Simplify Your Work Life
How much time do you spend working? Quite a lot, right? This is an area in which you can benefit massively from embracing simplification.
- Become a prioritization fanatic. Prioritization is such a buzz word. However, very few people apply it really well. Do yourself a big favor and apply the Pareto Law in everything you do at work. This will take out of your to-do list a lot of non-essential stuff.
- Take a week to hunt for simplification opportunities. The problem is that people get so used to doing something in a certain way, that they stop looking for simplification opportunities. However, you will benefit a lot if you take a week to ask yourself every time you do something if it can be done more efficiently. Focus mostly on the actions you take regularly.
- Build productive relationships across the organization. A lot of time is spent in all organizations with office politics games. Do your job exceptionally well and build productive relationships and this will simplify your life a lot. Of course you can’t completely avoid being dragged into such games, but this approach goes a long way.
- Clear your calendar. If there’s no space anymore to squeeze meeting after meeting into your calendar, it’s time to stop. Be ruthless in making your choices, so that you are able to avoid over-commitment. If your presence doesn’t add significant value to a meeting, decline the invitation. Review all your regular time commitments and cut everything that is not essential.
- Learn to say “No”. This is a key skill to master if you are interested into how to simplify your life, both on a personal and a professional level. There are simply too many demands on our time. Not only you should not over-commit, but you need to allow for buffer time for unexpected actions you need to take. The only way to achieve this is to say “no” to everything that doesn’t pass the 80/20 test.
Simplify Your Relationships
We are social beings, and we are part of a complex social networks, online and offline. Given the many communication channels, it’s easy to get lost into the craze of staying “connected” 24/7.
Ironically, although we spend more time communicating with others, the quality of the time we spend together has gone down. Take a look around you. You will see family gatherings, dates, various meetings in which people are checking their phones all the time, instead of focusing on having a good quality communication with each other.
Here are a few tips to simplify relationships in your life:
- Make sure the bulk of your time is spent with the people most important to you. We interact with hundreds of people, so it’s impossible to dedicate equal time and attention to everyone. Make a list with the people that are really important in your life. Then make sure you dedicate enough time to them. And make it a quality time.
- Don’t hurry to become best friends with everybody. Having friends is great and we all know the value of true friendship. At the same time, cherishing a relationship takes time. So don’t jump into building new relationships at the expense of neglecting your current ones. Remember point 1 above.
- Minimize contact with people who fill you up with negative energy. Life is too short to spend it with people who have a negative impact on the way you feel. Sometimes you can’t cut-off completely such people from your life. Some of them may even be part of your family. However, try to minimize the time you spend with them.
- Cut on your social media time. Facebook, Twitter and all the social media tools are great up to a point. You can easily stay in-touch with people in your network. However, they are also terrible time sinks. You need to set limits. If you stay connected and check your messages all the time, you’ll waste a huge amount of time. How about checking your Facebook account three times per day? I know it may sound impossible, but do you think the world will crash if you do that? Try it for a week!
- Be direct. The most simple approach to effective communication is to be direct. If you want to know something, ask. If you want to go out with someone, invite. If you like or don’t like something, say it. We sometimes unnecessarily complicate our lives via engaging into complicated games. No need to do this. Keep things simple.
- Handle conflicts assertively. A lot of the relationship triggered stress is generated by conflicts. You can’t avoid disagreements, but you can control the way you react to them. The most effective way is to be neither passive or aggressive, but assertive. Fight for your own rights, while observing the rights of others. Even if the other party is aggressive, always search for a win-win solution.
Simplify Your Home Environment
Here are a few practical tips to simplify your home environment:
- De-clutter. Get rid of everything you don’t use anymore and you don’t remember why it’s there for. Over the years, we accumulate lots of stuff. You don’t need a large part of it anymore, so make it disappear. It’s not only about the physical space, but also about the mental space. You will feel so relieved after performing such an action. Set aside a weekend for a big simplification push or dedicate one hour a day to this action, until you complete it.
- Review your wardrobe. Go through your wardrobe and throw away everything you didn’t wear in the past year. It is very unlikely that you will wear those items, despite your tendency to keep all the clothes, just in case.
- Automate and outsource. Automate bills payment, get help and outsource services such as cleaning, in order to simplify your schedule and free up time for yourself.
- Own less. This tip is the brother of the “buy less” and “de-clutter” tips. Less possessions, less things to worry about. This is one of the benefits of a minimalist lifestyle.
- Try living without a car. Depending on your specific situation, this may not apply to you, but why not consider living without a car? You would get rid of so many problems and worries.
How to Simplify Your Financial Life
Money related stress is big on the agenda, so it is worth assessing what is your status in this area. The ideas below may be a good starting point:
- Make a plan to get rid of debt. The debt pressure is very stressful. Imagine the relief you would feel if you were debt-free. If you are already debt-free, congratulations! If not, make a plan to get rid of debt. It is not easy and it will not happen overnight. But if you make it an objective to become debt-free and if you take consistent action in this direction, you will succeed.
- Don’t live beyond your means. Even if you make very large amounts of money, if you spend even more, you are complicating your life unnecessarily. If you don’t earn enough, find a solution to generate the minimum income that allows you to live at a decent level.
- Buy less. This is related to the previous point, but it’s not the same thing. Even if you can easily afford buying a lot of things, don’t do it. Owning lots and lots of things complicates life. You need to insure them, maintain them, take care of them. The consumerism society continuously pushes you to buy more and more things but you don’t really need them. Next time you take your credit card out, ask yourself if you really need to use it.
- Keep your investment strategy simple. Your wealth should not be a never-ending source of worries. In terms of investments, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Your portfolio will of course reflect your tolerance for risk. In any case though, it is recommended to go for a balanced portfolio and to find ways to simplify the management. Is it worth it to go for higher return, but also higher stress? In the end it’s your decision, but make it a conscious choice.
- Pursue financial freedom via developing passive income streams. This is not for everyone and short term it may mean that you actually need to work more and complicate your life further. But mid-long term, achieving passive income will simplify your financial life massively.
Photo By: Paul L. Dineen