Simple Living

101 Simple Living Tips: The Complete Guide to Simplicity

March 25, 2021

Created by Mike & Mollie. Subscribe to our blog.

Welcome to This Evergreen Home, a blog written by Mike & Mollie about living simply, intentionally, and relationally in this modern world.

If you enjoy this post, we hope you’ll check out our latest project:

🌿 Declutter Your Life – A premium newsletter with monthly challenges to help you live a less cluttered life– inside and out.

And now, without further ado, 101 ways to live simply.

  1. Embrace the joy of missing out. The joy of missing out is in the realization that you are curating an absolutely unique life and making space to go deep on the things that really matter to you. Saying no is your superpower. 
  2. Walk everywhere. Small towns are underrated, in my opinion. We love walking everywhere as a family: groceries, restaurants, shopping, playgrounds, mechanics, and more. All this convenience and yet our home sits on just under half an acre of land.
  3. Buy quality over quantity. When you buy something that is truly high-quality, you are more likely to feel appreciation and gratitude towards it’s maker. You are more likely to take care of it and to fix it when it breaks. Quality often encourages a mindset of stewardship over convenience and consumerism. 
  4. Wash that dish. If you’re someone who had grand ambitions and big ideas for the future, it might be easy to feel that some tasks are beneath you. But even the most adventurous and beautiful life starts with washing today’s dishes with contentment.
  5. Linger at the dinner table. We’re always rushing off to the next thing, as if waiting for real life to officially begin. But your life is nothing more than a string of today’s. Enjoy the ordinary moments of coming together and tell a new story about what life is really about.
  6. Have far fewer toys in your house. Toys are just a small (barely necessary) part of what it takes to encourage a childhood filled with wonder. The 3 essential ingredients are: 1) a cozy place to read 2) a fun place to create/build and 3) an outdoor place for physical play. 
  7. Learn to be ok with uncertainty. Coming to terms with the unpredictability of life and the uncertainty of achieving our goals will help to put your days into perspective. Find peace without certainty in those areas and you will have found a priceless treasure.
  8. Declutter all the flat surfaces in your home. I love a clean, minimalist aesthetic, which is not always possible in a home with 3 young kids. But we get 80% of the benefit by keeping our floors and a few key flat surfaces (tables, counters, desks, etc) completely free of clutter. If you’re just starting your decluttering journey— start here.
  9. Notice what’s going on around you. You can wait until you’re retired and you’ve quit the rat race, but then you’d have missed out on a lifetime of savoring the ordinary pleasures of life: the sound of birds chirping, the feel of the wind, the taste of fresh fruit.
  10. Turn mundane tasks into acts of compassion. When you shift the focus off of yourself (your failures or achievements), you will find a new found ability to focus and a motivation to turn today’s mundane tasks into tiny acts of compassion.
  11. Finish one thing before you start another. It’s tempting to want to start something new once the novelty of the old thing has worn away. What you need to remember in those moments is that you’ll feel the same way after a few weeks of the new project. The deeper pleasures are found in pushing through and discovering the world beyond.
  12. Let go of control. We worry about things that we can’t control. We build our identities on goals outside our control. No wonder we feel so fragile. Try a gentler approach: choose your habits well, shape your environment thoughtfully, and surround yourself with great people that inspire you. Let the results take care of themselves.
  13. Find joy in little things. The world is an absolute smorgasbord of smells, tastes, sights, and sounds. Become a connoisseur of simple, everyday pleasures and you will find that it takes less and less to push the lever of joy in your life.
  14. Leave whitespace in your day and week. I like to leave enough space in my day to have a clear end and a fresh start between activities. This gives me time to breathe and be intentional with my next action. And the day doesn’t pass by in one great big blur.
  15. Be childlike. If there is a capacity in children that I envy most it is their ability to play. My young children play all day long, like it’s their job. Me… I’m usually looking to be productive. But sometimes, when I’m playing with my kids or laughing with friends, I reconnect with the simple joy of being alive with others in a wonderful creation.
  16. Plan your day the night before. Start each day with a bit of momentum and a dose of clarity by planning your to-do list the night before. Remember to balance your excitement to get lots done with a desire to work deliberately, and enjoy each task you get to do.
