“Simplicity is the Ultimate Sophistication.” ~Leonardo da Vinci

The older I’m getting the more I admire simplicity. I have the urge to simplify my life. By that I mean I only want to spend my time on what is important for me. The first question is: what is that? And the second question is: how can I do it?

Sounds easy, but sometimes living a simple life is actually not that simple to achieve. As soon as we do something meaningful and hopefully successful in our lives, a once simple idea becomes more and more complex. Somewhere along the road we need to simplify again. If we forget to simplify, life gets more complex, confusing and most likely stressful.

What is Simplicity?

I really loved the interview of Apple’s head of design Jonathan Ive, who worked closest to Steve Jobs, explaining how Simplicity isn’t simple: “Simplicity is not the absence of clutter, that’s a consequence of simplicity. Simplicity is somehow essentially describing the purpose and place of an object…”

Simplicity is what is left when we have taken away all that is not necessary.  [Tweet this!]

Simplicity is all about essence. And purpose. It means to simplify as much as possible — but not more — to reduce it to it’s essence.

But how do you know what is essential for you? And what is your purpose in life?
The most simple answer: It’s what is most important to you. And nothing much else.

How to Simplify Your Life

In general there are two ways to simplify:

The first is to get clear and to focus on what is really important to you. This means to do more of what makes you truly happy, what you feel you have to do on this world.

The second way is to remove as much distraction from your life as possible, so you actually can live in purpose and fulfillment.

The following steps will be a guide to simplify life:

1. Turn Down the Noise

Hutchinson’s Law: “Any occurrence requiring undivided attention will be accompanied by a compelling distraction.”

Noise is irrelevant information. It is distraction, even chaos, and in a way the opposite of essence. It certainly does not lead to simplicity.

So here is the advice:

Turn off the TV, close facebook, stop chatting about nothing.

You don’t need that.

The need to being constantly entertained and distracted may mean that you are running away from yourself.

Face your reality and ask yourself: What really makes me happy? How can I improve my situation? Then use your own thoughts to create that reality for yourself.

2. Clarify What You Want and Need

“For me the greatest beauty always lies in the greatest clarity.” ~ Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

Clarity helps you to do and stay on what is important to you- and avoid what is not. Clarity creates simplicity. In order to get clear on what you want I suggest doing self-reflectionin writing.

To reduce unclarity you can also set goals that express what you really want. A clear goal helps a lot to get to and to stay on the right track. The moment you set a goal you make a decision that this is more important to you.

3. How to Do Less without Losing Anything

“Do Less. Get More Done.” ~ Leo Babauta of Zenhabits

Doing less may seem pretty hard at first. After all, there is all this stuff on your to-do list, right? The only real thing to ever worry about is not how much you’ve managed to do, but have you done your top priorities? That’s all you have to really care about.

And to make things simple, start to systematically get rid of the tasks that just don’t fit in with what matters to you. You will be surprised with how little you actually can have a big impact. The key is to know what that little is (see point 2. above) and then to focus your attention there.

So you won’t lose much by doing less. In fact you will gain a lot: more joy, less stress, more recognition and more success in what you do.

4. Say “No” in Order to Say “Yes”

“People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.” ~ Alan Alexander Milne (Haha!)

You probably need to say “no” more often than you do now. It is just necessary in order to say “yes” to the few things that matter most to you. All time-management in the world will not help you if you just have too much commitments to fulfill.

Saying “no” with confidence, possibly with a brief explanation why, will probably get you more respect than saying “yes” and not being able to deliver. And a strong and focussed “yes” is the key to your success in any way.

5. Declutter

“The things you own end up owning you.” ~ Tyler Durden in Fight Club

Decluttering your environment helps to live a more simple life. It creates more space for creativity and makes room for new thoughts. It also helps to get more structure into your thoughts and to avoid being distracted by things that should have gone for good.

