22 Ways to simplify, declutter, & organize your life

“Simplicity is the secret to seeing things clearly.”

Oswald Chambers

Simplify and Declutter Your Life

Sometimes I feel God speaks to me in themes. The current theme is simplicity.

I’ve always had a bit of a less is more mentality. I try to keep my home clutter free. I like clean lines and white space.

The more clutter in my physical world, the more my soul begins to suffocate. My mind becomes distracted. My focus dwindles.

When I walk into a store with shelves filled to capacity, I want to flee. But when I enter a store with less inventory and wide open clean shelves, I take a deep breath and settle into the surroundings.

Urge to Purge

I declutter my home constantly. When I fill up bags to donate or trash, I feel the weight on my soul release with it.

My urge to purge increases when the clutter, the stuff, and the schedule press in.

Last spring our appliances began breaking one after another. One by one we replaced them with the most basic models you could find. And it felt freeing. A washing machine with 3 knobs and a start button. Simple. Less to clean, less to break. A vacuum that has an on/off switch. That is all. Simple. No filters to replace, just a bag. No 10 hoses and attachments to figure out and store. Simple.

So I’ve felt the Lord directing me to simplify everywhere I turn. I don’t know why, but I’ve learned He can be trusted and He wants good for me. So I’m following His lead.

What exactly do I mean when I say simplify?

A little of getting rid of things.

A little of limiting choices.

A little of choosing less.

A lot of clearing space. Space in schedule, home, mind, and soul.

By doing this I’m discovering hours of wasted time and dollars are mine to claim.

Here are 22 ways I’m simplifying my life.

  1. Set up subscription service – I run out of dog food once a month, so I set up subscription through Amazon Prime. It costs me less, saves time, and limits running around. Same with my  supplements. There are several things we buy repeatedly that we can set on a free subscription service. This is one less thing for me to remember and one less reason to have to hop in the car.
  2. Limit errands – On that note, limiting my errands in general saves time. Our dry cleaner offers free pick up and delivery service. When I run out of supplies around the house, we are simply going without until the next store trip. No more running out each time we need something.
  3. Autopay bills- Many of us do this already, but I’m finding I can autopay almost everything and decrease my bill paying time.
  4. Grocery delivery – I’ve used the Wal-Mart pick up service for quite awhile now. And my local grocery store delivers free or almost free depending on the bill. But now Whole Foods and Costco deliver. The options are expanding and almost all offer free delivery now. This saves a ton of time and money.
  5. Set a monthly menu- In the past I spent a good deal of time meal planning and attempting to get creative with our meals. But I’m in a season of needing to think less on less important items. So I’ve been using a dry erase board and planning a month of simple and well loved meals. At the end of the month, we start over. No need to create a new menu. It can be tweaked as needed.
  6. Set dinner theme nights – Soup Sunday, Mexican Monday, Tuscany Tuesday, etc. Basically it gives me a framework for a soup, tacos, spaghetti, etc. The next week instead of tacos it might be enchiladas. Instead of spaghetti maybe canneloni.
  7. Limit options – I’ve been tossing stuff I’ve kept that offer me options I don’t need. I don’t need 12 coffee cups to choose from. I don’t need 3 pairs of black boots. When my home and life have too many options, I’m wasting time deciding rather than doing what needs to be done.
  8. Capsule wardrobe – I so badly want to do this. I haven’t yet, but I’m moving in that direction. After my recent closet purge I went a step further. Each time I select something to wear, I select something to donate, sell, or trash. Once a day something leaves that closet.
  9. When something comes in, something must go out – When I buy something, I try to get rid of something so we don’t accumulate more stuff. If I receive a new scarf as a gift, I select one to donate.
  10. Unfollow people– While my physical surroundings clutter my soul, so does my social media surroundings. I’m becoming very selective in who I follow.
  11. Unsubscribe to emails – A cluttered inbox is my enemy. I receive far too many junk emails. Instead of simply deleting, I’m going a step further and choosing to unsubscribe.
  12. Purge – Get rid of everything you don’t love or use. I am a major purger. I purge constantly. But I’m becoming even more so these days. If I don’t absolutely love it, if it doesn’t hold serious value to me, it’s out.
    1. I’ve been selling on Poshmark and really love how simple it is to sell there. Highly recommend. Less time consuming than others I’ve tried.
  13. Daily Purge – This is different than a massive closet purge. I’ve started purging every single day in some area. Not as a big project. If I’m cooking dinner, I open the kitchen utensil drawer and it is filled with items I never use. I take one thing out to toss. When I open my drawer of running pants, it’s filled with ones I never use. I’ll select one pair and toss. Basically every drawer, closet or space is filled with unneeded items. Instead of waiting for the time to purge it all, I’m purging in baby steps one item at a time.
  14. Get rid of storage – Last year we converted a storage closet into my writing room/office. I basically tossed everything in that storage space. We have another storage space and I recently did the same thing. We now have nothing in storage except a few boxes of Christmas ornaments and decorations. It is so freeing to be rid of stuff even out of sight.
  15. Stop shopping – If I go shopping chances are I’ll buy something. I’m not a big shopper anyway. But if I simply don’t go, I won’t know what I could’ve bought. It’s better to not even see it existed than to see it and start wanting it.
  16. Choose carefully who you follow. Choose not to follow anything or anyone who causes you to want more than you need. I hesitate to say this, but for me, I can’t follow too many lifestyle bloggers. Only because what begins to happen in my heart. I find myself “needing” things to keep up with latest trends and it’s just not good for me.
  17. Prebuy gifts and keep a gift stash – Not only does this help me save money but it also saves me time. When I see great items on sale I pick them up and keep them until they are needed.
  18. Keep stash of gift cards on hand – I’ve started keeping small gift cards on hand. I give gift cards often as thank you or appreciation gifts. Most don’t expire, so it saves me time to keep a stash on hand.
  19. Sort, trash, and put away mail immediately – If I retrieve the mail, I sort on the way inside and toss all junk and catalogues before they come in the house. Then I immediately open and file mail.
  20. Stop doing the things you don’t love despite what others do. I found myself dreading the fall decorating, then putting away, then Christmas decorating, and putting away. And all the boxes I had to store. I had beautiful decorations but it took me so much time to bring them out and so much space to keep them. Last year I finally donated all my decorations. It had become a chore not a joy, which is how I knew it was time to go.
  21. Social media fasts – I find taking periodic social media fasts declutters my soul and my mind. It’s a good reset button for me.
  22. Screen fasts – As a family we take total screen fasts for various periods of time. It might be a week or a month. But during that time we all gain time back we realized we’d lost. I’ve written on this for years and you can find screen posts by going to the side bar, scrolling through Categories to Electronics.

