Life is crazy, and it’s only getting crazier, but finding ways to simplify your life can earn you some breathing space to focus on what really matters. Simplifying can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to do it all at once. Changing one process or habit can make a big difference, so try taking baby steps to whittle your way to a simpler lifestyle. Here are 7 things that you can do today to start working on your simpler lifestyle. Choose one and try it today. Tomorrow, or next week, you can choose another.
- Drop one commitment. Think about all the things in your life that you’re committed to doing, and try to find one that you can let go. Is there something you dread doing? Something that takes up time but doesn’t give you much value in return? Decide today to drop that commitment. Make a phone call or send an email, and let the appropriate people know that you need to stop. You’ll feel relieved, and you’ll free up some time and energy for something that’s more important to you.
- Purge something. Just one small area. Not a room or the house or even a whole closet. Pick someplace small to start. Here’s how to purge: 1) Empty everything from the drawer or shelf or corner into a pile. 2) From this pile, pick out only the most important things, the stuff you use and love. 3) Get rid of the rest. Right now. Recycle it, trash it, put it in your car to give away. 4) Put the stuff you love and use back, in a neat and orderly manner. 5) Celebrate.
- Simplify your To-Do list. If your To-Do list is more than 10 items long, you can probably whittle it down a bit. Try to find as many tasks as possible that can be eliminated, delegated or automated. Shorten the list. You don’t have to do everything now.
- Clear your workspace. If your desk is covered with papers, notes, gadgets and office supplies, you could probably benefit from seeing some clear space. Your desk should have your computer, your in-box, perhaps a notepad and pen, and maybe a cherished photo. The rest of your office supplies can go in a drawer or box. From now on, put everything you need to work on in your in-box, and process it at least once a day.
- Clear your email in-box. This has the same psychological effect as a clear desk. Is your email in-box always full of read and unread messages? That’s because you’re delaying making decisions on your emails. If your in-box has been piling up for a while, this could take longer than one day. Try putting all the messages in a temporary folder and go through them one chunk at a time (maybe 20-30 per day). Your choices are to delete, archive, respond immediately (then archive or delete), forward (then archive or delete), or flag it and note it on your To-Do list to respond to later (then archive or delete). Process each email like that until the in-box is empty. Each time you check your email, process to empty.
- Schedule more time. We rush through the day, from one appointment or task to another, until we collapse on the couch, exhausted, at the end of the day. Instead, simplify your life by doing less, then schedule more time for each task. If you normally allow 15 minutes between appointments, schedule 30. If it normally takes you 30 minutes to drive to that errand, give yourself 45 minutes. Eat slower, drive slower, walk slower. You don’t have to run everywhere, you can walk too. Savor the slowness and the calmness that comes from not hurrying.
- Single-task. Instead of multi-tasking, do one thing at a time. We’ve been conditioned to think that multi-tasking is THE way to work, but really it can be overwhelming and distracting. Resist the urge to check email or do some other habitual task while you’re completing the task at hand. Stick to that one task until you’re done. It’ll make a huge difference in both your stress level and your productivity.
Photo Credit: 55Laney69