20 Painless Ways to Streamline Your Life
Deal with a Trickle, Not a Stream
It’s a bit of a play on words given the title of this post, but a sage man once told me this: “deal with a trickle, not a stream.”
What does this have to do with simplifying your life?
This quote is my mantra in how I deal with everyday habits and activities, and it helps to keep me on the straight and narrow. To deal with a trickle vs. a stream is to take care of things as they happen. Addressing a simple ‘to do’ is much easier than tackling a significant one. Big tasks can exhaust you before you even start.
So, I came up with 20 specific ways that I break that mantra down in my own life. These all help to streamline my own life and I’m hoping that something in here will speak to you.
All of them fall into 4 categories, listed below. Click on each category to navigate to it directly or just browse the whole list. It won’t take you long to read but it may save you time and possibly a little sanity in your own life.
Personal Activities & Habits
We all have tasks that we do on a regular basis. I have tried to minimize how much time I spend on the activities that don’t need a lot of thought, to save time for those tasks that are more intensive. This is my list of those that have made the most significant difference for me personally.
I’ve divided these into 3 sub-categories.
1. Create a to-do list the night before.
If you must, in the morning first thing.
2. If you create weekly or monthly goals, keep them to a minimum.
Eliminating the less important will help you focus on the most critical.
3. Take the time to plan your most important goals for the remainder of the year.
Identify the activities that will make them happen and put them in your calendar. This will eliminate critical events sneaking up on you and minimize how much damage control it will take to address them.
4. Organize your personal care start-your-day items all in one place in your bathroom.
I did this almost 2 years ago, and it made my whole morning a little better.
5. Lay out your clothes the night before.
It will be one less thing to think about during your busy morning the next day.
6. Sign up for Audible books.
You’ll get 2 free books, and you can cancel your subscription to Audible at any time. Then, you’ll be able to catch up on your reading while driving or cleaning. I honestly did not think I would enjoy a book that I listen to. But, I’ve been using Audible for over a year. I have not only really enjoyed the experience, but I’ve also been able to read more books. That’s a win/win any way you look at it!
7. Always keep a book or email handy on your mobile device.
You can catch up while you’re waiting (for anything). When you find yourself in a waiting mode, you can sit and relax, do something a little mindless or be a little productive. There is nothing wrong with a fun game or social media browsing. But, why not use the extra time to read that book you want to finish or catch up on critical mail? Just be sure that you always have what you need at your fingertips. Because you never know when you’ll find yourself in a line!
8. Use Evernote to “feel organized without the effort.”
You can save/bookmark almost anything on your mobile device or desktop that you want to come back to with Evernote. This has been a game-changer for me since I started using the app a year ago. I save quotes that I may want to use in a future post, links to possibly shopping items, links to design ideas I may want to try, and lots more. Everything is tagged and categorized. Once an item is saved in the app I can search for it a number of ways. I never lose a note,
9. Create Shortcuts on your mobile device using text replacement.
Save oodles of time by typing just a few characters to take the place of phrases you type all the time. Here’s one of my favorites: ty on my iPhone becomes Thank you so much. It’s so satisfying when I get to type those 2 little letters and a whole phrase appears! Here’s how to set that up:
10. Use a secure password manager on your mobile device and desktop.
You’ll never need to remember or type your passwords again. Be sure it’s a secure app (I use Roboform), and keep your instructions for getting to it someplace safe.
We all deal with our finances, sometimes daily. There’s a lot of work that goes on in every household to manage everything in this category. Here are a few things that have worked well for me.
11. Set up auto-bill pay with your bank and your credit cards.
I did this over 5 years ago when I got tired of having to react quickly to an upcoming bill. Yes, it was painful for a few months while I ironed everything out, but I never need to worry anymore whether a payment will be late or if I’ll have to scramble to make sure it isn’t.
12. Keep track of all your finances in one place.
I use Mint. There’s a mobile app as well as a desktop version. With Mint, I can track what’s coming and going from every account including checking, savings, credit cards, investments and more. I can track a budget and even get an updated credit score every month.