Decreasing the clutter and simplifying our lives leaves room in our soul for what matters most.  I don’t know about you, but my soul often begins to whisper it needs room to breathe. When I let go of the stuff around me, I begin to feel like a new person.


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Too Many Choices Suffocate a Soul

“Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.” Isaac Newton

The door chimed my entrance as the acetone fumes welcomed me inside.

“May I help you?”

“Yes, I’d like a pedicure please.”

“Pick your color.”

Red. Red is all I wanted. You know how many shades of red exist on the polish wall? Too many.

I picked one, then another, and one more. I tried all three on my nails. If I’d only seen the first, it would have been good enough. But now I knew that something better might be out there. Thus began my search for the best red.

My quest for the best begins to cripple my soul.

I told myself to walk away from the wall. Pick a shade. Be done, girl. I picked Cajun shrimp, which wasn’t actually red.

“Ma’am, which pedicure would you like?”

“I’m sorry, what do you mean?”

“Well, we have the hot stone pedicure, the lavender scrub pedicure, the orange peel pedicure, the ……… pedicure.” She listed about 7 different types of pedicures, and I wanted to laugh. Instead, I answered as kindly as I knew how, “I just want whichever one is like a normal pedicure.”

She proceeded to explain all the differences between each one and my brain began to spin. Now that I knew something potentially better existed I was terrified of making the wrong choice. Can one have buyer’s remorse over a pedicure? If so, it will be me.

“Ok, which is the least expensive? I’ll take that one.”

She led me to the chair and placed a remote control in my hand. More choices. What type of massage would I like? Full body or shoulders only? Hard or soft? What channel would I like to watch on the tv? Or, if I prefer, there is a stack of magazines to choose from at my side.

By the time my pedicure began, I felt mentally exhausted from decision fatigue over choices that made no difference in the quality of my day, life, or eternity.

It didn’t stop there. I stopped by Lowe’s to buy light bulbs. An entire aisle of choices. I just wanted standard bulbs. Plain and simple 40 watt bulbs. I couldn’t find them. Then I found them. But they aren’t the same anymore. There are LED, soft light, natural light, bright light, dimmable, classic styles, funky styles. Oh. My. Word. I just wanted light bulbs.

I realized I am at a decision-making breaking point when I began converting a storage room into a writing room for myself. Do you know how long I spent deciding what color to paint the concrete floor? I’m embarrassed to tell you, so I won’t. I chose white. Then the wall color. White again. Then the back and forth or what if I don’t like it.

I stopped in my favorite store in Omaha. It’s a pop up shop called Rush Market. This store speaks my language because the deals are out of this world. I walked in and the white desk sitting in the hold section beckoned me. I asked the clerk if it was sold and was informed the lady holding it had just passed. I put my name on the tag and continued shopping.

As I meandered through the store, I found another desk. Oh no. Is this one better? Do I stick with the first one? I sent a picture to Steve and my sister. They chose opposite each other. That only made the decision more difficult. I asked the clerk to switch out the desk. I changed my mind.

