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13 Easy Ways to Simplify Your Life

You’ve probably heard it a hundred times or more – if you want to reduce the stress in your life you need to simplify. This is much easier said than done, of course, and there is no shortage of experts who are happy to tell you exactly how to do it.

All of that advice and guidance can quickly become confusing and even overwhelming – so much for simplifying your life! We’ve sifted through this huge onslaught of information and picked out the thirteen best tips we could find to help you simplify your life.

How to Simplify Life

Our life is frittered away by detail ... Simplify, simplify.
- Henry David Thoreau

#1 – Keep your perspective

It is so easy to be caught up in the every day hustle and bustle of life that things quickly get out of balance. What seems vitally important in the moment – sending one last email, putting the perfect finishing touches on your annual Christmas letter, and finding the ideal outfit for next week’s meeting – is often not that important.

When you find yourself under pressure and feeling overwhelmed, pause for a moment and ask yourself a very simple question:

Will this matter a day, a week, a month, or a year from now?

If the answer is no then chances are you need to regain some perspective on the situation.

#2 – Let go of an activity or commitment

Step back and take an honest look at all of the activities and commitments in your life. If you’re like most people, you will find at least one thing that has become a negative drain on your energy and time.

What was a good idea a few months ago has changed over time and is no longer such a good idea. Simplify your life by letting go of that activity or commitment, freeing yourself up, and reducing your overall stress level.

Each month, repeat the process and think about letting go of one activity or commitment that is no longer serving you.

#3 – Get rid of what you don’t need

This is similar to #2, but instead of freeing up your time, it is all about freeing up some space. We all collect “stuff” along the way - it is inevitable. Eventually space runs out, though, and our stuff turns into clutter that has an impact on our lives – consciously or unconsciously.

Simplify your space by getting rid of one or two things each month that no longer make sense to keep. You’ll be surprised at just how refreshing it is to reclaim even a little bit of space.

#4 – Learn to say “No”

One of the most common traps we fall into is saying “Yes” to every request that comes our way. Before long, our list of commitments includes an extra report at work, organizing the school bake sale, leading a reading group, making costumes for the community theater, building a neighborhood playhouse, etc.

There will always be many more worthy causes and important jobs to do than you have time to do them, so be more selective about the things you agree to do. Remember that when you stretch yourself too thin and take on too many commitments you end up unable to do your very best on each one.

#5 – There’s no such thing as perfect

We all strive to do our very best, but when we are carried away and try to achieve perfection we only succeed in driving ourselves crazy. The next time you feel yourself getting tense and worried about something or someone being imperfect, pause for a moment and remind yourself that nothing is ever perfect.

Instead, make a conscious choice about what is “good enough” in that particular situation and consider it a success when you achieve that level.

#6 – Get rid of emotional attachments to outcomes

This happens a lot, especially when it comes to our children. We want them to succeed and flourish, often in areas where we struggled when we were growing up.

Let go of your emotional attachment to a specific outcome – a child excelling in a sport, a report receiving particular recognition, your spouse surprising you with a romantic adventure on Valentine’s Day, etc. – and focus instead on supporting and valuing the outcome that actually does occur.

#7 – Take time for yourself

Everyone needs time on their own, especially parents and busy professionals. It is critical, though, that you take time for yourself on a regular basis. You might set aside an hour or two to read a book, take a walk after dinner, or just spend some time resting and relaxing.

Regardless of what you choose, taking time for yourself is one of the best ways to energize yourself and simplify your life.

#8 – Turn off your technology

It is nearly impossible to be out of touch or unable to communicate in our modern world. Your cell phone, pager, email, fax, instant message, internet browser, etc. are all right at your fingertips. There is such a thing as being too connected, though, so set some boundaries on the technology in your life.

Turn off your cell phone in the evening, answer email once a day instead of constantly throughout the day, or put down your laptop computer for an afternoon. Let yourself be unconnected to the rest of the world for a little while and relish in the freedom that creates.

#9 – Watch less TV

The television is one of those devices that can suck our energy and time away with hardly any effort at all. How many times have you spent an evening sitting on the couch flipping channels because there was nothing good on TV?

Schedule your TV watching for those programs that you really like and then turn the TV off. Focus instead on something that is more important to you – a book, a nap, a walk, etc.

#10 – Reduce debt

This one can have amazing benefits in all parts of your life. Carrying a heavy debt load weighs you down, creates stress, and increases the overall pressure in your life. Focus on getting rid of debt and get out from under that huge weight. Once your debt is under control, focus on staying out of debt so you don’t lose control again.

#11 – Use your vacation time

Some people are proud to declare that they haven’t used any vacation time in two, three, or even four years but that really shouldn’t be a source of pride. There is no glory and benefit in working constantly, never taking a break from the daily routine.

Don’t let your vacation time sit there waiting for “someday” when you’ll have time to use it – schedule your vacation right now and plan your responsibilities around it. You’ve earned that time off, so let yourself take advantage of what you legitimately deserve.

#12 – Be spontaneous

Routine is good to a certain extent, but sometimes you just need to break free and do something different. Let yourself be spontaneous, choosing what to do and how to do it based on your own wishes rather than someone else’s wishes. You’ll feel more in control, have more energy, and lift your spirits immediately.

#13 – Go to bed early

The vast majority of adults (and children, for that matter) do not get enough sleep each night. This chronic lack of rest affects every aspect of life, from the amount of energy you have to your performance at work or in school. Simplify your life by setting a bedtime and sticking to it. If your favorite TV show airs after your bedtime then use your VCR to record it and watch it the next day. Get in the habit of going to bed early and you will transform your life.

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If you'd like additional help, time management coaching and life coaching are both a great resource to implement these ideas and improve your time management skills. You can use personal coaching or group coaching depending on your needs.

In a corporate setting, executive coaching is also very valuable to help you be more productive and perform at your best.


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