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53: 10 Ways to Simplify Your Life

All of us have so many things going on at any given moment. And what is the classic answer to Hey, how are you doing? Well, I’m busy.

We’re busy at work. We’re busy at home. We’re busy with commitments, board of directors, volunteer things, and church. I mean, the time just literally slips out between our fingers.

Most of the stress we have in our lives is self-induced. We are filling our time with too many things, yet expecting to be able to 1. Give our best and 2. Get the most out of it all.

This week on The Gutsy Podcast, we’re gonna talk about simplifying your life. I want you to get your time back, I want you to gain some of your sanity, and most importantly, I want you to enjoy this life.

Look, we are always trying to do the next best thing. Fulfill everyone’s needs, meet all of our promises. And yet, at the end of the day, when we put our heads on our pillows — what’s left for ourselves? There’s no shortage of blog’s on the Internet on how the simplify your life, which tells me that people are still searching for the answers.

Now, you know I can give you all the advice and all the experience all day long, but what it boils down to is you making a choice and take action. Everyone’s schedules look very different, so simplifying my life may look different from your life. And simplifying your life may look different from your partners. The best part about that is: It’s OK.

There isn’t a one size fits all. And while there isn’t a cookie-cutter method, there are definitely a few ways that can help to reduce the amount of shit storms you face on a day to day basis.

Limit your commitments

So let’s jump right in the very first way you can simplify your life: Limit the amount of commitments you make. How many things are you saying yes to on a regular basis? Yes, I can do that. Yes, I can go here. Yes, I’ll join your organization. Yes, I’ll give you my services. When you’re always saying yes, you are voluntarily filling your time.

Now, there are definitely meaningful things you want to say yes to. Things that really align with who you are. You have the time to dedicate to it. But on a regular basis, you’re probably over committing yourself to a lot of things.

Saying no to people, and especially people we care about, is really challenging. But I want to also encourage you that on the other side — it’s really empowering to know you have taken control back of your life. You have gained back valuable time. You knew you didn’t want to do something. You knew you didn’t want to go hang out with that person. You knew you didn’t want to go to that networking event. But you went anyway. And then you end up resenting it the entire time.

By limiting your commitments, you have the power to say yes to more things that fill your cup.

declutter your life

Next, I want you to declutter. Oh, my gosh, the shit people keep on their desks, on their dressers, on their floors, and on their walls.

When you are surrounded by clutter, you cannot function properly. Now, you may be one of those people who think you can. But I’m also gonna challenge you back because how much more streamlined could your life be if it were in order? If you could find that piece of clothing you just toss around all the time? If you could find that paperwork you know you put somewhere?

I am a stickler about keeping my desk clean. I personally cannot operate in clutter. It actually raises my anxiety. Imagine how much more simplistic your life would be if your stuff was just a little bit more in order. Now, I’m not saying you have to go out and become some crazy organization person. But if you want simplicity in your life, you’ve got to get your stuff in order.

reduce the social media stress

Another way to simplify your life is to reduce how many social media platforms you interact on. We live in a digital age. We are connected more than ever. But that does not mean you have to be connected on every social platform the Internet has ever created.

Simplify your efforts, whether this is for work or just personal, by reducing the amount of platforms you’re on. Then show up on those few platforms more often.

For instance, if you are trying to maintain YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Tic-Toc — I mean we could go on and on — if you’re trying to show up in all those different places, I’m going to bet you’re probably not doing it very well. You’re most likely in a reactive state of Oh shit, I haven’t posted on such and such platform for quite some time.

If you reduce how many of those social platforms you’re interacting on, you’re gonna be able to give more of your focus and energy and see a much bigger return on the platforms you do use really well. Not to mention it just simplifies the hell out of social media management.

do less more often

Next, I want you to do less more often.