I continued shopping but the entire time I mentally turned over the two desk choices. Then my sister texted me to go with the same one Steve suggested. Oh no, I’d already had the clerks move the desks around the store once. I can’t believe I did this, but I got those ladies again and apologized that I’m beyond indecisive and humiliated at my own shenanigans but could they one last time switch the desks.

Then I quickly paid and left. At this point I realized something must change. This internal choice debate has gotten out of control. I can make important decisions quickly and easily. But these smaller ones consume me.

Everywhere I turn I’m faced with decisions I really don’t care to make.

I like simple. Simple. Simple. Simple.

I think all day long. I think more than I need to. I don’t want to think about things that don’t matter because I think too much about the things that do matter. And my brain needs a break.

During the course of the day, I can only imagine how many choices I’m making without realizing I’m choosing. I have to think all this mindless choosing is fatiguing my mental capabilities.

Am I choosing well when it really matters? Or am I so worn out on the insignificant choices that by the time the choices that really matter need to take place, I’m out. I don’t care. I’m decisioned to death.

When my kids come to me and need my help making a decision that is important to them, am I quick to brush it aside because I’m mentally spent? When I’m deciding on the best use of our time that evening, do I give little thought because I’m over capacity. I’m mentally tired because all day long I’m choosing and making decisions that are bit by bit wearing me down.

By the end of the day, I’m with the ones I love the most, and I’m so tired I don’t want to make one more decision.

So I think I have another decision to make. Can I find a way to simplify the daily choices that are in my control?

I stood on a stool in my closet reaching for a shirt. Andrew came up behind me. “Mom, what are you doing?”

“I’m about to try a different shirt on.”

“Not surprised.”

After he left my room, his words lingered. Not surprised.

Of course mom is trying on a different shirt despite the fact that she has one on which is perfectly fine. She is afraid she might not have made the best choice in shirts. She needs to be sure she chose the perfect one. What if the temperature changes from the forecast? What if she needs to save the one she is wearing for a different day this week?

I remember a blogger I followed about 7-8 years ago. Her blog was titled One Dress Protest. For one whole year, she wore the same thing every day. Summer, spring, winter, fall. She chose a black dress that she could put leggings under in the winter. She could add a scarf or a necklace to change up the look.

It was part statement and part protest on her behalf. I don’t really know what her goals were, but her idea appealed to me. I was just never brave enough to wear the same thing every single day for a year.

So you know what I did last week? I tested it out. I chose my very favorite shirt. Black, cozy, can be dressed up or down, can even be worn with athletic pants. One shirt, one pair of jeans, one pair of athletic pants. That was it for 3 days.

I don’t think anyone noticed. I mean I live with all males, so they wouldn’t notice. Besides saving myself 30 minutes in the closet, mentally my morning felt clearer, crisper. I felt empowered rather than wearied at the start of the day. I was ready for the decisions that mattered because I simplified the ones that didn’t.

What is one thing that you find daily stresses you out to decide on? Clothes, dinner, activities? Is it social media? Choosing what to read, what to land on, which platform to spend your time scrolling on? Is it possible to choose the way of simple if even for a time?

Maybe you give yourself a break from that one thing for one week. For me it was choosing one outfit for a few days. For you it might be drastically different. I imagine in each of our lives, there are areas we could simplify by eliminating our choices.

“Simplicity is the final achievement. After one has played a vast quantity of notes and more notes, it is simplicity that emerges as the crowning reward of art.” ~ Frederic Chopin

Maybe we’ve bought into the notion that more is better. Maybe there is something to the theory of “less is more”.

Maybe we become more of who we really are when we courageously walk in simple steps along simple paths.

Because you know what? I’m not really the grumpy grumbler who emerges from the closet amongst heaps of discarded choices. If the constant choosing is creating in me someone I am not, maybe that is a hint from my soul that one small step toward simplification could be all that is required.

Maybe when we choose the simple path, removing stuff and clutter and choices, we are finally able to see the beauty that has been buried alive.

Maybe parts of our soul have been buried with the weight of too many choices and decisions that don’t bear their own weight in importance.

Maybe parts of our soul have been buried by the debt to create the Pinterest perfect home.

Maybe parts of our soul have died under the suffocation of the pursuit of the best choice for fear of failing in some area of our life.

Maybe a step to the reviving of our soul is to stop allowing choices, and decisions, and stuff to clutter our lives.

Maybe it can’t be forever, but maybe our soul would find relief from a simple reprieve from the daily grind of too many insignificant choices.

Maybe this is the break we need to clear the clutter in our minds in order to see the simple beauty of life. To allow ourselves to awaken to who He created us to be. Maybe our greatest expressions are found when we walk and live in simplicity.

And really, what do we have to lose if it’s a failed experiment? If you are brave enough to choose one area to eliminate choice and decision so you can simplify your life and choose well in the areas that matter, I’d love for you to share the results with me.