8 Specific Ways to Simplify in 2018

posted by Andrea | 08/6/2018

Several weeks ago, as I was thinking about different posts I’d still like to write over the summer, the idea came to me to share some super specific ways we can all simplify various parts of our homes, schedules, lives, etc. in the remainder of the year (there are still 5 months left to simplify!)

I originally wanted to share 18 tips (for 2018) — but that seemed a little overwhelming!

I settled on 8 instead!

I know what you might be thinking… “I’ve read articles like this before and they just tell me things I already know.”

  1. pay off debt
  2. get more organized
  3. say ‘no’ more often
  4. stop multi-tasking
  5. spend less time online
  6. watch what you eat
  7. get more sleep
  8. purge

Sound familiar?

Yes, those are all good tips… but they are VERY general ideas that might not be easy to apply to our own homes, families, schedules, and lives.


Today, my goal is to share 8 VERY SPECIFIC things you can do right now (or any time over the next few months) to simplify some part of your home, your schedule, or your life.

These ideas and tips will NOT radically change your life overnight (sorry, I’m not that good!) but practiced consistently, these tips will begin to form new habits, and over time, these new habits have the potential to hugely impact your entire life!

1. Wake up 20-30 minutes earlier.

I know… sometimes it just isn’t possible to wake up even 5 minutes earlier than what you are (I get it, really!) but if you are in a stage of life where you have more control over your own sleep, then you should be able to wake up 20-30 minutes earlier.

You might not want to, but I’m SO confident you will see huge benefits from this… which is why I kept it at the very top of my list.

It’s amazing how much better my entire day flows when my mornings are more simplified and peaceful… and in order for my mornings to be simplified and peaceful, I absolutely MUST wake up before the rest of my family.

If you are looking for a little more “simple” and  a little more “peace” in your days, bump up your alarm a few minutes (and actually get up when it goes off). I think you’ll be surprised how much of a difference it can make on your entire day!

2. Purge 100 things from your home.

Like I mentioned earlier, this tip will not magically simplify your entire home… BUT, it’s a START!

If you can get in the habit of regularly purging things you don’t need, use, want, or love, you will be well on your way to a simpler, more organized home and life.

And if you think purging 100 things will be too difficult for you… read this post for a little motivation!

3. Make your to-do list the night before.

When I think about everything I do in a day, one of the MOST IMPORTANT steps for me to be more productive and use my time most efficiently is to make my to-do list the night before.

Every single night… no questions asked!

Dave and I both do this now, usually without even giving it a second thought. As we’re packing up for the night, getting ready for bed, and finishing our evening snack, we glance over our planners and think through what we’d ideally want to accomplish the following day. Then we write out our to-do lists before we climb into bed.

This might sound overly simple, but by making our to-do list the night before, we sleep better because we don’t worry about forgetting something, AND we can jump right into our list in the morning, even if we are a little groggy and can’t remember everything we wanted to do right after waking up.

If you’ve never tried making your list the night before (or if you still don’t even make a list), this step could be a total game-changer for you!

NOTE: I want to piggy-back on this tip and mention that it’s also extremely helpful if you review your daily and weekly to-dos, meetings, meal plans, and anything else with the other people who live with you. This will help alleviate scheduling conflicts and miscommunications!

4. Designate an area in your home for items that need to leave.

Do you have library books that need to be returned? A dish that needs to go back to a family from church? What about something to drop off at the post office? A return to bring back to the store? A gift for a neighbor friend? A few bags to bring to the donation center?

Where do you currently keep these items right now?

If you don’t have a designated space for them, chances are they live in a disorganized heap in the corner of a bedroom, in the floor of a closet, or in a pile on your kitchen counters — not ideal!

Since all of these things need to leave your home eventually, it makes the most sense to designate a space for them near your back door (we have a spot in our laundry room for all these items). You might also want to move these items directly into your vehicle… which brings me to my next tip…

5. Clean out your vehicle.

I honestly don’t care what the outside of your vehicle looks like — as long as the inside is decently neat and organized.

If you think about how much time the average person/family spends INSIDE their vehicle, it totally makes sense to keep this space organized, decluttered, and somewhat clean.

Here are a few tips to help you get started!

6. Throw out expired foods.

No, you don’t need to have a Pinterest-worthy pantry, no you don’t need labeled bins in your deep freezer or cute snack cubbies in your fridge… however, I would encourage you to do a once-over of all the food in your entire house and purge anything that’s expired.

You don’t even need to clean, wipe down, or organize the remaining food — just toss everything that is expired!