Here are some practical tips to declutter:

  • Clear your desktop of all the things that don’t belong there, create a folder for material “in the works”.
  • Clear your computer desktop and put things into folder you can reach easily.
  • Avoid things to clutter your space in the first place (do I really need this?)
  • Have an “un-cluttered” space for things, where they belong and are easily found again, in your real and digital life.
  • Last but not least: don’t overdo it, stressing you out. There is something like creative chaos ;-)
  • If you are really into decluttering, check out Unclutterer.com (these guys are pro Unclutterer…)

6. Invite Silence into Your Life

“Do not speak- unless it improves on silence.” ~ Zen Saying

Have you ever noticed how energizing and refreshing it can be to do absolutely nothing? Learn to spend quality-time with yourself.

“Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is richness of self.” said May Sarton. Solitude means to deliberately spend time alone. Use it to do deep self-reflection and to clear your mind of all the impressions you get constantly. That way you create space for yourself to refresh and to renew yourself.

Final Words on Living Simple

To live a simple life is not an easy task in today’s world of constant distraction and information overload. It needs some work and self-discipline on your side. With the 6 things outlined here I think you and I are on a good way to simplify our lives and to live a more purposeful and successful life.


Hi, I’m Myrko Thum and author of this site. I help entrepreneurs to create and sell highly profitable information products and scale up their business online. I also created several online training programs, among others Info Product Masterclass and Personal Breakthrough Academy. If you want to learn more click here to get started!


  1. Comment by G Satish

    G Satish Reply November 12, 2015 at 5:53 am

    Very good information about the topic.

  2. Comment by Alec Logan

    Alec Logan Reply April 22, 2015 at 10:44 pm

    There is something I am curious about as I learn more and more about simplicity and minimalism. There is this idea or fact, which ever you call it, that we live in a consumer based society. And living simply or minimally I find that there will always be this lust for materials and tech. And I believe that thats not necessarily wrong as technology is here to make life easier. What are your thoughts on technology and how we incorporate it into to our lives? Is it possible to still be a minimalist but have a range of devices?

  3. Comment by Maryam

    Maryam Reply December 9, 2013 at 5:18 am

    Great and excellent post,You point out about setting a goal and have clarity about it and recognize that what is important to us,but sometimes we choose a wrong goal which is apparently gives us happiness and it is something we want to prove ourselves to others and compete to others and we should be carefule to choose and set a goal which makes our inner side happy and gives us self-respect.

  4. Comment by karsten

    karsten Reply November 21, 2013 at 5:45 am

    this post was an eye-opener. Thanks!!

  5. Comment by suraj sorde.

    suraj sorde. Reply June 6, 2012 at 9:07 am

    thanks….for simplify the way to live life.

  6. Comment by Myrko

    Myrko Reply June 5, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    Hi Ianina, some things maybe hard to change, especially in the beginning. But if you build some momentum, it gets more and more easy.

  7. Comment by Ianina

    Ianina Reply June 3, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    Very good post! I have been reading you for a few months and trying to apply some of the things into my life…and it’s hard! But it’s a nice hard working and I hope that in a not-so-far future, I can say that I have simplified my life and that I am a much happier person for that. (Hard to say that in our nowadays world, isn’t it?)

  8. Comment by Myrko

    Myrko Reply June 2, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    Jenny, yes, but we have to say “no” anyway, no way around that.

  9. Comment by Jennifer Pexton

    Jennifer Pexton Reply June 2, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    Very good post! Turn off the noise – soo true! But not that easily done, as you said. Also saying “no” is really hard from time to time. But then again, we need to simplify our life! Thx, Jenny.

  10. Comment by Myrko

    Myrko Reply June 2, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    Yes thats a nice quote, Joe. It’s an art really… :)

  11. Comment by ForeverYoung

    ForeverYoung Reply June 2, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    I especially like the last point to invite silence into my life. It is so nerve-wrecking sometimes, when you hear that constant chatter without any sense. I think it should be part of everyone’s lifestyle.
    Thanks for a great post, Myrko!

  12. Comment by Joe DeStefano

    Joe DeStefano Reply June 2, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    Great stuff, Myrko. Reminds me of when Albert Einstein said, “Everything shoud be made as simple as possible – but, no simpler”.

    Thanks, Myrko.

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