One of my favorite “truth bombs” from Danielle LaPorte is “Be generous. Seek freedom. Let it be easy.” Luckily, letting “it” be easy can be pretty easy to do. :)
19 Ways to Make Your Life Easier
1. Wear a uniform
All the cool kids are doing it. Moreover, you probably already wear 20% of your clothes 80% of the time, so why not just make it official? If you buy quality items that will last, you’ll end up saving money, looking better, and giving our heaving landfills a break. In addition, you can look for coupons on Dealigg.com or RetailMeNot.com, so you can save money and look good at the same time.
For instance, I wear a tee, yoga pants (I love Patagonia’s yoga pants because they come in two lengths – I wear the short ;) and sneakers when I take James for a walk in the morning. Then I change into jeans and my favorite tunic tee from Calypso St. Barth later on. Uggs in the winter, FitFlops in the summer.
2. Eat the same breakfast
Similar to wearing a uniform, eating the same breakfast every day reduces the decisions you need to make and frees up brain space. My current favorites are a green smoothie and a tablespoon of almond butter right out of the jar, or Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Oatmeal with dried fruit (blueberries, cranberries, or cherries) and cinnamon.
If, however, smoothies and oatmeal aren’t your thing, you can check out my Breakfast board on Pinterest for other ideas.
3. Keep your makeup routine routine
Again, why reinvent the wheel every day when applying your makeup? Between your newfound uniform, breakfast, and makeup routine, you won’t know what to do with all your free time.
My makeup routine is the same every day – rose face mist, sunscreen, foundation, powder, blush, lipgloss, eyeshadow, mascara, done! I leave fancier stuff for those rare occasions when my husband and I go out to dinner by (gasp!) ourselves. (After a recent eye infection, I’m currently cleaning up the makeup brands I use, so stay tuned for details about that. ;)
4. Make your lunch (and the kids’ lunches) the night before
Aha! Here’s what you can do with all that free time 1, 2, and 3 have given you! Make your lunch and your kids’ lunches the night before work or school. If you work at home, make your lunch anyway! Then you won’t be wondering what the heck to have tomorrow and end up eating a bag of potato chips for lunch. Not that I’ve ever done that. Ahem.
5. Blend up green smoothies for days
Green smoothies are one of the best ways to get awesome fruits and veggies into your bod. Twice a week, I make a big batch in my blender (spinach, kale, pineapple, banana, mango) and pour it into three 12-ounce Mason jars.
6. Program your coffee pot to brew for you
Don’t waste time waiting for your coffee to brew when you could be snoozing. Program your coffee maker to brew a fresh pot for you before you even wake up! We have this coffee pot and love it – it brews up to 14 cups which is perfect for the three coffee hounds in my family. (Tip: Whole Foods sells a gigantic container of ground coffee for about $10! I love the Buona Giornata Italian Roast.)
7. Turn your ringer off
I don’t know about you, but I feel like we’ve become hostages of our cell phones. We’re at the mercy of anyone and everyone who wants to call or text us, twenty-four hours a day.
So, unless my kids are out somewhere at night and might need to reach me, I turn the ringer off my cell phone. I always have the vibrate setting turned on, so I can hear it when I receive a call or text, but it’s not so jarring or distracting, and then I can choose whether or not to answer the call or text.
9. Use Google Calendar
There are so many awesome things about Google Calendar! It’s so simple to create lots of different calendars, schedules, to-do’s and more, and so easy to share your calendars with family members, co-workers, teammates, etc. It’s truly a must for every family.
Check out this list of just some of the things that you can do with Google Calendar:
- Create different calendars for all sorts of things (see my calendars below)
- Schedule meetings with people
- Add notes, directions, locations, or attachments to events
- Repeat events (I have to file an annual report for my business every year, so I schedule it on my biz calendar and set it to repeat annually. I even attach the already-filled-out form to the event to make it super easy. ;)
- Receive a daily agenda
- Get notifications for appointments, events, etc.
- Share your calendars with other people
- Browse cool calendars from other people and add them to your calendars if you like them
These are the Google Calendars I currently use:
- Personal calendar for school schedules, work schedules, appointments (doctor, dentist, hair cuts, etc), cleaning schedule, holidays, kids’ activities, etc.
