15 Ways to Simplify Your Life (and Finances) Before the End of 2015

December 14, 2015

cabin-in-woods

We’re nearly halfway through the final month of 2015 and, despite how calm I might seem on the surface, I’ve definitely been experiencing some end-of-the-year stress. I keep thinking about the fact that I haven’t accomplished some of the goals I’d set for myself; the invitations to coffees, dinners and holiday parties seem to be coming in almost daily; and I’m trying to figure out how to squeeze it all in, on top of my freelance work (which seems to be ramping up, not down like everyone said it would this month).

As the hours seem to fly by faster and faster, I’ve realized there is truly only so much we can do in a day, week or month – and sometimes, you need to let things go; that’s just one of the ways you can simplify your life, before the end of the year. Here’s a list of my other go-tos.

1. Wake up slowly.

wake-up-slowly

It took a couple years of working from home to develop a slow morning routine, but now I can’t imagine my days starting any other way. Whether I have an alarm set or I wake up naturally on my own, I stay in bed until I feel fully awake; this typically only takes 5-10 minutes. In those few quiet moments, I don’t look at my phone and try not to think about work – I just move around and stretch in bed, until I’m ready to get up. If you wake up stressed, jump out of bed and start working right away, you’ll feel rushed and anxious all day. Move a little slower and you’ll set a better pace.

2. Before anything else, do something you love.

coffee-book-bed

Once I get up, I make coffee and spend the first 15-30 minutes of my day reading. Sometimes I read a book, sometimes I read my favourite blogs… the only rule is I can’t read email or whatever’s new on social media – there’s a whole day of that ahead of me! Reading might not be something you love to do. Maybe you’d rather workout, stretch, meditate or listen to a podcast. Whatever it is, make sure you do it first thing in the morning. If you don’t, you might finish every busy day saying, “I wish I had time to do this…” Be selfish and make the time, before you give the rest of your day to other people/tasks.

3. Single-task.

single-task-hike

I didn’t always single-task – that is, to only do one thing at a time, rather than have multiple things on the go at once. I first started practicing single-tasking in the spring, when I realized I’d go for entire walks and barely remember any of the scenery, because I was too busy listening to podcasts; or not actually relaxing while in the bath, because I was replying to text messages; or not being able to get anything done, because I had tabs open that were related to 10 separate projects. Over time, I’ve learned that you can get more done – and truly enjoy doing “nothing” – when you only do one thing at a time.

4. Get to inbox zero.

align-goals

Earlier in the fall, David challenged me to get down to inbox zero. After months of having 50-60 emails sitting there at all times, I accepted his challenge and now reach zero a few times each week. While you might think that’s an impossible goal, I look at it this way: my inbox is a constant to-do list… and I want to cross every task off! To make it easier, I constantly unsubscribe from random newsletters (and use Unroll.Me to help with that), typically keep my responses brief and have a great archive/folder system. I believe inbox zero is step 1 in clearing out digital clutter. Your inbox will never feel the same again!

5. Put your phone down.

put-phone-down

In the past, I foolishly prided myself as being someone who didn’t look at their phone a lot – at least, not when I was with friends. A few weeks ago, however, I got a harsh reality check when I downloaded the Moment app and found I was spending 3-4 hours/day on my phone – often when I was alone, either texting with friends or distracting myself from work – and it’s so unnecessary. With so many people to see and tasks to complete before the year is up, our phones only distract us from living in the moment. Let’s all promise to put them down more, this season, and pay attention to what’s in front of us.

6. Stay offline at night.

stay-offline-at-night

The first challenge I set for myself in 2015 was to go 31 days without watching TV. While I didn’t exactly stick to the rules, and have since gone back to watching some shows and movies, it was an incredibly eye-opening experiment – one that changed the way I’ve consumed media ever since. The greatest takeaway (other than realizing how much more productive I could be) was a secondary rule I set for myself during those 31 days: to not check email or social media after 6pm. Staying offline at night gives you a forced break (and honestly, nothing happens that can’t wait until the morning).

7. Only declutter the space you use most often.

clean-desk

If you’ve been feeling the itch to declutter and purge some of your belongings, but don’t know where to begin, commit to tackling just one area of your home in December: the space you use most often. For me, that’s my desk. I could probably go through all the rooms of my home again, but my desk is where I spend the most time, so that’s the only space I’ll focus on cleaning up this month. No matter what space you choose, take stock of what’s there, put away/get rid of anything you don’t need (or won’t need in the next few weeks) and enjoy the extra “room” it clears up.

