10 rules for simplifying your busy life

My husband, Dave, and I recently took a road trip to enjoy the fall colors. We began by hurrying down interstate roads to St. Louis, where we had some business, and then wound our way home through parts of Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, and then back to Wonderful Wisconsin, following the Great River Road. What a distinct difference in a road trip — busyness followed by simple pleasure. On the way, while enjoying the scenery, I realized that I was having great ideas … because there were no distractions. Life was simple for a time.

I read somewhere that a large percentage of adults in the U.S. are pursuing voluntary simplicity. There are dozens of books, magazine articles, blogs, and websites dedicated to helping folks eliminate stress by creating a simpler lifestyle.

Those who work with deadlines tell me it’s easy to get trapped in crisis management mode. Many business icons talk about how simplifying their workday helped them accomplish more and feel good when they left their offices at the end of the day. Some of my local business friends prioritize their work so they feel a sense of accomplishment when their workday ends.

The business gurus that I follow have adopted the following daily rules:


  1. Turn off the cell phone during priority time.
  2. Process email only twice a day.
  3. Get rid of unnecessary commitments — don’t accept every request to participate.
  4. Create an organizing system that works for you.
  5. Automate personal tasks like bill paying, etc.
  6. Delegate or purge paper clutter on a daily basis.
  7. Focus on one thing at a time. Multitasking is out. Finish old tasks before beginning a new one.
  8. Ask for help. Team ideas and support can make a difference in a project’s outcome.
  9. Let go of the need to be perfect and enjoy the work.
  10. Limit media consumption. TV, radio, and social media all play a role in diverting attention from the simple life. In fact, when asked what their typical television fare is, most of these experts say they only watch PBS, Discovery Channel, the History channel, and other educational channels.

Many of those who are now working and living simply say they have time to enjoy their families and catch up with old friends. These folks are inspirational. One can begin to believe that there is life after work when things are simpler. I’m going to start the simplification process by enjoying a cup of coffee while I plan our next road trip.

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