The universe has a hidden paradox in life. It’s frighteningly easy for us to make our lives harder. And seemingly much harder to make them easier.
Why are we so good at complicating things? The only thing this is good for is sitcoms - otherwise, there would be no plotline. But thankfully, we don’t live in a world with an incessant laugh track. There's no reason why we shouldn't figure out how to simplify our lives. And research shows us great ways how.
This guide is an excellent place to get you started, with 8 tips backed by science to make life easier for yourself.
8 science-backed ways to make life easier for yourself
The ultimate easy life would be to laze around all day while your house cleans itself, your errands run themselves, and money flows into your bank account.
But apart from your life inevitably becoming mind-numbingly boring, this also doesn’t compute with the laws of the universe. So let’s look at some tips that do.
1. Identify your frustrations and pain points
The things that would make life easier for you may be very different from the ones for someone else. We all have different weaknesses, triggers, and problems.
So it stands to reason that you should take time to consider what your personal pain points are. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you experiencing any physical or mental illness?
- Does your life have meaning and purpose?
- What emotions do you struggle with and what triggers them?
- How happy do you feel with your life overall?
- What are your biggest fears?
Answering these should give you a good idea of what is making your life the most difficult right now. Deal with this first and foremost - it will give you the greatest relief.
Aside from the big questions above, also consider what things you struggle with on a daily basis.
Little things can still cause a big hassle if they happen repeatedly and cause stress. Luckily, they are also easy to fix. Here are a few examples:
- Do you spend ten minutes looking for your keys every time you’re leaving home? Designate a spot for them near the door, such as a bowl on a table, or buy a key hook.
- Are you always running late? Put things in your calendar 15 minutes earlier than they really start, and stick to that schedule. Resist the urge to do any last-minute things right before you’re supposed to leave for an appointment.
2. Make daily routines
A great way to make your life easier is to create structured daily routines.
Many people get stuck with this because they think you need to create "new" things to do to make your routine. But routines are not about doing more. They're about doing things more efficiently.
- Make a list of the things you do every day (or should be doing every day)
- Group them together in a way that makes them easier to complete:
- What things do you do in the same location?
- If something requires waiting time, can you do another task while you wait?
- Are some tasks easier to do after other tasks?
- Set a specific time to do each group
- Stick to your routine - even if you don’t feel like it!
The fourth step is where many routines fail. If you’re new to your routine, imagine that it's a work task and your boss told you to do it every day. If you do things at work that you don't feel like because your boss tells you, give yourself at least the same level of respect.
Not least because putting tasks into routines will make your life easier in many ways:
- It improves both health and happiness.
- It helps manage stress and anxiety.
- It creates more meaning in life, leading to better health, reduced mortality, and greater social appeal.
- Save time.
- Improves consistency for healthy habits.
Here are some daily routine tips to make your life easier:
- Set a sleep schedule (also increases well-being and cognitive function).
- Drink 2 cups of water right after you get up.
- Have the same or a similar healthy breakfast every day.
- Exercise at the same time on specific days before or after work.
- Clean and do laundry at a regular time.
- Group errands that are near each other to save travel and wait time.
- Include important tasks like errands or health habits to make them more convenient and get them out of the way.
- Put all the following tips into a routine as well – this will ensure you stick to them (making it easier to make your life easier!)
3. Simplify your finances
According to the American Institute of Stress, money is a top source of stress. Clearly, there’s a lot of potential for making your life easier here!
I’m not talking about reducing financial stress by getting more money - if it was that easy, we’d all be rich already!
Instead, simplify your finances. A report found that even well-off people still felt stressed if they didn’t know how to manage money.
Follow these tips to simplify both your finances and your life:
- Create a monthly budget for groceries, gas, household products, clothes, entertainment, etc.
- Use an app such as Moneyboard to track your expenses and stay on budget.
- Set up automatic bill payment.
- Pause before you buy something new: do you really need it? Will you actually use it?
- Take out a specific amount of cash to help you stick to your budget.
4. Plan ahead and stay organized
It’s no secret, or surprise, that planning and preparation only make things easier.
My best tip is to put planning into your routine, to avoid procrastination. One study suggests planning each day the night before. This increases productivity and frees up time.
If you want to pull out the big guns, you can even try some fancy apps.
If this is too much for you, a good old notebook and pen will do. Just make sure you keep everything in one place, and actually check your plan!
Here are tips to maximize planning for an easier life:
- Break difficult tasks down into super simple steps (if you can’t get yourself to start going to the gym, make the first task “pack gym bag”)
- Do tasks in batches - answer all emails at the end of the day, prepare food for the next few days at once, etc.
- Set a maximum 3 of goals per week - if you plan more, you won’t get any of them done and will end up feeling frustrated!
- Plan your week's meals and what you need to buy for them - this will save you extra runs to the store, time spent there, and money on food that you end up throwing out
- Plan backwards - first think about your end goal, then plan the steps backwards from the last to the first. A study suggests this boosts productivity and makes planning easier.