8. Fix a daily/weekly annoyance.

fix-problem

One of the benefits of getting rid of 75% of my belongings, and figuring out what I use most often, has been my new ability to identify all the true annoyances in my life and finding ways to fix them – ASAP. Right now, I keep noticing that I’m running out of tank tops before I’m ready to do laundry. The solution: I asked Santa for one new one. Your “annoyance” could be the expired parking pass you keep pushing off renewing, the emails that keep piling up, the appliance that breaks down every third time you use it, and so on. Take a few minutes and just take care of it – your brain will thank you!

9. Gather all your papers and receipts.

gather-work

I know there’s nothing fun about this task, but I promise you’ll be glad you did it at tax time. One of the things I used to do at the end of every year was gather all my paperwork and receipts and put it in an envelope for the next tax season. Since I started freelancing (and especially now that I work for myself), I’ve been doing this all throughout the year – but I still open the envelope in December and organize everything, so I can quickly enter it into UFile in the spring and be done with it. Save yourself the added stress in a few months and get yourself organized now. You don’t have to do any calculations or start worrying about it – just gather everything you need and put it in a safe place.

10. Set a financial goal you can accomplish in the next 18 days.

set-financial-goal

When it comes to our financial goals, we tend to be extremely hard on ourselves when we can’t quite hit them within the timeframe we’d set. For example, I haven’t saved anywhere close to the amount of money I wanted to, in my first six months of full-time freelance… and it would be really easy to just say “I failed” to meet my goals for this year. Instead, I’m going to set a SMART goal I know I can accomplish in the next 18 days, and will feel proud of myself when I achieve it. Didn’t quite save the $5,000 you wanted to? That’s too bad. But can you save $250 more before the year is up? Do it!

11. Empty your pantry/freezer.

empty-your-pantry

During the past couple weeks, I’ve been basing most of my meals around food that’s already in the cupboards. I’ve baked banana bread, made crockpot chilli and eaten a few too many grilled cheese sandwiches (oops). I’ve also snacked on roasted almonds, had lots of soup… and I’ve really only gone to the grocery store for produce and a little bit of meat. I started the challenge to save money this month, but then saw that Gretchen was doing the same and it’s inspired me to keep going until I clear out as much as possible. (Just be mindful of what you eat and get simple recipes on Jules’ blog!)

12. Don’t be scared to say “no”.

your-time

I could joke and say that we should start by saying “no” to all the extra treats put in front of us this month… and that’s true! But what I really mean is that if you’re feeling stressed for time, don’t be scared to say “no” to people who present new plans or ask you to do something for them this month. Like I said at the beginning of this post, there is truly only so much we can do. You can try to “do it all”, but you’re still limited to 24 hours of time each day. For as much as you might want to give to others – especially during the holidays – you need to take care of yourself too. Say “no” when you need to. It’ll be ok.

13. Let go of a goal (or many).

let-go-of-goals

Since January 2012, I’ve written a list of at least 10 goals I wanted to accomplish each year – and dozens more pop-up, as the weeks pass. I’m guilty of looking at the list, or at other projects I’ve wanted to tackle, and feeling bad about not achieving them all… but what I should really be doing is looking back and being proud of everything I’ve done in the past 347 days! At this point, how important is it to tackle the rest of your goals? Will a few weeks make a difference? Figure out what needs to get done now (and is actually achievable) and what can wait until next year… then let the rest go.

14. Relax, meditate… and get some sleep.

relax-sleep

For as “busy” as I’ve been these past two weeks, I’ve still managed to clock at least 20 minutes of meditation every day, taken a handful of bubble baths and gotten at least 6-8 hours of sleep every night. The final 18 days of this year are sure to be the busiest, for most of us, which is why it’s extra important to take a few timeouts for ourselves and stay well-rested. The guided meditations on the Calm app have helped me wake up, re-focus and go to sleep. You could also pencil in time for yourself, quiet nights in with family/friends or even a mini getaway where your main goal is to relax. You deserve it.

15. Get outside!

cabin-in-woods

Finally, my favourite way to slow down and find my focus again is to get outside. It doesn’t matter if you go for a long hike, hangout at the beach or just take 15 minutes to walk around the neighbourhood, spending time outside seems to be the cure for all day-to-day problems. This week, I’m heading to Vancouver for a quick 36 hours, and I plan to sneak in my favourite walk in Port Moody because it’s always so peaceful. I’d love to do one more hike (if the weather will hold out) and am planning a snowshoeing day-trip with girlfriends in early January. It doesn’t really matter what you do, so long as you get outside… I promise the fresh air will help. :)

What are some of your favourite ways to simplify and slow down?