  17. Declutter before organizing. Next time you find yourself organizing piles of toys into cleverly labeled and arranged bins, take a moment to imagine that another way is truly achievable. Once you’ve realized the benefits of a clutter-free home, it’s hard to go back.
  18. Have a place for everything. The true key to beating clutter is having less stuff, but it still makes sense to have a designated home for everything. You should be able to pick up any item in your home, and immediately know precisely where it belongs. 
  19. Spend time in nature. I love the raw human energy of cities, but on a regular basis, my soul needs to be refreshed by the unhurried rhythms of nature. The sunshine, the soft ground, and the soundtrack of nature is still the simplest way to clear the mind. 
  20. Don’t take your health for granted. Not taking care of your health today is a guaranteed way to make your life more complicated in a few decades. The habits for good health are delightfully simple: move your body, eat real foods, live a life of beauty.
  21. Spend less time on social media. I enjoy social media in small doses, but I literally put hard limits on myself through my iPhone’s settings. I find my pleasure is increased by having just a taste, but leaving before I’m stuffed.
  22. Change one habit at a time. Of course, we wish we could change everything at once: a healthier diet, daily exercise, great habits, generosity, kindness— to name a few. But don’t rush away the joy of small progress over a long period of time.
  23. Pray like you mean it, and then listen. Prayer is a vital part of my life. Many people pray when they are in great need, but don’t listen because they don’t expect an answer. It has been my experience that those who pray and really listen find more than they ever hoped for.
  24. Make someone else happy. We all want to be happy. I consider this to be one of the great commonalities of all humankind. Where we seek our happiness is another matter altogether. Seek your own happiness directly and you will find complication after complication. Seek the happiness of others and your life becomes delightfully simple, and your own happiness gets thrown in free of charge.
  25. Be content with what you have. I have a few clear memories in my life of thinking that if I only had this thing or achieved this goal, I would be content. It is always a surprise to learn that you are the same person no matter where you go, what you accomplish, or what you own. The choice to be content is yours today.
  26. Start each day with a list of MITs. Choose a small handful of items that are today’s most important tasks (MITs). If you get them done today, you will consider the day to have been productive. Everything else is icing on the cake. 3 MITs a day is over 1,000 tasks a year. 
  27. Establish routines. I’m consistently surprised by the amount of progress that can be made in small chunks over long periods of time. Find a good routine and a long runway and just watch what happens.
  28. Create a simple weekly meal plan. If you decide what to eat when you’re hungry, you will gravitate towards food that delivers instant gratification and little preparation. The power of a meal plan is that today’s lunch was chosen by a saner, less impulsive version of yourself. Thank you, self. 
  29. Move your body. I’m no doctor, but the evidence seems pretty conclusive that a lifetime of moving your body leads to far less complication as you get older. The key here is to find ways to move that you enjoy, and this decision becomes a no brainer. 
  30. When in doubt, throw it out. The majority of people have a strong bias towards holding on to “just in case” items. If the odds of using are an object are less than 10% in the next year, consider throwing away or donating.
  31. Live below your means. A quick study of self-inflicted human misery would put money issues near the very top of the list. From bankruptcies to failed marriages, living beyond your means adds complication that you just don’t need.
  32. Check your personal email once a day. Many of us have jobs that require more frequent checking-in, and that’s ok. It’s our jobs, after all. But your personal life is a different story. Choose a saner, more human-friendly rhythm like once a day.
  33. Keep wearing those jeans. I like to wear my jeans until they’re so stretched they don’t fit right anymore. Less laundry and longer lasting jeans are my reward. Plus, they feel great when they’re broken in.
  34. Put your cell phone in another room. We’re not cyborgs yet, so keep your robotic parts in a separate room and enjoy life without the constant itch to check your phone.
  35. Take a deep breath. Treat yourself to a nice deep breath of air and bring your thoughts back to the moment.
  36. Drink a green smoothie. What could be a simpler way to prepare a day’s worth of fruits and veggies than pulverizing them into a fine green blend.
  37. Lose yourself in a good novel. A story doesn’t ask for anything, except to be enjoyed for what it is. 
  38. Putter around. Most of my days are planned with a few goals or an agenda, but some Saturdays I like to putter around the house looking for small, random jobs, without any sense of hurry or expectations.
