Self Improvement

How to Feel Less Overwhelmed This Year With 12 Monthly Projects

Anya Zhukova 30-01-2017

One of the most common ways to start a new year nowadays is to come up with the so-called New Year’s Resolutions, a list of things that you promise yourself to accomplish during the next 365 days. The internet tells you to challenge yourself and get out of your comfort zone to fulfill your potential.


What if that’s not enough to make you content?

We’re all different and everyone has unique needs. While the life-changing challenges 12 Life-Changing Challenges You Can Try as 30-Day Projects Personal challenges make us change. How about adopting a more deliberate method by designing your own challenges with 12 self development projects for the New Year? Here are some ideas. Read More and adventures are what some of us need to be happy, others might feel anxious and stressed trying to fit new time-and energy-consuming activities into their already packed schedule.

There’s a way to do it without the mental overhead: minimalism. Essentially, it’s about achieving more with less. We made a list of 12 simple minimalism-inspired projects that will help you feel less overwhelmed this year. And the best thing is that you can accomplish each of them in less than 30 days.

1. Wardrobe Revolution

We always think that to feel new we need to acquire new stuff. Got a new job? Time to buy new clothes. Have bad memories associated with your car? Buy a new one. And so on, when really what you need is a simple change.

Instead of overloading your house with more and more items try going through the things you already own and free up some breathing space. The most common rule here is if you have an item that you haven’t worn for the last year and don’t think you’ll wear in the next year or so, let it go. You’ll be surprised how much stress will leave your place together with those things.


Feel free to apply this outside your wardrobe too — create some space for yourself to breathe and relax.

2. Build an Emergency Fund

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Naturally, letting go of things isn’t applicable to every sphere of your life. A good example is finance — an indefinite source of stress for most people. Although you cannot eliminate money-related problems completely, you can make your life easier by organizing your finances.

Today, several online tools can help you figure out a budget. The most popular ones being Mint and You Need a Budget (YNAB) The Online Budget Battle: Mint vs. You Need a Budget (YNAB) When it comes to online budgeting and expense tracking, there are plenty of solutions, but two of the biggest names in the business are Mint and You Need a Budget (YNAB). Read More . Another simple way to manage your money is by using Trello You Can Use Trello to Manage Your Money; Here's How to Start Managing a budget can be hard, but using cards and stacks in Trello makes it much easier. Read More . Once you choose the app that suits you most, set up a project to track your savings. Having a sum of money that you can use in case of emergency can bring some serious peace of mind into your life.


3. Create a Visual Calendar

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Another way to better organize your life is to create a visual calendar of your everyday life. How is that going to keep the stress away? With all the important events you have to attend in front of you, it’s easier to keep track of them and limit the possibility of accidentally overbooking yourself.

This can be created both offline (for example, in the form of a sticky note calendar) and online. Once again, Trello is a great tool that can help you manage your life 10 Creative Ways to Manage Your Life with a Trello Calendar To-do list items are easier to work on and tick off your list if you schedule them into your calendar. The calendar display of Trello is an awesome feature for managing your life. Read More .

4. Learn DIY Skills

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Image Credit: khlungcenter via


We all use the internet to buy things on daily basis, but we often forget that, unlike shopping malls, internet is also a source of knowledge. You can even learn new skills online in under 30 days. Some of the most useful ones being DIY skills.

Depending on your interests, you can learn practically anything from scrapbooking and origami to carpentry and repair work. The benefits? By learning any of the above you’ll cut your spending, whether it’s gift spending or the money you pay to a handy worker. It will also allow you to spend some time away from the screens and modern technology. Besides, making things with your own hands somehow always feels extremely rewarding.

If you’re convinced that you and tech can never go separate ways, you can learn how to make, reuse, upcycle, and fix your technology with the MakeUseOf DIY section.

5. Start Drawing

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Image Credit: Yuliya Evstratenko via


Art has been used by psychologists as a therapeutic technique for years. Drawing (or even doodling) is a well-known method of expressing oneself. It can also help you relieve stress and delve into your inner world.

The best part is that to start drawing you only need to…begin drawing. If you intend to use this form of art as a relaxation tool, literally no special skill is required. So, pick up a pen and a piece of paper and let your mind flow free.

6. Create a Photo Gallery

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An excellent way to give a new life to the old photographs you might still be keeping in the photo albums is to put them together in a Photo Gallery Wall. Use the internet for inspiration, but make sure the Gallery is your own design. Choose your favorite way to organize the pictures and devote enough time to crafting, that way you’ll gain more from both the process and the result of this project.

