6 Ways to Downsize & Simplify Your Life

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Anyone who is active on the internet has heard the phrase, “TikTok made me buy it.”

And…many of us can directly relate to this saying.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve been up late at night scrolling through TikTok, only to turn to Amazon to buy something that was definitely going to change my life. Most of the items I’ve ended up with have been returned, a handful of orders were canceled the next morning when I was out of my state of exhaustion, and actually, not one thing comes to mind that I still have and use on a regular basis.

Considering how easy it is to impulse buy online for instant gratification and have whatever we want on our doorstep the next day, people often end up living beyond their means–or spending more money than they earn.

Living in a society that is driven by consumerism is nothing new. Many believe that each person is defined by their possessions, so no wonder people dig themselves into credit card debt to get the biggest house, the fanciest car, and the most expensive clothes. If one can only derive a sense of self-value through the material possessions they have, and believe that the things they own determine their quality of life, they’re likely to ignore some of the more important aspects of life—like their mental and physical health.

This is a continuous process until you understand that your quality of life actually depends on the amount of control you command over your circumstances, and how much you value your current situation.

But possessions and material goods aren’t the only thing that people tend to crowd their lives with. We all encounter unnecessary demands from juggling work with family and relationships, personal and professional development, and staying in the loop with worldly affairs. Also, there are distractions that we all face such as social media, technology, entertainment, trends, etc.

By downsizing and simplifying your life, you can clear out what isn’t meaningful and make your life richer and more fulfilling. So, in this article, we are going to look at 6 ways you can weed through the chaos and come out with a clean, valuable life.

But first, let’s look at the benefits of downsizing and simplifying your life.

Why Should You Downsize and Simplify Your Life?

When you downsize your life, you’re not just purging your belongings, you’re actually shifting your values. As you make decisions about things and determine if they are worth maintaining in a smaller space, you need to determine what role it all plays in your life. Through the process of determining if each component of your life is worthy of owning some time and space, you’ll see that you’re not just gaining space, but also adjusting to a new mindset.

The end goal of downsizing is to be able to slow down and have enough capacity to focus solely on the things that you truly value and limit any distractions. When you’re able to embrace a simpler life, you’re able to live by the motto that “less is more” and recognize that the excess “stuff” in your life doesn’t offer any meaning or significance.

The space that you have–whether that’s the amount of space in your home or in your schedule–is a matter of perspective. The more clutter you have, the more difficult it is to be efficient with how you use your time and space. Downsizing can help optimize any room that you have to work with.

When you simplify your life, you can begin to experience the joys of living with a purpose and for yourself versus living for other people. You will learn that value is created in how you experience life rather than through possessions. Furthermore, when your space is cleared , it leads to a greater peace of mind, less fogginess, and greater ease in performing tasks.

No matter how you’ve come to the decision to simplify your life, these tips will help you through the process. Downsizing won’t happen overnight, but with both intention and effort, you will be able to create a life that has less clutter and more value. Let’s take a look at how.

6 Ways to Downsize and Simplify Your Life

1. Determine Your Why

You need to have a motivating reason behind downsizing your life to make the work worth the effort. You don’t want to set yourself up for potential failure before you’re able to reap the benefits of living a simpler life. Taking the time to explore your intentions behind this project will allow you to evaluate how different your life can look and what you need to do to get there.

Achieving the dream of living a clutter-free life will take dedication, and motivation is a key factor for success. Why is this process meaningful to you? What does the end look like to you? These are important questions to consider before getting started.

2. Stop Adding

If your goal is to downsize, it can be assumed that your life is already crowded and you have more than you need, so putting a stop to the influx is helpful. There are two things you need to do to stop adding things to your life– learn how to say no, and reduce your shopping habits.

If you have a tendency to be a people pleaser, it can be hard to say no when asked to take on more plans and responsibilities in your life. But by learning how to say no, you can stop adding things into your already-packed schedule and free up some time to do the things that you really want to do.

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If your goal is to downsize, it can be assumed that your life is already crowded and you have more than you need.

The clutter in your home is your main barrier to downsizing. To make the downsizing process easier, you need to reduce your shopping habits and avoid any temptation to impulse buy. To help you makeover your shopping habits, try to implement a spending freeze. This will help you identify where you’re unnecessarily spending money, which will benefit you financially once you’re living your simpler life.

Here are some tips for not adding any more junk into your life:

  • Clean out your junk drawer and keep it clean
  • Delete one app and don’t download any more
  • Don’t look for a new show to binge– instead, do something more meaningful with your time
  • Create a “donate” pile– and don’t bring anything new into the house without sending at least two things out

3. Declutter

Make a plan that you can maintain for decluttering your living space. Start with considering the big things by making a list of the furniture you need and comparing it to the furniture that you have. Then purge duplicates of anything you own, unless you find the items to be valuable or you use them frequently. Let go of anything that you have but don’t love or find useful so you can create more free space in your life.

