“Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”
“Think simple” as my old master used to say – meaning reduce the whole of its parts into the simplest terms, getting back to first principles.”
Frank Lloyd Wright
The daily work we do – in school, at work or in a business – can easily become overwhelming, ineffective and suck the energy and joy out of what you are doing.
So how can you work in a lighter, simpler way that helps you to get more of what truly matters done in less time and with less stress?
Let me share 12 habits that I've discovered over the years that help me to do just that.
1. Prepare your day the evening before.
Pack your bag or suitcase. Pack the leftovers from your dinner in a container and put it in the fridge. Put your keys, wallet etc. in a place where you can easily find them as you head out.
This preparation will help you to have a less stressful morning.
2. Be 5-10 minutes early for appointments.
This will make your time of travel during the day into a time of relaxation and recharging. Instead of a time of stress and anxiety.
Plus, people tend to like when other people are on time.
3. Work on just one thing at a time.
It will be easier to focus and to do a good job.
And to do it in less time compared to if you try to multi-task (at least if you are anything like me).
4. Work in a cone of silence.
Just before you start working on that one thing shut down your email program and instant messaging programs.
Shut the door to your office. Put your cell phone in silent mode and put it in a drawer.
If possible, shut down your internet connection. Or use an extension for your browser like StayFocusd.
5. During your day regularly ask yourself questions for simplicity and focus.
It is easy to get off track during a regular workday.
To stay on track or to get back there if you get lost use questions like:
- What is the most important thing I can do right now?
- Is doing this bringing me closer to my goal?
- Am I keeping things extremely simple right now?
6. Let your lunch time be a time of relaxing.
Eat slowly. Put down the fork between bites to make that easier. Eat mindfully and savor each bite.
Eating your lunch this way can help you to relax and to release quite a bit of stress in the middle of your workday.
Plus, it can help you to not overeat because it takes your brain 20 minutes to register that you are full. By slowing down your eating your brain can stop you before you eat too much.
7. Spend 80% of your time focusing on a solution.
And only 20% of your time on dwelling on your issue, challenge or problem. Instead of doing it the other way around.
This makes it easier to live a lighter and more action-filled life and to not fall down into a pit of self-pity or get stuck in a mental habit of perceived powerlessness.
8. Ask for help.
You don’t have to always go it alone. You can ask for help.
You may not always get it but you might also be surprised at how helpful and kind people can be in helping you ease your burdens and solve a challenge.
Just don’t forget to do the same for them as best you can when they ask.
9. Just check your email once a day.
Checking email or social media accounts many times a day tends to drain a lot of time, energy and can leave you unfocused and stressed.
Try checking and processing all of those things just once a day instead. I do it at the end of my workday.
If that is not possible for you then try to postpone it for a few hours at least. And put your morning energy and focus into your most important task of the day.
10. Write shorter emails.
Limit your emails to 1-5 sentences when possible. You can also have some canned responses for common questions saved in a folder in your email program.
This will help you to spend less time and energy on your daily email processing.
11. Consciously set and maintain firm boundaries between your work and personal time.
Have a set stop time for your daily work (mine is 7 o' clock). Don't work on weekends.
Consciously manage your boundaries and you’ll have less stress and more energy and focus both to do better work and to have a personal life of higher quality.
This is one of the most important and often overlooked habits in this article.
12. Be smart about the 3 fundamentals of energy.
By that I mean getting enough sleep, exercising a couple of times a week and eating healthy.
This may seem very obvious in theory. But in practice it makes a world of difference for your optimism and self-talk, energy levels, ability to handle stress and to think clearly.
Comments on this entry are closed.
Your postings always put me back on the straight and narrow. Thank you.
This is perfect – succinct and so helpful. I truly appreciate all that you do to provide us with your insightful articles!
I’ve been following you for quite awhile & you simple but brilliant tips have changed the way I approach my life.
Thank you for your kindness.
Being a Gemini, I multi-task in all my projects. Learning to focus on one thing gets the job done more efficiently and quickly reduces stress.
This is another great article. I usually rush through my lunchtime and I’m constantly checking my phone. Keep up the excellent work. Continue to empower people through writing. The world needs this kind of energy. I’m happy I found this blog. It has truly been an inspiration to me.
“Work on just one thing at a time.” I love this :)
I really liked your point about asking yourself questions throughout the day, it helps you to stay accountable and is a constant reminder of your goals. I also think your point about spending 80% of the time thinking about the solution is a really fantastic strategy in dealing with problems throughout the day. Though when it comes to the moment that you are facing the problem, it can sometimes feel impossible to find a solution. In those situations, I would suggest for you to take a step back and look at the bigger picture of things, this problem will be temporary and will not affect your life, from that understanding find a solution. I really enjoy reading your posts, I feel like they offer something unique and give advice that I haven’t heard of before. Love these ideas!!
Thank you. I found the topic very useful. I did not expect the topic to be so useful. It is a bit of a long article, but useful content
Absolutely chimed with many tips in this post. We love number on – finding a solution rather than focusing on the problem, thus falling deeper into despair and stress. Thank you for such a great reminder on how to live a more stress free life! x
Thanks for everything!
I agree whole heartedly it’s the above comments. I send them to my adult kids so they can keep on track of “real” life. As an artist my brain gets distracted a lot. U are doing a very good thing!
Important pointers well said focus on the solution 80% of the time! Thanks Henrik for sharing keep up the good work!