“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.”
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 week's article I’d like to share 21 small habits that help me to live a simpler life. Pick one of these to get started and keep doing it until it sticks and becomes just another normal part of your life.
- 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.
- Do one thing at a time. You’ll get better results and feel better and less stressed while doing those things.
- 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.
- Do all your food shopping once a week. You’ll save time, energy and – in my experience – money.
- Stop trying to do things perfectly. It will only get you stuck and drain your self-esteem. 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.
- 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).
- Pack your bag before you go to bed. Then you don’t have to get stressed out by that in morning and you are less likely to forget something.
- 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.
- Ask yourself simplifying questions every day. Questions like “What is the most important thing I can do right now?” and “What is one small step I can take to simplify this situation?”.
- 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.
- Cook more food than you’ll eat. We usually make four or more servings of what we're 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.
- 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.
- 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 of time and energy.
- Use a minimalistic workspace. My work space contains a big monitor and a laptop on an adjustable standing desk. 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.
- 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.
- Choose small daily acts of kindness. Instead of small acts of judgment and criticism towards the people around you (and towards yourself).
- 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.
- Don’t make mountains out of molehills. Before 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 in victim thinking then ask yourself: “Does anyone on the planet have it worse than me right now?”.
- Spend 10-15 minutes each Sunday or Monday morning to plan out the 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.
- Cancel subscriptions for things you rarely get around to watching or reading anyway.
- 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.