Inside: Managing adult responsibilities is hard, y’all. Add a couple of kids and work on top of it, and it gets even trickier. Through a lot of trial and error, I’ve discovered several little ways to make life easier and keep all the plates spinning (well, almost always).
This week, I broke one of my core life rules: decide once.
The temptation to deviate from the rule came in the form of comfy black pants (I’m a sucker for comfy pants these days). They were from a clothing brand we can regularly get for free.
I already had a couple pairs of comfy, everyday pants I adored. But hey, it’s free: why not give them a try, right?
Wrong. Oh, so wrong.
I ordered a couple different sizes. I tried them on for a while, trying to convince myself I liked them.
But deep down, I knew I didn’t love them nearly as much as the pants I already had.
And now I need to return them. The return process is fairly painless, but it’s still one more thing to do, a few more minutes out of my day.
Time to print labels and package the returns. Time to put them in the car for library day (when we pass a UPS drop box)
An annoying addition to the plate of a homeschooling, work-at-home mom.
It was a powerful reminder NOT to deviate from the things I know from experience make my life easier. Just.don’t.do it.
Try These 21 Guaranteed Ways to Make Life Easier
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At a baby shower yesterday, one mom was in awe that I homeschool five kids and work from home, too.
I’m really not that all that amazing: I’ve just figured out how to hack life for all the things – cleaning, money, organization and more.
These 21 things? These are a huge part of why I can do what I do.
Anytime I deviate from these principles? That’s when I get into trouble.
Like forgetting to pay the bill or buying the random thing I don’t actually want or need or missing the doctor’s appointment by an entire day (true story).
Now onto the list of ideas to make life easier!
(Side Note: If you must know, the pants I already have and love are THESE joggers.)
1. Create routines for all the things.
Almost every single responsibility I have is on a routine in one form or another.
From the days I take the trash to when I clean the bathrooms. The last weekend of every month, I pay every bill that I don’t have automated.
Wednesday is library day, so all the books go back on that day. Friday is grocery day.
You get the idea. Routines create habits, and when something is a habit, it makes it really difficult to forget to do it.
2. Get enough sleep.
Everyone needs different amounts of sleep, but if there’s one thing I know, everything feels harder when you don’t get the hours of shut-eye you need.
Trouble sleeping? Try turning screens off an hour before bed. Get a fan or a noise maker. Get a better pillow or adjust your blankets seasonally.
If it’s one of those seasons when your sleep is interrupted, prioritize the 20 minute nap while baby is sleeping (and use the rest for getting everything else done).
Sleep is crucial!
3. Know and respect your personality type.
While some might scoff at personality tests, I love them. Understanding myself better has helped me in so many ways!
Knowing that I am an introvert explained why I couldn’t keep up with a jam-packed calendar, while my extroverted friends/colleagues lived for event after event after event.
My husband and I knowing that we are on opposite ends on almost every Myers Briggs scale has helped us understand and make room for each other’s differences (although we’re pretty darn close on the Enneagram).
Knowing your personality – and your partner’s and children’s – can help you design a life better suited to your unique temperament and wiring.
From finding the right job to what you allow on your calendar, knowing your personality is possibly the most important thing you can do to make your life easier.
4. Learn to love a good walk.
Walking can’t fix everything. But it IS a form of exercise with the least risk of injury.
It IS something that can get you some outside time and help you reset on a bad day.
And you can usually make it happen without a ton of fancy equipment or gym memberships or even super expensive shoes.
5. Make your happiness list.
What makes you truly happy? Is it traveling or staying home? A good book or in-person concerts? Eating out or a few quality staples you can make at home?
When you know what makes you happy, you know what to skip without hesitation and what to prioritize on your calendar and in your budget.
Make a list and keep it close.
So when you’re wondering what to do with that week off or how to spend your tax refund, refer to your list, and you’ll avoid wasting time and money on things that don’t really satisfy.
6. Learn everything you can about money and investing.
Understanding simple financial principles can change your life.
Not having investments or savings can mean being stuck in that job even though your boss is toxic, or not being able to care for a sick loved one because you don’t have a choice but to keep working to pay today’s bills, let alone tomorrow’s.
It might not make your life easier right away. But five or ten years from now, having no debt and savings/investment accounts could make all the difference.
7. Cook the same meals every week until you get sick of them.
We’ve done this during especially stressful seasons of life, and it seriously simplified one of life’s biggest annoyances: feeding people.
Not only do you know what’s for dinner every night, but grocery shopping is easier, too. You know exactly what ingredients you need week after week.
If you can swing it, do it. Swap out meals as you get sick of them.
8. Make “no” your default response.
Maybe this is only a problem for people pleasers like me. But it can be a problem for moms – and women in general.
My ingrained response to any request used to be “yes”. Can I volunteer for this church event? Yes. Can I bring food for this family thing? Yes.
It created so many headaches over the years! I would end up burned out from too many commitments or wracked with guilt from needing to back out.
Save yourself a lot of problems, and make your default response “no”. The few “hell yes’s” in your life will become so much clearer.
9. Shop online for the basics.
I order my groceries online. I get basics like hand soap and dish soap from Grove Collaborative. I have 5-7 items on monthly subscription deliveries.
I order clothing I know will fit, like ordering the same shoes a child already loves, but a size up.
I usually try to skip things that might need to be returned (but sometimes I screw that up, as you know from the story at the beginning!).
10. Adopt a minimalist lifestyle.
The less stuff you have, the less stuff you need to clean and maintain.
Think about it: if your surfaces aren’t piled with stuff, you can easily wipe them down when you need to.
