18 Practical Ways to Downsize and Simplify for the New Year

When people think about downsizing, they often imagine it as decluttering or minimalist living. In reality, there are so many ways you can downsize and simplify your life that have nothing to do with your stuff. However, it’s important to remember that clutter plays a huge roll in your mental health and can be crazy helpful when you want to simplify all areas of your life. Today I have got 18 practical ways to start downsizing and simplifying your life without stressing you out.

*This post contains affiliate links through which I may make a commission. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Declutter one area per week

Chances are you have areas in your house that you want to declutter. You can start to downsize and simplify by just focusing on one area per week.

The minimalist basket approach

This doesn’t have to be a big, massive KonMari style downsize. It can be as simple as keeping a minimalist basket next to your door. When you pass an item that you feel like you no longer need, toss it in the basket. At the end of the week, donate all of the basket’s contents.

Simple. Effective.

Other ways to downsize and simplify your space each week

  • Put un-needed papers into the recycling.
  • Work on creating a paperless home
  • Vacuum for 10 minutes
  • Put dishes into the dishwasher right after they’ve been used
These practical ways to downsize your life and simplify are easy to start and can make huge changes in your life. Plus, you can start them today!

Unplug one hour per day

Downsizing is often seen as a material problem, but really it can be downsizing your wasted time as well.

The days I spend wasting my time in front of a TV screen, phone or laptop are the days that I’m more likely to be angry and accomplish less in my life.

Try simply moving instead

Unplugging for one hour per day can help declutter your brain and get time back on your plate for more important things.

This is a great time to move your body a little, take a bike ride, do some yoga, or even quiet your mind with a guided meditation.

There’s an app for that!

The Aaptiv app was designed to give you access to personal trainers 24/7. You can get guided yoga sessions, coaching for marathon running, biking or kickboxing and there is access to several guided meditations as well

Get 30 days FREE on the app!

Other ways to downsize and simplify unplugged time:

Practice gratitude

Starting a gratitude journal is a very simple thing to start. All you really need is a notebook. Each day when you wake up think of 5 – 10 things that you are grateful for. Doing this starts your day off on a positive note and encourages you to remember all of the great things you have in your life.

Other ways to downsize and simplify gratitude:

  • During high-stress times, take 15 seconds to close your eyes, listen to your breath and think of something you are deeply grateful for.
  • Pick your favorite spot to have your morning coffee.
  • Say it out loud. Tell other people what you’re grateful for today. Especially if it’s them!

Create a capsule wardrobe

Have you ever had those days where you just can’t decide what to wear? You go through your closet, try on 8 different shirts and then leave your house feeling frustrated?

Try a capsule wardrobe!

This can reduce the options you have to choose from first thing in the morning and allow you to only keep items that you truly love.

How do you create a capsule wardrobe?

There are many ways to create a capsule wardrobe and at the end of the day, you ultimately get to choose what goes and what stays.

My best recommendation is to create a new capsule with each changing season. That means you’d have clothes for summer, fall, winter and spring.

Other ways to downsize and simplify your wardrobe:

  • Try Marie Kondo’s “Spark Joy” method
  • Use the minimalist basket approach with your closet
  • Hang your hangers backward. When an item has been worn, re-hang it the correct way. At the end of the year see which hangers were never flipped and discard those items.

More downsize and simplify posts:

Pay off debt

Paying off debt is pretty much the greatest way to downsize your life. There is nothing more freeing than financial freedom. Paying off your debt will allow you to have all of your money back so that you can do the things in your life that you want to do.

What’s a simple way to pay off debt?

Like I said, debt freedom is life-changing. I believe in it so much that I created a book that guides people through the process. Grab my FREE eBook, Intentional to get a step by step idea on how to downsize your life (and debt) and live your dreams.

See our 6-month debt payoff and snag the free printout

Other ways to downsize and simplify your finances:

Smart Money Posts

Save $100 per month

If you dream of downsizing your life so that you have the freedom to do more things like travel, then it’s so important to make sure you are saving for those dreams.

Saving $100 per month is such a simple amount and is more easily done than people realize.

