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21 Small Habits That Will Help You to Live a Simpler Life


Make Life Simpler this Summer
Image by Sanna R (license).

.“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
Leonardo da Vinci

“The aspects of things that are most important for us are hidden because of their simplicity and familiarity.”
Ludwig Wittgenstein

I love simplifying my life. It makes me more effective and life less stressful. It makes me calmer and happier.

But where do you start? Or continue if you are already on your way?

In this article I’ll share 21 small habits that help me to live a simpler life. I hope you’ll find something helpful here and that you get started with one of these suggestions today and continue doing it until your new habit sticks (that usually happens after about 30 days).

  1. Breathe. When stressed, lost in a problem or the past or future in your mind breathe with your belly for two minutes and just focus on the air going in and out. This will calm your body down and bring your mind back into the present moment again.
  2. Do one thing at a time. You’ll get better results and feel better and less stressed while doing those things.
  3. Write it all down. Use your mind for better things than remembering what to do. And the mind is often like a leaky bucket. So write down all your great ideas, insights, and thoughts before they go missing somewhere and add what you need to do to a to-do list.
  4. Do all your food shopping once a week. You’ll save time, energy and possibly money.
  5. Stop doing what you don’t like doing anymore. Life changes and so do you. If you you don’t like doing something anymore then stop doing that (even if it may take some time before you can do so by for example switching jobs).
  6. Stop trying to please everyone. There will always be people who you don’t get along with or that do not like you for some reason.
  7. Stop trying to do things perfectly. Go for good enough instead and when you are there you are done. Get things all the way to done this way and then move on to the next thing.
  8. Pack your bag before you go to bed. Then you don’t have get stressed out by that in morning and you are less likely to forget something.
  9. Throw out the things you haven’t used in 1 year. Go through what you have and ask yourself if you have used it in the past year. If not, give it away to charity or a friend or simply throw it out.
  10. Ask yourself simplifying questions every day. Questions like “What is the most important thing I can do right now?”.
  11. Keep everything in its place. If everything has its own place then it is whole lot easier to keep your home reasonably ordered and decluttered from day to day. This also helps you with your inner stillness as the outer environment affects how you feel on the inside.
  12. Cook more food than you’ll eat. I usually make two or three servings of what I am about to eat. This cuts down on time that you spend on cooking and you’ll have to do less washing up in general. Plus, it’s good to have portions of food to bring to work to save some money.
  13. Write shorter emails. I tend to write emails containing only a few sentences, usually between one and five. If you focus on keeping it short and focused then you’ll probably discover that this is a good solution in most cases.
  14. Ask instead of guessing. Reading minds is hard. So, instead ask questions and communicate. This will help you to minimize unnecessary conflicts, misunderstandings, negativity and waste or time and energy.
  15. Use a minimalistic workspace. My work space is just a laptop on a small black desk made out of wood. I use a comfy chair and there is room for my glass of water beside the computer. That’s it. There are no distractions here. Just me, the computer and the water.
  16. Check everything just once a day. I check my email inboxes, blog statistics, my online earnings, Twitter and Facebook just once a day. I combine all that checking into one small daily ritual at the end of my work day so I don’t slip and go checking it more during the day and waste my energy and attention.
  17. Choose small daily acts of kindness. Instead of small acts of judgment and criticism towards the people around you.
  18. Don’t make mountains out of molehills. Before you you start thinking too much about something and building it up something big in your head, ask yourself “am I making a mountain out of a molehill here? And if you get lost victim thinking in some way then ask yourself “does anyone on the planet have it worse than me right now?”.
  19. Spend 15 minutes each Sunday to plan the next week. Write down your plans for the week, organize your prioritized to-do list and get ready for the week before you are in the middle of it all. This will help you to find more clarity, get more of the most important things done next week and minimize stress.
  20. Cancel subscriptions for things you rarely get around to watching or reading anyway.
  21. Spend more time with people that help you to keep things simple. And spend less time with people that drag you down into overcomplicating everything and creating unnecessary drama.

If you thought this article was useful, please share it with someone on Stumbleupon, Facebook and Twitter. Thank you very much! =)



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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Nabil Gulamani June 24, 2011, 5:56 am

    Henrik,

    Great post..For point 1 I usually use a technique called “observing the ego” to make sure that I am aware of my emotions even when I feel stressed..I am in sales so sometimes I have to deal with really difficult clients. When you are aware of how you are feeling and in the moment you will less likely get stressed and over analyze.

    For point 2, when you focus on one thing at a time it is better then multi-tasking since the mind takes 20-30 minutes to get back in track. I have also realized that your mind will stop making useless mental chatter and will have less mental images that don’t really matter in the moment.

    For point 3, I am a big believer in writing down goals. The subconscious mind is so powerful. I also read my list 10 times the night before I go to bed and imagine my ideal day for the next day. I picked up a book called The Power of Awareness, by Neville and he writes about how to gain awareness and consciousness and imagine that your goal has been accomplished ahead of time even if it is not accomplished yet.

    Thanks for the helpful post:)

  • Arlene Marie Daniels June 26, 2011, 7:53 pm

    This is a very helpful list. Just like what it aims to make our lives, the list contains very “simple” things. But they are all very effective and doable! :) Very inspirational.

  • Social Natural June 29, 2011, 8:05 pm

    This list should go on everybody’s refrigerator. I definitely love number 7. I always find myself procrastinating due to my incline towards perfection. Get it done and perfect later.

  • Jonas July 19, 2011, 11:52 pm

    Hi Henrik,

    Thank you for a very wise list of ways to simplify things. I love them, now it is “just” a question of actually implementing them ;)

    I would like to add one (to me crucial) point to your list: Forgive yourself, accept the way you are and go from there.

    “”Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Then act!” — Eckhart Tolle

    Jonas

  • Mentor July 20, 2011, 9:55 am

    Hi, thanks for the post..really eye opening. It was good to know I have been doing some of the things already (like writing everything sown, yipee!)
    However number 4 is tough when you live in the part of the world that I am in: Tanzania!!! electricity comes like the rains-seasonally! Its a shame (and probably shocking to you that there is a country still with electricity problems at this age n time)! But yep..will work on that when things change-hopefully!
    Number 5: another smiling face..I just quit my job on monday…and guess what! another job opening starting August 1st!!!
    number 8…oooops!
    Hey wanna kip this short…so no more comments..nyc tym n stay blessed!!!