  39. Say what you mean. Our default is to speak or write until we discover what we mean to say, but there is power in knowing what you want to say, and then saying it.
  40. Put an end to multi-tasking. Ok, there are a few mindless tasks where multitasking is fine. But for the most part, juggling multiple tasks simply adds to the feeling of chaos without any real benefit in efficiency.
  41. Mow the lawn in the slowest gear. Most people enjoy sunshine and the smell of cut grass, but they mow the lawn as if they can’t wait to be done. I don’t get it.
  42. Quit setting goals. Everyone’s different, but I’ve found that long-term goals can be a distraction… I’m better off focusing on the journey than the destination.
  43. Decide on your priorities. What really matters to you? What will really make you feel that you lived a rich and meaningful life? 
  44. Omit the unnecessary. Once you’ve decided your priorities, everything else has to go. Make space for what matters and fill your life to the brim with those things. This is the essence of simplicity.
  45. Embrace limits. Artificial, self-imposed restraints are some of the greatest choices I’ve ever made. Nothing is more motivating than the clarity of a single path.
  46. Limit hyper stimulating activities. A steady diet of junk food makes normal food taste bland, after a while. In the same way, a mental diet of hyper-stimulating activities (internet, social media, tv) is impossible to compete with and leads to boredom. The only way is to tone down your exposure and reach a more human baseline. 
  47. Get rid of a car (or two). Not possible for everyone, obviously. But with a few adjustments and a little planning, we made the leap from 2 cars to 1 while living in a small town of only 3,000. Less maintenance, less insurance, less complication.
  48. Declutter your digital life. The principles of keeping a decluttered digital life are different from the physical world thanks to the power of search. Because I know that I can search for any file or folder I need, I keep my working areas, such as my desktop or inbox, completely minimalist and archive everything else. The key to making this work is naming your files in a way that is intuitive and simple.
  49. Automate your finances. All of our finances are paperless and completely automated. This saves me hours of time each month and frees me of mental spaces knowing that my bills are being paid on time. Once a year, I do a deep dive to make sure everything looks good.
  50. Be present in this moment. This moment right now, as you read this post. Enjoy this one. You are reading a blog post crafted by hand, just for you.
  51. Notice the beauty in the ordinary. What’s the color of the sky? Is it boring, drab, gray…or is it a delicate shade of pearl that sets the perfect mood for a day of rest from the brightness of the sun? The choice is up to you.
  52. Learn to enjoy an activity that isn’t productive. There is no reward at the end of life for getting those most done or having accomplished the most impressive feats. Of course, work is a huge part of a rewarding life, but it’s not the only skill that matters. Don’t lose the childlike ability to play and do things that aren’t productive.
  53. Give away your time and money. True wisdom realizes that all the money and time you give away is never really gone. You have simply transferred them from one bucket that is fleeting (your wealth and your life) and moved them into another that is eternal (love).
  54. Prioritize relationships. Some of the greatest friends you’ll ever have could be people you haven’t met yet. Instead of chasing success or money, pursue friendship with people you admire and whose company you truly enjoy. You just never know when you’ll meet your next best friend.
  55. Focus on the essential. In all activities and pursuits there are 1,000’s of ways to add complexity, but only a few things that really matter. Only a few things that produce results and move the needle. When you discover these things (they are usually not difficult to see), forget everything else and double down.
  56. Take a break from thinking. I’m a chronic thinker. I’m not always thinking about the things I should be thinking about, but I’m thinking nonetheless. Most of the time, I enjoy this aspect of my personality, but occasionally it is a joy to take a break. In these moments, I live freer and more intuitively and take a rest from all the scheming.
  57. Be curious. An insatiable curiosity is one my favorite qualities about myself (am I allowed to say that without sounding proud?). With curiosity, you need so little to be satisfied except the freedom to explore and understand.
  58. Give generously. Once you realize how little you actually need to be happy, you’ll want to give it away. Use your wealth to live generously and share with those around you, and you’ll find your heart drawn more towards relationships than things.
  59. Write concisely. Think about the point you’re trying to make, and write it down as simply as possible. Leave out all the parts that people skip anyway.
