100 Simple Ways to Start Living Simply

Photo by Zach Klein

By Josh Rueff on May 16, 2013
Many people want to live simply, but don’t know where to start. Others value many of the principles of minimalist and simple living, but either can’t go all out, or simply don’t want to. Wherever you are in your journey, these simple ways to start living simply will help you gain a foothold in the lifestyle of living simply, and beyond that, most of these ideas are helpful to anyone, simplifying or not!

100 Simple Ways to Start Living Simply

1. Simplify your speech by speaking in a brief, concise, and laconic way.

2. Eat only to 80% like the Spartans and the Japanese.

3. Get rid of 3 things you never use.

4. Spend 10 minutes less on Facebook and other social media sites (longer for some of us ;).

5. Organize your garage and have a garage sale.

6. Drive 1 less mile a day.

7. Fast from food, both for bodily health and enjoy eating more!

8. Write a simplification journal to record your simplifying goals.

9. Define “Freedom”.

10. Create a simple budget to spend less time worrying about your bank account.

11. Cut fast food from your diet, starting by cutting 1 fast food meal a week.

12. Donate 3 items to charity.

13. Instead of having a Netflix or TV night, go on an evening walk or hike and enjoy nature.

14. Meditate for 5 minutes a day.

15. Spend 1 less dollar on impulse shopping.

16. Instead of movie night, spend 1 hour and 30 minutes contemplating nature; it’s beauty, and the things you can learn from it.

15. Count the things you own (to get your subconscious working on ideas for the future).

16. Fast from pop and other unhealthy beverages.

17. Exercise 10 extra minutes each day; make that last workout an exercise you truly enjoy.

18. Try 5 minutes of yoga on YouTube.

19. Focus for 3 minutes on 1 empowering and freeing thought.

20. Stay in a “power stance” for 2 complete minutes. Examples: Arms held high in a victory pose, arms folded/ back straight, or legs shoulder width/hands on hips.

21. Skip dessert.

22. Work 1 less hour every day.

23. Add 1 glass of cold, fresh water each day.

24. Sunbathe for an hour instead of moping inside.

25. Do a cell phone fast; no texting, facebook, or e-mail for a day.

26. Stop hanging out with 1 person you get nothing out of (or that you don’t contribute to).

27. Read 1 book on minimalism.

28. Deliberately smile 7 times in 1 day.

29. Spend 5 minutes learning breathing exercises.

30. Spend 5 minutes breathing.

31. Devote 1 workout in the week to exercise with your dog.

32. Think of 1 thing to do that, if you died at the end of this week, you would consider the week a success.

33.Clean your car, emptying it completely in under 6 minutes.

34. Observe the life of an ant or bee, and compare it to yours.

35. Drink 1 less beer.

36. Cancel your gym membership and work out at home.

37. Delete your Facebook.

38. Read an entire book at the bookstore without buying it.

39. Make a list of things you want to keep. Throw out the rest.

40. Deliberately save $10 a day (ideally in a separate account), and take out a chunk of debt every month.

41. Make your own work lunch.

42. Empty your email inbox in 30 seconds.

43. Unsubscribe from 20 newsletters in 3 minutes.

44. Clean and organize your desk in under 7 minutes.

45. Write a resume of what you will do, and will be.

46. Set a “work-free-zone-landmark”: On your way home from work pick a stop sign, stoplight, or other landmark at which all thoughts and actions pertaining to work are banished. From that point on focus on nothing that has anything to do with your work.

47. Find 1 way to boost your energy.

48. Make a list of 3 accomplishments that would make your life a success if you died after completing them.

49. Make 1 simple goal and wait until the middle of the week to complete it. But make sure you do it!

50. Write a 6 word story to define your purpose in life.

51. Take a bite, chew slowly. Savor. Savor. Savor. And repeat.

52. Work the heavy bag at 90% for 3 minutes to remind yourself what pain is.

53. Tell a friend you love them without smiling and without making it weird. 

54. Start 1 fight and win it. This doesn’t have to be a physical fight, think nonhuman enemies; fears, irrational phobias, etc.

55. Cut the size of your wallet in half, or better yet, don’t carry one. Your back will love you.

56. Step out of your comfort zone today.

57. Create 1 morning routine.

58. Spend 1 hour “reading” literary classics using Sparksnotes or Cliffsnotes. Discuss each book with a different friend.

