5 Easy Ways to Simplify Your Life

by Dr. Laura Aridgides

In today's fast-paced world, we are often over scheduled, and this can lead to a feeling of overwhelm. When people are feeling overwhelmed, this often leads to a loss of desire to do anything, because the to-do list is just too long. So they procrastinate, veg out in front of the TV or computer, or get lost reading a good book—anything to avoid doing what needs to be done.

However, there are some simple ways to feel less overwhelmed and simplify your life. Here's five of my favorite strategies:

1. Eliminate things that are not in line with your goals, vision and mission. Are you still chairing the fundraising committee because you have done that for a while, when it's really not fulfilling you anymore? Did you commit to volunteer for the homeowners association but are finding that you are not getting any satisfaction from your time spent? Are you attending business meetings that have become stale? Take a step back and an honest look at your schedule. Opt out of everything that you can that is no longer serving you and helping you reach your goals. If you have committed to a time frame, find a replacement if possible, or finish out your term while making it clear that you will not be volunteering after that term is over. You will find that your schedule gets lighter and the world will not end when you opt out of something.

2. Just say NO! Once you have simplified your commitments in step 1, you need to avoid falling back into the over scheduling trap. When someone asks for your help, let them know that you will think it over and get back to them within a few days. Then take time to think about how much time and/or monetary commitment would be involved, and whether this commitment would enhance your life and bring you closer to your goals. If it doesn't line up, then let them know that you will be unable to commit to serving. You don't need to give elaborate excuses; a simple, "I'm sorry, but I can't commit to that right now" will suffice. Remember that when you say YES to something you are automatically saying NO to something else.

3. De-Clutter your home. The physical clutter in our lives drains our energy, and zaps our productivity while increasing our stress levels. Many people are overwhelmed by the amount of clutter in their lives and don't know where to start. I suggest a simple challenge: eliminate one thing from your home each day. You can throw out, recycle, give away, donate or sell the item. One item a day is doable, and it's also encouraging when you achieve this small goal, plus you will be reducing stress at the same time. Start today!

4. Use a to-do list. I think the to-do list sometimes gets a bad rap, because it's often overloaded with so many things that it would be humanly impossible to accomplish all of them each day. Instead, start with 3-5 things on your to-do list each day, and always choose the tasks that will give you the biggest impact toward your goals.

5. Plan your day. Take five minutes before you go to bed each evening to plan your next day. What appointments do you have? What are the 3-5 tasks on your to-do list for the next day? When will you do those tasks? By planning the day before, your subconscious starts to work on your task list while you sleep, and you will wake up knowing what your day will look like. This helps to keep you on track and simplifies your schedule.

Simplification often seems out of our reach as we move through our busy days. Sometimes I liken this to feeling like you are just treading water; never sinking, but never getting ahead either. The good news is that simplification strategies can be learned, and can have a lifelong positive effect in your business and life. I'll be covering my top 15 time management and simplification strategies in the upcoming Networking University webinar Become a Time Management Master, and I invite you to join me so that you can simplify your life and save your most precious resource: time.

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