Do you remember when your life was simple?  Maybe you were just starting out, living in a one-bedroom apartment, and all your possessions could fit in a couple of boxes.  Looking around your home or home office now you may long for those days, but that doesn’t have to be the case.  A simple life is possible, even with kids, a spouse, a demanding job and personal responsibilities.  Below are 6 questions, originally posted on LifeEdited, that can be applied to any decision whether to do a task, buy something, take on a new responsibility, or more.

Can I do without it?

One of the first things I do when starting any home organization job is purge.  Why bother sorting, managing, and containerizing stuff you don’t need?  It takes time, money, and effort.  If you’re looking for a simpler life that includes less stuff, fewer decisions, and more fulfillment, ask yourself, “Do I really need this,” “Do I really want this,” “Do I really have to do this?”  By eliminating the unnecessary, you can more easily enjoy and appreciate that which you cannot live without.

Can it be digitized, automated or done by someone else?

Paper piles, bills you are constantly paying late, or the leaky shower you’ve been meaning to fix, are all examples of things eating away at your space and time.  You can’t get rid of these items, but can you do something about them that takes up less space or less of your own time.  Get a good quality scanner (Fujitsu Scansnap) and convert your piles to digital, auto-draft and auto-pay as many bills as you can, and hire a professional to do the tasks you do not have time for, are not good at, and/or do not bring you joy.  Value empty space in your home and on your calendar.

Can it be shared, borrowed or rented?

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle applies to more than just common household waste.  Why buy when you can rent or borrow?  An entire industry has been created around this; e.g. Zipcar, BagBorroworSteal, RentTheRunway.  Do you really need the new model of everything? It takes space, money, and time to store and maintain many items that have a short shelf life or are only used occasionally.  Next time you think about buying new, instead consider borrowing from a friend, finding a store or website where you can rent, or check out garage and estate sales.

Can this be combined with something else?

Efficiency can be applied to both your time and your space.  Batch your tasks, e.g. consolidate errands to make as few trips as possible or specify certain times just to make phone calls or only work on email.  Research shows that grouping like tasks together and doing them all at once saves time.  Look for furniture or appliances that provide multiple functions.  A bed with storage underneath can eliminate the need for a chest of drawers or a bookshelf.  A multifunction printer allows you to have one device instead of three.

Can it be made smaller?

Are you piling papers that could easily be recycled or shredded if you just spent a few more minutes sorting the mail?  Even if you have piles, the smaller they are, the less intimidated you’ll be to do something about them.  Space saving items in the kitchen are also beneficial.  My Breville Toaster Oven has a convection oven feature that allows me to cook and warm food without the expense and space required for a full-size secondary oven.  Square food savers that nest (Snapware & the like) fit much more compactly on shelves and in drawers.

Can it be made better?

Quality items tend to last longer and will probably save you money in the long run.  Cheap items tend to break easily, requiring more maintenance and possibly expense than if you had purchased the higher quality item in the first place.

A major cause of too much stuff is more coming in and not enough going out.  If you want to live a simpler life with less stuff and less things to manage, ask the aforementioned questions from LifeEdited.  Your simpler life is only 6 questions away!

Image Credit:  LifeEdited