The 10 Most Important Things to Simplify in Your Life

“Purity and simplicity are the two wings with which man soars above the earth and all temporary nature.” —Thomas Kempis

Simplicity brings balance, freedom, and joy. When we begin to live simply and experience these benefits, we begin to ask the next question, “Where else in my life can i remove distraction and simply focus on the essential?”

Based on our personal journey, our conversations, and our observations, here is a list of the 10 most important things to simplify in your life today to begin living a more balanced, joyful lifestyle:

1. Your Possessions – Too many material possessions complicate our lives to a greater degree than we ever give them credit. They drain our bank account, our energy, and our attention. They keep us from the ones we love and from living a life based on our values. If you will invest the time to remove nonessential possessions from your life, you will never regret it. For more inspiration, consider Simplify: 7 Guiding Principles to Help Anyone Declutter Their Home and Life.

2. Your Time Commitments – Most of us have filled our days full from beginning to end with time commitments: work, home, kid’s activities, community events, religious endeavors, hobbies… the list goes on. When possible, release yourself from the time commitments that are not in line with your greatest values.

3. Your Goals – Reduce the number of goals you are intentionally striving for in your life to one or two. By reducing the number of goals that you are striving to accomplish, you will improve your focus and your success rate. Make a list of the things that you want to accomplish in your life and choose the two most important. When you finish one, add another from your list.

4. Your Negative Thoughts – Most negative emotions are completely useless. Resentment, bitterness, hate, and jealousy have never improved the quality of life for a single human being. Take responsibility for your mind. Forgive past hurts and replace negative thoughts with positive ones.

5. Your Debt – If debt is holding you captive, reduce it. Start today. Do what you’ve got to do to get out from under its weight. Find the help that you need. Sacrifice luxury today to enjoy freedom tomorrow.

6. Your Words – Use fewer words. Keep your speech plain and honest. Mean what you say. Avoid gossip.

7. Your Artificial Ingredients – Avoid trans fats, refined grain (white bread), high-fructose corn syrup, and too much sodium. Minimizing these ingredients will improve your energy level in the short-term and your health in the long-term. Also, as much as possible, reduce your consumption of over-the-counter medicine – allow your body to heal itself naturally as opposed to building a dependency on substances.

8. Your Screen Time – Focusing your attention on television, movies, video games, and technology affects your life more than you think. Media rearranges your values. It begins to dominate your life. And it has a profound impact on your attitude and outlook. Unfortunately, when you live in that world on a consistent basis, you don’t even notice how it is impacting you. The only way to fully appreciate its influence in your life is to turn them off.

9. Your Connections to the World – Relationships with others are good, but constant streams of distraction are bad. Learn when to power off the blackberry, log off Facebook, or not read a text. Focus on the important, not the urgent. A steady flow of distractions from other people may make us feel important, needed, or wanted, but feeling important and accomplishing importance are completely different things.

10. Your Multi-Tasking – Research indicates that multi-tasking increases stress and lowers productivity. while single-tasking is becoming a lost art, learn it. Handle one task at a time. Do it well. And when it is complete, move to the next.

Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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  1. says

    This is exactly what I have been trying to explain to my friends and loved ones. It is a very liberating experience. A wake up call for most. If they are willing to open up their minds to change and commit to following just one of your steps, I think they would see the truth behind your words. A positive ripple effect would get them hooked to follow more of your advice.

  2. says

    Joshua — Fantastic post. Personal benefits aside, the benefits for families like yours and ours (three young children) can go a long way towards changing the tide for the next generation. Thanks for the inspiration.

  3. Dan Kennedy says

    Thanks for this post. We are following the same path in our life as a family. My wife just told me that “purging our stuff is addictive!” I couldn’t agree more…

  4. says

    Great summary of minimalism techniques! The process of simplifying is a bit overwhelming at first. I often find myself pondering the irony that simplicity can be such a complex process. I find the gist of minimalism is best distilled in a quote from Cody Lundin and Mors Kochanski: “The more you know, the less you need”. Learning is difficult but the application is easy. ;)

  5. says

    I loved every single item on this list. I am happy that I feel very comfortable about each one of these items and while there is always some room for improvement my life right now is completely balanced. I just need to put more focus into single-tasking because sometimes I still catch myself doing a few things at the same time :-)

  6. Bruce Bullis says

    “Use less words.”

    I think you mean “Use fewer words”; and maybe “Use a few right words, rather than many wrong ones” is also good advice.

  7. says

    lovely list, and a correct one. one could almost use it as a focus/mantra while sitting zazen, one thing for each breath in or out. thank you.

  8. says

    Excellent article. I just finished reading news that Mercury has been found in a high amount of high fructose corn syrup…. yet another warning to stay as natural as we can….

  9. says

    This list is dead on — especially numbers 1 – 4 for a beginner like me. I’ve found that to become more organized and more punctual, I’ve had to cut back on the stuff, activities, goals and negativity and life has become a lot easier in general. Great reinforcement!

  10. says

    Great post, Joshua. As a dad of three small children I can’t help but think about how these life lessons are important to learn early. Here is to helping to shape the next generation! Thanks!

  11. says

    I found 3 & 4 to be very helpful. A couple years ago I slacked on a major goal of mine simply because I was sidetracked by quite a few others.

    Needless to say those other goals took my focus off my main goal. So now when I even think something is sidetracking me I cut it out of my focus immediately with the snap of a finger.

    Time management is important too. I totally agree that sometimes we need to simply take time out for ourselves instead of piling our day up with task after tasks. What are we going to do when our body fails us?!

  12. says

    Fantastic post. I’ve simplified my life quite a lot over the last few months but I’ve felt it becoming more cluttered again gradually, this has definately helped kick me back into action.