Some of the perfect places to have the Photo Gallery Wall would be the living room or the house corridor where both your friends and family can look through the pictures and remember the good times you’ve had together.

The local print shop may not be the best aesthetic choice always. Web services like WhiteWall and Shutterfly handle sorts of custom wall print jobs.

7. Clean Up Your Kindle or eBook Collection

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What does your GoodReads list look like? Are you carrying around hundreds of books on your Kindle? Having a reading list with that many options can be quite overwhelming. At the same time, chances are you’re not going to read all the eBooks that you own or all the good ones that are still out there. Defeat the overwhelm by removing the books with a rating of less than 4.0.

Now, head towards your Netflix (or any other media list) playlist. You can use Netflix or Rotten Tomatoes ratings to eliminate the “weaklings”.

8. Discover New Source of Knowledge


Make use of your free time with some of the most engaging podcasts. Nowadays there’s a podcast for almost everything: storytelling podcasts Compelling Storytelling: 12 Podcasts to Listen to on SoundCloud SoundCloud isn't all about the music. It also has a robust Storytelling section full of compelling podcasts. Here are 12 of the most compelling storytelling podcasts you can stream right now on SoundCloud. Read More as an alternative to listening to music, podcasts to increase your productivity level Let's Talk Productivity: 7 Podcasts You Should Listen To For Working Awesomely Let us talk about productivity -- or let these seven life hackers talk about the little things we can do to work awesomely. Plug in...sit back...and listen. Read More , even podcasts that will help you save money and get out of debt 10 Podcasts That'll Help You Save Money & Get Out of Debt There are a lot of money-related podcasts out there, but these 10 are the best for helping you get out of debt and master your money. Read More . In addition, listening to a podcast can help you relax while commuting.

Don’t know where to begin the search? Check out the MakeUseOf guide to discovering new podcasts What Is The Best Way To Find New Podcasts? Finding good podcasts takes some digging. Word of mouth remains the best way to discover the next great podcast. If the grapevines are silent, here are a few more ways to find new podcasts. Read More .

9. Reduce Your Daily Screen Time

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We mention spending time away from screens more than once for a reason. Horrifying stats show that on average Americans spend over seven hours staring at screens alone (that includes TV, laptop, tablet, and smartphone).

Try to clock your screen time one day. After you’ve recovered from the shock, divide it by two and take half that time to reconnect with nature instead. Doesn’t have to be hardcore hiking or trekking, start small with a local park. Long walks outside work wonders when it comes to stress relief and fighting anxiety.

10. Start Doing Yoga

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Three things people turn to yoga for are flexibility, spirituality, and stress relief 5 Top Yoga Channels On YouTube That Help You Beat Stress After a stressful day, a few minutes of yoga can mean the difference between anxiety and rest. Load up these YouTube channels and don't be surprised when your stress melts away. Read More . Yoga can also help you lose weight, decrease your blood pressure and lower your “bad” cholesterol. Rumor has it, yoga even gives you a sense of fulfilling your potential.

Besides, there’s no such thing as “the perfect pose” or “the correct way of doing things” in yoga. It’s all about embracing your inner strengths and letting yourself be who you are. You will also learn the art of meditation in the process — what can be more helpful when fighting the overwhelm?

11. Learn to Dance

If you feel like yoga is a little too much fitness for you, we’ve got an alternative way to exercise ready to be explored. Just like yoga, it’s healthy and fun, but it’s a tad more social. Let’s talk dancing.

With the number of things an average person has on their mind these days, you’re bound to get tired of being constantly wrapped up in your thoughts. Dancing will help get you out of your head and give your brain the desired break.

It can also give you a boost of confidence and help you meet other people just like you. Furthermore, there are so many different styles, you will most certainly find the one that suits you most.

12. Treat Yourself

In this hectic world, it’s easy to get so involved in your career, household chores, and various duties. You end up only doing the part where you “work hard”.

Much like Tom and Donna from Parks and Rec you shouldn’t forget to give yourself a break every once and a while and take the time to enjoy yourself (as much as possible). Taking one day in a year/month/week and devoting time to yourself only can give you some breathing room to rethink your commitments and help you realize your needs.

Share Your Best Practices With Us

How do you cope with the everyday overwhelm? What strategies have proven to be best and worst in your experience? Would you apply any of the projects listed above in your life?

Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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Related topics: Habits, Minimalism, Stress Management.

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  1. Brendan
    January 30, 2017 at 5:37 pm

    Practice Hygge the Danish art of Coziness.