9 New Year’s Resolutions to Simplify Your Life

It’s that time again. Monday, January 1, 2018 saw us starting a new year, new month, and even a new week (for those of us who start counting on Monday). Now that the new year is here, it’s time to reflect on 2017 and decide what to improve in the following year. Or not. But I like setting goals and making lists, so that’s what I’m working on! More on my personal resolutions later — this is about you!

new year photo

The following nine ideas are resolutions you can put into place this year to make your life a little more simple. Decluttered. Minimalist. However you want to put it, it can become your reality with a little bit of work. Take a look at the list and pick one to get started.

  1. Donate one bag or box per month. This one’s easy. Make some time once a month to tidy and declutter in your home until you’ve filled a vessel of your choice. You can make this as easy (small plastic grocery bag) or hard (large garbage bag) as you want. But set yourself a goal for each month and get moving!
  2. Put one item away each day. This sounds too simple, but it’s a good resolution for several reasons. First, if your home is super cluttered and you’re overwhelmed with where to start, this will give you an easy win every day. Second, goals don’t work unless they’re achievable, and this one is super simple. Notice an empty soda can on the counter? Rinse it and put it in the recycling. You just put one thing in your home where it belongs. Repeat. (And if you can’t find a good home for it, put it in a bag like in #1).
  3. Try a 30 day clutter challenge. There are a few varieties of these clutter challenges around. One is to declutter one item on the first of the month, two items on the second, so on and so forth until you’re decluttering 30 items on the 30th of the month. Another challenge is a bag challenge, where you fill a bag every day with items that will leave your home. It might be a bag of trash or recycling to throw out, a bag of donations, or a bag of stuff that you borrowed from your sister last year and it’s really time she got it back. Just get it out!
  4. Try a Project 333. Project 333 can be incredibly fun and is a low-stress way to try a minimal wardrobe. You choose 33 items to wear for 3 months, and you can only wear those items. I make exceptions for underwear/socks and workout clothes but stick to 33 tops/bottoms/dresses/accessories/shoes for the actual challenge.
  5. Konmari one category. Taking on the whole of Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is a big commitment. But if you resolve to do just one category (say, clothing or books), you might get hooked and do the rest! But even if you don’t, you’ll make great progress in simplifying your life.
  6. Create one minimalist space. Overhauling your entire home is daunting, especially if you live with those who are less minimally-inclined and don’t mind clutter. Don’t pull your hair out in stress over it, just commit to creating and maintaining one minimalist space in your home. It might be a spare room or office, or it might even be the kitchen table. Communicate to your family or roommates that it’s off limits, and enjoy your happy space.
  7. Implement a household system. I thought about resolving to keep a clean house this year, but that is a recipe for disaster. I can, however, commit to a household system. For my home, that will mean making sure all of the litter boxes are scooped on Monday night and all the cat litter trash goes out on trash night. Maybe your system is “we don’t go to sleep with dirty dishes in the sink” or “we clean the bathroom on laundry day and wash the shower curtain.” Whatever your system needs to be, implement just one and try it for a month. If it goes well, add a new system later!
  8. Keep a bullet journal. Bullet journal purists may turn up their nose at the idea of spending hours each week making a pretty layout, but it’s actually very relaxing to spend some dedicated time organizing your thoughts in a stylized bullet journal. Whether you go classic and just keep the basics in your journal or you fall down the Pinterest rabbit hole to find one million layout ideas and try your hand at calligraphy, this habit can help you simplify your schedule and keep on top of tasks. (Plan your week in your minimalist happy place from #6!)
  9. Say no. Minimalism isn’t just about reducing physical clutter, it’s about emotional clutter and mental clutter too. Overcommiting to all sorts of responsibilities (between home, work, and volunteer or other extracurricular activities) is bound to stress you out and lead to a breaking point. This year, learn to prioritize yourself. You do not have to do everything someone asks of you.

What do you think? Do any of these resolutions sound like a good idea to you?

My personal resolutions are around my home (decluttering, of course), fitness, relationship (plan more dates!), and brand/business. As part of that brand building resolution, I have a goal to publish two blogs per month on Born Again Minimalist. I’m also working on an e-book of the best posts, as well as totally original content! Stay tuned for more info.

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6 thoughts on “9 New Year’s Resolutions to Simplify Your Life

  1. zseckley says:

    I can get behind the ‘household system’ idea. As someone working to conquer my anxiety, it can be tempting to lay out a whole schedule with a list of daily tasks, yet tricky to follow through. I’ve been doing better since adding medication to my life, but my mood and energy levels remain unpredictable enough that the best-made schedules only seem daunting. Better to celebrate the little goals and small steps that lead to better habits than to feel bad that the laundry didn’t get done on a Thursday because of that time you decided Thursday should be laundry day.
    Thanks for the post! You consistently manage to put a positive spin on life’s challenges.

    • Caitlin says:

      Thank you so much for this comment, it makes me glad to know I’m making a positive impact 🙂

      And I deeeefinitely understand the anxiety schedule thing. I’ve been energetic and getting things done since starting medication, but it’s so new that I’m wondering when it’s gonna hit a wall. So far, I’m just going with it! I try to do three must-do tasks a day. Sometimes it’s just two, or even one. That’s okay too. 🙂

  2. Marianne says:

    Caitlyn, I found your blog via Google searching ‘purge before move,’ and was delighted to read,your article on decluttering room-by-room. I then read your New Years article where your goal is two entries a month, (you wrote two blogs, but am assuming you meant posts.) I wanted to know how blogging is in your experience? I see you started in 2012. My favorite blogger started in 2014 and she has never missed ONE day posting articles. Imagine? Thanks!

    • Caitlin says:

      Hi Marianne – I hope you found some helpful tips in my decluttering post! I enjoy blogging very much, but once I got through those first few years, I started floundering a little, wondering what else to say and always wanting to make sure what I did say was important or relevant. I cannot imagine blogging daily (although I post several updates a day on my personal Facebook page, so I could probably find something to say).

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