  60. Figure out why we’re here. I believe humanity is broken, but I can’t help but see a beautiful design behind it all. That reality changes everything and immediately becomes the most important thing we can discover and pursue.
  61. Start small, even smaller. Making progress on something meaningful to you is one of life’s great pleasures. The pleasure doesn’t get better the faster you go. So take it slow, enjoy each step, and spread out the joy as long as possible. 
  62. Consume less and create more. Creating things expands my horizons, multiples my curiosity, and makes me useful to those around me. Consuming is great in small doses, but too much and I become passive, demanding, and self-centered. 
  63. Read less news. The news tricks us into thinking that something important and life-changing is happening every minute. It easily fills the desire we have for constant low-level, passive stimulation. But life can be so much richer if we loosen our grip.
  64. Say no to good opportunities. We hold onto our options to prop up the illusion that we can have it all without compromise. But the best life for you is a fine curation of the best opportunities that come across your plate. Be picky.
  65. Be faithful to one spouse. I love to collect simple ideas and hold onto them. Nothing is simpler than keeping a promise to your spouse for life. And nothing complicates life faster than a broken marriage.
  66. Stop worrying about imaginary problems. I believe we’re given enough grace and strength to face the day’s challenges. When we allow our mind to pull in tomorrow’s challenges, or ones that might arise, we step outside the umbrella of protection. 
  67. Stop procrastinating. Life is 1,000,000 times simpler when you do the things that others are counting on you to do. The temporary discomfort of starting is nothing compared to a lifetime of wondering what could have been.
  68. Take action now. Don’t wait for the perfect moment. Don’t wait for the plan to come together perfectly. Don’t wait until you feel like it. Do it now!
  69. Do fewer things, but do them better. One of the most powerful questions I regularly ask myself is “what good things am I not going to do?” This brings me absolute clarity and focus on the things that I do choose to do.
  70. Arrange your environment for fewer interruptions. The “path of least resistance” is a powerful mental model that comes out of physics. We humans also respond powerfully to our environment— so turn off your notifications, clear the clutter from your space, block distracting websites, and create a calm space for deep work.
  71. Wash your dishes mindfully. Ah, dishes. You can either see them as the enemy or consider the privilege of washing: warm water, soapy suds, and immediate gratification. Put on some music and you’ve created a recipe for a moment of relaxation.
  72. Avoid the drama. There are so many interesting things to talk about with friends besides the flaws of other people. Being generous with your words 
  73. Don’t worry what everyone thinks. Choose a handful of people that love and truly know you (warts and all) and care about what they think of you. Everyone else’s opinion is a burden you don’t need to carry around with you. Feel the weight lift off as you let them go.
  74. Give up on complaining. Instead of complaining about the world not being how you wish, control the things you can control and be an example to others. Complaining isn’t fun, isn’t good for you, and makes you a bore— I’d say it’s got to go.
  75. Stop comparing yourself to others. Being the best or the richest or the most talented will not improve the quality or beauty of your life. You already have everything you need to do that.
  76. Be honest. Tell the absolute truth with absolute kindness. This is the only way to build trust and genuine intimacy with other humans. One of life’s greatest and simplest joys.
  77. Be quick to forgive. If minimalism is about letting go, then forgiveness is the most minimalist of relational values. Forgiveness says I’m releasing any feelings of resentment and holding on to what matters most.
  78. Don’t avoid hard things. Simple living is not easy living. Pursuing a life of ease will backfire. The more you crave ease, the more annoyance and frustration you will feel in anything that requires effort. Instead, pursue the hard things you nonetheless enjoy.
  79. Stop taking in so much information. The internet makes it easy to expose yourself to so many wonderful ideas (like many in this list). But merely reading about the life you want to live can make you feel good without any real change. Set limits and take action.
  80. Lower your life’s requirements. What is really required for you to live a happy and meaningful life? The higher you raise that bar, the faster you have to run on the treadmill of busyness to maintain that lifestyle.
  81. Become a minimalist. Minimalism means having the freedom to live your life with more vividness, clarity, and joy. It is letting go of the mania of the modern world to see your life as canvas and yourself as an artist.
