Simple advice for simplifying your life

Winnie the Pooh said, “Don’t underestimate the value of doing nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.”

These days, everyone seems to be in a hurry, living crazy busy lives at work and personally. I wrote about this in a blog not too long ago. Recently, a local business leader friend told me she’s trying to simplify her business and personal life; however, the constant daily to-do list just doesn’t ever seem to get completely done. I’m pretty sure that many folks who have serious time challenges with work and home have days that feel like the sky is falling and they are Chicken Little.

For the past few months I’ve been hearing from friends who have such full to-do lists that they can’t enjoy the leisure time they deserve. Summer came and went without vacations — their work took priority. They feel guilty if they’re not being productive.

When I hear about these woes I remember a dear cousin who gave me a wall plaque that read, “Life is short. Eat dessert first!” She was a doer — constantly on the move and always productive. She’s probably coaching the rest of the angels in Heaven now and I still have the plaque to remind me to simplify and enjoy. My dad always loved the old song, “Enjoy Yourself (It’s Later Than You Think)” by The Specials. That’s another message that reminds us to take time for life.

So with all this in mind, I once again asked my time management guru friend for advice about how to simplify our lives for both enjoyment and productive fulfillment. Here are her suggestions:

  • Prioritize daily priorities. Define why tasks are important. Be clear on the reason the task must take priority. Figure out how long each task should take. Plan to accomplish the priorities early in the workday.
  • Begin with mindfulness. Mentally prepare for each task.
  • Whenever possible, put yourself first. Commit to the time to spend with family and friends. Find time for this every week.
  • Fill a monthly calendar with personal and professional commitments. Drop any that are not absolutely, positively necessary.
  • Focus on no more than three to five important goals daily. When these are accomplished you can add additional tasks to complete if you wish.
  • Build in “do absolutely nothing” time each day. Whether this time is spent in meditation, just thinking, looking out a window, taking a walk, or whatever you choose, this is your sacred time.
  • Take a break from all things digital. OMG, how can we live without our electronic devices tethered to us? The time management guru says this will help us to feel less stressed.
  • Get rid of as many distractions as possible.
  • Don’t over schedule your children’s time. They need free time, too. Schlepping kiddos from play dates to other extracurricular activities can impact on your mental energy, as well as theirs.
  • Now for the big idea — de-clutter and simplify. De-cluttering and simplifying office, home, car, closets, life obligations, etc. can help reduce the feeling that there’s never enough time.

Real life takes time and energy and requires us to deal with all the things that have to be done. Simplifying life can help us enjoy life and eat dessert first. The best advice I got from my time management guru is to “simplify now!”

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