Unbusy Yourself: 52 Tips For Busy People

…who want to become unbusy!


Image: weheartit


This post was first published in June 2014, and has now been updated. Please share your thoughts with me- have you found any of these tips useful? What would you add?


This post is dedicated to those wanting an unbusy lifestyle but don’t know where to begin the journey. I’ve created a list of 52 tips to inspire and have you on your way to being unbusy- many of these I have used, but some are tips I’ve yet to try but have been recommended by others living an unbusy, simplified lifestyle.

Some have links to other blogs and sites, if you are inspired to read more.

Choose to do the tips all at once, or maybe one for each week of the year.

Some are pretty straight forward, others require a bit more courage. Will you take the challenge?


1. Join in the decluttering challenge I set in THIS POST. Grab a garbage bag, walk around the house and spend 10 minutes filling up the bag with as many things you don’t need as possible. Donate these to a local charity.

2. If you love books, download the kindle app for your phone or PC and start buying e-books rather than paper books. It took me a while to get used to the idea as I love holding an actual book, but I’ve gotten on board and love the convenience. No more bookshelves for this girl.

3. Learn to cook a “hash” of different foods: a few vegies, some protein (meat or otherwise), a few herbs and spices. Sautee or stir fry and there you have a quick mid-week meal. You don’t need a fancy recipe that wastes a lot of time and requires ingredients you have to go out and buy just for one meal. Think sustainable and quick.  More “hashed” inspiration here.

4. Co-ordinate your wardrobe so that you have a smaller number of items that can be mixed and matched with others to create new outfit combinations. Unbusy people don’t waste time trying to decide what to wear. Cull the things you no longer wear or fit into (be honest with yourself!). For more inspiration, visit Courtney Carver’s Project 333.

5. Only have available enough plates, cups, bowls and cutlery for the number of people living in your household. The remaining items- either donate to charity or if you are not ready to give them away, put them away in a buffet or hard-to-reach cupboard/storage space. Reduced kitchen items means reduced dishes. Need some more kitchen decluttering inspiration and tips? READ HERE.

6. Stop using your dishwasher. Wait, isn’t a dishwasher supposed to save you time? Yours might, but my dishwasher cycle takes over an hour. I never use it unless it is full, and have always washed my pots by hand. Now that I have reduced the number of kitchen items I have, it is quicker for me to wash and dry by hand than to load, run and unpack a dishwasher. Try it!

7. Place a “no junk mail” sticker on your letterbox. And apply “no junk mail” principles to your life to become unbusy.

8. Switch off your mobile phone for one day. I dare you.

9. Use up all the food you already have in your pantry/fridge/freezer before doing your next grocery shop. See if you can be creative with what you already have. Unbusy people don’t waste time in supermarkets if they don’t have to.

10. Organise for paperless bills. One less piece of paper to handle means more time for you! For more paper decluttering tips, visit HERE.

11. Unsubscribe from blogs and websites that no longer serve you.

12. Before you go out somewhere special, decide to leave your camera at home and don’t use your phone camera. No photos! Enjoy a different experience without worrying about capturing the moment.

13. Are your kids doing too many extra curricular activities? Say no to one of them. This might be tricky for some, but think about the benefits: maybe a weekend sleep in, more family time, more money, more sanity. I shared my views on kids being busy OVER HERE.

14. Put all of your kids toys into storage for a week as an experiment. What other creative things can your kids do? Helping out in the kitchen? Spending time outdoors? They will thank you for not having to clean up! Read here for more inspiration on why fewer toys will benefit your child.

15. Make a rule not to use the internet in the mornings- see how different and unbusy your morning routine is without the distraction of technology!

16. Never check your emails before bedtime. Never. There’s a saying, don’t check your emails unless you are prepared to deal with what you are about to read. Ignorance is bliss!

17. Don’t be a sheep. Don’t do something just because everyone else is doing it. Don’t be afraid to do the opposite.

18. Learn to go outside in the fresh air each day, even if it is just for five minutes. Use this opportunity to clear your head.

19. Don’t carry a wallet or purse. I recently purchased a leather cardholder that can hold about 30 cards.

20. Cancel or cut up loyalty cards for retailers you no longer visit.

21. Don’t pack a suitcase for your next trip- use a backpack or small overnight bag. Take it on the plane with you and don’t check in any luggage. Pack the simple way! It’s the first step in an unbusy travel itinerary.

22. Cull your cosmetics and beauty products. Simplify your regime to only a couple of products, or better still, get rid of any chemical-based products and use natural skin cleansers such as jojoba oil. Read why cleansing skin using oils is the way to go. Or head into the bathroom for a DECLUTTERING SESSION.