How to upsize and simplify saving

As soon as you get paid, have money automatically transferred to a savings account. The Savings Builder account from CITBank is by far the best one available. By saving $100 automatically each month, you are able to take advantage of a 2.45% interest rate. That means you’ll actually get paid every time you save money!

Start saving $100 right now

Quit one thing

There are two things that are no good: being a quitter and being someone who tries to do it all.

The most important thing is knowing when to quit and when not to. If you are feeling stressed, overworked and overwhelmed, there is a good chance that you have something in your life that you need to quit.

Saying no to commitments that cause you stress can be one of the best ways to downsize your life and simplify your time.

How to say no

There is no doubt that when you start to say no, it’s going to rub some people the wrong way. Don’t let the influence you. Stay true to you and stick by your guns.

Here are some simple ways to quit:

  • No thank you
  • I have a prior commitment
  • My schedule is too full
  • Maybe next time
  • No.

Don’t applogize for your feelings when it comes to turning something down or quitting. Saying yes to your mental health and your life needs no apologies.

Other ways to downsize and simplify your commitments:

  • Don’t sign up. Then there’s no need to quit.
  • Plan time for yourself and don’t schedule over it

More time-saving posts:

Skip the grocery store

Life can get busy and a lot of times those things we are obligated to do can drain us physically, emotionally and financially. A great way to downsize your life is to find ways to upsize your time. (Like we just talked about).

These days, one way you can do that is by having someone else do your grocery shopping for you.

Getting 8 hours back in your life

Shipt is a company that will do your grocery shopping for you and they say that their services save the average person between 6 – 8 hours per month by using Shipt.

Not only that, but I am a firm believer that by skipping the grocery store aisles you will wind up saving yourself a ton of money by avoiding impulse purchases.

Other ways to downsize and simplify food:

Go outside

There was a study done recently that says just 2 hours outside per week has a drastic impact on mental health.

Depending on where you live, it might be tougher to actually get outside in nature. What I think, however, is that any way you can get fresh air and sunlight intentionally is going to do you some good.

What counts as outside?

This doesn’t mean running from your work to the Chinese take out place on the corner. It means an intentional stroll through the park. Sitting out on your front step or just walking around the block.

Other ways to downsize and simplify outdoor time:

  • Plan a weekend getaway with friends where you can be outdoors
  • Bring more plants into your home to liven up your indoor time
  • Don’t bring technology outdoors with you — unless you’re listening to music or a podcast

Downsize unused expenses

If you are paying money for something that you barely use, it’s time to stop. Simplify your life and budget by cutting ties with those expenses that aren’t serving you.

The best expenses to downsize

Cable

Does anyone really need cable today when we have Hulu Live, Netflix and Amazon streaming? I don’t think so. These services alone can save you a ton of money each month.

Phone

There are phone plans starting at $10 per month. Don’t pay $50.

Gym

I love the gym. My memberships is worth every penny. But, if you are not using it, it’s time to part ways. The average gym membership costs $69 per month. Ditching that monthly expense is a great way to downsize your life for the better. Try the Aaptiv app FREE for 30 days instead.

Other ways to downsize and simplify expenses:

Get rid of doubles

Get some clutter out of your life by going through your kitchen and bathroom. There might be other places as well, but these two are the most common.

If you have cupboards stacked full of pots and pans, clear out the ones that are the least used. Get more kitchen decluttering tips.

What do you do with the extra space?

Just by getting rid of doubles can free up so much space it makes you feel a little…uncomfortable. I say, just embrace this. Let go of any obligation that you feel to re-fill this space with more stuff.

Other ways to downsize and simplify your space:

  • Donate unused furniture
  • Remove curtains to open up your space and bring in more light
  • Try one or two large photos on the wall instead of dozens of small ones
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Turn off notifications

You know that constant pinging you hear from your phone? It’s time to make that stop.

With your phone, you should be easily able to turn off notifications for social media and even your text messages and phone calls. I’m not saying you need to avoid these notifications at all times, but there are definitely times when ditching the distractions is a great way to downsize your life so you can focus on more important things.