93 Comments

  • Reply Brian @DebtDiscipline December 14, 2015 at 4:31 am

    A great list. I like to start my day with a positive thought, just tell myself today is going to be a great day! Just helps set my mood for the day. I agree on the single task, often multitasking doesn’t allow enough focus and you do not accomplish anything.

    • Reply Cait Flanders December 14, 2015 at 8:22 am

      Oh, I love that idea too, Brian! For a while, I was also in the routine of making it so the first tweet I sent out (later in the morning, not first thing) was one that expressed gratitude. I might try that again… now!

  • Reply Tyler December 14, 2015 at 4:36 am

    I keep thinking about slowing down for the last few weeks of the year but I’m planning out next year so much that I’m not sure I’ll be able to slow down at all. I’ve already got most of the January things filled out in the mindful budget I received (love the bookmark by the way). I’m working on my own site that so far has nothing on it it simply exists. As well as planning things at my actual job for next year. Lots to do but I’ll try to slow down for a few things before the year ends. Maybe take the wife out to a nice dinner.

    • Reply Cait Flanders December 14, 2015 at 8:58 am

      Ahhh yes… I have lots of plans for the new year too, Tyler! Just remember to not lose sight of the 18 days in front of you now. Dinner with your wife sounds great :)

  • Reply Mark LeGear December 14, 2015 at 7:04 am

    One way I have simplified things is having a separate work and personal email. My work email I only touch at work. My personal email is simply not that important and I usually just leave it be unless I am expecting something. I do a quick skim and don’t open 90% of stuff. I am lucky because I never have subscribed to the whole social media stuff and my family and friends know this so don’t bother flooding me with information. I like to keep it that way as I don’t like those kind of distractions. I read a few blogs that interest me (Like yours!) and that is about it :).

    I also keep my holidays simple. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends but never book trips and such at this time of year. It is much too busy and I have found I have a better time staying close to home and just being outside as much as possible. Saves a ton of money too!

    Have a great day!

    • Reply Cait Flanders December 14, 2015 at 9:03 am

      Great idea about the separate emails, Mark! I don’t know if I could do that now that I work for myself… I feel like most emails are work-related, haha. But I used to do the same when I still had a day job: didn’t check my work email after 4pm and kept the two separate. You’re also smart to not travel this time of year. I’m grateful I’m only travelling today + tomorrow, and can then stay at home and relax after that! Happy Monday to you :)

  • Reply Tonya@Budget and the Beach December 14, 2015 at 7:21 am

    Love this post Cait! I didn’t know there was an app to show you how much you are on your phone. I might have to try that. Kind of seems ironic though. lol! Anyway, I’m having to come up with a new morning routine because of the full time gig, which means getting up early and prioritizing blogging stuff. There doesn’t seem to be room to wake up slow, so it’s something I’ll have to work on.

    • Reply Cait Flanders December 14, 2015 at 9:05 am

      Oh yea, it felt so weird to download it, haha… but it’s also FASCINATING to look at, at the end of each day. There was one day (where I spent a couple hours at the post office) when I spent 5 HOURS looking at my phone. I’m sure I was just bored in line… but what the heck! I never want to repeat that. Yes, a slow morning routine might have to be a bit “quicker” with your new job, but even if you can just take a few deep breaths before you jump out of bed, it’ll help! Excited for you!

  • Reply LITTERLESS December 14, 2015 at 7:23 am

    Love these ideas to wrap up the year. I’ll join you in eating up my food (it’s about time!) and organizing a few financial things so next year is less stressful. And, then, the last two weeks I’m going on vacation and leaving my computer at home–thank goodness! Thanks for the ideas!

    • Reply Cait Flanders December 14, 2015 at 9:06 am

      Ooo, how wonderful you’ll actually be able to leave your computer at home! I don’t know if I’ve ever done that, haha. Maybe that’ll be a goal for next year? ;) Good luck eating up what’s in the cupboards!

    • Reply Isabelle December 15, 2015 at 4:32 pm

      I was on the fence but you just convinced me…. For my upcoming 4 days trip I will be leaving the tablet at home and bring a book instead!

      • Reply Cait Flanders December 16, 2015 at 4:24 pm

        AMAZING!

  • Reply Maggie @ Northern Expenditure December 14, 2015 at 7:29 am

    As always, this is exactly what I needed to read this week on a Monday morning. Now I’m ready to be mindful, present, single-task, less phone frantic, and more productive. Thanks Cait!

