The objective of simplifying is not to have less but to have more . . . more time, more energy, more peace of mind.
Do you ever feel that your life is so crowded you don’t have any time or energy to focus on the things that you really want to do with your life? Maybe you are interested in paring down to the basics to get to your true purpose. Or maybe you just want to simplify your routine, your calendar, or your schedule to make life a little easier. Whatever your reasons for wanting to simplify, here are some suggestions for getting started. You can make a few changes or tackle them all and make time in your life for the things that are meaningful to you.
Reduce to simplify.
o Reduce clutter. Clutter can be a real energy drainer. It consists of things you must clean and maintain or those things that nag you to do something about them. Either way, you are expending energy that you could put to better use. Decide to have around you only the things that you find useful, or beautiful, or meaningful to you. Donate, sell, or toss everything else.
o Reduce debt. Carrying large amounts of debt can be stressful, even more so in the current economic climate. If you find that debt is a problem, begin now to pay it off. Sometimes it is helpful to consolidate debt, so you can make one monthly payment. If your expenses are larger than your income, reduce your expenses now. Cut up your credit cards, get on a budget, do whatever it takes. When you reduce your expenses, you can use the extra savings to pay toward your debt.
o Reduce junk mail. Remove yourself from junk mail lists. Register with DirectMail.com to have your name removed from mailing lists: http://www.directmail.com/directory/mail_preference/
Unsubscribe from any e-mail newsletters you no longer read.
o Reduce drains on your time. Revisit your commitments. Examine everything you have committed to. For each activity, ask yourself, “Knowing what I know now, would I still make the same decision to take on this commitment?” If the answer is no, begin to take steps to end your involvement in that activity.
Unplug to simplify.
o Limit TV. Television easily adds to the clutter of your mind. Make your TV watching intentional. Choose the programs you want to watch and only turn the set on during that time. (Or record it to watch on your own schedule.) Set a limit on the number of hours you watch each week. If you are short of time, here is where most people can add several hours a week simply by reducing the amount of TV they watch.
o Have a “digital sunset” (a term I got from Brian Johnson). Select a certain time each day, for example, when the sun goes down, when you turn off all electronics (PCs, cell phones, iPads, etc.). In a world where you can be contacted 24 / 7, it can be liberating to disconnect for a short period. You begin to learn that your world won’t end if you are not available for a time. Another benefit of this practice is that it limits your exposure to the blue light that suppresses melatonin production in your brain and keeps you from falling asleep. A digital sunset allows your brain to begin slowing down and preparing for bedtime.
Keep track to simplify.
o Make a list. The brain is a wonderful processor but has limited RAM. If you try to remember everything you want to do, chances are you’re going to forget something — usually something important. Do a periodic data dump to get everything out of your brain and onto an external storage device (a piece of paper, a computer file, a PDA). Of course, you’ll need good methods to be sure you are capturing everything and getting it all processed. But if you can systemize (is that a word?) the process, you’ll find your productivity increasing.
o Relax your standards. Are you trying to do everything to perfection? Whose life are you living and who are you trying to please? Your mom & dad? or your spouse? maybe your employer? your God? Yourself? If you are trying to live the perfect live, as defined by one or more other entities, you are setting yourself up for disappointment, failure, resentment, or all of the above. There’s nothing wrong with holding yourself to high standards, but don’t hold yourself hostage to impossible standards. And be sure they are your standards, not anyone else’s. Realize that not everything has to be done perfectly. Some things only need to be 80%, some things maybe only 60%. Relax and let it be OK to let go of some things, even if they’re not 100% perfect.
Choose the Best over the Good.
“The enemy of the ‘best’ is often the ‘good.’” ~ Stephen R. Covey.
If you are human and alive, both assumptions I take to be true if you are reading this post, then you likely have many, many things you want to be, do and have; many, many things you think you should be, do and have; and likely many, many expectations of others as to what they want you to be, do and have.
The wants, shoulds, and expectations can become overwhelming if we aren’t careful. Don’t get caught up in the “thick of thin things”. Take time to step back occasionally and examine what is really important to you. Put one or more of these ideas into practice to begin living your life, simplified. That is living the Excelerated Life!
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Excelerated simplicity — freeing yourself from unnecessary complexity — is one step in creating your Excelerated Life, a life of well-being, meaning, and purpose.