Airplane mode and email

Another great practice to get in the hang of is avoiding checking your email first thing in the morning. Most people do this by habit and it can quickly turn into a clutter-filled, chaotic day. Set a designated time for emails each day after you’ve had a chance to practice gratitude and wake up a little.

At night time, at least an hour before you go to bed switch your phone to Airplane mode. This will help you unwind before bed and help you avoid distractions throughout the night.

Other ways to downsize and simplify your life from notifications:

  • Set time limits on your social media
  • Delete distracting apps from your phone
  • Put your phone away when socializing

Declutter your phone

Sure, we just talked about ditching social media apps and avoiding notifications, but have you ever considered everything else on your phone that might need purging?

Since our lives are pretty much all on our phones it’s fair to say that by downsizing your phone clutter, you can easily downsize your life.

Ways to downsize and simplify your phone:

  • Delete unnecessary photos every week
  • Clear out old messages
  • Delete unused apps

Give old stuff new life

Some times we get bored with our same old routine and our same old stuff and we find ourselves looking for ways to change things up. This can quickly lead to shopping sprees or adding more clutter in our homes.

Instead, try choosing a few old pieces of art, decor or furniture and giving them a new life by repainting or repurposing them.

Simple changes that make a big difference

Giving old stuff new life could be as simple as giving an old dresser new paint, making a pair of old jeans into some cutoff shorts or using your used candle jars as a cute storage idea. If there is an item that needs some TLC but you aren’t ready to get rid of it, see if you can come up with some creative ways to keep it around longer.

Other ways to simplify old stuff:

  • Wipe down dusty furniture
  • Practice making your bed every day
  • Be intentional about not tossing items (like clothes and paperwork) onto your chairs or countertops.

Keep a daily log

It sounds challenging, and in fact, it might be, but keeping a daily log can be very telling of how you spend your time.

When you take the time to pay attention to how long you played on your phone or how long you worked before taking a break, you might begin to see some bad habits come through. And of course, you’ll notice some good ones too!

How to keep a daily log

Most people don’t want to carry around journals all day. Thankfully we all have our phones on us almost at all times. Why not shoot yourself a text message throughout the day. Even something as simple as:

  • 6am wake up
  • 6:30am done with makeup
  • 6:50am finished breakfast

This can be a quick and effective way to be more intentional about how you spend your time and only takes a few seconds out of your day to track.

Other ways to downsize and simplify bad habits:

  • Create a new habit in its place. For example, instead of scrolling Facebook, start flipping a magazine.
  • Avoid them in the first place. If Facebook is a distraction, it should be one of the apps that you delete from your phone.

Get a library card

If you are a big book worm or find yourself always buying new books but never reading them, try getting yourself a library card.

This can be a simple way to expand your horizons and downsize your life from excess book clutter. By accessing all that the library has to offer you have the potential to learn new things, find new authors and avoid spending money on books you don’t really like.

Other ways to downsize and simplify your books:

Reach out to a friend

As great as it is meeting new friends, it’s so much easier to maintain the friendships we already have. So many times the best way to downsize your life is to just not add anything new to it and instead maintain and care for what you already have.

New ways to be friendly

You could reach out to an old friend just by shooting them a text message or giving them a call but there are so many other great ways to show our friends that we care.

Sending a voice message through text, having a little gift delivered to their house or even sending a good old fashioned card.

Other ways to downsize and simplify your friendships:

  • Remove social media friends that drag you down
  • Have a monthly get together with a small group of friends

Plan a vacation

What better way to enjoy life than on vacation? I won’t lie, my main purpose for saving money is so that we can go on more worry-free vacations.

Planning a vacation is a great way to keep your sites set on the future and keep you motivated in the present.

You can totally plan a vacation on a budget

Taking a vacation doesn’t need to be an expensive thing. There are so many ways to save money and still have a blast. Here are some of my best tips:

Other ways to downsize and simplify your vacations:

  • Stay local and enjoy what is in your own back yard
  • Use your vacation time (at work)
  • Never underestimate the freedom of a weekend vacay

Take it easy

Whatever ways you find to downsize or simplify, just make sure you’re being true to you and sticking with your ultimate life goals. Take it easy on yourself. One thing I know for sure, there more pressure I put on myself to enjoy life…the less I seem to enjoy it!