59. Utterly obliterate 1 unhealthy habit.

60. Take the time to smell 3 flowers in a day. Describe the difference in each smell.

61. Watch a person you admire and choose 1 characteristic to emulate.

62. Learn 1 word that helps you communicate more efficiently.

63. Use 1 unique and powerful metaphor or simile during a conversation today. No cliches! If it helps people understand you better, it’s a success. If the person laughs at you, it’s a success. Laughter is a medicine even if it’s at your expense 🙂

64. Spend a hour people watching with a friend.

65. Quit smoking for a week to prove that you can do it. Then do it.

66. Pretend for a moment that dandelions are not weeds and appreciate their beauty. Learn how their leaves and roots are actually a superfood, and make a salad.

67. Adopt a legitimate conspiracy theory, and keep it to yourself.

68. Choose a physical trait you don’t like and appreciate it.

69. Pinpoint 1 negative thought pattern, and spend 1 week twisting those thoughts into positive thoughts. Examples: “I’m too shy” becomes “I enjoy solitude.” “My life has been wasted” becomes “The past is irrelevant: I enjoy the moment and look forward to the future!”

70. Overcome 1 fear. Do you hate spiders? Pick up a daddy long-legs (they can’t bite you). Scared of snakes? Hold a pet snake.

71. Think of a hobby or pastime that you spend too much time pursuing. Cut 1 hour from it and spend it on something meaningful.

72. Drink one glass of red wine a day.

73. Spend a Saturday in complete silence. Break “fast” in the evening to discuss what you learn.

74. Eliminate 1 superstition by proving it wrong. Don’t be a pansy. Break the mirror!

75. Find 1 way to embrace pain, remembering that very little worth achieving is achieved without it.

76. Spend a full day eating simple and healthy foods.

77. Find 3 spaces in your house that you never use and fill them with things you never use. Later you may want to hit the delete button on those items.

78. Single-task, all day, every day. Try tunnel vision; reduce complexity – is it really so necessary?

79. Ask for help from 3 people you trust. Don’t be a leech, but remember, that’s what friends are for – they help each other!

80. Take a risk in an activity that can help you generate more time. Example: Ask your boss if you can leave 30 minutes early if you’re more productive – especially if you’re on salary.

81. Learn to use the 80/20 rule (The Pareto Principle).

82. Develop a 10 minute strategy to make your money work for you instead of the other way around.

83. Downsize your to-do list to 3 simple, well defined tasks. Banish the rest from your mind until you accomplish the 3, then repeat.

84. Spend an entire week without judgmental thoughts.

85. In 60 seconds, think of 1 action that would make your day peaceful, and do it.

86. Define “clutter”.

87. Eliminate 1 monthly bill.

88. Make something for someone you love.

89. Take a 30 minute nap.

90. Set aside 20 minutes to think of 10 positive things you’ve never said to your wife. Pelt her with compliments as soon as you see her.

91. Spend 1 hour studying the philosophies of 3 ancient cultures, looking for elements of simple living.

92. Think of the 3 things that motivate you the most. Make an image that symbolizes each thing (in your head or print it from the internet), and set your alarm for every hour to remind yourself to take a moment to look at those images.

93. Do pushups or sit ups on every lunch break this week. 

94. Take 48 hours to detox.

95. Choose 3 things you’re good at and use those skills to help somebody.

94. Leave a note or give someone a gift in secret.

95. Trade compliments for 30 minutes straight with your significant other. There’s no rush – have pen and paper ready to brainstorm, 30 minutes is a long time!

96. Buy or make a picnic basket for your marriage – very worth it in the long run, and not much is more satisfying and simple than a good picnic!

97. Spend an evening on the roof looking for falling stars. 

98. Divert 1 argument with a concise compliment. ‘Will you EVER fix the car?’ ‘I really like your eyes today’. ‘What?’ Hey, it’s worth a shot!

99. Stop watching TV and Netflix completely for one full week. I’m a hypocrite and I haven’t done this yet, but I know the effects are profound. At the end of the week, treat yourself to a quality movie that you think may benefit your life in some way. This helps alleviate the withdrawal and if you watch a great movie with a good purpose, chances are you’ll get something good out of it!

100. Take your most hated activity and eliminate it at all costs. If that means quitting your job, so be it – just find a better one first. That can mean changing the activity into something you love as well. Do you hate spending time with your wife? At all costs, find something you both love, and do it. Cut expenses elsewhere to make up for it in the budget, it’s worth it.