Let’s take exercise, for instance. Let’s say you are signed up in the gym and then you also take a class somewhere else. And then you take yoga somewhere else. And you have this app you’re using at home. And you’ve just got a lot of different avenues. Much like what we just talked about in social media, I’m gonna bet you’re not nailing any of those exercises — let alone showing up for them on a consistent basis.

So why do you need all those things? Can you find a tool that allows you to do a lot of the different things you like to do, but in one platform or setting? Can you nix some of those subscriptions and places you’re a part of and just really focus on one area? Is there just honestly one type of exercise you can do more of and get rid of the rest?

You can simplify your life by not trying to do so many freaking things. You don’t have to impress anyone. You don’t have to have the special outfit to go to the special gym. I mean, literally, it just boils down to what can you do? What can you commit to? And then nix the rest of it and just do that one thing really well.

Once you nail it, great. If you want to move onto something else, fine. Or maybe at that point you find you can infuse something else in. Whatever the case, do it really well and then move on.

make enough for leftovers

This next 1 may sound kind of silly, but it has worked really well for me, and that’s make extra dinner so you have leftovers for lunch the next day. Maybe even two.

Dinner is always one of those tension points. It’s like, What do you want? I don’t know. What do you want? And then we end up going all around the bend or end up going out to eat. Clearly, this is not working because when you’re not cooking and you don’t have meals at home, that also means you don’t have lunch for the next day, which means you’re going out, which takes more time, which takes more gas, which costs more money.

All of this is very complicated. It may seem easy, but if you do that day after day, week after week, all of that stuff really adds up. Not just financially, but with your time. So what we found is if we just make too much dinner (and my 12-year-old doesn’t eat all of it), I have enough extra food to just pack a lunch. And as we’re cleaning up dinner, as we’re putting dishes away, as we’re cleaning up the table, I’m quite literally getting out my lunch containers. However much extra I have, I am putting the leftovers into bins.

And then I love to take this one step further. The next day, I take all of those bins at the same time. I really freaking hate carrying lunch to work every day. I don’t know why it just rubs my ass the wrong way. So I have found to simplify my life by just taking all the bins. Why trickle them in? If you have a few containers or a few pieces or if you know Hey, I’m really craving chips and salsa this week, on Monday, taken entire bag of chips and salsa into work and leave it there. Why pack individual little things every day?

So this is kind of a silly thing, but it actually really works. And it has helped to simplify just a small aspect of my life.

create a routine

The next area to simplify your life is to create a system for things you do most often.

So there are tasks you perform on a daily basis or on a regular basis. You do it a similar way, but maybe not the same way every time. You can drastically reduce your time and reduce your efforts by creating a system so you just always know how it’s done. And most importantly — especially at work or even at home — if you’re delegating to a family member, you can teach someone else how to help you.There’s a whole level of simplicity when you get to delegate and free up that time and space.

Let’s take something at work, for instance. If you know there’s a general way you prepare for a meeting. You always know there are certain forms you need. There are marketing materials you might gather. What if you created a system by creating what might be a marketing or preparation packet? Is there a folder you can use?

Here at Worx & Co, we have a plastic folder we love. Can you gather all of those pieces and have ready-made, ready to go pre-meeting kits? So instead of at the 11th hour before every single meeting, trying to find and figure out where all these things are, you’ve taken maybe 15 or 20 minutes to create 10 or 15 of these packets. And now they’re sitting and ready for you to go.

Simplifying your life can actually be really simple, but have a huge impact. We’re not running around like chickens with our heads cut off. The whole team knows where they are and we know when we’re running low, we just join forces and create some new ones.

I guarantee you there are some areas in your life and business that you can do this very same thing.

find your clothes the night before

Here’s another simple tip, but is really kind of awesome and will make you less grouchy in the morning, and that’s choose your clothes the night before.

I know that sometimes we change our minds. That’s OK, but look at your calendar before you leave for work. Know what you’re next day looks like. Is that an in-office day? Could that be a more casual day? Or do you have a calendar full of meetings and you know you need to look your best? Take that stress of the morning off.

