Simple Tasks You Can Do to Make Life Easier
Note: This post originally published in March 2020 – a crazy time, right?! It has lots of great updated information, so I’m resharing again today in hopes that it will be helpful as you start the year.
I consider myself to be a fairly organized and tidy person and I do my best to stay on top of life’s daily to-dos. While I certainly don’t have it all together, I have taken a lot of steps in my life to organize our house, my life, and my schedule. Change doesn’t happen overnight and it’s the little habits you create that can set you up for success in the long-term. I recently read the book Atomic Habits and the author emphasizes how it’s those tiny changes that you make to your routine that set you up for success. (I highly recommend the book…a great read!)
I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite simple tasks to make life easier.
13 Simple Tasks to Make Life Easier
There are some tasks that you can do today and you’ll be done for good, while others are recurring things you can start to practice to streamline your life. I’m hopeful that this list will motivate you to tackle one thing that is bothering you or interfering with your productivity.
Unsubscribe from Unwanted Emails
Yes, I am a person who always has my inbox at zero. Watching that number of unread emails creep up really stresses me out! A big part of my success in maintaining my inbox is the fact that I unsubscribe from unwanted emails immediately. In Gmail, there is often an unsubscribe button right at the top of emails and whenever I receive an unwanted email, I use that button and unsubscribe immediately. I also use unroll.me for all of my email addresses to help me unsubscribe from emails and keep others organized. I highly recommend it!
Now, this might be controversial, but I rarely reply to emails on my phone. I’m a computer girl all the way. I told this to Finn recently, and he was shocked! Ha! I didn’t realize it was weird. I will read emails on my phone and mark them as unread, which means that I have to follow-up. I like to be able to sit down at my computer, gather my thoughts, and really respond to someone. This keeps me on track and cuts down on any typos.
Tame Paper Clutter
Back in this post, I shared my best tips to rid your home of paper clutter. I know a lot of people struggle with paper accumulation, but Finn and I have created a system that really works well for our household. You can read all of my tips in this blog post and check out this blog post for how we keep our digital files organized.
One of the easiest things you can do is tackle your mail as soon as you receive it. When you get the mail, go through it immediately, and recycle anything you don’t want. For the other mail, I also like to take action immediately. I RSVP to parties right away and put the information in my calendar so I can toss the invite. I pay bills as soon as I open them, and I don’t let anything linger. This reduces stress because there aren’t any little tasks nagging at me.
Prep Clothes at Night
I know I sound like I’m a first-grader, but I always choose my clothing the night before. Whenever I’m changing into my pajamas, I put my clothes away and get my outfit set for the next day. I always ask Alexa about the weather so I can dress accordingly. That way, I can just wake up and put on my clothes. It takes decisions and stress out of my morning routine.
Get Greens In Early
Finn and I drink our green juice just about every morning and it’s nice getting so many nutrients in right away. Even if I eat garbage the rest of the day, I like knowing that I got a lot of my daily vitamins in, first thing. Finn makes batches twice a week so we are always stocked.
And speaking of vitamins, buy a pillbox and fill it with your daily vitamins. Every Sunday evening, I prep all of my meds for the week and organize my pillbox. Set aside time to do this and you’ll be much more likely to remember to take your vitamins each day.
Meal Prep for the Week
Finn handles the cooking in our household and every Sunday he spends hours cooking away. Luckily, he really enjoys this time and finds it relaxing. (It would stress me out if I had to do it!) He preps protein, veggies, and grains, so we both have lunches during the workweek. He also takes time to prep food for Rory and you can see all the cooking he does for her here. This works out really well for our family. You can check out this blog post with his weekly prep menu and this post with his best tips to grill chicken.
Set Calendar & Phone Reminders
I live by my Google calendar and I put all important tasks and events in there. For tasks that occur on a regular basis (changing air filters, changing the fridge filter, etc.), I add them to my calendar for the entire year. That way, small maintenance tasks don’t slip right by me.
Add Birthdays to your Calendar
I’m not saying that I’m perfect and remember the birthdays of every family member and close friend, but I do my best to wish the special people in my life a happy birthday. A few years ago, I put all birthdays on my Google calendar and I have them set to repeat, annually, on that day. It took a bit of time to set up, initially, but now all birthdays are on there forever!
