When you simplify your life, you are not just making things simpler you’re also making them more efficient, productive, and rewarding. Making things easier is not necessarily the goal either. The objective is to streamline the tasks of daily living so that you have more time and energy to pursue the things of importance to you. The result is less stress and greater fulfillment.
Update – It has been years since I wrote this article. Therefore, by now you may have already done or are already doing some or many of the things I suggest in this article. See if there are anything you missed. 🙂
Use technology to simplify your life
1. Sign up for online banking
By doing this you can handle all of your banking business from your computer. After you sign up, you can log in to your account and check your balances, transfer money, verify payments, open a new account, order checks, and more.
Once you’ve done this at two or more financial institutions, you can transfer money electronically back and forth between them. This becomes valuable when you want to take advantage of a particular product or service at one bank and a higher interest rate at another.
By sign up for online banking, you will have the ability to simplify your life in several additional ways.
2. Sign up for an online bill paying service
Most banks offer this service free. If your bank doesn’t provide this service free, just open an account at another bank that does and transfer funds electronically as needed to pay your bills.
There are many advantages to using an online bill paying service. It reduces the amount of time it takes to pay your bills from one hour to five minutes. You won’t have to pay for postage anymore. And it’s a lot safer. If you consider the number of human transactions that occur with a mailed check as compared to a computerized electronic transaction, it’s easy to see which is safer.
Taking advantage of this service is one of the best ways to simplify your life and it doesn’t cost any money.
3. Sign up for paperless statements and correspondence
To simplify your life further, sign up for paperless statements and correspondence with every bank, utility company, business, and organization that you deal with.
By doing this you will save a lot of time and frustration. You will no longer have to check your mailbox every day, open envelopes, process the contents, and file it.
After you sign up for paperless correspondence, you’ll receive notification by email when your bill, statement, or other information is available. Then you can view it online. The statements are typically stored on their computer, so you don’t have to deal with that aspect either. But you’ll always have access to this information once you login into your account. And you can always print out a copy of whatever you want should you ever need it.
It’s also much safer. One of the ways identity thieves get your information is by stealing your mail. This can happen at your home mailbox or as it moves through the system. By having the information transported through the system electronically, it’s much more secure.
I’ve got every aspect of my life setup electronically to such an extent that I almost never receive (snail) mail and I haven’t written a check in years!
This is the greatest time to have ever been alive. There are more ways to simplify your life today that have ever existed before.
4. Shop for needed items online
Why waste your time and gas going from store to store trying to find what you want. Do all your research and shopping online. Every major store and business has a website. Or just put what you’re looking for into a search engine like Google.
To get expert and user opinions in your search results, just add the keywords “reviews” or “ratings” along with the item you’re researching. If you’re looking for the best deal, you can look at each store’s weekly ad on their website.
When you think about all the traffic, crowds, and potential bad weather, shopping online is a no-brainer when it comes to things you can do to simplify your life.
5. Schedule, reserve, and order things online
You can save a lot of time and frustration if you schedule, reserve, and order things online.
To schedule an appointment for service at your local car dealership instantly, go to their website and set it up in a snap. Most dealers provide this ability, but it may take you a few extra minutes the first time. Many other businesses offer this service as well. My dentist allows you to schedule appointments online for the entire year or more if you want. Setting up appointments for an entire year is a great way to simplify your life.
To eliminate all the hassle of getting a particular book at your public library, search for it online at their website, reserve it, and then pick it up after you receive notification by email that it’s ready. Most cities have this capability. But you’ll need to get a library card first.
To order food for delivery or pickup without having to call, be placed on hold, and repeat your order several times, go to the restaurant’s website and submit your order. Many restaurants offer this service. And since your order is more precise and instantaneous, restaurants tend to give these orders a higher priority.
You can handle many small tasks online. When doing them in this way becomes a habit, you simplify your life.
6. Purchase items online
There is no more convenient and time-saving way to buy something than to buy it online. And often you can get a better price without all the hassles that we’ve all experienced while shopping in person.
A few years ago, I bought a new car online! I got a fantastic deal, the entire process went smoothly, and there were none of the problems you’d normally associate with car buying. It was truly a wonderful experience.
I didn’t shop on a dealer’s website, I used an independent service. On their website, you can pick any vehicle that you want. Then you select the color, equipment, and accessories.
Once you’re done making your selections, you’ll see the final price. I compared the price online using Kelly Blue Book and Edmonds and these sites confirmed that I was getting an incredible deal!
The advantages to using an independent service over going through a dealer’s Internet sales department are these. An independent service has access to the inventories of hundreds of dealers so your chances of getting exactly what you want are much greater. And an independent service operates under different conditions and philosophies than a dealer.
If you want to buy something online, pick it up at your local store, and not pay for shipping, you can do that too! Nearly every major store has this service.
Walmart was one of the first to have this service. What’s great about it is that your entire order is shipped to the store nearest your home for FREE! If you are unhappy with your purchase for any reason, you can simply return it to the store and get a full refund.
This service enables you to shop from home, order what you want without the hassles of shopping at the store, and have it delivered and waiting for you to pick up.
I used Walmart’s Site to Store service to buy several special items and I thought the entire process was great.
Non-technical ways to simplify your life
7. Create a reusable shopping list
Create a list of all the supplies — food and other items — that you buy on a weekly and monthly basis. Be sure to put them together in categories that match the layout of the store. For example, you might have categories such as fresh fruits & vegetables (or produce), fresh meats, frozen foods, canned foods, soft packaged foods, juices, soft drinks, dairy, desserts, snacks, paper products, and cleaning supplies.
Entering this information into a three-column table inside a word processing program works best. The table provides an ideal layout. The software allows you to update it easily.
I created a shopping list like this using Microsoft Word. You can download a copy below and use it as a template. I also made a PDF version that you can use to make copies and fill in by hand or as a guide for making your own. Both versions include examples and blanks. There are three copies of the shopping list on each page. Use scissors to separate them.
Here’s how to use the three-column shopping list. In the far right column, enter the names of your frequently purchased supplies. Arrange them by category in the same order as your usual route. Use the blank rows to write in items that you rarely buy or forgot about. Use the far left column to write in the quantity or size you need. Use the middle column to check off items as you place them into your shopping cart.
To view and make copies of the PDF version, you’ll need Adobe Reader on your computer. To download a FREE copy of this software, go to Adobe.com.
If you don’t have Microsoft Word on your computer, I understand that you can use the FREE Open Office software to view and work with these files. To download a free copy, go to OpenOffice.org. For the Mac version, go to NeoOffice.org.
Click on the appropriate link below to start the download and save it to your computer.
Please report text & link errors here.
All this may seem like a lot of work, but after you’ve used this shopping list for a while you’ll see how it can simplify your life.
After using this shopping list for more than a year, I stopped using it for a while. I considered looking for an app of some kind, but that would mean I’d have to turn-on the device and type in the item each time I discovered I needed something. So I tried my old way of just making a list. This did not work.
Without my custom shopping list, I found that I forgot to buy things almost every time I shopped. I was also wasting a lot of time having to walk back to store departments and drive back to stores that I’d already been to because I forgot to get some important item. I’ve since returned to using my shopping list and once again it has simplified my life.
8. Purchase non-perishable items in bulk
Buying non-perishable items in large quantities can save you time and money. It also makes your shopping easier because you don’t have to haul in as much stuff from your vehicle every week.
You have to be careful about what items you buy, however. Be sure to check the expiration dates on the packaging.
I would concentrate on canned, bottled, and frozen foods and drinks. Get as much as your storage space will allow when it comes to paper products and cleaning supplies. I do not recommend buying fresh foods in bulk unless you’re certain that you’ll be eating all of it within a week or so.
Buying in bulk is a small way to simplify your life, but it all adds up.
9. Hire people to do mundane chores
By eliminating unpleasant chores from your schedule, you can free up a lot of time and preserve your energies for more important things. These chores might include cleaning your house, mowing your lawn, washing your car, and cleaning, folding, and ironing your clothes.
It’s worth the small cost of paying someone to do these things if you consider how much extra time you’ll have to pursue things that will bring you a greater reward like building your own income generating website.
There are many excellent service professionals around who would be pleased to have your business and help you simplify your life.
10. Eliminate obligations that don’t serve you
If you belong to a club or organization that no longer meets your needs, end your involvement or drastically reduce it. This would include groups where lifetime membership is expected like religious organizations and deeply rooted clubs.
Here’s a tough one, but it can really simplify your life if you have the courage to do it. Stop attending a family member’s or friend’s weekly, monthly, or annual event if it is an unpleasant experience for you.
If your participation involves more than one person like a spouse or significant other, it may be a difficult negotiation — but stand your ground! If you can’t come up with a solution, and this change is important for your peace of mind, consider moving to another city.
Some of the most enjoyable holidays of my life were spent in cities that I’d only lived in for a few months or years. I would still return to my hometown for some holidays and events, but I picked the ones that I wanted to attend and I did not feel obligated to take part in the others.
The objective here is to end any associations that complicate your life, cause you undue frustration, or take up more time than you want to give. Although some of the decisions that you must make to simplify your life can be difficult, the outcome makes the effort worthwhile.