This would also be a great opportunity to take stock of what you currently have lurking in the back corners of your pantry, freezer, fridge, etc. Take note of items that are close to the expiration date and set up appropriate meal plans to use up those ingredients over the next couple of weeks.

7. Create a laundry routine.

Clothing is such a time-suck isn’t it! We shop for it, buy it, decide we don’t like it, return it, constantly question if we look “good” in it, figure out where to store it, keep it organized, and then wash it!

If you’re like most households I know, laundry piles up quickly, and without some type of system or routine, it can feel VERY overwhelming (especially if you put it off for too long!)

In general, I’m not very strict with creating specific cleaning routines every day or every week — I just clean things when they get dirty enough! However, when it comes to laundry, I found that since there were always dirty clothes, I felt like I should ALWAYS be doing laundry (which obviously isn’t ideal).

By simply creating a loose laundry routine each week, I can now tackle laundry a couple of times each week and then forget about it on the days in between. Wow, did that one routine make a HUGE difference in my weeks!

Here’s the laundry routine that has been working well for our family for the past couple of years — however, the point is NOT to do what I do, but rather to find a routine that works for you, your family, your stage of life, etc. etc.

8. Find a planner method that works for you.

I don’t care if you use a paper planner, a digital planner, create your own printable planner sheets, or use Google Calendar… all I care about is that you have some sort of system that helps YOU to organize your days and plan ahead.

As I’ve mentioned many times already, I’ve always been a paper planner gal — and I honestly don’t see that changing any time in the near future (even with older children and more things to schedule).

I could see using BOTH paper and digital, but I really feel like I need a paper copy in front of me all day long — serving as a reminder of what still needs to be accomplished.

If you don’t like paper, find a digital system that works for you. If you like using sticky notes, then at least put them in a notebook so they are somewhat organized and portable (not just in a pile on your counter)!

All I’m asking is that you don’t rely on your memory! Even if you have a fantastic memory, you are still using up SO much brain power trying not to forget all those commitments, meetings, menu plans, errands, to-do’s, etc. Just write it down (or type it out), get it out of your brain, and enjoy a simpler, more organized schedule for the rest of the year (and beyond!)


I realize there are countless other tasks, tips, and to-do’s I could add to this list… but in an effort to keep things SIMPLE and SPECIFIC, I feel these 8 ideas are a really good starting point for anyone looking to finish the year better than they started (at least from a simple-living standpoint!)

What task will YOU start on first?

Do you have any other simple and specific ways to simplify?


Filed under: OrganizingHome

Leave a comment


  1. Rhonda


    I plan to start #1. We tend to get to bed at a reasonable, consistent time each night, and we wouldn’t be sleep deprived if we got up a little earlier. You’re right, it does make the day go smoother.


    Andrea Reply:

    good luck getting to be on time!!! I’ve found that if I just force myself to wake up earlier, I’m naturally tired earlier so it’s easier for me to get to bed on time.


  2. Nicky


    These are so similar to FlyLady steps and before her the Side-tracked Home Executives book. I guess great minds think alike! I found watching the YouTube videos, particularly Flylady Kat, helps motivate. As someone not naturally programmed to focus / simplification having someone talk you through it in an encouraging way is much better than simply feeling you should be doing it -which I guess is what your yesterday post was about!


    Andrea Reply:

    interesting — I’ve never personally done anything with fly lady, but I’m often told I give similar tips. Maybe I should look her up 🙂


    Katie Reply:

    Fly Lady is all about routines, progress not perfection, and if you get something out – put it away – which definitely aligns with so much you do Andrea! Also, she’s big on the approach that you have to declutter before you can clean, because you can’t clean clutter.


  3. Kristen


    My baby wakes up early and takes a long time to fall back asleep if it’s close to “morning” so a lot of times I end up sitting with her in a rocking chair and “resting” for an hour until she finally falls back asleep. Today I decided to just stay up and get some stuff done. I thought to myself, “I’m just like Andrea!” (Lol) and you’re right – I did get a surprising amount done, even with my little 5 month old “helper” 🙂

    When I was a working mom one thing that helped me a LOT was to pick out my clothes for the entire week over the weekend. I had time to try outfits on if I wanted to make sure they looked good, and I could try to balance out different “looks” instead of just a cardigan and black pants every day All I had to do at night was grab the top outfit from the pile – no time wasted searching the closet with “nothing to wear,” or trying things on!

    I would also make an extra “dinner” over the weekend and take that for lunch every day. (I know a lot of people take leftovers but we didn’t usually have enough to do this consistently!) I still do this sometimes even now that I stay home, because it’s so easy to heat up part of a casserole or something!


