Skip to content

6 Ways to Simplify and Be More Productive

What are your new year resolutions? The most common categories for resolutions are food, fitness, and finance-related.

Can I suggest a different resolution?


If we simplify our lives we may be more likely to achieve our resolutions. Think about it- if you could free up some cluttered physical and mental space how much more productive could you be? Let me offer 6 ways to simplify and be more productive this year:

1. Deal with mail asap

Not only is that pile of mail on your counter an eye-sore, it’s contributing to your stress by reminding you of one more burdensome task you need to take care of. It’s now a habit of mine to go through the mail right when I take it out of the mail box. Our recycling bin is right by the front door so I can quickly toss some material. I throw anything that needs to be shredded on the stairs and shred it on my next trip upstairs. I then bring the important stuff to the kitchen. If I can’t pay a bill or deal with something that day then I add it to the top of my to-do list for tomorrow. This is a fantastic, easy way that you can be more productive.

be more productive2. Make lists

Lists help me to be more productive. I make grocery lists, to-do-today lists, to-do-this-week lists… It’s overwhelming trying to keep track of everything in my head so it helps to write it down. I know I could make a to-do list in my phone but there’s also something freeing about physically crossing a task off with a pen. I write my daily to-do list on paper and put it where I can see it. It includes 5 things I want to get done THAT DAY and can be as simple as emptying the dishwasher because it makes me feel like I accomplished something.

There is one type of list that is appropriate for your phone – the grocery list. Making a grocery list on your phone can be a real time and money saver because you can add to it as things come to mind. You’ll have less “crap I forgot I needed to get ____ at the store” moments which means one less extra trip to the store when you could have been doing something else with your time.

3. Put it away when you’re done

This takes practice if you aren’t used to this one. Done charging your phone? Put the charger away. Taking the towels out of the dryer? Fold them and put them away. Done eating your breakfast? Wash the dish or put it in the dishwasher; don’t let it sit in the sink to “clean up later”.

4. Purge

Do you still wear it? If the answer is no then donate, sell, or toss it. Christmas is over; recycle all those Christmas cards taking over your fridge. Get rid of un-matching tupperware lids & containers. Toss that salad dressing that expired last summer and has been sitting on the bottom shelf of your fridge door. Be more productive by asking yourself: Do I use this? Do I still need this?

be more productive cleaning5. Plan ahead

You schedule meetings for work and don’t blow them off, right? Think of what you could do if you carried that mindset into other areas of your life! Scheduling your workouts, meal planning, and making a cleaning schedule will make these events part of your routine. Meal planning and packing your lunch alone can save you thousands of dollars so it will certainly be worth your time to scribble down a few ideas for the week. It will also make your grocery trips more efficient and save your waist and wallet from eating out.  If you’re like me and only grocery shop once a week then start your week using fresh produce and have freezer veggies ready for later in the week. Now that you deal with your mail right away you don’t have a pile to sort through which means you have an extra 15-30 minutes to get in a good workout!

6. Divide up big tasks

After a long week of work do you really want to dedicate an entire day to cleaning the house? I sure don’t, so why not divide up the work and get things done throughout the week? Do what works with your week of events. For example, I clean the bathrooms on Wednesdays before our bible study meets in our home and save vacuuming until Thursday so I can clean up all the dirt tracked in. I keep a spray bottle with vinegar, water, & dish soap in the shower so I can clean it while I’m already in there. This method will seem less intimidating to tackle and will leave your weekends open to be enjoyed, as they should be.

Simplifying can free up your time and energy to use toward your resolutions for the new year. You can earn a little extra side income, get in a workout 3 days a week instead of zero, and pack a healthy lunch so you aren’t tempted by the vending machine when 2pm rolls around. Get out a pen and make a short list of ways you can start simplifying today.

In what ways have you simplified your life?  Will you be more productive this year?



My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.


  1. What is the recipe for your shower cleaner? I’m interested 🙂

  2. Purging is one of my goals for January. I already started on my closet and it’s already made a huge difference!

    • That’s great! I’m sure you’ve noticed that purging a little at a time is less overwhelming than making it an annual task.

  3. It’s that time of year again! Thanks for the simplicity tips. I especially like to divide up the big tasks into smaller chunks in order to get it done!

  4. Oh dear…so many more things I need to do apparently. Thanks Jessica… 😉

    Seriously though, I’m pretty good at getting to the mail immediately (more because I don’t really have a place for unpaid bills and have a fear of just forgetting about them). I’m in love with making lists so I’m good there. I’m good at putting things away as I use them.

    And then it pretty much all falls apart from there.

    I need to purge my clothes – I probably don’t wear half of them. I need to get better at planning more than a week in advance and coming up with a system so that I actually remember that I planned something. And, I need to divide up those big task and tackle them bit by bit (achemmm, my book that still isn’t edited…).

    Thanks for the reminder Jessica, seriously! Loved the article!

    • Thanks, Derek! What works for me is keeping my lists & plans in a place where they are staring me in th face and can’t be ignored- on my fridge, bathroom mirror, front door so I remember before walking outside… This will apply so well to your book. I’m sure it will help you sort out thoughts if you chip away a little at a time, too. Can’t wait to hear when this book launches!

  5. Dividing up and making lists does the trick for me, especially if you have different things you expect to handle. It helps in prioritizing your jobs too.

  6. Purge.

    With the new addition to the family, space is at a premium and getting scarcer by the day.

    We purged before the baby arrived, and have been purging ever since. With baby-proofing coming up, there’s yet another round of purging and storing in the offing.

    It feels great seeing the space free up bit by bit. Like crossing things off your to do list, only ever so much more so.

    • Isn’t it crazy how much stuff can accumulate with a baby? Our daughter just turned one and she has more clothes and toys than items I own in our home!

  7. I’m fairly obsessive about going through the mail immediately and making lists. And I’m getting better about purging…we’ve been slowly going through the house to declutter. What I really need to work on is planning ahead, but I’ve got a plan for that! Seriously, I have been working on my goals and detailed plans for making them happen, including breaking them down into do-able tasks. Without a plan, it’s too easy to get bogged down and accomplish nothing.

    • I always say “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Sounds like you’re headed in the right direction.

  8. I’m a big fan of planning ahead. It helps me to arrive on time for meetings and events and it also helps me with goals and achieving them.

    When it comes to meal planning, it helps to save money and time. I don’t have to try to figure out what to make, I already know what I am making and I don’t have to run to the store to buy the things I need.

Comments are closed for this article!

Related posts