Get rid of backup or “just in case” items that you’re unsure of when you’ll use, as these items are just wasting space. Also, consider purging any collections you may have gathered over the years–especially if it is something that you’re not passionate about anymore.

Paper can quickly create clutter, so digitizing your life can help you get more out of your space and help you save time when you’re looking for a specific document. Try to eliminate paper from coming into your house as much as possible, like mail, coupons, newspapers, and magazines.

And when it comes to freeing up space in your life elsewhere? Try these tips on decluttering your mind. If you can reduce the amount of worry and chaos in your life, you will feel much more free to reallocate that time to doing something more valuable. 

4. Be Decisive

Once you get it in your mind that you want to downsize, you need to be relentless about what “makes the cut” into your life. When these decisions get hard, just imagine yourself achieving your end goal.

If an item isn’t used regularly and it doesn’t bring you a sense of joy, then you can make an informed decision regarding keeping it or tossing it. Keep your goals in mind, and your ability to decide will stay clear.

Take One Thing Off Your Calendar

You may instantly know something that you want to take off your calendar–and it’s probably good to go with your gut so you don’t start making excuses for why you have to keep everything you have scheduled. And while you can’t easily scratch off every commitment that you have, this is a good starting point.

Start by looking at last month’s calendar. What did you do that, in hindsight, was a waste of time or took way too long? Or maybe you see something that you really didn’t enjoy doing. When you identify that commitment, make a plan for how to remove it from your calendar for good.

Some things may take more than an email or phone call to remove from your schedule, but getting the process started to gracefully bow out will help you move one step closer to being happier.

5. Automate Your Savings

Simplifying your finances can help you simplify a lot of other areas of your life. By saving money automatically every month, you can reduce stress and worry less about where each of your paychecks is going. Some of the best benefits of automating your savings are:

  • Creating (and growing) an emergency fund
  • Reduce stress about how much you’re spending throughout the month
  • Create a savings account strictly for vacations
  • Avoid guilt from spending instead of saving
  • One less thing to keep track of

Consider opening a high-yield savings account so your money can work for you while it’s tucked away.

6. Maintain Your New Lifestyle

Could you imagine having a quick daily cleaning routine that could help keep your home and schedule clean? You will want to do your routine often enough to stay clutter-free, but not so often that you drive yourself crazy with the amount of time you’re spending.

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Downsizing requires a continued change in your habits.

Downsizing isn’t something you can do once and be done with it. It requires a continued change in your habits. So while you may have a large initial purge that will help cut down on cleaning time in the future, maintaining a new routine will simplify your life even more.

When it comes to simplifying your life, a great place to start is with social media. We consume a lot on social media—both good and bad. One tip is to unfollow anyone who…

  • You don’t know
  • Is constantly being negative or ranting
  • Is impeding you from living your best life
  • Aren’t in your life anymore

Just call it quits with these folks. Chances are, you don’t talk to them in real life, so why do you need pics of their post-workout breakfast?

Quality vs. Quantity

This applies to everything in your life: goods, services, relationships, experiences, etc. For the things that are cluttering your space, to make your money last longer, invest in that slightly more expensive product. This will reduce the chances that the item will quickly break or need to be replaced. The truth is that you can stretch your dollar farther when you invest in quality pieces versus buying things in bulk. Yes, it is more of an upfront investment, but it provides long-term savings.

Start by doing your homework and researching brands that are reliable and consistently create high-quality products. Don’t just look for a familiar brand name, read customer reviews to find out which products come highly recommended by actual consumers.

Also, if you go the extra mile and actually downsize your living space, you will have no choice but to focus on quality over quantity. When you focus on quantity, especially when it’s cheaply made, achieving a good return on your investment will be tough because you won’t have the required storage space to maintain all of your extra things.

Don’t waste your time or money by purchasing cheap things. Also, consider using one item for two things. For example, you could use your collapsible computer desk as a TV tray for meals, which can eliminate your need for an extra side table in the room.

Focusing on quality over quantity will help you invest in fewer things, therefore simplifying your home.

Final Thoughts on Ways to Downsize & Simplify Your Life

In this article, we reviewed 6 tips you can use when you’re trying to downsize and simplify your life. You may notice that a lot of the tips laid out in this article will overlap each other, so by simplifying one area of your life, you can help simplify the others.

Whether you’re trying to simplify because of life’s circumstances or just because you want less on your plate, these tips will help you remove some stress and responsibility from your life and allow you to have more time to do the things that are the most valuable to you.

And if you’re not certain about what you value, check out these worksheets to help you identify the things in life that you find to be the most valuable.

Connie Mathers is a professional editor and freelance writer. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Marketing and a Master’s Degree in Social Work. When she is not writing, Connie is either spending time with her daughter and two dogs, running, or working at her full-time job as a social worker in Richmond, VA.

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6 Ways to Downsize & Simplify Your Life