Bonus Points: Stock up on birthday cards (this is a great pack to buy) and stamps the next time you head to the grocery store. That way, you always have a birthday card on hand to send in the mail to those special people!
Upgrade your Address Book
I haven’t been the best with my address book and this is one task I’m definitely working on. When you go through a big life event, like a wedding, you usually accumulate lots of addresses. Well, Finn and I had been using that same list since we got married, seven years ago. Turns out, it was pretty outdated and I needed to devote a few hours to clean it up!
I’ve since created a new Excel file for all of our important addresses. This is so helpful come Christmas card season because I can upload the file to Minted and it automatically creates labels for me. Score!
Bonus Points: Buy a stamp with your home address that you can use on all of your letters and invitations. This is the one I have and love!
Pare Down Apps & Reduce Desktop Clutter
Whenever I’m on an airplane and I don’t have wifi or anything to do, I go through my phone and “clean it up” a bit. I remove any apps I no longer need; I group together similar apps into folders; and I delete extra photos, like random screenshots, doubles, old videos taking up precious storage, etc. This keeps my phone from feeling too cluttered. If you’re a parent, you likely have tons of photos of your kids, often with a similar pose taken over and over. I share more about how I organize and pare down my kids’ photos in this blog post.
The same goes for the desktop of my computer. I try to keep it as organized as possible, trashing files I no longer need. And ever since I drove away with my laptop on the roof of my car a few years back (true story, it was humiliating and devastating all at the same time), I have been great about backing up my files. I have a Google calendar event set for the first Friday of every month to back up my entire computer and photos so I always remember to do it.
Bonus Points: While you’re at it, give your screens a good wipe down. I use these tech wipes and they work great.
Download a List App
Finn and I use the Microsoft To-Do app to create lists for our family. We have a grocery list, a Lowe’s list, a Casey to-do list, a Finn to-do list, even a list of questions for the doctor for our kids. This keeps us on the same page for what’s going on in our household. Whenever we run out of a particular food, we add it to the list and the first person to go to the store automatically knows what to buy. It syncs between both of our phones, so if Finn buys something off the list and removes it, my phone reflects that change. This has been a gamechanger to keep our household organized and to keep us on the same page.
Prep for the Week Ahead
Every Friday, I schedule an hour in my afternoon to take a look at my calendar for the next week. As I already mentioned, I love Google Calendar. But to schedule out my days, I use Trello. I wrote a detailed blog post about how I use it for my business, as well as my personal life. In short, I list every day of the week ahead and add all of my appointments and daily to-dos. It keeps me on track and I can easily check it on both my phone and my computer.
Use My Paper Bag Trick
This is a trick I’ve been using for years and it works so well to keep my wardrobe streamlined. I keep a paper bag in my closet and whenever I put something on that no longer fits, I don’t like, or is damaged beyond repair, I add it to the bag. When the bag is full, I donate the clothing! You can read more about this useful technique in this blog post. Finn and I also have a larger bag in our car that we use for other household goods and kids’ toys. So many toys! If we want to get rid of an item, we add it to the bag in the car and once it’s full, we can drive by our donation center and get rid of it. This eliminates the need for huge and overwhelming purges. Instead, we’re always getting rid of unwanted items.
Schedule Appointments for the Year
It’s really easy to forget to schedule important appointments, but I find that if I sit down for one hour, I can make all of my appointments for the year. I schedule my twice-yearly teeth cleaning, my annual checkup with my GP, my annual dermatologist appointment, my hair appointments and more, all in one sitting. Having these on the calendar, well in advance, ensures that I make the time for them.
Bonus Points: If possible, set up any recurring medications to be picked up in a three-month supply and have them shipped to your house, automatically. I did this, instead of taking time to go to my local pharmacy every month, and it saves me so much time!
So there you have it, 13 simple taks to make life easier. You don’t have to run out and complete all of these today, but try to cross one or two off the list in the next week. I promise you’ll feel a bit lighter, more motivated, and your future self will thank you!
Now, what other simple tasks am I missing? I would love to hear the life hacks you use in the comments below!
I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.