    • Reply Cait Flanders December 14, 2015 at 9:06 am

      Happy to help! :)

  • Reply Adela December 14, 2015 at 7:32 am

    Beautiful post! I am going to Poland (my homeland) for Christmas and it is always stressful – long flights, sitting in a car for many hours and visiting both sides of my family in only 5 days. That is why your ideas come so handy. During travel I like to single task as well – I do not read or watch films on a plane, I simply watch the world go by. I can think and meditate and I am much more relaxed when I land. Best luck for 2016!

    • Reply Cait Flanders December 14, 2015 at 9:08 am

      I can so relate to this, Adela! For years, I used to try to work on planes… then after I quit my job, I finally stopped and just relaxed. Sometimes I do watch movies or listen to podcasts, but I’ll often just relax… and SLEEP! It’s a much better way to travel; reduces so much unnecessary stress. Glad to hear you do the same :) Have a great trip home. And Happy New Year!

  • Reply Kristen December 14, 2015 at 8:08 am

    I try and do most of those. Great advice!

    • Reply Cait Flanders December 14, 2015 at 9:09 am

      Thanks, Kristen!

  • Reply Kate @ Cashville Skyline December 14, 2015 at 8:10 am

    Absolutely love this post, Cait. I need to do many of these things. And I especially love your suggestion to take 15-30 minutes at the start of each day doing something you love. Because so many days are devoted exclusively to things for everyone else!

    • Reply Cait Flanders December 14, 2015 at 9:09 am

      I know it’s not easy for everyone to squeeze that much “extra” time into their mornings, but even just taking a few minutes for yourself is SO important. :)

  • Reply Mackenzie December 14, 2015 at 8:53 am

    Love this post Cait :) I am going to attempt getting my inbox down to zero. I think I save emails because I want to come back to them for some reason, but then I can’t remember the reason or I’ve waited too long and an opportunity has passed me by. Definitely something I need to work on :)

    • Reply Cait Flanders December 14, 2015 at 9:11 am

      Woo hoo! Inbox zero is probably my favourite idea on this list. I don’t physically delete that many – maybe 30-40%!? But I reply and archive them. I’m sitting at about 20 right now, but my goal will be to hit 0 by Friday! Want to do that with me!? :)

    • Reply Melanie December 15, 2015 at 9:28 am

      I subscribe to Inbox Zero and it’s been a year of loving it. Mackenzie, I created a couple of folders that I keep at the top of my folder list. 1) @ActionRequired (Meaning I need to respond or do something as a result of this email) 2) @AwaitingMoreInformation – perhaps I need to hear an answer about something from someone else so it will wait there until we have the response and 3) @ForReview. this may be a new policy, or procedure, something that I need to have some time to sit down and review.
      I put the @ sign next to the folder name so that they appear right at the top of my folder list and can’t be missed. Seriously, operation Inbox Zero is amazing.

  • Reply Alyssa @ Generation YRA December 14, 2015 at 8:56 am

    I love all of these, Cait!! I have to say I practice quite a few of these things, but potentially not as maximized as I would prefer. One way I have incorporated simplification is by keeping a ‘Gratitude Journal’ and logging in it at night with my fiancé. When we are laying down relaxing from the day, we select just 5 things we are grateful for, that typically relate to that day (I know there are an incredible amount of things to be grateful for, and we try to touch on each of those things)! When some days just feel like a complete disarray, it helps to channel in on just 5 things in life that we are grateful for. It allows us to be more intentional about those key things and focus on how to share our gratitude in return. I hope you enjoy your walk in Port Moody, and let me know how snowshoeing goes (I’ve always wanted to do that)!!

    • Reply Cait Flanders December 14, 2015 at 9:14 am

      I love that you guys do this together, Alyssa! That sounds like a wonderful way to end the day. Snowshoeing is a blast! I highly recommend it. :)

  • Reply Our Next Life December 14, 2015 at 9:05 am

    I’m on a plane right now, after starting the day at 3:45 AM, so the “wake up slowly” directive is sounding both unattainable and oh so wonderful. :-) We are a week away from having two weeks off, so I’m looking forward to unplugging, catching up on sleep and getting outdoors more, as well as mapping out our financial goals for 2016. Thank you, as always, for your insightful inspiration!

    • Reply Cait Flanders December 14, 2015 at 9:16 am

      Ahhh yes, those mornings are THE WORST. (You know that feeling in the pit of your stomach when you’re so tired you almost feel sick? Ugh – those are 3:45am mornings for me.) But I know you’ll enjoy your two weeks off, and imagine you’ll be spending lots of time outside! I’d better see some more pics of snow and fun ;)

  • Reply Michelle December 14, 2015 at 9:14 am

    Love this list. I really need to work on putting my phone down more. I usually either have my phone or my laptop on me and I’m sure Wes is getting annoyed!

