Overly complex routines can make us feel swamped with too many choices or mired in drudgery. Tasks like laundry, grocery shopping, yard work, and meal preparation must be done, but we can find ways to streamline the work, or turn it into an opportunity to improve our health, relationships, and well-being.
4 Ways to Simplify Daily Routines
1. Wear a uniform.
Former President Obama has his gray or navy suits, Steve Jobs had his Levis and black turtleneck. Designer Giorgio Armani sticks with an all-navy outfit of tee shirt, drawstring pants, and cashmere sweater, while art director Matilda Kahl chooses black trousers and a white silk shirt. Having a uniform makes decisions about what to wear super easy, and once you settle on your own iconic look you always feel confident and put together.
Check your closet for styles and colors you gravitate toward, since these may form the basis of your uniform. For me, it's black or dark wash straight-leg jeans, minimally patterned jewel-tone tops, and my favorite necklace. What's your signature style?
2. Keep up with laundry.
Dirty laundry is always being created. Are there ways to minimize it?
- Do a load of laundry two or three times a week (or every day if you have several young children). Don't leave yourself a mountain to do on the weekend.
- If your clothes aren't noticeably soiled after one use, hang them up to wear again. You'll have less laundry, and your clothes will last longer with less exposure to detergent and high temperatures.
- Remove clothes from the dryer as soon as the cycle is complete, or even while they're still slightly damp. Bring hangers to the laundry room and hang clothes immediately. You'll use less energy, cause less wear on the clothes, and reduce the need for ironing.
- Save the time it takes to fold a set of sheets by putting them right back on the bed after washing. For variety, switch to a different set when seasons change. (Of course, you do need extra sets of bedding for baby cribs or toilet-training children.)
- You really don't need more than two or three sets of towels per family member, and towels that dry clean bodies can be hung to dry and reused for several days before laundering.
- Prevent huge piles of socks and underwear! Designate a large mesh lingerie bag for each household member (sew or tie a different color ribbon on each), and have them put their dirty socks and underwear in their own bags. Throw the bags in the washer and dryer, then return the clean items to each person to sort and fold on their own. And no more orphan socks!
3. Eat one simple food.
Eat something today that hasn't been manufactured and marketed, such as:
- oatmeal with cinnamon and raisins
- a perfectly cooked egg on a slice of whole grain toast
- a plate of dark leafy greens dressed with homemade vinaigrette
- chicken baked with lemon, garlic, rosemary, and extra virgin olive oil
- a plain baked potato topped with freshly ground black pepper and a spoonful of cottage cheese or salsa fresca
- lentils simmered with onions, carrots, celery, diced tomatoes, and a bay leaf
- mushrooms sauteed with garlic and red pepper flakes, served over whole wheat pasta
- a piece of beautifully ripe fruit
- a handful of raw almonds
Simplify meal planning and grocery shopping, and nourish yourself with real, whole, simple food. If you do this every day, you'll be rewarded with better health and a trimmer body.
4. Do some work.
Physical work, that is, without labor-saving devices. It may not sound minimal to take more time and effort to accomplish tasks, but what will you do instead? Watch TV? Shop? Why not use the muscles God gave you, and use the time to socialize with a friend or family member, to listen to music or an audio book, or to be quiet and meditative.
- Chop vegetables, knead bread, hand wash dishes. (Declutter the food processor, the stand mixer, and the bread maker.)
- Sew on a button or repair a hem. (Declutter clothes that are ripped or stained beyond repair.)
- Use a push mower, clippers, a broom, and a rake. (Declutter all those loud, polluting yard devices.)
- Ride your bike to work; walk the dog. (Declutter the unused treadmill, and perhaps your car.)
Photo by Alexandra Gorn on Unsplash