5. Focus on your health
Though we often neglect it, our health is a pretty big deal. Think of practically any organ you have, and imagine what your life would be like if this organ would fail. In many cases, it would cause significant difficulty. Even if you can continue to live a normal life, there’s no denying that it would take some adjustments or sacrifices.
Don’t wait to deal with health problems when they come up. Do your future self a great favor and work on prevention starting right now.
- Do regular checkups with your doctor and dentist.
- Brush your teeth well and regularly.
- Eat a balanced diet.
- Drink 2 liters of quality water per day.
- Regularly go to bed before midnight.
- Get 8 hours of sleep per night.
- Get regular exercise.
6. Declutter every part of your life
Imagine never losing anything again, and always knowing exactly where to find everything. This tip doesn't guarantee this will happen, but it does get you a lot closer.
Get rid of clutter, in all its forms. This in itself may feel overwhelming, especially if clutter has piled up and taken on a life of its own.
Start with something that will make the greatest impact. Think about spaces you use often, and where clutter often bogs you down. Or pick an area that's small, manageable, or brings positive feelings.
Studies have shown decluttering makes your life easier in multiple ways:
Here are some small steps to make your life easier by decluttering:
- Reduce your wardrobe to the things that you actually wear.
- Use the Marie Kondo method to organize your items so you can see them all.
- Sort objects into storage containers and label them.
- Keep things you use often in an accessible place.
- Unsubscribe from all emails that you never read anyways.
- Unfollow social media accounts that don’t give you any value.
- Keep maximum 3 tabs open on your computer at a time.
7. Work on your relationships
Relationships are a huge part of our lives - yet they can also be a source of great emotional strain. You can make life much easier for yourself if you make your relationships a positive part of your life.
Set healthy boundaries with people
People can make your life difficult if they don’t respect your boundaries. But it’s also your responsibility to communicate those boundaries. Even your best friend doesn’t have the power to read your mind!
When someone’s actions or words cause you distress, talk to them about this. If you’re important to them and you both approach the conversation with love and respect, they will find a way to adjust their behavior.
If you’re unsure how to go about this, check out our article on how to set healthy boundaries for an easy-to-follow guide.
Work on your ability to forgive people
Your life would probably be pretty difficult if you constantly had to carry around 50 kilos, right? Well, carrying around anger is comparably the same thing.
Yet many of us continue to hold onto this burden - in a way, it’s like we want to. It may feel like letting go of our anger is like saying what happened was okay. Anger makes us avoid the person who hurt us, or want them to suffer. This may feel very justified in light of how they hurt you.
But in reality, holding onto this anger is only making your life difficult. Why should you make the fact that someone hurt you into a lifelong burden?
Forgiveness doesn’t happen overnight. You don’t offload 50 kilos all at once, but reduce the weight gram by gram, until one day you’re free. Doing this has a myriad of both physical and mental health benefits. As forgiveness is such an important aspect of being happy, we have also written a step-by-step guide on how to let go of anger.
Ask for support and help when you need it
There are almost certainly things in your life that someone you know does better than you. And that's great - use this to your advantage!
You can pay a professional to do boring or difficult tasks for you. To figure out if this is worth the cost, consider how much time you would save, and what you would do in that free time. Could you use it to get more work done and earn more money? Or relax more? How much is this time worth to you?
Alternatively, you can trade favors with a friend. For example, your number-savvy friend can help you with accounting. Meanwhile, you can help them meal prep or clean their home.
8. Change your mindset
All of us, at some point or other, have felt that life is just so difficult. Even the richest, most popular, most organized person on the planet probably has moments like this.
This is in part because our feelings are relative. If things always went according to plan, then even the slightest hiccup would feel infuriating. The better your life gets, the less it takes to upset us.
We can easily get trapped in our own little bubble and lose sight of how privileged we are. Though the quality of life has improved greatly over the last few decades, still today:
- Around 10 percent of the world population is living in extreme poverty (less than $1.90 a day).
- Almost a third of the entire urban population is living in a slum (unsafe or unhealthy homes in a crowded city).
- 38 out of every 1000 children born will die before age 5.
Of course, people in any situation experience setbacks, difficulties, and negative emotions. I’m not saying that you’re not allowed to feel like life is hard because someone else’s is harder. (This would mean only one person in the world would have the right to say life is hard!) There's nothing wrong with striving to improve your life where you can.
But a bit of a healthy perspective can help us stay grateful for any and all privileges we have and consider if our lives are really all that difficult.
Here are two concrete ways to keep a healthy perspective:
- Volunteer for organizations that help the less fortunate.
- Write down or meditate on things you’re grateful for.
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Buddha said, “life is suffering.” I cannot deny that this is true in some ways - far be it for me to disagree with Buddha! But there are also many ways that we can alleviate some of this difficulty and pain. Above, we saw eight steps to make life easier for yourself, from identifying your pain points to keeping a healthy perspective. I hope you can put these into practice and feel a great improvement in the quality of your life!
Now I would love to hear from you.