If you own one car, instead of two, you’ll spend less time cleaning and maintaining vehicles.
And this doesn’t account for how much time Americans particularly spend organizing and reorganizing their stuff. Own less stuff, and you’ll spend less time figuring out where to put it all (and remembering where it is).
You’ll save money, sure. You can drop $400 at the Container Store in a blink.
But more importantly, you’ll free up valuable time and decision-making energy for things that matter more than how to play linen closet tetris and fit all those extra towels and sheet sets.
11. Try a daily uniform – or at least a capsule wardrobe.
Again, less stuff equals less maintenance and fewer decisions.
Women typically spend 17 minutes a day deciding what to wear. More if it’s a special occasion.
On regular weekday mornings, most women try on at least two outfits before deciding what to wear to work.Glamour
That’s crazy! Especially given that unless you work in the fashion industry, most people wouldn’t notice if you wore the same outfit to work every day.
Minimize your wardrobe. Make your life easier.
12. Automate as many utility bills as possible.
Every bill you can have automatically charged to a credit card every month is a win. The bill gets paid on time, and sometimes, you’ll even get a discount (or credit card rewards!).
I pay the credit card bills once a month.
The things I don’t recommend automating? Credit card bills and the mortgage/rent. Or any sizeable bill that will possibly cause your bank account to overdraft.
13. Create savings “buckets” in separate accounts.
While we’re still on the subject of money and bills, did you know that banks like Capital One or Ally will allow you to create several separate savings accounts for free?
We use these accounts as savings “buckets” for things like an emergency fund, new cars, vacations, Christmas, annual HOA and propane bills.
Transferring money out of our primary account at the same time every month and into these other accounts keeps the money separate and shows us how much we have left for monthly expenses like groceries and clothes.
It’s also super easy to move money back into your main checking account in case of an emergency.
14. Utilize your phone’s timers and calendar reminders.
For all the grief we give having a tiny computer in our pocket all day, we could at least be using it to its full potential.
I use my calendar for task reminders all.the.time. The alerts you can set for each task are invaluable!
You can choose to be alerted once or twice. An hour before, ten minutes before – whatever you like.
Use notifications to your advantage: silence the ones that don’t matter (I’m lookin’ at you, social media and my inbox), and make the ones that can make your life easier count.
15. Consider limiting social media and/or news.
Social media and the news can be a gift. It can also be a curse.
These days, the second I get on Tiktok and I hear what’s going on in the US (because my feed is filled with news), I instantly feel anxious and depressed.
But for you, certain forms of social media might be your happy place.
Figure out which ones make your life better, and which ones make it harder. Limit the latter.
16. Decide once.
This tip is courtesy of Kendra Adacchi, author of the popular blog The Lazy Genius Collective.
The “decide once” rule can be applied to just about everything.
- Choose an order to clean your kitchen every night.
- Buy the same iTunes gift card for your kids’ friends’ birthday parties.
- Find a pair of pants you love, and only buy those pants.
Again, making decisions takes energy. Don’t make your brain work harder than it has to.
17. Make cleaning the kitchen before bed a habit.
Maybe it’s just me, but waking up to yesterday’s dishes is a serious downer.
It also sets me up for choices like not making the dinner I planned on making because the pots and pans are dirty from the night before.
Do your tomorrow self a favor and get into the habit of cleaning the kitchen the night before.
You Might Also Like: Minimalist Kitchen Essentials – Just the Basics, According to a Minimalist
18. Adopt a “wait 72 hours” rule for non-essential purchases.
This rule will save you so much time, energy and money.
Go ahead and click “add to cart”. Sometimes that’s enough to get the urge to buy something out of your system.
But make sure to leave it in the cart for at least three days.
If it’s not the best purchase for you, you’ll know by then, saving you the hassle of 1) returning the mistake or worse 2) an underused item taking up space in your home for months on end.
19. Question all the “shoulds”.
If society is telling you you should do something, it’s always a good idea to question that mandate.
Does your child really need to go to school? Nope. You can homeschool – or even unschool. (Also: homeschooling can make your life easier in a whole lotta ways.)
Do you really need to fold your clothes to live a happy life? Definitely no. I have so many better things to do than fold clothes these days.
Do you need to own the latest and greatest everything? Nope. Save your money, and your time spent earning the money to buy all the new and shiny things.
From making your bed to working until you’re 65, the more “shoulds” you question, the easier your life could be.
20. Adopt a simple planning system.
I’ve spent money on so, so, SO many planners, only to have them go unused a month later.
Now I rely heavily on simple lists in a bullet journal style notebook (minus the stickers and doodles), our 1Thrive command center, and my Google calendar app.
So many times, simple is best.
21. Simplify the holidays.
I’m writing this right before Easter. And since WHEN did Easter become mini-Christmas?!
Every holiday is so loaded these days with unrealistic expectations, especially for parents.
To make meals your kids could honestly care less about. To take them to all the special holiday activities and stick with all the intense traditions.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: you don’t need to do all that.
For Easter this year, my kids are getting candy. That’s it. Not even any minimalist Easter basket stuffers – it just didn’t happen.
Maybe their grandmother will bring a couple little gifts, but this year, we’re calling it enough.
Make Life Easier for Yourself: Save Your Time and Energy for What Matters Most.
Really, at the end of the day, this list is to give you more free time for the things you love.
Hopefully, time to exercise and get the sleep you need.
Time to spend with your kids. Time to start a passion project. Time to sit and read a good book.
Ultimately, how you choose to spend the time you get back is up to you.
But I’m pretty sure in this modern world we can all use a little more breathing room, a little more brain space and a little more free time.