  82. Be able to walk away. The minimalist doesn’t run from pleasure, in fact, they fill their lives to the brim with all sorts of pleasures and beauties. But the minimalist can walk away. The minimalist knows enough and doesn’t demand encore after encore.
  83. Step off the hedonic treadmill. Pleasures based on comparison never satisfy. Once you enjoy one dose, you quickly move onto a bigger dose. Pleasures that encourage admiration and gratitude require smaller and smaller doses to deliver the medicine we all seek: happiness.
  84. Do the real thing. If you’re looking for a simpler approach to making progress— stop reading about the topic, researching options, making complicated plans, or anything else you might be doing to prepare yourself… just do the real thing.
  85. Enjoy the journey. Instead of visualizing your goals, try visualizing yourself enjoying the routines and habits that it will take to get you there. We spend 99% of our lives on the journey, so we might as well make it a thing of beauty.
  86. Stop looking for an identity in your accomplishments. If you make your goals your primary identity, you’ll swing wildly from optimism to discouragement, depending on today’s progress or setbacks. Instead, learn to love your habits and then look to help others in their own journey. 
  87. Spend time alone. As much as we need each other, we also need time alone to declutter our thoughts. Use this time to decide the person you want to be and make sure your actions are aligned with that vision. 
  88. Realize that we are all recipients of grace. We have done nothing to deserve the beauty and kindness that we experience. All of it is an undeserved, unearned gift. Live your life with a grateful heart, and your struggles will be put in perspective.
  89. Pare down your rooms. Keep paring down to enjoy true minimalist beauty. Leave only what is essential or what brings joy to you and your family.
  90. Consider a longer, slower vacation. Instead of a vacation where you get away from everything for a while (still a fun option), try moving your life to a new location for a longer stretch and living your normal routines just at a slower rhythm. 
  91. Don’t buy it when you can grow it or build it. Reject the notion that you are merely a consumer and that price and convenience are the highest values. Fill your beautiful life with things that you watched grow or that you made with your own hands. 
  92. Do what you were made to do. As much as possible, match the reality of your daily life to your nature. When we are doing work that is meaningful and enjoyable to us, it is like running a race with a huge tailwind.
  93. Drive slowly. What’s the rush? Why are we always trying to fast forward through one part of life to get to the next? What if we decided that wherever we are is exactly where we were meant to be? 
  94. Keep your inbox empty. The simplest approach to managing your digital mailbox is deciding to touch every email only once: either it gets archived, replied to immediately, or added to your to-do list (but removed from your inbox).
  95. Watch less tv. In the right dose, TV can be a relaxing and entertaining break from normal life. But TV soaks up way too much time that could be used pursuing the life you always dreamed was possible: one with wonder, kindness, and gratitude at its core.
  96. Find inner simplicity. All the outer changes in the world won’t accomplish much if your inner world of your mind is still chaotic. The key to simplifying your inner-self is to know your purpose and to align everything you do with that purpose. 
  97. Pack lightly. In highschool, I was pleased to discover that all I needed for an overnight trip to a friends house was a toothbrush. My needs have multiplied just a bit, but I still find pleasure in seeing how minimalist my traveling can be
  98. Unsubscribe to anything not adding value. Something I do regularly is to pare down on the number of online content creators I follow. By keeping this list small I get to enjoy the very best in small doses. I’d ask that you only subscribe to our blog if you think we are one of those voices in your life for this season.
  99. Get enough sleep each night. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, you should probably get this issue sorted out before you attempt anything else on the list. I can personally attest to the life-transforming effect of simply getting a full night of rest. 
  100. Maintain what you have for a simpler life. When you do a little planning and take care of small problems before they get too big (or before they even become problems) you make life much simpler for yourself… fewer emergencies and less stress.
  101. Let go of perfection. As humans, we are far from perfect, but too often we stress ourselves over achieving the perfect results. Better to strive for great work and embrace the beauty of wabi-sabi (that which is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete”).

🌿 Introducing, Declutter Your Life, a premium newsletter with monthly challenges to help you live a less cluttered life– inside and out.

You Might Also Like