    • Reply Cait Flanders December 14, 2015 at 9:19 am

      Haha, well you guys spend lots of time outside too, though! I see the pics ;)

  • Reply Liz L December 14, 2015 at 9:34 am

    First time commenting – been lurking for a while and love your blog!

    I really like the slow morning idea. I’m not a morning person and have been struggling to set a routine that doesn’t start at 2pm. Going to adapt some of your ideas and see how it goes!

    • Reply Cait Flanders December 15, 2015 at 8:24 am

      Awesome! Come back and let us know how it’s going after a few weeks, Liz :)

  • Reply LeisureFreak Tommy December 14, 2015 at 9:53 am

    I preach slowing down and paying attention to everything going on around us. It is the only way to find inspiration and appreciation for everything life has provided. It is sometimes challenged with all that needs to be done or problems that need to be solved but most are self imposed. Great post and reminder of how much we can control in our lives for the better with simple decisions and actions.

    • Reply Cait Flanders December 15, 2015 at 8:24 am

      I appreciate you adding that things are often self-imposed, Tommy – that’s how I feel about goals! No one sets personal goals for us… we do that! If you have to let it go, let it go. :)

  • Reply Rochelle December 14, 2015 at 10:14 am

    Thanks for this. I needed something to give me permission to let go of some of my 2015 goals. I won’t finish my reading list, and started the year thinking blogging would be more of a priority for me than it turned out to be, and I was just looking at my goals this morning sad I wouldn’t complete them… even though I have little desire to besides getting to check off the boxes.

    • Reply Linda Sand December 14, 2015 at 4:09 pm

      This is a good place to apply the 80/20 rule–if you completed 80% of a task, you get to check it off as done. :)

  • Reply Maggie @ Creative Clarity December 14, 2015 at 10:23 am

    Great list, Cait. One of my favourite things about December is that everyone seems to be ready for a break.
    I am getting less emails every day, have significantly less meetings this month, and all clients know that I am taking a holiday as of December 21 and not working again until January 4.
    I wonder what it is about the holiday season that makes us slow down and reflect, and why more months aren’t like December.

    • Reply Cait Flanders December 16, 2015 at 4:26 pm

      Ahhh, good for you, Maggie! Taking two whole weeks off. I’m so excited for you! And I’d say the holidays + the end of the calendar year are why we’re forced to slow down – not even just because we want to, but because everyone else goes on vacation. ;)

  • Reply Tawcan December 14, 2015 at 11:07 am

    Putting the phone away regularly will simplify your life tremendously. I recently disabled 99% of the notifications on my phone and my life has never been simpler. I love the feel seeing no new emails in my inboxes. That’s certainly something I aim for every day.

    • Reply Cait Flanders December 16, 2015 at 4:28 pm

      Yes, I’ve never setup notifications on my phone! Only for phone calls and text messages. But I still get a lot of those, and then feel the need to distract myself while working by checking social media, etc. I’ll have to give an update on my phone usage in a few weeks or a month, after I experiment with this app more!

  • Reply Rob December 14, 2015 at 11:52 am

    Hi Cait!
    Some of the ways that I simplify my life are the following:
    Go to bed and get up at the same times each day, weekends included.
    Being an “early bird”, I get up early and tackle the complex or hard tasks first, while leaving the easy stuff for late in the day when I’m “coasting”.
    Since I receive (literally) 100’s of emails a day (from blog alerts, personal emails, business emails, etc.), from past experience (prior to retirement), I prioritize and group my emails (my email software automatically does this), thus allowing me to hit the priority emails first. I then quickly scan the rest, deciding whether to read and answer, just read, or skip altogether.
    Years ago I taught myself to speed read. I use it often but to tend to slow it down a tad whenever I’m enjoying a “good read” .
    As others have commented, I do take regular breaks to get out, exercise, socialize, etc.
    And last but not least, I stay organized and constantly time manage my day, not trying to accomplish everything out there – just stuff that “I” wish to do.

    • Reply Cait Flanders December 16, 2015 at 4:31 pm

      Wow, hard tasks first! I’ve read that’s a good thing to do before, but I just can’t always make myself do that, haha… I find I have to pay attention to my energy levels. Some days, I wake up and can work on tough stuff right away – and all day. Other days, I can’t handle much more than email, comments, admin stuff, etc. Teach us your ways!

