Recently I realized that once again, I’ve strayed from the path of simplicity. Let’s face it, I’m not perfect, I’m only human. Every day during the past few weeks I’ve seemed to be packing in a lot of time on the computer, doing work, or worrying about things in the future or present that I may not even have real control over. I’ve realized that the way I’m spending my time is causing me added stress and that I need to get back on the track of simplicity.
I think I’m one of those kinds of personalities that feels a little guilty just sitting around doing nothing. But it is funny how even when we are doing nothing, physically, we can be dong all kinds of things…mentally. I know this is the case for myself. Guilty as charged. When I get into this state of doing too much, my body is usually the first thing to respond with fatigue, headaches or a general “mental haze” where life seems less vibrant as it should be. When this happens, I know it is time to simplify. My body is my warning signal, my wake back “up” to simplicity alarm clock.
The search for simplicity is a personal quest that requires introspection and self-knowledge. A simple life is one that focuses on essentials. Attaining simplicity requires the elimination of emotional, spiritual and physical clutter. When your home and mind are free of clutter, you have more room to live.
Here are 7 tips that I’ve found useful for creating a simpler life:
1. Pare down your possessions. In our materialistic culture, it’s easy to accumulate an overwhelming number of possessions. The clutter that these possessions create can rob us of peace and serenity. Simplify your relationship with your possessions by spending a little time each week reducing the clutter in your living space. Then avoid the urge to acquire more than what you really need.
2. Learn how to say “no.” Your life can’t be simple when your calendar is filled with appointments. Create a simpler life by learning how to say “no” to unnecessary commitments. Free up time for meaningful work and for the people and things you love.
3. Rethink your to-do list. If you’re one of those people who maintain a to-do list, take an honest look at it. Is it filled with “busy work” or is it so long that you don’t even know where to start? Create a short list by moving the most important items to the top of the list and trying to finish at least one each day.
4. Focus on important work. Set priorities and focus on tasks that are most important for your family, home and career. Shut out distractions and unnecessary communication and focus on one thing at a time. Learn how to tell the difference between being busy and being productive.
5. Avoid procrastination drama. Letting things go until the last minute adds stress and drama to your life. It can also have a cascade effect, making you late for other deadlines. Simplify your life by planning ahead for deadlines.
6. Use the Internet as a resource, not a time waster. E-mail, online banking and other applications can boost your productivity and simplify your life, but the Internet can also be a huge time waster. Be aware of how you’re spending your time online and make it as productive as possible.
7. Take pleasure in the moment. When your life is busy there’s no time to enjoy the present moment. Your mind is always looking forward at what you have to do next and back at things you forgot to do. A simpler life will allow you to live in the present and find small moments of happiness throughout the day. Learning how to meditate is a powerful tool to help cut to the present as well.
In 1845, Henry David Thoreau moved into a small house he built on the shores of Walden Pond and began an experiment in simple living that lasted for two years, two months and two days. He later wrote a memoir about the experience where he says, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to confront only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach.”
Thoreau wanted to avoid coming to the end of his life
and realizing he had not really lived.
Most of us can’t move to a cabin in the forest, but we can still search for simplicity in even the most populous cities. If you spend just 30 minutes per day clearing clutter and eliminating commitments that aren’t enriching, you will be creating a simpler life. For me, the search for simplicity is always a work-in-progress. It takes time to reduce years of physical and mental clutter, but the rewards have been great when I do make the effort. Although I still have a way to go, I’ve already found making life simpler has led to more focus and greater productivity in the end.
Now it’s time to get to work and get simple…
Related Ebook: The Everyday Minimalist
We find ourselves feeling “stuck” in our lives for all kinds of reasons.
Perhaps you’ve realized your job is unfulfilling but feel there’s nothing you can do about it. Maybe you’re facing a decision and just don’t have the energy to make a choice one way or another. In some cases, you may just feel like things have gotten boring or ho-hum and are worried that you’re going to stay in the same rut forever.
As you will see, getting unstuck in your life is all about doing something. Yes, simple, but the only way to get the ball rolling.
Getting unstuck is about more than finding something entertaining to do for an afternoon, rather it allows you to actualize your potential so that you can have the life you want instead of living in a holding pattern.
The good news is that even when you feel stuck, doing something can revitalize your life, infusing it with the positive aspects that you desire.
Here are five ways that you can do something to get unstuck.
Do Something Different: Getting unstuck takes some effort on your part, but you may be surprised to find that even small efforts can make a huge difference. Intentionally trying something new can be just the jump-start you need to change directions and break old patterns that are keeping you from getting where you want to go. If you find that you are always running on autopilot, for example, engage in some activity that forces you to think and to notice your surroundings. Try taking a different route home from work or introducing yourself to someone new. It is amazing how many opportunities present themselves when we simply step out of our routines for a few minutes.
Do Something Amazing: One of the reasons that we get stuck in life is because we feel insignificant. The fact of the matter is that each of us has the ability to do amazing things. Focus on something you’ve always wanted to do, try, or learn…and then do it, try it, or learn it. For many people, this may involve creating something from scratch, whether it is a piece of art, a business idea, or an itinerary for the trip you’ve always wanted to take to Italy.
Do Something for Someone Else: Sometimes getting unstuck in our own lives is all about getting involved in someone else’s. Recognizing the needs of others can be a powerful way to get perspective on your own life, to discover what is truly important to you. Maybe you have the time to help a friend move or you have the knowhow to volunteer your skills for a cause that moves you deeply. In addition to helping others, you are also opening yourself (and your life) up to new experiences, new people, and new ideas that may have never occurred to you before.
Do Something Practical: Every life comes with a set of responsibilities and obligations. Oftentimes, we get stuck because we find ourselves paralyzed by them all. To help get unstuck, identify one of those responsibilities or obligations that has been hanging over your head, and make yourself get it done. Oddly enough, many of the tasks we procrastinate aren’t actually all that time consuming. In fact, simply getting them done would take far less time than what we put into worrying about it, fretting over the outcome, or suffering because it hasn’t been done yet. By taking the time to remove one of these items from your to-do list, you can free up the mental energy that has kept you stuck where you are.
Do Something Decisive: Feeling stuck in your life often comes hand-in-hand with an inability to make decisions. While it may take some serious self motivation, the act of making and acting on an important decision is likely exactly what you need to get out of your rut. There are various ways to do this, including making lists of pros and cons, getting expert advice, or simply following your gut. Choose a decision you’ve been having trouble with, and give yourself a strict deadline for when it must be made. Simply taking this step can do wonders to get you unstuck.
When you feel stuck in life, the act of getting unstuck may appear overwhelming, exhausting, or just too complicated right now. In reality, however, the best way to move forward is to make the conscious effort to do something.
What Works For Me…
What works the best for me, personally, to get unstuck? Here are a few of the things I find that help rejuvenate my spirit and energy…
- Taking timeout and doing a long session of meditation to clear my head. Usually around 30-45 minutes.
- Going for a drive around town with music I love or with no music, and just focus on being present.
- Taking a day off and going out of town and not thinking about work or anything else that has been weighing heavy on my mind.
- Exercise. A good run always clears my mind in a hurry!
- Finding something exotic and new to cook and giving it a try.
What I’ve found is that even the tiniest movement or action can move you in the right direction.