Life’s Complicated But You Can Simplify
Wouldn’t it be easy if life were more simple? Do you ever have those days when it seems like time moves effortlessly? Think of those days when you get everything done. It’s so enjoyable when you are living in ‘flow’, with time for work and play daily. And while it’s not difficult to have more of those days, setting out to simplify your life, is a process. But once you’ve identified the critical things you need for more simplified living, all you have to do is set them up, then be consistent to stay in flow. If you’re just getting started, these are six critical things you must do to simplify your life.
1. CREATE YOUR SCHEDULE & RESPECT YOUR BOUNDARIES
Each of us has 24 hours in one day. And since most people sleep 1/3 of that time away, that leaves approximately 16 hours of conscious time to use it well. To simplify your life, you need a schedule that supports you and makes you feel in control. Setting your schedule helps you establish your own expectations and develop some boundaries around time. Here are three ways to be sure you stick to it.
A. WORK DURING WORK TIME.
When you are working, work. I’m always amazed when I line up my tasks with the time available and stay accountable. It’s amazing how much I really can complete in a span of 20 minutes. Using a twenty-minute time block (made famous by the Pomodoro Technique) really helps you stay focused when you know you have limited time to complete something. Try it for yourself. Split your work time into twenty-minute segments, shut down your distractions – and get going on your most important task. See what happens!
B. PLAY DURING PLAY TIME.
First, you’ll need to set aside time for play regularly. Then when it’s time to play, stop working and play during that time. So the next time it’s game night at home, turn off your devices, shut off the tv and just be present for playtime. If you’re at the gym, (or anywhere else doing something), put your phone down (leave it in the locker) and get busy with your work out. I’m always amazed at the number of people who allow their phones and social media to creep into their workout routine. Unless there’s an emergency brewing where you need to stay connected, let yourself be present to where you are. When you remain present, your life will feel simpler.
C. CHUNK YOUR TASKS.
One approach to simplicity is to create blocks of time (chunks) and devote them to one sole thing. Limit your social media time, manage your interruptions and do whatever it takes for you to stay focused.
2. REDUCE, LET GO, LESS YES, MORE NO
Although it could be a great new Dr. Seuss book title, reducing your life leads to more simplicity. When you reduce the things, (items, tasks, clutter, etc.) for which you are responsible, there’s less to worry about. Everything you have and every item you own takes up space. It also stays on your mind because you’ve assumed some responsibility for it. To simplify your life, start to reduce and let go.
A. REDUCE & LET GO.
Let go of everything that no longer brings you joy, has a use or is beautiful. Stuff quickly becomes a distraction from living your life. If you haven’t used it in the past year – let it go.
B. SAY YES LESS.
There have been generations of those who’ve grown up afraid to clearly communicate thinking that saying yes was equivalent to being nice. And deep down, maybe saying yes meant that you could belong, be liked or avoid rejection. But, if you’re living with too many ‘yes’s’, you’ll soon feel resentful and angry. Life isn’t simple when it’s full of too many yes’s. Because every time you say yes, you are committing some attention, time and responsibility for something. The quickest path to simplicity is to STOP the endless Yes responses to requests that do not meet your goals.
C. SAY NO MORE.
The quickest path to simplicity is to STOP taking on endless commitments and more responsibilities. And every time you say yes to a new activity, idea, or task, you set new expectations with others. So, learning to say no will really help you minimize stress and simplify. If you don’t believe me, try on your inner 2-year-old and say no to every request for a day then notice what happens. If you’re a yes person, you’ll find this simple challenge difficult!
3. DO ONE THING THAT YOU LOVE DAILY.
What do you LOVE to do? What activities truly nurture you? Make your own ‘Love Myself’ list of go to activities, and plan to do one daily for the next week. At the end of the week, reflect on your happiness quotient and determine if more time being present doing things you loved made you happier. Doing what you love simplifies your life because it gives you a daily dose of nurturing and rejuvenation. What’s easier than enjoying something? Do what you enjoy to simplify your life!
4. CREATE ROUTINES.
Routines are daily habits or anything you do the same way. Creating a routine means creating regularity, setting boundaries and thinking things through thoroughly at least once. Moving tasks out of your head and onto paper frees up substantial brain space. Routines create consistency and help you simplify because when your routines are working for you, essential/critical tasks happen at certain times and in reliable ways. Additionally, routines establish and secure your expectations especially when you need to work with others. For instance, children are generally more cooperative and helpful when they live in an environment with repetition and routines. And, if you own a business, creating reliable routines will help you delegate tasks to others.
5. CHUNK YOUR TASKS.
When you can, create blocks of time (chunks) and devote them to one sole thing. Limit your social media time, block out distractions and focus on deep work. Taking care of all your errands in one block of time, you are much more efficient than running out every time you need something. Chunking works at home or at work. As a business owner, set aside time for work that requires your sole focus each day. While it can be challenging, doing so will help you complete those open tasks more efficiently.
6. PUSH TO COMPLETE.
This simplicity strategy is all about experiencing that deserved ‘ahh’ after a job well done! Completion breeds satisfaction and is the birthplace of results. In order to feel complete follow these strategies:
A & B. COMPLETE WHAT YOU START & CLOSE OPEN LOOPS.
According to David Allen, things stay on your mind as open loops until they are completed. So, completing what you start is the same as closing an open loop. Doing this consistently results in more completed projects and minimizes those that are taken on. Restructuring your life to simplify and focus on completing what you start, takes time. When you have too many open items, stop yourself from taking on more. Complete what you start and then move onto new tasks.
C. Decide To Decide
Postponed decisions take up precious brain space as indecision leads to rumination, tension, and stress. When you postpone a decision, it stays on your mind, stuck somewhere in an open loop. So, when you decide to decide, you simplify by carrying less in your head.
Time is your most precious resource. Simplifying your life means using your time in ways that bring you joy, and create the results you wish for yourself. When you work within a set schedule and protect your time with clear boundaries, you get more done. Reducing the clutter in your life also helps you simplify, as does committing to fewer things. Routines get things out of your head and create reliable tasks that can be shared with others. And, when you chunk like tasks together you use time more efficiently. Efficiency is simplicity. And finally, completing your open projects and undone tasks helps you simplify because it creates less stress and tension. Deciding to decide is a great way to simplify because it helps you avoid postponing and procrastinating. Simplifying your life is takes time, but when you understand it as a process of small steps, it’s possible to do easily.
For Simplicity Support…
I help high performing professional women and mom entrepreneurs simplify their lives through coaching. Through private and group programs, we can work on unraveling what complicates your life and design creative strategies and routines that simplify what you do. Working with a coach speeds up the time it takes you to do things alone. If you’d like to know more about working with a coach or explore how it may help you simplify your life, contact me.