If you feel like your to-do list is never-ending, you’re constantly spinning plates, and you’ve got too much going on, it's time to simplify your life.
Here’s how to streamline your processes and routines so you can add some breathing space back into your schedule.
Every day you’re bombarded by “noise” – advertisers telling you that you “need” to have the latest thing, magazine covers peddling unrealistic ideals, social media showing you what you’re supposedly missing out on.
It’s time to take a step back and reclaim control of your life.
None of this involves sacrificing the stuff you love; instead, it’s about prioritising and making space for the things that are adding value to your life.
1. Become a conscious consumer
Learn to engage and disengage with any content you’re currently exposed to, whether that be social media, TV and movies, newspapers and magazines, etc.
When you’re engrossed in the consumption of one of these, enjoy it. Fully engage in and interact with the process. You’re much more likely to feel fulfilled by it.
Then, when you’ve got what you need, get out.
Learning to disengage means establishing boundaries so that you don’t spend the entire day sporadically checking in and out of something. If, mentally, you’re always “logged on”, your brain will eventually begin to lag.
Here are some simple ways you can disengage:
By adopting the habit of saying or thinking, “This is done,” you’re mentally delineating your day so one thing doesn’t take over and seep into every waking second.
Consume it and then, when you’re done, disengage so it doesn’t consume you.
If you're still struggling to break the social media addiction, this video will help:
2. Curate your feed
It’s easy to forget it but much of what you see is by choice. You have a lot of control over what you allow in front of your eyeballs.
As you’re scrolling, start to notice how each account makes you feel. And remember that it’s often a balancing act. There are very few things that are entirely positive or negative – most will have a bit of both. It’s up to you to decide whether, as a whole, it’s making you feel energised and alive, or down and demoralised.
For example, maybe you follow a fashion brand that matches your style. It gives you outfit ideas and always shows you things you love. That’s great. But if it also leaves you feeling sad because it makes you realise how lacking your current closet is, and you can’t always afford their items, it’s time to say goodbye to this one.
And don’t be afraid to unfollow a friend. Liking someone in real life doesn’t mean you need to subject yourself to their endless memes and selfies online… or Candy Crush requests.
Also be on the lookout for things that may seem positive or harmless in and of themselves but lead to negative or mindless behaviour. Like, for instance, funny cat videos which, yes, can make you laugh, but also drag you down a rabbit hole of watching one after another until an hour has gone by. If that’s the case, cut it out.
Remember, you’re in charge. Your time is too precious to waste so if you’re not passionate about it, pass.
Don’t be dictated to by an algorithm or advertiser. Their job is to try extract something from you, like time or money. It’s up to you to determine how much, if anything, you’re willing to pay.
3. Stem the flow
Every day, someone or something will try add even more responsibility to your plate or demand more of your time and attention. Stop the influx by saying no.
Politely decline anything and everything that isn’t essential or doesn’t have you jumping out of your seat with excitement.
This can be tricky at first. You don’t want to disappoint anyone or miss out on an opportunity. But with practice and some mindfulness, you’ll soon feel the immense freedom of taking back control of your time and schedule.
Start with the smaller, easier things, like RSVPing no to the Facebook invite an old acquaintance sends. Or declining the free samples you know you’ll never use. Or telling that sales person you simply don’t have the time to respond to their survey or listen to their pitch.
Cutting it off at the source prevents any future dealings and feelings of regret.
4. Get weeding
It’s easier to stop something before it builds momentum, as you did in the previous tip, but some weeds will already have taken hold. It’s time to pull them up from the roots.
Take a long hard look at your schedule and where your time and energy is going on a daily and weekly basis. Look at all your commitments, chores, events, errands, tasks, appointments, meetings, etc.
Now notice the ones that make you die a little on the inside.
It may take some time but work on eliminating them from your life or at least easing and minimising your exposure to them. Don’t despair if this takes time and you suffer some setbacks –– roots can run deep. But if you’re persistent and diligent you’ll eventually succeed in scraping them all out.
Enjoy the extra space, or replace them with some beautiful blooms.
In some situations, this will even involve people. Yes, it’s tough, but you can change and grow apart, or realise you were never that close to begin with or that the relationship is mostly (or entirely) one-sided. Or maybe it’s just run its course.
Whatever the reason, it’s time to set yourself free.
You don’t necessarily have to confront them if you feel this will do more harm than good (though I do recommend the upfront approach for romantic relationships) but start phasing them out of your life. Politely decline coffee date requests, stop returning calls and texts, find excuses to leave their company early, etc.
Life’s too short to spend it with energy vampires. If something doesn’t add value, you don’t have time for it.
You can’t simplify your life if your physical surroundings are in chaos. The less you have, the less you have to clean, tidy, put away, move around, look for, etc.
If you’re not sure where to begin, my advice would be to start with your closet. Streamlining your clothing will make it much easier to choose outfits, which will make your mornings less rushed, which will have a positive knock-on effect on the rest of your day.
Still struggling? Here’s a video with 10 things you can easily and immediately declutter from your home:
Streamline your space and you’ll be surprised how quickly other things fall into place.
6. Ask yourself this question
Look at everything in your life and ask, Is this the best place and time for this?
If you’ve got a hook for your keys but you always end up dropping them on the counter, get a little dish and put it there for them. If you’ve got a bin tucked away in a corner while all your rubbish ends up on the floor beside the couch, it’s time to move the bin closer.
Rather than trying to force something, look at how your home and your routines already flow and find systems that fit them.
The same goes for your schedule. Is the morning the best time to run errands if you’re always exhausted afterwards and then can’t concentrate on your work? Is the evening the best time to go to the gym if you feel all energised afterwards and then can’t sleep?
With a bit of tweaking you can find better ways to slot things into your life so your priorities have space to flourish.
Streamlining your life now means never having to waste time doing certain things ever again. Even the slightest change can have a compound effect meaning that, in time, your initial investment will pay big dividends.
Weed your garden, ward off pests, and enjoy your blooming, blossoming new space.
Click one of the posts below if you're ready to learn more about streamlining your life: