10 ways to simplify your life

Laurie Blundell —  February 15, 2010 — 3 Comments

http://www.flickr.com/photos/lblundell/2625926067/

Is anyone else getting overwhelmed and more tired than ever these days?

Ok, so it’s not just me!

Well here are 10 ways to simplify your life, not all of these are doable for everyone but even by just doing a few it will simplify your life somewhat.

I am all about simplicity, I love the way you feel when you live simply.

I did this when I was working after college.

I was living on my own, working, and had a group of friends that I did stuff with, it was great – no schedule, I worked 3 days a week (12-13 hours a day) and lived simply. Granted I didn’t have the responsibilities I have now either, but I still wish I could go back to those times. Anyway, here they are:

  • 3-box decluttering–this is a big one for me–I hate clutter!! If you’re trying to declutter a room, drawer, shelf, desk … use three boxes to quickly sort everything. Just quickly go through each shelf or drawer or flat surface at once, putting things into three separate boxes: Trash, Donate, Maybe. The first two boxes are obvious … the Maybe box is for stuff you’re not too sure about — you can put this in storage for a few months and decide later.
  • Create a short list–This is for the big-picture simplifying. If you’re having a hard time getting your life to something truly simple, create a short list of things you love doing most. This should be 4-5 things. For me, that’s writing, reading, running and spending time with my family. Your short list will be different. Then, try to eliminate everything in your life that’s not on the short list, to make room for the things you love.
  • Deflect all requests for a week– If you’re feeling overwhelmed, make the decision that you will not say “yes” to any new requests this week. If you get a new request, politely decline. If it’s a request you can’t decline, tell them you’ll get to it next week because you have some projects you need to finish this week. Then pick one or two or even three projects (depending on their sizes) and focus on finishing them this week.
  • Single-task– This is good for those who tend to be all over the place. Don’t allow yourself to switch between tasks. When you’re working on a report or writing an article, don’t do anything else. When you’re processing email, get to empty and do nothing else. One task at a time … finish the task … move on to the next. Try this for one day, focusing on it completely for that day.
  • Start your day with peace –I love this one, because it’s so easy to implement and yet it can have such a powerful effect on your day. When you first wake up, do something that is calming and peaceful. That might be running or walking, having a quiet cup of coffee with a book, watching the sunrise or doing a devotional … whatever works well for you. It can be 10 minutes or an hour, but find some peace in the morning and use it to calm you throughout your entire day. This is a tough one for me just because I get up early as it is, so getting up earlier is difficult.
  • Go media free — If your life is filled with information overload, and you find little time to do the things you love to do, consider eliminating media from your life, at least temporarily. This includes cable TV, DVDs, newspapers and magazines, Internet news and the like. Now, I’m not saying you should eliminate the things you love. You might love a certain TV show — in that case, eliminate everything else. You can go media free for a week to see if it improves your life, and then consider extending it for longer.
  • Limit yourself to 3 tasks– If your to-do list is long and overwhelming, pick three tasks you want to do today — important tasks that aren’t just urgent but actually have a long-lasting impact on your life. Focus on getting these three tasks done before anything else. If you finish early, you can either call it a day or get some bonus tasks done.
  • Limit yourself to one project– How many projects are you juggling right now? If there are too many, you might be limiting your effectiveness. Instead, focus on one project right now, and put the others on the back-burner. Try to get that one project done as quickly as possible, and then work on the next one.
  • 30-day rule– This is a fantastic for those who have trouble with impulse buying — that great enemy of simplifying. The rule is that if you want to buy something, you have to write it on your 30-day list, with the date that it was added to the list. After 30 days, if you still want it, you can buy it. This doesn’t apply to necessities such as groceries … which helps you distinguish between wants and needs, a great skill for simplifying. This is a real tough one for me but a good one to use so I think I’ll try it more.
  • Limit storage space– Do you tend to save everything? Have tons of stuff in storage, in closets or attics or garages or cabinets? The less storage you have, the less stuff you’ll save — which will save you the stress of having to go through all that storage to find stuff, to organize stuff, to maintain stuff, to get rid of old stuff. A good example is my desk — I work on a table with no drawers. This means I don’t have all the usual stuff in a desk, and forces me to keep things simple. This goes along with the first one–decluttering, I already mentioned I hate clutter, and this will help keep that in check.

Ok, I know I said 10 but here is a bonus one

Decrease your information flow– Similar to the media fast, you can cut back on the amount of information coming into your life. Do you currently have tons of emails coming in? Find ways to reduce them — unsubscribe to mailing lists, ask people to stop sending you joke or chain emails (or block them from your inbox), automatically filter things you don’t really need to read. Do you read a lot of blog feeds? Unsubscribe to those that don’t give you value. Do you read a lot of news? Pick one news source instead of five.

There you have it 10, I mean 11, ways to simplify your life…and like I said, don’t do all of them, just pick 1 or 2 that you like and try those, if they work, try another one and so on. Happy Simplifying!

Laurie Blundell

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