“It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.” – Bruce Lee
Our lives can get hectic. Lots of commitments, lots of things we want to do and lots to keep up with. It’s no wonder many of us become overwhelmed.
Simplifying our lives can help us combat these feelings. However, living a simpler life in, what can be, a complex world takes some guile. With this in mind, here are some ideas to help you on your own journey to simpler.
1) Slow Down
You can’t, despite your best efforts, be in constant motion and be at your best. You need to know when to take your foot off the gas and just rest a little.
Ironically slowing down can also mean we get more (not less) done!
Too much physical and mental clutter is not good for us. Streamline and declutter regularly. If you don’t need it or it doesn’t serve a positive purpose eject it.
3) Forget the Small Stuff (Go 80/20)
You can’t do it all so why try?
Vilfredo Pareto’s 80/20 rule states that in any particular pursuit that we undertake approximately 80 percent of the results may come from just 20 percent of our efforts.
What this means is that many of us are spinning our wheels most of the time. Or put another way, we are majoring in the minors.
If instead we identify and focus on the 20 percent that really matters (the big result producing stuff that means most to us) we are more likely to live a simpler life more on our own terms.
Stop sweating the small stuff and choose the 80/20 route instead.
4) Own Less
How much do you really need? Not as much as you probably already have.
Make sure anything you have in your life has a reason to be there and gives you something back. If not, get rid of it.
Don’t let your stuff own you and weigh you down.
5) Embrace Your Own Version Simpler Living
Living simpler offers many advantages. It means we want for less overall. It means we are focused on the important and let someone else worry about the less important. It means we streamline and hack away the things that are not essential.
What that version of simpler actually ends up being is however a personal choice. What works for me may not work for you.
6) Limit Choices
The paradox of our time is that we have so many choices available to us that many of us struggle to make any choice at all. Counter this by purposefully limiting your options at times. There is a power in limiting choices.
7) Leave Multitasking to Someone Else
Multitasking is a great way to spin plates and do lots of things sub-optimally. It often means we start but don’t finish. It also means we’re not fully engaged with what we’re doing but rather thinking about what’s next.
Forget multitasking and instead focus simply on one thing at a time until completion and then move onto the next task.
8) Make Space in your Diary and Learn the Power of No
Make sure you’re saying yes to the right invites. The invites that mean you get to spend time with those you care about, or on things you care about and goals that are important to you.
Learn to say a polite “No, thank you” to invitations that don’t fit this bill. The ones that don’t add to your life in some way.
Learn to love and protect a little space in your diary.
9) Make Time
“I don’t have time” is becoming one of the most overused phrases in our culture. What it often means is we don’t see something as a priority or perhaps we have our priorities slightly skewed.
Everything being a priority actually means nothing is a priority.
We need to make time for those things and people that are truly important to us in our lives.
10) Live Debt Free
Living in debt adds stress to our lives. In the case of a mortgage for a dream home we can afford to pay off on then maybe this is a debt we can happily live with. Otherwise, if we can’t afford it now maybe now is not the time to have it.
11) Spend Time Disconnected
We are spending more and more of our time plugged in. This can lead to obsessively checking smartphone messages, blogs, emails, tweets, etc. We’re in danger of letting life pass us by while we click away.
12) Spend Time with Those You Care About
Make positivity and fun a permanent fixture in your life by surrounding yourself with people you care about, that inspire you, that support you and that you enjoy spending time with.
13) Make Sure You Are Chasing the Right Prize
Make sure you are clear on what you chasing and why.
14) Limit Negativity
Do your best not to even entertain it.
Reduce external negative voices by surrounding yourself with the right people as much as possible. Also, ensure your own self-talk is positive and you don’t get in your own way.
15) Eat Well and Move
You wouldn’t expect your car to run very well if you filled it with low-grade petrol and only switched the engine on once a month. Your body is no different. It’s made for regular movement and it thrives on healthy foods.
Eat well and make exercise a regular part of your life. A healthy body can also often mean a healthy mind.
16) Give Back
The things that give us the rosiest feelings or that we’re most proud of often involve giving or providing a service to someone else. Make giving back a constant goal. This could be something big or small but just make giving a part of your life.
You can see a recent interview I did for Arise TV’s culture show, This Day Live here where I talk a little about some of the benefits simplifying and decluttering have made to me.
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I also write regularly for the Huffington Post and Medium