23. Don’t wear make up, or limit it to very special occasions. Unbusy people get ready in less time!

24. If you have long hair, cut it to a shorter length for easier and quicker management.

25. Cancel your gym membership and exercise in the outdoors. Some suggestions: a bike ride, long brisk walks or even follow the Couch to 5km program. During wet weather, follow a DVD workout in the comfort of your home.

26. Don’t promote your business to people who don’t need your product or service. Don’t waste your time trying to convince them to buy. Instead, focus your time on finding the people who you can serve best.

27. Join your local library and borrow books instead of buying (if you aren’t ready to implement tip no.2).

28. Focus on today. What do you need to do today? What can you leave for another day/week/month? I’m not a fan of cramming everything into one day and I don’t like to-do lists. Here’s why.

29. Get rid of one piece of furniture that you use to fill up space in your house. Learn to be comfortable with empty spaces. You will feel more free and have a clearer mind.

30. Pick a month and avoid going to the shopping centre/mall unless its to buy groceries or something necessary (eg: your shoes have worn out).

31. Go to bed an hour earlier. Staying up late to finish things isn’t going to score you brownie points. In fact, waking up tired the next day is like taking two steps backwards. I struggle with this a lot!

32. Walk away from an argument, or agree to disagree. A lot of the time, arguments continue and escalate because the focus is on the ego and not the issue itself. It’s better to let go and not invest precious time in something that is poisonous to your life and wellbeing.

33. When replying to an email that has been sent to a group of people, don’t “reply all” unless necessary- this shows respect for other people’s time.

34. Don’t compare your life with what you see on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or elsewhere or you will waste time trying to mould your life into something that is not based on reality.

35. Walk around the house and remove any decorative pieces or ornaments that you no longer treasure or find value in, and donate these to a charity. A lot of the time we fill up empty spaces with unimportant things because we think it makes our homes more “homely”, when really these things are dust collectors. Unbusy people prefer not to waste time dusting and cleaning.

36. Only print photos if you are going to frame and hang/display them. All other photos should be stored on hard drives or other forms of media and backed up to prevent loss.

37. Realise that storage solutions are fashionable and expensive ways to hide your junk. Reality is, the junk is still there! Remove the junk and you won’t need the storage solutions. It’s one of the 7 big mistakes people make when decluttering.

38. If your airline has the option, download and print your boarding passes at home. Saves queuing up at the check-in counter at the airport.

39. Before driving somewhere, check that you actually know which route to take! Sounds obvious but in this age of technological advancement (GPS and Google Maps), getting “lost” is really not a valid excuse! (Oh, and check the traffic report).

40. Learn to trust your intuition. Listen to the voice in your head. If something doesn’t feel or sound right, it probably isn’t, so why waste your time finding out the hard way?

41. Realise that there is a connection between spending money and time. The fewer things you spend your money on, the less money you will need to live off. Read more about consumerism and time here.

42. Don’t multitask. We are constantly told that to be productive we must multitask. But this leads to more busyness, and can sometimes lead to careless mistakes because we are so focused on juggling more than one task at a time. Read more about why it’s better to focus on one task at a time.

43. Do something you have been putting off for a long time because you have been too busy.

44. Don’t hold onto things “just in case” some future event occurs. It rarely does. This is one of the biggest mistakes people make when decluttering.

45. Are you holding onto traditions for the sake of it? Traditions that actually make you more busy and stressed than you need to be? Get rid of busy traditions, and introduce new ones that reflect the unbusy lifestyle you desire. It’s one of the tips I share on how to be more intentional this Christmas.

46. Give the gift of experience rather than a physical gift. Some examples include movie tickets, dinner vouchers or an overnight stay in a hotel.

47. Learn to say no to your children. They don’t need the latest and greatest gadgets, toys, clothing- these things won’t bring them long term happiness. You are trying to live a more simplified and unbusy life. Set an example for your children to follow and you will be giving them one of the greatest gifts they will ever receive.

48. Learn to love and respect yourself. Unbusy people put themselves first. This doesn’t make them selfish, because they know that they can’t be of service to their family, friends and the community if they are not looking after their own health and wellbeing.

49. Six months after beginning your unbusy lifestyle journey, take a garbage bag and again walk around the house for 10 minutes filling up the bag with anything that you no longer find of value. Donate these items to charity. It’s amazing how after changing your mindset, an object no longer holds the same value you thought it did months earlier.

50. Be thoughtful and deliberate in what you do. Don’t rush through life. Unbusy people savour the moment.

51.  Ask for help when you need it. Busy people think they can do it all and do it all alone. Unbusy people realise they can’t do it all, nor do they want to, but they also ask for help when needed.

52. Talk to an older person about what life was like for them. Chances are it was less busy than your life is now. I spoke to my mother-in-law about this, and she commented how life is much too hectic nowadays and people moved at a much slower pace years ago. And people seemed happier. Get a different perspective and it might inspire you to become unbusy.