fulfilling.

Related post: The Surprising Way We Actually Learn to Set Boundaries

6. Stop buying stuff

By stuff, I mean crap.

And by crap, I mean probably 90% of what most of us spend our money on.

I am NOT trying to make you live a frugal life. I’m trying to make you more aware of the things you ALLOW into your life.

Every time you buy something, you are giving that thing space in your thoughts and emotions.

Yes, that fourth “business course” you bought counts as well. No, it’s not an investment. It’s mental masturbation that feeds the illusion that you are doing something.

You’re not.

mental masturbation definition
Source: FatRank

Do you know what will move the needle in your business? Taking difficult action.

Or perhaps it’s not a course, but a new book/scarf/pair of shoes you definitely need to buy?

Well, guess what? It’s not just a pair of shoes.

Related post: 13 Things I No Longer Buy as a Minimalist

How buying stuff affects your emotional well-being

These shoes (or whatever it is you are thinking of buying) will have an impact on your thoughts and feelings for the next months or, most likely, years.

You will have feelings and thoughts about them (conscious or not) every time you look at them:

  • Maybe you’ll regret that purchase?
  • Maybe they are cute but don’t really match the pants or skirts you currently own.
  • OR perhaps they look fabulous but hurt your feet like crazy.

They will definitely take up storage space; you will have to carry them around when you move apartments; and you’ll need to clean them, mend them, etc.

No, it’s not just a pair of shoes: it’s an emotional commitment and a distraction.

Every single thing you buy takes a piece of you.

Do you realize this? I mean truly?

If you can’t tell the difference, take a few months to declutter your life and, during that time, do not allow anything in. Just stay like this for a few months, and see.

personal transformation workbook

7. Don’t buy anything unless you can answer “yes” to at least two of the following questions

If you are struggling to figure out what you should or shouldn’t buy, try asking yourself these questions:

  • Do I need it?
  • Do I absolutely love it?
  • Will I use it in my day-to-day life as it currently is? (NOT my fantasy life where I wear 6-inch heels to work. Seriously, who does??).
  • Will I have a place for it in my home (see Habit #14)

Related post: 13 Things I No Longer Buy as a Minimalist

8. Say no to junk/overly processed foods

If your fridge and cupboards are filled with ice cream, cookies, pop-tarts, chips, Oreos, or Cheez Whiz, and you have to either constantly resist temptation or eat the junk, then you need to simplify your kitchen.

Overly processed food takes a toll on your energy levels, mood, weight, sleep, and emotional well-being.

simplify your life - junk food
THIS is a cone of nightmares and anxiety.

You may think it doesn’t, but it does. You only realize how badly it impacts you once you stop consuming it long enough (think, months), and then do it again.

A good rule of thumb is: if you can’t tell what foods were used to make something just by looking at it, then it’s a good indicator that maybe you shouldn’t eat it.

Related post: I tried the Wahls Diet and This Happened

9. Eliminate distractions

If you haven’t noticed, the goal of this entire list is to help you identify and eliminate distractions.

Do you have any idea how much time in your day you spend distracting yourself? Filling your mind, thoughts, and precious hours with useless junk?

Identify and remove the distractions that prevent you from focusing on what’s important.

This could include turning off unnecessary notifications, setting boundaries for social media use, or creating a dedicated workspace free from interruptions. This also includes mindless shopping, binge-watching series, negative thoughts, compulsive thoughts, addictions, etc.

how to simplify your life

By eliminating distractions, you create a more productive environment that allows you to concentrate on your priorities and achieve your goals more efficiently.

10. Build a capsule wardrobe

Did you know that you can create up to (if not more than) 30 outfits with just 10 pieces from your closet?

Not only will you no longer have to look at a gazillion clothes piling everywhere, on the floor, on top of your closets, in laundry bins (which, again, causes low-key anxiety without you even noticing), but also, by forcing yourself to be more creative with what you have, you will become more creative, and develop a sense of style.

And so, I strongly suggest trying a capsule wardrobe.