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These practical ways to downsize and simplify into the new year are guaranteed to help you simplify and have a better new year! #simplify #downsize #downsizeandsimplify #minimalist #minimalism #newyear

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47 COMMENTS

  1. Emma | 14th Jan 18

    Those are some really good tips for the New Year! I started with a big clear out, and I now use my Bullet Journal to plan everything! Makes life so much easier! I hope you had a great weekend!

    Emma | http://www.violetelm.com

    • heartsoulwhole@gmail.com | 14th Jan 18

      Thanks Emma! A bullet journal can really work wonders!

  2. Kristen | 15th Jan 18

    Great tips! I started simplifying things last year and want to continue to this year. I feel like I am making great progress, but I should look into the Target card! LOL!

    • heartsoulwhole@gmail.com | 15th Jan 18

      Definitely! I really don’t know why anyone wouldn’t be on board with the Target card. All it is is good! Keep at it Kristen!

  3. Daiana | 15th Jan 18

    Great advice! I’ll try to choose a few and start by those, I think I’ll start by number 4: creating a capsule wardrobe. Sounds interesting!

    • heartsoulwhole@gmail.com | 15th Jan 18

      Great! Good luck Daiana!

  4. Kayla | 15th Jan 18

    Love all your ideas! I used to do that trick too, with putting away seasonal clothes, I haven’t for a while! I should definitely re-visit that, I’m sure it will make a world of difference in not feeling so cluttered!

    • heartsoulwhole@gmail.com | 15th Jan 18

      After we downsized it kind of became necessary to have enough space to not feel so smooshed.

  5. Jen | 15th Jan 18

    What wonderful tips and many new ideas for me! I love the idea of making a wardrobe capsule!

    • heartsoulwhole@gmail.com | 15th Jan 18

      It just makes sense, doesn’t it!?

  6. Deborah | 15th Jan 18

    Thanks for all the tips – great to bring them to the New Year and be reminded of. There are
    many things we can do to downsize! And simplify, simplify!

    • heartsoulwhole@gmail.com | 15th Jan 18

      Absolutely! Life is so much better that way!

  7. Melissa Javan | 15th Jan 18

    Damn this is such a great, unpredictable list. I like number 1 and the “quit something” suggestion.

    • heartsoulwhole@gmail.com | 15th Jan 18

      Haha thanks. I hope unpredictable is a good thing!

  8. Nicole | 15th Jan 18

    I LOVE the idea to unplug for 1 hour per day!! I’m definitely giving that a try this week 🙂

    • heartsoulwhole@gmail.com | 15th Jan 18

      Life can be so much more peaceful without all that extra noise!

  9. Melanie | 15th Jan 18

    These are really great tips! I love the pick one area at a time idea, that will make it so much less overwhelming for me, thank you!

    • heartsoulwhole@gmail.com | 15th Jan 18

      Absolutely! I think trying too much of anything right away is an instant plan for failure!

  10. Shanna | 15th Jan 18

    I really liked that you had some unexpected ideas for downsizing and simplifying. I anticipated reading about cutting expenses and not buying stuff but I wasn’t expecting to read about paying off debt so that feeling of burden can be reduced. I also liked the ideas of rearranging furniture and storing out of season clothes – both of these are great ways to trick myself into thinking I’m getting new things without spending more money and racking up debt! Plus it revives the space to bring to light things that I’m ready to part with! This is a great reminder especially right here in time for spring cleaning!!

    • heartsoulwhole@gmail.com | 15th Jan 18

      Exactly! I’m so glad you like the list. Downsizing and simplifying mean so much more to me than just material possessions.

  11. Sarah | 15th Jan 18

    Great tips! We’re currently working on cleaning out and organizing since we’re planning on moving this year!

    • heartsoulwhole@gmail.com | 15th Jan 18

      Oh, awesome! Good luck on your move!

  12. Carolin | 15th Jan 18

    This is an amazing post. I love the idea of a dream board, I think I actually need to try making one 🙂 Meditation is something that I definitely should do more often!

    • heartsoulwhole@gmail.com | 15th Jan 18

      I made my first dream board last year! Being an artsy, visual person it really worked for me!

