We all know having less stuff, fewer obligations, and more time makes room for the most important things — space in your life for the people you love, doing the things you like to do, and creating new opportunities.
Our obligations take up space — whether it’s mental, physical or in your calendar, we only have so much room. We all have responsibilities and obligations and no matter how hard we work, the to-do list just keeps growing. Everything we own, everything we do, and everyone we spend time with costs us something.
Taking the time to be intentional about what we buy, what we do and who we spend our time with can be tremendously empowering because we are no longer operating on unconscious autopilot. We regain control of our own lives.
Simplifying life will gives us more time, space, and energy. Here’s how to get started:
1. Say No
It’s simple but not always easy. If we take a step back and look at our calendars, do we spend our time on the things we value? If we want to prioritize family, but we spend 80 hours at the office, then we’re not treating our commitments to family like our commitments to our work.
How to start? Start making conscious choices about how you want to spend your time. To start, look at the week ahead and find one thing to say no to — and next week, say no to two things. By the end of the month, you’ll notice your time dedicated more to the things you care about. Saying no lets you focus on the things that matter.
2. Declutter Your Space
We spend a considerable amount of time worrying about our growing to-do list, which often leaves us in a messy workspace, wasting time bouncing from one task to another. This can leave us feeling extremely “busy” but at the end of the day we may not accomplish very much.
What’s the solution? Remove everything from your desk… every piece of paper, every pen, every sticky note and even your computer & cell phone. Now, pick up the one thing that is most important, put it back on your desk and get to work. Don’t stop until it’s done. Pick up the next thing, put it on your desk, and get to work. Finish one thing at a time. Repeat.
3. Notice your emotions
It’s not negative circumstances that cause stress — but how we react to those circumstances. When we feel wronged, our tendency is to criticize, blame or sulk.
Want to reverse this trend? Keep a note pad and pen with you at all times and jot down every time you notice your reaction to something. Do so for 2 weeks. After those two weeks, take some time to review your notes and notice the themes that emerge. Take a look at what triggers you emotionally… Do you feel threatened by others regularily? Or perhaps you feel disrespected often?
Now you can plan for the future by coming up with a prepared response every time you notice yourself getting triggered in the future. For instance, you might say, “every time I am feeling disrespected, I will count to 5 and then ask an open-ended question such as, “I’d love to learn more… what do you mean by that?”
This puts you back in the drivers seat and allows you to engage your rational mind so that you are in control of your emotions and not the other way around.
4. Minimize for a Weekend
When it comes down to the basics, we don’t need much to survive. In fact, by holding on to things that don’t really matter, we hold ourselves back from achieving our true potential. In 2018, adults in the United States spent an average of 3 hours, 35 minutes per day on mobile devices. How much of this distracted time takes us away from doing the things that matter? Limit the technology and you’ll make room for the important stuff.
Where to start? For one weekend, cut yourself free from worldly belongings and distractions. For instance, if you love social media, take a break from it for the entire weekend (5pm Friday to 8am Monday). By Monday, you’ll feel more centered and grateful for the things that truly matter.
5. Create a budget
Managing money can be a source for stress. When you create a budget, you create a plan to ensure you always have money for what you need and what’s important to you. A good budget that you follow will keep you out of debt or help you work your way out of debt. A great budget will put you on the path to wealth.
What are three steps you can take to improve your financial situation?
Before you can begin to manage your money, write down what’s important to you and these will be your goals. A short-term goal might be to pay off debt or buy a new refrigerator. A medium-term goal could be a vacation or saving for a new car. Long-term goals typically include plans for retirement, mortgage payoff or helping children start out on their own.
Track income and expenses:
You probably know how much you earn each month – but do you also know where it all goes? Here, you’ll create your budget, so you can monitor your monthly cashflow and set parameters. Getting on track with a budget can take a month or two. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if things aren’t falling into place. (Check out the free online resources like pocketnest.com or Mint.com as they can help you get started and stay on track.)
Stop emotional purchases:
You don’t need a lot of things to be happy in this world, but marketers will tell you differently — they’re experts at hooking us with emotion. For you Costco lovers, here’s a challenge: the next time you walk into Costco, challenge yourself to walk out with only those things on your list. If you want to take this challenge to the next level, do so for 6 months. You’ll be amazed at how much money you save and how little you miss those things you didn’t end up buying.
6. Eat Healthy
What we consume has a direct effect on our energy levels and emotions. Eating well — vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products and lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts — boosts our mental power to be creative and take the initiative on things we really want to do. Eating a well-balanced diet also reduces the chance of harmful diseases.
What’s 1 simple place to start? If you like to snack, cut the amount you eat by half for one week. If you like fast food, only allow yourself to go to a fast food restaurant once per month.