- Business calendar for me with classes, meetings, daily and weekly to-dos, events, calls, etc.
- Income and expense calendar with my husband’s twice monthly paydays, my weekly and monthly commission dates, and any expenses that are automatically withdrawn from our bank account. I like to keep my eye on those expenses (Netflix, Dropbox, my life insurance, our dog’s insurance, GoDaddy Bookkeeping, donations to dog rescues, etc) and at the end of every month, I review them and decide if we should keep, cancel, or reduce them. ;)
- Dinner calendar (see #8)
- Phases of the moon so I know why everyone’s acting crazy all of a sudden (seriously, though!)
- Hormonal events so I know why my daughters and I are acting crazy, sad, snappy, depressed, etc.
Here are some articles that’ll really show you how to pimp your GC:
- 16 Little Known Google Calendar Features That’ll Make You More Productive
- 9 Google Calendar Features You Should Be Using
- Supercharge Google Calendar: 30 Tips, Tricks, Hacks, and Add-Ons
10. Automate all the things
Stop wasting time doing stuff that can be done automagically. :)
- Paying bills
- Direct depositing paychecks, tax refunds, commissions, etc.
- Backing up data
- Turning off your computer (I schedule my iMac to go off at 10pm.)
- Filling out online forms (Use your browser’s autofill option instead of manually typing your info!)
- Tracking income and expenses (I use GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping. Other options include YouNeedABudget.com, FreshBooks and Quickbooks.)
- Vacuuming your house (Thank you, Roomba. :)
- Brewing your coffee (see #6)
- Replenishing products you use regularly (Amazon’s Subscribe + Save is just one example of auto-replenish options)
- Thinking of meal ideas (You can get meal plans from places like EatThisMuch.com, Lighter.world, or SkinnyTaste.com. Get meal plans plus everything you need to make them from services like HelloFresh, Purple Carrot, or Blue Apron. Or, you can just Google “meal plans” and buy whatever plan you like. ;)
11. Don’t make dinners that everyone hates
I tend to make some dinners just because they’re easy – chili, for example – even though I know everyone in my family hates them. This ends up not being easy at all because then I have to listen to everyone gripe and/or provide alternatives.
Make making dinners everyone loves easy by asking each person in your family for 3-5 of their favorite meals. Boom!
12. Track your hormones
Don’t laugh! This is actually so helpful, even if you’re not planning a family.
In addition to knowing when your hormonal events (ovulation, PMS, period) on a calendar (see #9) will occur, you’ll know why you’re feeling tired, depressed, energized, cranky, or sad, and you can act accordingly. You can pencil self-care into your calendar during the times you need it, and pencil in to-dos during the times when you’re on an estrogen + testosterone high. Check out this awesome 2-minute video about the science and symptoms of a woman’s cycle.
13. Stop doing stuff you hate
There are so many things that people say they hate doing, but keep doing because they feel they should. News flash: you don’t have to do anything, especially if you hate it.
So, what should you stop doing? Here are a few ideas:
- Things like cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, cutting the grass, shoveling snow, scooping dog poop, running errands, and grocery shopping (see #15). Check out Care.com to see all of the ways you can outsource home stuff. ;)
- Using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapface (hat tip, Bill Belichick), or whatever other social media platform nauseates you or makes you mad/sad/depressed. A few years ago, I deleted my LinkedIn and Google+ accounts and never looked back.
- Saying yes to things you know you don’t want to do. Practice saying no or at the very least, say “I’ll check my schedule and get back to you about that”. That’ll give you time to look at your other commitments and decide if you can or want to take on another one.
14. Go natural
Stock your home with natural products like apple cider vinegar, baking soda, saline, pure essential oils, white vinegar, coconut oil, Himalayan sea salt, and honey and you basically have everything you need right at your fingertips to take care of your health and clean your house. Talk about empowering yourself as a mom!
15. Deliver all the things
As a busy mom and at-home entrepreneur, time is my most precious commodity. And I want to spend my time with my loved ones, not grocery shopping, picking up takeout, or buying crates of toilet paper from wholesale warehouses. So, I get everything I can delivered.