Household Organization & Cleanup
We spent the past 2 years fixing up our house. In doing so, we didn’t just make it pretty, we changed things so our space would work better for us. So here are a few things that worked exceptionally well. Hopefully, you’ll find a nugget here that will help you streamline your life in some small way.
13. Get rid of clothes you don’t wear.
We did this 2 years ago. We got rid of more than 50% of our clothes and both of us remarked that it felt like we had more clothes. As a result of better organizing what we had, we could find things more easily. Now we weed out clothes we don’t use at least once a year, sometimes more often.
I think we’re going to be down to 10 outfits by the time we’re done LOL!
14. Have a place for coats, gloves, keys, handbags, sunglasses.
Then, live by these rules. If you:
- take it out, put it back.
- open it, close it.
- throw it down, pick it up,
- take it off, hang it up.
15. Put timers on critical lights in your house.
There are lots of options to accomplish this, visit your local hardware store for advice. We have lights inside and outside that we turn on or off every day. Now that they are on auto-pilot we never need to worry about them. This is also a money saver!
16. Order bulk items online and put products you regularly use on subscription.
The key to this is that you need to have a place where you can store bulk items. But, if you do having a backup supply will save you scrambling. I don’t have a lot of subscription, just those items that I know we order regularly (think toilet paper).
17. Hang a couple of dust busters in handy places.
We have one upstairs and one downstairs. Having them hanging up in a handy place and always charged makes it super easy to clean up any floor mess.
Kitchen Organization & Eating
The kitchen is the heart of the home, and it’s a fabulous place to find lots of little ways to streamline your life.
18. Meal plan ahead for the week.
I plan roughly in my head, create a list of items I’ll need and then grocery shop on Monday or Tuesday. Meal planning is something that I don’t track with an app, I just make a note of what I plan to cook each day. It saves me scrambling at the last minute all the time.
19. Always have a quick go-to meal for when you’re running behind.
It happens to the best of us that sometimes we have very little time to cook and need to get something on the table quickly. But you also want it to be at least somewhat healthy. I have not tried meal delivery options, though I’ve heard good things about many of them. So, when I need to cook something quick and easy here’s my go-to meal:
- 1 8-10 oz chicken breast
- 16 oz package frozen vegetables
- 1 T olive oil
- 2 T Hoisin sauce
- 1.5 T low sodium soy sauce
- 2 T cornstarch
- 1 t sesame seeds
- 1 t salt & pepper
- Cut open the package for the frozen vegetables and microwave the package for 2-3 minutes.
- Salt & pepper the chicken then cut up into cubes.
- Add olive oil to a frying pan. Heat the pan on medium-high heat, then add the cubed chicken.
- Once the vegetables have been microwaved, add them to the frying pan with the chicken. Mix things up for 2-3 minutes.
- Mix together the Hoisin, soy sauce, ginger, salt & pepper in a separate bowl. When done, add that mixture to the frying pan with the chicken and vegetables.
- Cook for 2-3 minutes more on medium heat.
- Serve with a side of noodles.
20. Get friendly with your crockpot and/or your InstaPot.
I’m half in love with my crockpot, which I’ve had for years. It’s so easy to throw a bunch of ingredients in the pot in the morning and have a fully cooked meal that night. This is truly a ‘set-and-forget’ appliance for me. I just received an Instapot as a gift for Christmas, so I’m still playing with it, but it’s another way to get good food on the table quickly. And you don’t even need to plan ahead.
21. Organize your Pantry and your kitchen.
Consider this one a bonus since it’s #21! Spending a little time to get both my kitchen and pantry in shape has paid me back in dividends. If you’re interested in how to better organize these spaces, check out the articles below under ‘For More Information.’
For more information
Check out these other organizational helpers:
How about you?
Do you have a favorite life hack, something that you use to streamline your life? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!