Wednesday, September 24, 2008

21 Easy Ways to Simplify Your Life

Posted by Neill Abayon

When you’re trying to simplify your life, sometimes life gets in the way. When that happens, you need a workaround, some way to get past your usual obstacles and to trick yourself into keeping things simple.

Don’t try to implement all of them -- that would be far from simple. And not all of them will apply to your life anyway. Pick one or two and try them out.

Three-box decluttering. 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.

Create a no-distractions zone. This is great for when you want to do some focused work. Create a zone with no phones, no email, no co-workers or kids or spouses, nothing on the walls, no IM or Twitter, no web surfing. Just the tools you need to do your work and nothing else.

Create a short-list. If you’re having a hard time getting your life to something truly simple, create a short list of things you love doing most, perhaps 4 or 5 things. 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.

Go schedule-less. This works well if you’ve been over-packing your schedule. Set a policy that you won’t schedule any appointments. At the beginning of the day, pick a few things to focus on and try to get them done. If you need to meet with someone, call them and meet.

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.

Start your day with peace. When you first rise, 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, meditating or yoga -- whatever works well for you.

Eat only 7 things. If you’re trying to be healthful, but are having a hard time navigating complicated diets, limit yourself to non-packaged foods. Eat only seven things: fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein, lean calcium, beans, nuts, and good fats.

Go paperless. If you can do it, you can save time filing, save time searching for stuff, save space, simplify your office, and save a few trees to boot. Insist that everything be sent via email or through online documents, then create a filing system that works for you.

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, and Internet news.

Limit yourself to 3 tasks. If your to-do list is long and overwhelming, pick three tasks you want to do today. Focus on getting these three tasks done before anything else.

Limit yourself to one project. 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.

5-sentence emails. This works well if you spend too much time writing emails. It limits the amount of time you use doing email, and forces you to decide what’s important in each one.

30-day rule. 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.

Only wear a few colors. Simplify your wardrobe. It makes it easy to match your clothes, and you won’t need as many.

One in, two out. When you bring something into your house, you have to get rid of two things.

Work four days a week. If you have the luxury, limit yourself to four days a week, 8 hours or less. But how can you work only four days if you currently work 5 and are overloaded as it is? It’s funny, but you can somehow make it work. It’s a well-known law that our work expands to fit the time we give it -- and the flip side of that is if you shrink the time, you will shrink the work to fit the time.

Retire early. Set an early retirement date and force yourself to save up the money you need. Take a mini-retirement if necessary. Then go back to work and save up for your next mini-retirement.

Limit storage space. 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, organize stuff, maintain stuff, and get rid of old stuff.

Staunch your information flow. Cut back on the amount of information coming into your life. Unsubscribe to mailing lists, unsubscribe to blog feeds that don’t give you value, pick one news source instead of five.

Send only five emails a day. Pick five important emails to respond to, and that’s it. The rest get delayed or deleted. You don’t have to respond to every email -- people will make do.

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