  • Reply Daisy @ Simplicity Relished December 14, 2015 at 12:03 pm

    Definitely going outside! And resisting the constant flow of information, demands, and entertainment from our technology is an essential component to enjoying the fruits of simple living!

    • Reply Cait Flanders December 16, 2015 at 4:31 pm

      It absolutely is!

  • Reply Steve Miller December 14, 2015 at 12:05 pm

    Great way to set the stage for the remaining days of December. Happy Holidays, Cait!

    • Reply Cait Flanders December 16, 2015 at 4:31 pm

      Thanks, Steve! Same to you!

  • Reply AB December 14, 2015 at 12:50 pm

    To say that this is a great list is an understatement. Too often, I find year-end reflection posts are used as excuses to reuse old content or regurgitate unoriginal ideas. I found your post thoughtful and actually full of relevant (new!) content. Your suggestions were authentic and helpful, and any repeated content (eg Calm app, lists of goals) are needed reminders to do the damn thing. I had immediate take-aways – I tried to download the Moment app but my phone is too old (and my minimalist tendencies have stopped me from replacing it). Thank you!

    • Reply Cait Flanders December 16, 2015 at 4:32 pm

      This is one of the nicest comments I’ve read in a while, AB! “Do the damn thing” is right. ;)

      • Reply AB December 18, 2015 at 8:14 am

        Aww, you’re welcome & I meant it all! Happy holidays. :)

  • Reply Fervent Finance December 14, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    Great list Cait! My favorite one that was hard for me for a long time was saying “no”. Now I’m almost too good at it :) Need to work on getting outside more. Maybe I’ll move to a warmer climate!

    • Reply Cait Flanders December 16, 2015 at 4:36 pm

      Ha! I’m almost too good at it, too… and head to the west coast!

  • Reply Giulia December 14, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    Loving this list, I am agree with the sentire post.
    I try to keep myself calm and posite daily finding at least once thing per day to smile.

    • Reply Cait Flanders December 16, 2015 at 4:37 pm

      Aww, I love that, Giulia! Hope more than one thing made you smile today :)

  • Reply Sophie @ The Ethical Wardrobe December 14, 2015 at 2:09 pm

    Oh man, I love this Cait – I was nodding fervently at the screen for the whole list! First time commenter, long time reader and fan here. I’ll hopefully be simplifying my life in a big way next year…inspired by your shopping ban, I’ll be doing a ‘wardrobe challenge’ where I buy no new clothes, shoes or accessories for the year! I’d love for you to stop by and see how I’m doing if you get a chance :-)

    • Reply Cait Flanders December 16, 2015 at 4:40 pm

      When I read that, I first thought you might stop by your house… then I went to your blog and thought “yea, Australia would be cool!” Haha. Will definitely follow along, Sophie! Good luck!

  • Reply Abigail @ipickuppennies December 14, 2015 at 3:18 pm

    Our mornings start out very differently. I can’t lie there until I feel awake because I will definitely fall back asleep. Or just put off getting up somehow.

    So I pretty much roll out of bed, plop down in the chair and start answering emails. Once the inbox is empty (however briefly) then I can start looking into getting other stuff done.

    • Reply Cait Flanders December 16, 2015 at 4:41 pm

      Could you set a few alarms – that go off every 5 minutes, after your first one? ;)

  • Reply Stephen December 14, 2015 at 5:31 pm

    Fantastic list! I especially like the idea of regularly fixing an annoyance. It’s easy to overlook how much a minor annoyance weighs on us until the relief of getting it taken care of.

    My personal favorite way to simplify is through batching. Similar to single-tasking, I like to set aside time dedicated to completing individual tasks without interruption. I check and respond to emails twice daily (at set times). Every other evening I take some time to clean, with one morning set aside for a more thorough cleaning. One day a week I’ll write and schedule blog posts. Leisure activities during the week are saved for end of day. By scheduling times/days where I tackle only certain duties I find I’m less distracted and more efficient than if I were to try and take care of them on an “as I have time” basis.

    • Reply Cait Flanders December 16, 2015 at 4:42 pm

      That’s interesting, Stephen! I keep thinking it’d be nice to try to schedule my time like that… but I can’t seem to “schedule” creativity, you know? How do you handle that? Do you ever sit down to write and realize you have nothing to say?