A capsule wardrobe, not only simplified my mornings, it reduced decision fatigue and anxiety. It also forced me to wear pieces I really loved, that suited me perfectly, that were the right color, and of good quality.

Honestly, this is crazy. Once I adopted a much simpler closet, I started getting so many comments from random people saying they “love my style”.

No need to get rid of your clothes; just store them in boxes and closets for a few months and see how you manage.

11. Remove temptations

Do you want to spend less? Then leave your credit card at home and just don’t go downtown to look at stores. If you’re bored, go to the library or a park.

Want to be healthier/stronger/have more energy? Remove all that junk food from your cupboards.

Want a wonderful friendship? Then stop giving your precious time to that super negative friend you’ve been dragging around for the past decade.

My point is: quit making things harder on yourself by allowing distractions and temptation into your life.

You are overwhelmed because you tolerate too many things. Things that pull on your weaknesses. What you tolerate persists. It steals your attention away from what matters: your inner life, your health, your meaningful relationships…

Remove temptations from your life, and your life WILL become simpler.

clarity workbook

12. Turn off notifications

I am at peace, most of the time.

That’s partly because I spend 50% of my days on airplane mode. On top of that, I only allow notifications for calls and text/WhatsApp messages.

Everything else is turned off.

That includes WhatsApp group chats, emails, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Bumble, Tinder, etc.

Actually, I don’t even have social media on my phone. (Only LinkedIn now because I go to more networking events for business purposes and it’s easier to exchange LinkedIn contact info. But I’m logged out most of the time, and I sign in only when I head to an event).

I don’t hear a “ping” every time I get a new email; I don’t give my phone number to strangers or clients. My attention, and by extension, my phone is sacred territory.

I find that notifications feed my addictive tendencies. And studies have shown that too much time on your phone has a significant impact on our brains, including our ability to regulate our emotions.

Now, you probably tolerate all these notifications and distractions because they make you feel valued, needed, and wanted.

The truth is, you are important simply because you exist.

You don’t need the constant validation brought by the fact that random people you don’t even care much about replied “lol” to a random text you sent three days ago.

Don’t worry, those messages will still be there when you consciously log in from your computer in two days because you have CHOSEN to reply to your messages at that moment.

Don’t let your ego, monkey mind, or unloved inner child rule you. They are tyrants who will keep you miserable and overwhelmed.

13. Keep your phone’s home screen clean and your computer desktop clutter free

Simplifying your life also means simplifying your computer desktop, and your phone.

Does your desktop look like this?

cluttered desktop
Source: ZME Science

How about your home screen on your phone?

These are big no-no’s for me.

My desktop and home screen are reflections of my mental state. Cluttered desktop? Cluttered mind, most likely.

notification overload
Source: X

Take the time to delete the 2,349 messages flashing next to your email icon. Either you make time in your day to do it, hire someone to do it, or ignore the unread messages altogether but remove the notifications so that you never have to see that red bubble again.

It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

Don’t just leave it there to cause you anxiety every single time you open your phone, which is on average 80 times per day.

14. A place for everything and everything in its place

If your home is constantly untidy, then it is very likely that everything doesn’t have its own place in your house. And it should.

The link between untidiness and overwhelm is significant.

When everything has a designated spot, it reduces the mental load of keeping track of items and makes tidying up more straightforward. This simple habit can significantly lower your stress and create a more serene environment.  

15. Do your dishes

I don’t know about you, but the sight of dirty dishes piling up in my sink adds to my feelings of overwhelm.

overwhelm - dirty dishes
Credit: Canva

And it has been proven that clutter increases stress and anxiety.

Keeping your kitchen clean by doing your dishes immediately after meals can have a significant impact on your mental clarity and stress levels.

Trust me, there is probably not a single person on this planet who hates doing the dishes as much as I do (I’m not dramatic! You’re dramatic!).

But if I can become the type of person who does her dishes regularly (that is, as soon as it hits the sink), then you can too.

Make it a habit to do your dishes daily, and notice how much more pleasant your entire life becomes.

Or get a dishwasher.

Either way.

16. Practice gratitude

Once you have created a simpler life, do you know how you maintain it?

