The Art of Simplifying Your Life
A guide to the not-so-simple art
The simplicity movement. The bestseller lists are crowded with books offering advice on how to simplify modern life. Make lists. Do away with lists. Become more efficient. Do less. Prioritize. Relax. For every suggestion, there is another that is contradictory. The truth is, simplifying life isn't all that simple in today's society.
According to mental health experts, many of the innovations developed to make life more manageable have just made the pace more frenetic—the more efficient we become, the more we take on. Not only can this acceleration throw your mind into overload, but it can cause health problems such as muscle tension, insomnia, high blood pressure, mood swings and fatigue.
So, if you're one of the thousands who has resolved to take time to slow down and smell the roses, how do you put those good intentions into practice, when car pools, kids, work and all of the other demands still exist?
Experts say that simplifying your life is by no means a quick-fix operation. You need to commit to the process, develop the skills and practice until the new way of thinking becomes second nature. The following are a few tips that you can begin with today.
Win The Waiting Game
Waiting, whether at a doctor's office or in a supermarket line, is a fact of life. It is not necessarily lost time, however. Experts say it is the perfect time to take the time to breathe, thinking not about how long it will take you to get to your next task, but instead about something more pleasurable. Plan a week's worth of meals, jot down thoughts in a journal or simply daydream, without worrying about the clock.
Practice Saying "No"
A big part of simplifying your life is learning not to worry about saying no to any activity that is less meaningful to you, say the experts. Time is finite and precious, so focus on what is really important to you and spend the time there. Don't think that saying 'no' will cause ill feelings—people will be more sympathetic than you think.
Time Isn't Money... It's More Valuable
Rather than trying to figure out how much you can accomplish in one day and scheduling yourself beyond the max, try putting a little less on your plate than you think you can handle. Highly efficient people get caught in the trap of their own efficiency, raising the ante on themselves and their time with every passing year. Experts say less time management, as opposed to more efficient time management, may be the key to slowing down.
Find Pleasure In Fewer Possessions
Just about everything you bring into your home that isn't edible requires maintenance. For instance, your model airplane collection quickly becomes a dust collection if not cleaned regularly. If you can do without it, then do, say the experts. It will ultimately mean less work.
Check And Chuck Clutter.
Tackle a junk drawer or a closet space one day at a time. Keep other drawers from becoming cluttered by dealing with mail, newspapers and other correspondence the minute you get them. File the stuff you want immediately and toss the rest.
Look At Your Budget.
You work long hours to buy clothes, eat at restaurants and take vacations. Or, you spend more money than you have to because you don't have time to shop, or do things yourself. Is it all worth it? Take a ruthless look at your spending. If an activity isn't enhancing your life, cut out that expense and the time associated with it.
Take A Time-Out
If you're feeling overwhelmed, make time to recharge. Take a walk, watch a movie, read a book or anything else that you find relaxing. Reserve time where you have nothing planned or scheduled and do something entirely for yourself.
Achieving a simpler life is possible, without sacrificing success or shortchanging your family. Begin with a daily commitment to do less, not more.