5 Things to Do Right Now to Simply Your Life

Life is busy and difficult enough.  Make the regular, recurring events in your life easy with these 5 steps.

1.  Get a perpetual calendar

I have had one for about a decade and honestly, I don’t know how I managed without it before.  Birthdays and anniversaries land on the same day every year, so why have to always struggle to remember when it is, or transfer it over and over again to different calendars?

A perpetual calendar takes care of it all for you.  Each page has a month and a line beside each day.  You simply write in the occasion on said date and voila – you never have to write it or try to recall it again.   You can add and delete as time goes on.

Nearing the end of the month, I look ahead to see what birthdays and anniversaries are coming up.  Then, I keep an eye out for appropriate presents and get cards if I have to (though I try and always keep some on hand).  This way, a celebration never sneaks up on me.  I always have a card in the mail and a present wrapped.

And it took writing it down once all those years ago.

2. Use an online calendar for reminders

There are a ton of things that we do daily, weekly and monthly.   So why try and remember them all when you can be reminded as often as you wish.

With an online or email calendar (such as Gmail), you can set up reminders to be either emailed to you or texted to your phone.  You can put in your regular lunch with the girls every second Sunday, your weekly appointment with your therapist and your kid’s soccer practice every Tuesday and Thursday.

But you can also use it for things like deadlines – work project due dates, “Visa bill must be paid by the 20th” every month (put this in on the 15th, not the 20th so you’re not scrambling), and things that you do regularly like taking back DVD rentals, returning library books, shopping at a weekly farmer’s market, etc.

You’ll never have to strain to remember an errand or appointment again.

3.  Make a master grocery list

You’re at the grocery store almost as much as you’re at work, it seems sometimes.  So why are you making a list from scratch each and every time?  Chances are you’re getting much the same stuff, so why not make a master list and simply check off you what need today or this week? Sarah wrote about these cute ones but there are a ton online (I like these ones too).

Imagine how much time you’ll save.  Whether you print it out or have it on your phone, a comprehensive list that you can use over and over will truly change your life.


4. Use your contacts list more wisely

We all have these bulging contact lists in our email but they just sit there for us to click on the email address, check a phone number or occasionally look up a mailing address.  But why not use it to your advantage?

I use the notes section to put in information I don’t want to forget.  I’ve inputted everything from shoe sizes of friends (in case I see something for them on sale), names of their family members, transit or driving directions to their house, everything and anything you need to recall at some point.

I record if someone’s paid me or if I’ve paid them – how much and when.  When it’s in their contact information, you don’t have to go sorting through reams of emails to find what you need.

I even have my best friend’s many middle names recorded and her many, many siblings.  You should see how impressed she is when I can recall all of them!

5.  Pay your bills online

There is always a lot of resistance to this at first.  It seems so weird, after either mailing in your cheques or lining up and paying them in person at the bank.  It feels uncertain somehow – no physical paper trail.  But I’m telling you, it is amazing.

First of all, it saves you time – no more going to the bank or the mailbox.  Secondly, you are actually seeing how much money you have, how much you’re paying to whom and how much is leftover, all in a matter of seconds or minutes.  You are interacting with your money and your expenses and perhaps like me, for the first time you are really aware of what’s coming in and what’s going out.  What a feeling!

It only takes a few minutes to pay a whack of bills and you can do it at any time of day, whenever it’s convenient for you.  You can also set up automatic payments to come out of your account, making even less work for yourself.

Suddenly paying bills doesn’t seem like such a chore anymore.

Stephanie Dickison is the author of the recent book, The 30-Second Commute: A Non-Fiction Comedy About Writing & Working From Home, which covers her career as book, music and restaurant critic.  She has been a journalist for over a decade and now spends much of her time writing about travel, food, beauty, style and celebrities for various publications and websites.

When she’s not writing, she’s eating, cooking, organizing, filing, making lists in sumptuous notebooks (you must use your beautiful journals) and colour-coding her ever evolving calendar.

She is one of the few writers still using technology AND paper.  But at least her paper is organized into pretty file folders…