Now, I know you’re probably thinking, “But Heather, having things delivered is expensive! All those delivery fees add up!”.
Actually, having things delivered can be cheaper than shopping for them yourself. By not going to stores, you avoid impulse purchases and the lure of sale items you don’t really need. Calling in an order or placing it online requires planning and thought vs. running to the market and then forgetting why you went. Plus, many places offer free shipping or reduced rates for regular delivery customers.
Here are my favorite places for delivery:
- Amazon (I have an Amazon Prime account that offers free shipping, which is awesome for 30 pound bags of dog food and Dyson vacuums. You can get a free 30-day Amazon Prime trial with my affiliate link – click here for it.)
- Whole Foods (Some WF have an in-house delivery department, while others outsource it. Mine had a delivery team and that took such good care of me! I emailed them my order, they shopped it, and delivered it to me. I did it for so long, that I used to just cut/paste/tweak my email to them after looking at their sale flyer. Now that Amazon acquired Whole Foods, many WF locations offer Amazon Prime Now delivery, which is what I do now and it’s awesome.)
- Vitacost (I love Vitacost for almond butter, oatmeal, laundry detergent, and certain supplements we take. They always have tons of discounts and coupons.)
- dōTERRA (Hi, my name is Heather and I’m an essential oil junkie. I place monthly orders from dōTERRA for all kinds of stuff – essential oils, probiotics, vitamins, shampoo, moisturizer, cleaning products, and more. They have a great rewards program, so I get lots of free stuff too! If you want to get some essential oils, use my contact page to get in touch.)
16. Break up with junk mail
Want to stop junk mail from being delivered to your home and ending up in our overflowing landfills? Here’s how:
- Give your mailbox a makeover
- Opt out of Yellow Pages
- Stop junk mail in 6 easy steps
- Cut the catalogs out of your life
- Control your mailbox with your smartphone
17. Turn off notifications on your phone
Nothing keeps you on high alert like those little red “counts” next to every app on your phone. Seriously, who can relax knowing they have 764 emails, 92 Twitter notifications, 47 texts, and 23 Facebook messages waiting for them? There’s just NO need for that. Give your nervous system a break and turn off notifications on your phone!
Also, see the last tip on this post for how to turn off notifications on your desktop/email.
19. Switch to Gmail
Like Google Calendar, I have a serious love affair with Gmail. You wouldn’t think an email client could make your life easier, but Gmail does just that…and so much more!
In Google’s own words, “Gmail is email that’s intuitive, efficient, and useful. You get 15 GB of storage, less spam, and mobile access.” I’ve been a Gmail user for over a decade and can personally attest to that. I’d also add that your Gmail account won’t be hacked like some of those other *coughAOLcoughHotmailcoughYahoo* email clients.
Here are just some of Gmail’s awesome features:
- Offers lots of storage (15 GB)
- Conversations are organized into single, “threaded” messages instead of 10,000 separate emails
- Great spam filtering
- Tight security and virus-checking
- Star important messages
- Filters, folders, labels, and archives (oh my!)
- Import email from other accounts
- Email signature
- Vacation auto-responder
- Add-ons from Gmail Labs (my fave is Canned Responses)
- Contacts and Tasks
I use Gmail to:
- Filter emails into different folders depending on who they’re from and how excited I am to read them
- Mark emails from my husband with a yellow star so I see them right away, as they are often pertaining to our kids, our plans, or both
- Automatically delete emails from pesky marketers who just keep adding me to their email lists no matter how many times I unsubscribe or mark them as spam ;)
- Send Canned Responses to people who email me about things from my baby blanket business (which feels like eons ago now), like how to find overseas manufacturers, hire independent sales reps, or get into retail stores
- Pause my inbox while I’m working so I’m not distracted
- Stop spam like a boss
- Receive and send email from my @heatherallard.com email addresses
- File important emails that I want to keep into specific folders (which I created) like Personal, School, Business, Ideas, and Favorites
- Get my daily agenda from Google Calendar (see #9)
- And access my emails from my iPhone when I’m on the go
You can get your free Gmail account right here.
These 19 tips are just some of the ideas to make life easier for you and your family. I’d love to hear which ones are your favorites and if you have any tips to share, let me know in the comments.