  13. says

    This article put into words for me several thoughts that had been floating around my mind regarding life and faith and the complexity of everything. I hope to be further down this road before my little one makes it through the toddler phase.

  14. says

    Great list! I wish I could get my whole family to agree with it!

    We have the debt licked (never had any) and have reduced our goals recently with an end date in mind. thanx for bringing up the others – will be printing it and posting it by my desk.

  15. Janelle Alexander says

    I think your insight on the impact of constantly being exposed to media is very subtle and makes a ton of sense. This is a very inspiring list. Thank you.

  16. Dallas says

    How can I convince my wife to see the benefit of this…I am sold on the idea, however we are uneven as a couple at the moment; I am trying to simplify where she is still in the old habits. Perhaps i’ll keep politely emailing links to these posts without any comments. She will pick them up on email via her blackberry no doubt, or at work or the PDA.

  17. carolyn says

    Liked your list

    also cook from scratch, as part of #7,,, (putting the tip in a positive context rather than what to avoid)

    easy to remember the less/fewer – if you can count individually or not whatever it is you are talking/writing about…. ex. fewer things on the desk makes less clutter! LOL!

  18. says

    It is important to keep in your possession certain art objects that make your heart sing, either from dear memories or their sheer visual beauty. The issue is how and when to pare down these objects.
    I have been downsizing for years. Retired and moving about and loving it, I have discarded books, furniture and clothing easily. What was harder was figuring out how to dispose of those wonderful items I purchased while traveling abroad. I decided to keep one thing from each journey and to donate other treasures to a church or local school that was having a fund raising auction. I write a note indicating where and how it was acquired. A less traveled person has a chance to enjoy the item(s).

  19. Micky says

    Excellent advice. sometimes easier said than done but I am attempting to follow each and every step! Wish me luck and perseverance.

  20. says

    Well said Josh! For me, I must constantly be reminded to live a fully balanced life with God leading and empowering all the areas of my life at all times. At a minimum, I eat (and pray), work (and pray), sleep (and pray), hope (and pray)… and after that, there is much more. There’s a not-so-hidden theme here that I believe is the key to a balanced life. Without it, we can easily become unknowingly lost in the chaos or complacency of our lives.

  21. AAdi says

    These points really gives a different angle to look at things in day to day life and also enlightens one inner souls to do right things in right way.

  22. says

    Great post. In this age of information overload, it’s sometimes hard to break away from technology. We feel as though logging off of Facebook or Twitter isolates us from the world–we feel “out of the loop.” It’s something I’ve been trying to overcome, and something I occasionally write about on my blog.

    In the past couple months, I’ve deleted over half of the people I follow on Twitter, and unfriended several people on Facebook who I seldom talk to. I’ve also deleted most of my photos. It was rather refreshing.

  23. Yan says

    One of the best posts so far. I will share broadly. Thank you very, very much.

    (I’m also pleased to see the return of capital letters. I found their absence very distracting).

  24. says

    I decided a couple months ago to begin this process. What I didn’t expect was the major internal struggles it would bring up. I’m realizing now, that my attachments to stuff don’t have anything to do with the objects themselves but they have to do with me! I’m still in the midst of it. For me, it’s a slow process.

  25. says

    Great List! I am putting this in my Life Binder. I am currently on my journey from being a hoarder to becoming a minimalist. It is a very scary thought and I still haven’t even taken action yet, just researching and making lists…I need to become minimalist, though, for myself and for my family. We are drowning in our stuff and I have realized that I have a strong attachment to things. Things seem simple. People seem complex. I need to let go of my attachments to things so that I can teach my boys (7 and 2) that relationships with others are most important, not how many things you have. I am glad I have another person’s experience to read about now!

  26. sureya says

    such posts do increase moral to people thoughts, as in todays world its a revolving one,,,we need such posts to either remind us or make us know where to start afresh :)……… need we be incomplete and need we be unchallenged???????? we need eagerness to boost us up in air and be with time!!

  27. cool chris says

    this is exactly all we need to rescue man’s world from going extinct and giving rise to monsters.thanks u are the bestest.

  28. Islem says

    I LOVE this post! #10 really builds me up! I need to read that. I’ve always been a single-tasking person but some people don’t like that of me. And I would always feel bad or skeptical to work with others because I can’t multi-task to save my life. I just can’t do it. I’m very focused and meticulous. Not so much a perfectionist, but I do pay much attention to details, and that I do the task to the best of my ability.

    Now I don’t have to feel bad about it… It’s an art and it’s perfect for the kind of life we’re moving towards. Thank you for making me be conscious of that!

  29. says

    Love your post and agree with every single point. Most I have already incorporated into my life and I am definately on the path.

    Right now my focus is on using fewer words. I talk way to much. Being home with two small children has not helped this problem of mine. I am at the beginning of this particular goal to be worked on and it is tough but I know I can do it!

  30. says


    Great post. I’m glad I found this blog. I’ve been trying to simplify my life for a while now – my end goal is to live out of a 30 ltr backpack and travel the world. Got the backpack, just need to get rid off the stuff. I’m sure I’ll find great snippets of wisdom here.

  31. Jude says

    “…A steady flow of distractions from other people may make us feel important, needed, or wanted, but feeling important and accomplishing importance are completely different things….”This point piques my interest the most and am sure a lot of people will agree with me. Unless we learn to differentiate these two concepts we may end up just chasing the wind.

    • di says

      At work, we have a secretary that talks throughout the entire day about absolutely nothing. It’s difficult to hear others on the phone or to concentrate on work. It’s very tiring.

  32. Kiran.S.R(srk) says

    thanks man ,i am saying it is indeed good and infact if we spent som time we could realise it

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