Simplify Your Life – 10 Tips

Stress, as you’re no doubt aware, has a major impact on your health. 

In fact, it’s so important to balance stress that it would be considered more important than balancing blood sugar, sleep cycles and even the digestive system.

Why? Well, stress will undermine all of the above if still present when trying to address your health holistically.

Quite often when I work with people that are stressed their lives seem overly complicated and I too can testify to that when I have had periods of stress. 

Whenever I have felt most stressed it’s when I’ve lost clarity and overcomplicated things in my life. That is, I’ve forgotten what to say “yes” to and what to say “no” to.

Years ago I studied a great audio programme from a guy called Brain Tracy on simplifying your life to de-stress and regain some balance. These things are all still relevant and so I wanted to share my notes on this with you today.

How To Simplify Your Life

Here are my Top Ten things to consider when simplifying your life:

1 – Do fewer and fewer things but do those things really, really well – It’s self explanatory really this step but it actually takes some time to sit and consider, “what am I doing that no longer contributes to my life?”. You can think of this in a work context in terms of tasks that are in your week filling time that should be scrapped or from a personal perspective with activities that are not bringing you fulfilment. 

2 – Key question – Is there anything I’m doing today that, given what I now know, I wouldn’t get into again? If the answer is yes, how can you stop doing them? How fast can you do that?

3 – Rushing and feeling under pressure is a horrible place to be. This is a habit I still work on to this day. When I notice myself feeling rushed I remind myself, “The time to stop is when it feels like there is no time to stop!”. Often, when feeling rushed it can be that you have lost sight of your target, the main objective, and overwhelm has kicked in meaning your yes/no filter has fallen by the way side. In such an instance you take on too much and, there we go, the rushing and pressure builds. Take some time to stop and re-organise, scrap unnecessary things and remind yourself of the top priority.

4 – Restructuring – It’s often said that the 80-20 rule can be applied to anything in life. I certainly think that’s fair with regards to time and time management. In this instance the 80-20 rule says that, 20% of what you do day to day gives you 80% of the value that you get out of each day. So if you do ten things in your daily life only two are contributing to the majority of the value you derive. The remainder is the filling around the outside. Do you know what your 20% is? How can you do more and more of that and spend less time doing unimportant things that perhaps tire you out?

5 – Needless perfectionism – This follows on the from the above point in so much as you may be doing things that are not adding value to your life. Needless perfectionism is doing very well, what need not be done at all. Where are you doing this? Is it a distraction/delay tactic from something that really NEEDS doing but is perhaps uncomfortable?

6 – Base decisions on the reality of today – With every investment of your time, make a decision based on what you have now and the situation as it is, not how it might be in the future. Or, how much effort you have already put into something. Time can never be retrieved, it’s gone. If there is something you need to get out of, do it and do it as quickly as feasibly possible. Move on, but based on the hand of cards you’re holding not the hand you’d like to be holding.

7 – From a work perspective – Again on the 80-20 rule of time management, only book yourself for 80% of your available hours. Leave 20% for unexpected loose ends or emergencies, if you book more than this, you’ll always be in a rush because the 20% will occur. If you’re thinking, “but I don’t have enough time to do what I need to do already”, refer back to point number one and four.

8 – Set “posteriorities” – What is it that can be put off, delayed or not done at all? Brian Tracy says, “You can only simplify your life to the degree you can stop doing things”. What are these “things” in your life?

9 – Single handling – This one is a favourite of mine. Concentrating single-mindedly on one task at a time until it’s complete. There was a recent study published to show that this actually saves a huge amount of time.

10 – Reduce paperwork and unnecessary emails – Using the acronym TRAF when dealing with emails and post is great for streamlining. T = toss it. Most things you simply don’t need to keep, you get them again, they are not timely and will have been updated come the point you may need it in the future. R = refer it to someone else who it is more appropriate for (this might be more in a work context). A = action. If you can take action on it straight away do so. If it’s an email and it take less than two minutes to reply to, do so there and then. If it takes more time than this put it in an “in progress folder” and deal with these in progress emails at a scheduled time. Avoid opening and closing the same emails over and over though. F = file. Important documents, clearly, need to be kept. This might be printing and saving, special folders on your computer etc. Finally remember, “when in doubt throw it out”.

I hope you’ve found some of these points helpful and can apply them in your life.