  • Reply Sarah Noelle @ The Yachtless December 14, 2015 at 6:47 pm

    Hey Cait :) I’m looking forward to using this list to help me reset. After tomorrow I’m going to be without a set schedule or workplace for the first time in….well, a long time. I have about a thousand things that I want to do with my time for the rest of the month, which is exciting but also overwhelming. (And I’m also concerned that I may end up sitting in front of a screen with ten browser tabs open all day if I don’t take steps to prevent that situation.) So thanks for a list of lovely inspirational ideas. Getting outside, starting the day with something I love, and saying no are probably particularly good places for me to start.
    Hope you had/have a fun trip to Vancouver. :)

    • Reply Cait Flanders December 16, 2015 at 4:44 pm

      Ahhh yes, the first days (and weeks) after finishing school can be really strange, exciting and lazy, haha… I lost all productivity for probably a month after! (Don’t do what I did!) I’ll send good vibes your way every morning, and am sure you’ll pick up a new (slower) routine with no trouble at all. :)

  • Reply Emily @ JohnJaneDoe December 15, 2015 at 5:54 am

    I needed this, thanks. Between starting a new job, trying to keep up with the blog and getting ready for Christmas I was feeling a little overwhelmed. These are great tips for slowing down in manageable ways.

    • Reply Cait Flanders December 16, 2015 at 4:44 pm

      Glad they could help, Emily! :)

  • Reply Roomie December 15, 2015 at 8:17 am

    Well done. I love the “say no”…especially when it comes to holiday parties and social engagements. Don’t get me wrong – we all know I love to party…but you also know how much I love hanging in with Charles. I caught a cold last week and still went out 9 of the last 11 nights. Time to say “NO”…I’m Netflixing tonight!

    • Reply Cait Flanders December 16, 2015 at 4:47 pm

      HEY ROOMIE! I’m sure Charles loved having you at home :D

  • Reply My Own Advisor December 15, 2015 at 10:16 am

    “No” or “Not right now” are likely the most powerful words in the business world. It applies to our personal lives as well Cait, at least I feel this way. :)

    Mark

    • Reply Cait Flanders December 16, 2015 at 4:47 pm

      I couldn’t agree more, Mark! :)

  • Reply Jessica December 15, 2015 at 11:31 am

    I love these. Your blog has become a must-read for me as I start my own journey to paying off debt and simplifying my life. My favourite on this list is doing something for yourself first – something I really need to learn.

    • Reply Cait Flanders December 16, 2015 at 4:52 pm

      And as a single mama, it’s an absolute must, Jessica!

  • Reply Robyn December 15, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    Excellent list and every one of the points is something I know I should be doing. I’m always complaining about feeling frazzled and unfocused and I do the opposite of everything you’ve suggested here. Definitely going to keep this list somewhere safe and start working on it now and into the new year. Thanks for the most useful thing I’ve read in a while!

    • Reply Cait Flanders December 16, 2015 at 4:53 pm

      Wow, I’m glad you like it so much, Robyn! I never know how “list” posts will work out… but I put a lot of energy into this one and am glad I did. :)

  • Reply Isabelle December 15, 2015 at 4:06 pm

    While I can’t take it slow in the morning (got 2 pre-schoolers), I do try to have everything ready the night before so we don’t rush too much in the morning, having to get them and myself ready+2 different drop-offs and getting to work.

    Also, I try to sleep at least 7h/night. And eat less sweets, which triggers binges and bad mood.

    As for Christmas, the gifts have been bought and wrapped a long time ago (yes, I was wrapping gift in July…), and I avoid malls.

    Not entertaining this year, we are going to visit the in-laws, so no stress there. And, apart from family gathering on December 24 and 25th, I only have plans for one work potluck, one brunch with friends, one brunch with family and receiving 2 friends for a night. This is my Christmas related socialisation, and it’s enought.

    One thing that also really help me relax is exercise, but I’ve been slacking lately… Oh well,can’t do it all.

    Oh, yes, also I’m using the remaining of my health coverage for 3 massages this month!

    So December is a good month for me, not stressful.
    MERRY CHRISTMAS IN ADVANCE!!🎄

    • Reply Cait Flanders December 16, 2015 at 4:58 pm

      THREE massages? I say that with extreme jealousy, Isabelle. ;) But I hope you enjoy every single minute of them all! Also, the Christmas tree made me smile. 🎄🎄🎄

  • Reply Sarah Elizabeth || Sediva Abroad December 16, 2015 at 1:39 am

    Aaah Cait, this is one of the best posts I’ve read in a while. I love it. I especially love the wake up slowly and single-tasking, two things that I don’t often do. As we speak, I have a Christmas movie playing in the background and a pot of coffee brewing. Definitely some things to practice for the rest of the month xx

    • Reply Cait Flanders December 16, 2015 at 5:00 pm

      I turn on background noise once in a while, Sarah… don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, if you don’t mind that you’re missing parts of the movie. :)

  • Reply Elle December 17, 2015 at 6:09 am

    One thing that has helped us is going on money dates. It’s a way for my husband and I to check in the finances, but more importantly talk about our progress.