  13. ShootingStarsMag | 15th Jan 18

    Great ideas! I am hoping to sell some of my books/movies this weekend and hopefully get a little cash. It also helps clear out my room a bit. LOL That $5 Meal Plan looks interesting. I’ll have to check it out.

    -Lauren

    • heartsoulwhole@gmail.com | 15th Jan 18

      I LOVE selling old stuff! Not only do I gain, but someone else does too!

  14. Gabby Young | 15th Jan 18

    Your idea of picking one area at a time is something I seriously need to work on. I tend to get overwhelmed with my cleaning and organizing and I’ll work all day but by the time I’m done, it looks like I barely did a thing!

  15. Lydia | 15th Jan 18

    I love these tips!! Especially turning the TV off and practicing mindfulness during chores!

    • heartsoulwhole@gmail.com | 16th Jan 18

      Mindfulness is such a huge help if you can find the time to do it!

  16. Katie Scott | 15th Jan 18

    Wow! These are such awesome, actionable tips! I felt like every one of them was something I could easily get started on. In fact, I found myself reaching for a pen to jot down a few that really resonated with me. Great job with this!

    • heartsoulwhole@gmail.com | 16th Jan 18

      I’m so glad, Katie. I hope you find some ways to simplify!!

  17. Justine @ Little Dove | 16th Jan 18

    I love these tips so much! I think the ideas of picking one area per week to focus on is huge, and I know the meals in bulk really helps my life as a mom of four a lot easier! I also really love the idea of downsizing your wasted time. I’ve never thought of it that way but it’s so true!

    • heartsoulwhole@gmail.com | 16th Jan 18

      Thanks Justine. I think my idea of downsizing covers everything…as you can tell!

  18. jessica lynn | 16th Jan 18

    Holy cow, these are awesome ideas. I really like the idea of limiting time online…I do so much more when I close my laptop and don’t look at my phone. We’re also huge fans of making food in bulk and freezing it. Totally going to try to implement some of these ideas!

    • heartsoulwhole@gmail.com | 16th Jan 18

      Same here! I spend a lot of time in front of a laptop so I have to make a conscious effort to get away!

  19. Bailey | 16th Jan 18

    SUCH good tips! Thank you for compiling this.

  20. Mary Leigh | 16th Jan 18

    These are really great tips. I really like your tip to pick one area per week. That can make a huge difference, give you plenty of time and mental space to tackle it and not be so overwhelming!

    • heartsoulwhole@gmail.com | 16th Jan 18

      Absolutely! I’m all about slow and steady!

  21. Christine | 16th Jan 18

    Great ideas! I love he reminder to get rid of duplicates and things we don’t use. It’s so easy to let things build up!

    • heartsoulwhole@gmail.com | 17th Jan 18

      I know I’m guilty!

  22. Rebecca | 18th Jan 18

    Great Tips! I especially like “Quit 1 thing!”. I know I can think I can do more than I can, but letting go of just one thing makes all the difference!

  23. Jean | DelightfulRepast.com | 19th Jan 18

    Renee, these are very practical and doable ways to downsize and simplify. I know this post is going to make a huge difference for a lot of people!

    • heartsoulwhole@gmail.com | 19th Jan 18

      Thanks so much Jean! I’m all about simple ways to be simple!

  24. Amy | 19th Jan 18

    these are great tips, I’ve just put away my seasonal clothes and looking forward to trying out the rest of your ideas?

    • heartsoulwhole@gmail.com | 19th Jan 18

      Yay! My husband is very good at the seasonal clothes change. I myself need a little work. I’m too cold all the time so I get anxiety packing away sweaters! haha

  25. Marsha | 21st Jan 18

    Downsizing from 35 years here and contemplating a move to I dependent living…all you young people are way more energized than me and so inspirational. Thanks for being helpful and getting me more able to tackle one room at a time.

    • heartsoulwhole@gmail.com | 21st Jan 18

      Keep at it Marsha! I helped my grandparents clear their home of many years and my aunt is currently clearing hers as well! It definitely takes a lot of work. Best of luck to you in your new phase of life!

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