5 of my favorite ways to eliminate unnecessary complexity and complication.
I think I’ve become a simplicity junkie.
I say that because the more I learn about simple living, the more I want to know. I seek simplicity in everything. I’m constantly asking myself, “How can I make this more simple? or “What’s the most simple way we can do this?”
I devour simplicity tips like they’re M&Ms. I read articles and books on simplicity. I lost count of how many blog articles I’ve consumed. I make almost weekly trips to The Container Store to figure out how to simplify the various spaces that I occupy.
Yes, I realize the irony of a never-ending thirst for simplicity, and yet I keep seeking and learning and applying new ways to simplify my life and work.
Recently I harnessed the power of Facebook to gather even more tips on simplicity. I asked the members of a couple of private Facebook groups that I belong to:
Name one of the best ways you’ve simplified your life.
As a simplicity junkie, I gotta tell ya, I got quite a buzz from the responses and I was pleasantly surprised at the number of replies. What I love about the ideas on this list is that they are real-world examples from real-world people. Some are tried, true, and well-known techniques. Others are fresh new tips that will give you some new things to try.
Here’s the kicker: I got well over a hundred responses to my question. When I tossed out the duplicate answers, I ended up with 89 unique responses. I did share all 89 in a blog post over at sparkspace.com. I’ll link to that in the show notes of this episode.
I thought if I tried to share 89 ideas on the podcast you would either tune out or worse, since a lot of people listen to this in the car I was afraid you’d zone out while you’re driving and crash into a tree.
So, to keep it manageable — and to keep you from hitting a tree — I combed through the list and pulled out my favorite tips. What I tried to do was pick out tips you may not have heard before, but once you do you’ll think, “I gotta try that!”
Last week I promoted this week’s podcast by promising 10 ways to simplify your life. As I prepped for today’s show, though, I realized that would actually be way too many for one show. So I’m going to split up the 10 and share 5 this week and 5 more next week. I thought that would keep it, well, more simple.
Here are 5 unique and useful ways you can simplify your life. I’m also going to share with you one or two sentences about each one to tell you why I picked ‘em.
1. Stop Watching and Reading The News.
This applies to TV news, physical newspapers, online newspapers, news magazines, news feeds, radio news stations, and ESPECIALLY news alerts on your phone or other devices.
The news is far more distracting than you think. It causes you to worry unnecessarily and talk with your friends about issues that don’t really affect you. And if you’re a news junkie…or even if you just like your “daily dose of news”, you’d be surprised at how much time you can free up for other, more positive and rewarding activities if you cut out the news.
2. Hire a housekeeper.
When someone feels like they’re busy all the time, ask them what keeps them so busy. They often say work is crazy and their kids have sports and homework and other activities they have to attend. And, of course, they have to cook and clean and do laundry every night at home.
Then ask them if they’ve ever considered hiring a housekeeper. Someone to clean the house, do some laundry, and maybe even cook dinner a day or two each week. I’m always surprised at how many people have way more than enough money to pay for a housekeeper, but it has never really dawned on them to do it.
Speaking from experience, when my kids were smaller and we were a lot busier, hiring a college girl to come to our house, run the vacuum, clean up the kitchen, and do a load or two of laundry was the best money we’ve ever spent. And it simplified our life A LOT.
3. Learn How To Say No
I should have probably made this the number one thing on the list. Saying no is almost like having a superpower. It’s like a force field that protects you from overcommitment. I find it has been extremely helpful to have a go-to way to say no to requests for your time. Lately I’ve been using the line “I’m sorry I can’t help. My schedule is full.” YOU ARE NOT OBLIGATED TO TELL ANYONE WHAT IS ACTUALLY FILLING UP YOUR SCHEDULE. Your schedule can be filled with free time, which I believe is the most important time on your schedule. The key is to say no with confidence. When you do, people believe you and they respect you.
4. Take time to clear out the clutter.
Most humans are pack rats. We’re not very good at getting rid of stuff. We buy stuff, use it a few times, and then store it for eternity. Or we buy something THINKING we’re going to use it, and then never do. But we keep it just in case.
We do the same thing with our virtual stuff, too. Like emails, documents, pictures, funny cat videos, you name it. Our basements, attics, closets, and computers are overflowing with all the stuff we’ve accumulated.
The absolute best way to get rid of clutter is to mark time on your calendar — the most you can afford to — and spend DEDICATED time in clean out mode. If you think you can do it a little bit of time, you can’t. If you think you’ll get to it later, you won’t. Get it on the calendar. Spend the time. If you don’t get it all done, schedule another time ASAP to finish it.
It’s hard to convince someone who hasn’t don’t this yet just how amazing and simple your life will feel afterward. All I can say is “its worth it” and “give it a try and see for yourself.”
And finally, this is my favorite suggestion ever:
5. Throw away all of your socks and buy ones that are all the same.
Oh. My. Gosh. How much time have you and I wasted trying to match socks? How much mental energy have we spent wondering and questioning what happens to socks that mysteriously disappear in the dryer?
Imagine with me for a moment just what life would be like if you never had to match up socks again. Imagine if you could put all of your socks in your sock drawer without having to put pairs together in little balls. Imagine if NO MATTER WHEN you needed a fresh pair of socks, you could just pull ANY TWO SOCKS from your drawer and they would just automatically match.
It’s a dream of mine and someday I am totally going to put this tip into practice and I KNOW it will change my life dramatically for the better.