    We’ve had a crazy year with a some setbacks, but thankfully our budget hasn’t been blown because we’re able to adjust. So while I wish that we’d be further along on some goals, I do feel good that we’re moving towards our dreams.

  • Reply Meghan H. December 17, 2015 at 9:19 am

    Great post, I just unrolled myself from about 75 subscriptions using the service you recommended… yikes! I will be doing several of the other things you suggested. I also start each morning by drinking a tea and reading – before my daughter wakes up and the rush to get out the door begins!

  • Reply Adam @ AdamChudy.com December 21, 2015 at 11:41 am

    Great list Cait. All good things to remember to do. Especially the ones about relaxing and slowing down.

  • Reply Susan December 21, 2015 at 11:30 pm

    Great post. I need to do a couple of these myself! I do try to go offline in the evenings to read but lately bad habits have slipped back.

  • Reply Ashley Chorpenning December 22, 2015 at 9:47 am

    Everything on this list is great. Thank you for sharing. It is a good reminder of the things in life that are truly important to us. We need to take a step back and just enjoy the moment.

  • Reply allroundbetterme December 22, 2015 at 12:14 pm

    Love it! Great list. I totally am in agreement with most of these… I really need to learn to say “no”… but there is always so much fun to be had!

  • Reply Teri December 22, 2015 at 2:42 pm

    Love this list and I must give this a shot. Thank you so much!

  • Reply Ashlee Michelle December 23, 2015 at 11:18 am

    I just found your blog on Bloglovin and I am SO glad I did!!!

    What great tips! Thank you for sharing!! The last 5-6 months I have been trying to slow down and simplify my life…mostly because all the chaos isn’t good for my Anxiety, but mostly because I do TOO MUCH and I have TOO MUCH. I think moving into a smaller house has helped my husband and I get more organized and declutter. We can’t have as much as we did before, which I was nervous about. But now, I like. I enjoy the simplicity of our small, decluttered home.

    -Ashlee Michelle

  • Reply Kate H December 24, 2015 at 1:48 am

    Hi,

    I just found your blog properly and I am really enjoying reading it! Your journey towards minimalism and a more simple life really resonate with me. I was hoping to do a lot of decluttering between Christmas and New Year and I am now thinking of doing a little shopping ban for at least 6 months just to try to use up what I have and to be more conscious of the things I buy.So, what i am trying to say is that, your blog has appeared in my life at just the right time!

    Thank you! Have a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

    Kate

  • Reply Michael @ NTPNW December 25, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    Hi Cait, One of the ways I simplify my life is by going to bed the same time everyday and getting up early to work out and prepare for the days events. I also enjoy gardening and smelling the flowers during the warmer months. I know somewhat weird for a guy but gardening really helps me to relax and take things slow.

  • Reply Scott December 27, 2015 at 8:03 am

    Hi Cait,

    Thanks for the great article. Spending a little longer in bed is something I’ve never thought of doing before as I reckoned it would just make me feel guilty but if it works for you, I’ll definitely give it a go in 2016!

    Have a happy new year!

    Scott

  • Reply Lennae December 27, 2015 at 8:44 pm

    Love this list, thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Shabana Feroze December 28, 2015 at 5:21 am

    This was a really helpful, practical list. I do many of the things I read on your list, and I CAN do many more! Thank you for writing such a thorough and pragmatic post!

  • Reply Carly @ Fine Fit Day December 30, 2015 at 6:14 am

    I love that these are so simple and achievable! And I’m especially on board with ‘single task’. Happy New Year!

  • Reply Angelica December 30, 2015 at 8:30 am

    Great tips, thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Donna Levreault January 1, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    An essential list–some these I already do but great to be reminded of others I never thought of. Thanks!

  • Reply Brissa January 2, 2016 at 3:48 pm

    subscribing! I am a fairly new blogger and my passions lie in everything you do. I am glad I have a blog to look up to! Thank you!
    Brissa

  • Reply Formative Fortunes January 6, 2016 at 9:13 pm

    If I could do all 15 of these things consistently my life would be much happier and a lot less stressful. Very important for us to keep our stress down, and to just try and lead a simple life!

  • Reply My Money Millennial January 7, 2016 at 11:32 am

    You have compiled a great list and many steps I would love to accomplish this year. Stepping away from the phone and disconnecting at night being the main ones. Setting financial goals and keeping track of finances better in the new year are also great tips.

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