The morning can be hectic, especially if you have kids and spouses and everyone’s going every which direction. It’s like the intersection of a highway. At the very minimum, you know what you need to be successful for that day. So it’s a whole piece that gets to come out of the equation for the morning craziness that happens. It also helps you feel a little bit more prepared.

I love not having to make decisions in the morning because, well, quite frankly, at 7 a.m. I’m not really the most joyful person to be around. So by sitting out clothes the night before, I’ve already set myself up for the next day.

do things in batches

Another really easy way to simplify your life is to do things in batches.

Sometimes it can feel like you’re playing a professional game of whack-a-mole, and I recently had a really intense version of that. But it’s really great when you can batch very similar tasks together and do them as a set.

For instance, if you know you need to make several phone calls tomorrow, do those phone calls in batches. Get yourself in the frame of mind to say, Okay, now I’m in phone call mode. I’m gonna call X, Y, and Z. And then those things are gonna be done versus coming in and making one phone call and then checking some emails and then talking to your team and then having another phone call and then going to lunch.

When you scatter things out, it requires your brain to switch gears so frequently that oftentimes you’re not doing things the most efficiently and are probably not giving it your best, either.

Organize your purse

Next (and again these things are so simple but we take them for granted), I need you to organize your freaking purse, suitcase, work bag, briefcase — whatever you carry to work every day. I need you to stop today and organize that thing.

You’re on the go. You’re tossing things in. And now you don’t know if you have your pen in there, but maybe you do? You’ve got a bunch of files. You’ve got a spare key from something you don’t even know what it belongs to. You gotta stick of gum that’s half coming undone. Is your chapstick in there? I don’t really remember. It becomes this clusterfuck of stuff.

You’re carrying it to work every day and you need the stuff that’s in it, yet you don’t even know if you’re prepared. Something as simple as my office keys are different than my car keys and my home keys. I was just tossing it in my bag every day and then every day when I was trying to go home, I’m digging through trying to figure out where they are. What’s happening? What’s going on? No, I can’t do this anymore. Because even though this is a small thing, this is a small thing that is reoccurring every single day.

So I got this really cool key chain that Amber made me for my work keys. And I have a very specific pocket I put them in my purse. And then my home keys, I also put them in a different pocket in my purse. This is so simple, but it has absolutely helped me to just not have to deal with that extra piece of stress.

If you’re carrying a bag that you are digging through, if you’re carrying a briefcase that you’ve got papers from 2004 in, if you don’t even know the last time you opened it up and went through it — seriously — I want you to stop today because this is such a huge and simple way for you to simplify your life.

quit overthinking

And last, but not least, ditch overthinking. I know, easier said than done. And I’m kind of preaching to the choir here. But overthinking requires so much of your time and energy that it’s almost obscene.

I recently shared with my team that one of my goals for this year is to stop overthinking conversations after they have happened. So I’ve had a conversation or an interaction with somebody, and then I go home and think, Oh, well, I should have said this. Did I use the wrong tone? I don’t really understand how they meant that. So maybe I did something wrong?

Overthinking is one of the least useful pieces of energy we were given. The trick with this is to catch yourself doing it and notice it. Recognition and awareness are key when you are an over-thinker. So when you go into a situation or you’ve had that conversation and you’re like Maybe I did something wrong? And you start going through all these scenarios in your head — that’s where I want you to pause. Be aware of what you’re doing and ask yourself what is true.

When you pause and really digest it, this is an opportunity to make a different decision and have a different reaction. That’s how you start to break some of those patterns. Recognizing it, changing, recognizing it, changing. This one might be a little bit more difficult than cleaning out your briefcase, but this is something that really takes up a lot of mental space and complicates your life. It’s amazing how much brain capacity you go back when you are not overthinking everything.

Thank You, Gutsy Tribe!

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