    Andrea Reply:

    yay for pushing through and just doing what needs to be done! Sounds like you already do a lot of things to stay on-top of life! It might feel like a lot of busywork at times, but I’m positive it pays off later when you aren’t frazzled and stressed and running late for everything!


  4. BB


    Thanks, Andrea! You have such a great mind and way of making things sound so simple and easy with your routines to get things done. I also want to thank you for keeping up with making the title a clickable link so one can put it in another tab from email and then add to a browser bookmark to come back to when one needs that refresher read to get back on track! The links have been SO helpful for that, as I have folders for different things so I know just where to go!
    I sure do enjoy your posts and they are so very helpful for getting our brains straight and giving an actionable plan to start and build from. Thank you SO much for your wonderful free advice and help you give to so many via your blog.


    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much!! I appreciate your long-time readership and all your comments 🙂


  5. Katie


    So many of these are so good!

    The laundry routine that works for us is to do one load of laundry per day. With 2 adults working outside of the household full-time and 2 small children, I don’t want to spend my weekends doing laundry. A load gets started as soon as one of us gets home from work, and it’s easily folded or hung up on the drying rack after the evening rush is over, while watching TV or chatting.

    We also have a routine for keeping our cars cleaned up – I generally try each day, but let’s be realistic – laptop bag, purse, lunch bag, coffee mug + kids stuff daily means inevitably stuff gets left behind. So, on Fridays, as soon as we get home, I grab 2 garbage bags – 1 for trash, 1 for stuff that needs to go back in the house. If the kids don’t empty the “house” bag by Sunday evening, it goes in the trash too. It takes 5 minutes but makes a huge difference! I often then take another 5 minutes to grab the shop vac and do a quick once over.

    I’d add one more suggestion to the list if anyone is looking for something they want to add and they already do these things – empty the dishwasher as soon as it’s done running!


    Andrea Reply:

    Yes — I’m actually mentioning that in a post later this week! We always ALWAYS run the dishwasher right after dinner, and then clean it out right after the kids go to bed (which is usually exactly the time it finish running)! It’s a great system for us right now!


  6. Mary in Maryland


    I combine numbers four and five. Things that are leaving the house get put in the car trunk. And their existence and destination are written down on a list near the driver’s seat. Whenever I get in the car, I check the list to see if there is something I can drop off on the way.


    Kristi Reply:

    Love this idea! The list would keep it top of mind and ensure we aren’t wasting time and gas money making single trips to drop them off.


    Andrea Reply:

    yes, this is a good plan Mary! And good idea with the list. Thanks for sharing!


    BB Reply:

    I LOVE this, Mary! I already use a ‘circuitous route’ when I run my errands so I am not zigzagging around my area, but putting stuff in the car and then checking the list of places you need to drop it off while you are out doing other errands is GENIOUS! Thanks so much for adding this gem to the thoughts here!


  7. Sarah


    This is a timely post for me. Today I decided to start getting up 15 minutes earlier… And I actually did! I’m trying to get myself ready for a school schedule, as my oldest is about to start kindergarten next week.

    I always appreciate your lists of different types because they help to narrow down in my brain the many, many things I want to try to do well or better. Too often I have the problem of wanting to improve or do everything at once and then I am paralyzed into inaction because I can’t figure out where to start, so I just don’t. So many times your advice to “just start somewhere” has helped me tremendously.


    Andrea Reply:

    yay for waking up earlier. I’m naturally a morning person, so it’s easier for me to do this — however, there are still many morning when I just want to roll over and go back to bed. My day runs so much better when I wake up early — apparently that’s motivation enough for me to keep waking up early!


  8. Luba @ Healthy with Luba



    Beginning tomorrow, I am going to wake up 30 minutes early to get my day started with my devotions before I make my husband’s food.

    At the same time, I’ve started purging 100 things (19 down already).


    Andrea Reply:

    sounds like a good plan — how many purged items are you up to now?? Did you find 100?


  9. Christine


    We are moving our family of 7 this week, to a new house in the same town 5 minutes away. I can’t even begin to tell you how much your blog has helped me in the purging and simplifying process before packing. I feel as though we’re only taking things we need and like to the new house! I think #4 stood out to me the most, as we’ve never had a mud room and still won’t in the new house (until we convert the “breezeway”). Thanks for all the free good tips all support!


    Christine Reply:

    *and support


    Andrea Reply:

    oh wow — happy moving!
    So glad some of my tips have helped you along they way!