With gratitude.

Instead of constantly wanting and chasing more, gratitude helps shift your focus to the positive aspects of your life, making you a much more content person.

abundance mindset

Take the time to look at the sky, smell the flowers, acknowledge and appreciate regularly what you have (I suggest as many times per day as possible). When you do so, it becomes easier to resist temptations and avoid buying more cra.. Sorry, I mean, more unnecessary items.

Try to find joy and satisfaction in what you already have, make it a goal to cultivate abundance and peace, and learn to let go of the excess.

Your life will be a lot more simpler and fulfilling.

17. Adopt digital minimalism

How many times a day do you check your phone? Please, don’t give me the “I need it for work” excuse. 90% of the time, you don’t. It’s just that: an excuse.

To keep your life simple, limit your time on social media, unsubscribe from unnecessary email lists, and keep your digital files organized. Set specific times for checking emails and social media, and stick to them.

This practice will help you reclaim your time and attention, reduce mental clutter and distractions, and allow you to focus on what truly matters.

18. Value your attention

Your attention and your time are your most valuable assets on this earth.

If you are constantly feeling overwhelmed and stressed, then you probably have not been treating these two assets with the respect they deserve.

Every time you give your attention to something or someone, understand that it has a cost or consequence. It’s up to you to determine whether that cost or consequence is positive or negative, something that feeds your soul, or drains your energy.

If you want to feel less overwhelmed, then you need to simplify your life. And in order for you to simplify your life, you must learn to value your attention and be extremely careful about where and to whom you give it.

Only then can you prioritize what truly matters and maintain a more balanced, peaceful life.

19. Adopt a morning routine

Yes! Routines make your life simpler, not more complicated, regardless of what you think.

That is, of course, if you keep your routine simple and focused on activities that matter.

A consistent morning routine helps in reducing decision fatigue and provides a sense of control and stability. It prepares you to face the day’s challenges with a clear and focused mind. Find a routine that works for you and stick to it consistently.

Don’t forget to add habits that promote well-being, such as meditation, exercise, or journaling. No, I’m not saying this just say it; yes, it does make a difference. I swear!

Related post: The Best Morning Routine for the Highly Sensitive Person

20. Prioritize self-care

Ok, so we’ve talked A LOT about all the habits that you should get rid of in order to simplify your life and stop feeling overwhelmed.

But when it comes to things you have to add to your life, stick to A. better habits and B. self-care.

Prioritizing self-care ensures that you are well-rested and capable of handling daily stresses. If you want a balanced and simplified lifestyle, you need to practise self-care.

Regularly take time for activities that rejuvenate your mind, body, and spirit. This could be anything from reading a book, taking a walk in nature, or practicing mindfulness.

simplify your life

Related post: 9 Self-Care Habits for the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)

21. Stop blaming others

Taking responsibility for your actions and circumstances is necessary when it comes to simplifying your life and reducing overwhelm.

When you focus on things you can’t control (aka, others), you create more complexity, problems, and anxiety for yourself. Not to mention that it is completely useless.

But once you stop blaming others, you no longer focus on the problems; you focus on solutions and what you can do. You remove the crap and focus on what matters: you.

You simplify and create space for positive change and a more harmonious, balanced life.

Related post: Are You a Victim or Martyr, or Why Your Life Will Never Change

personal transformation workbook

The bottom line is this: rather than always trying to find things on the outside to fix your life and reduce your sense of overwhelm, try focusing on removing things first.

The key word here is eliminate.

Eliminate distractions, energy wasters, time suckers, stuff, toxic people… Get rid of it all, or as much as possible.

And then, add better habits: healthy food, sleep, exercise, journaling, self-exploration, and improvement.

Sounds simple enough; it’s just that no one wants to do it. We’d rather read about it than do it.

But it really is how you simplify your life.

Read Next: 9 Things I Quit to Simplify My Life

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About Steph

I am a personal growth/self-management enthusiast. I was able to completely transform my life using everything I share here. I hope this blog helps you transform yours as well.
View all posts by Steph →

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