“That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” – Steve Jobs
[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t is most people’s intention to live life to the fullest. That which constitutes a fulfilling life is very personal, but often consists of a nice home, well-paying job, good family, spiritual or religious growth, personal development, financial security, helping others, etc. We set out into the world filled with ambition and good intentions.
But what happens when we achieve some modicum of success in life? Well, we naturally desire to aim higher and achieve more. In and of itself, this ambition is noble and deserving of respect. However, the insatiable desire to constantly better ourselves and achieve more can have unintended consequences – excess and complexity. Our needs and wants can become excessive and our life becomes more complex as a result.
Excess and complexity in life is problematic because we:
– Have less time.
– Consume too much.
– Enjoy things less.
– Are constantly stressed.
– Are less physically and mentally healthy.
– Are more obsessive.
– Pursue things that aren’t good for us.
– Don’t live in the present moment.
If any of these apply to you, it’s time to consider simplifying your life.
Don’t judge or criticize yourself either – it only adds to the problem. The vast majority of people have a difficult time finding some semblance of balance in this hectic world. However, you can (and are) doing something about it by reading this article. Kudos to you!
Here are 10 signs that it may be time to simplify your life…
1. You have excess clutter in your home.
Take a look around your home – the closet, bathroom, bedroom, living room, kitchen – how much of this space is being occupied by things that are no longer being used?
Clutter is often the result of having an excess of something – shoes, clothes, food, DVD’s, entertainment – you name it. Whatever “it” is, consider giving the stuff away and clearing up some much-needed space. You’ll feel more organized and less stressed, while feeling good about helping someone in need.
2. You’re spending too much money.
When you go out shopping for groceries, food, entertainment or something else, how often do you attempt to save? Are you looking for deals and clipping coupons, or are you whipping out the credit card without much thought?
Do you have a set monthly budget? If so, how often do you adhere to it? Are you making up for any shortfall by using credit? So many people have a problem with money, resulting in debt, stress, and feelings of overwhelm.
Use a simple question when buying something: is this a want or a need? If it’s a need…well, it’s a need. If it’s a want, ask yourself why you’re buying – is this something that’s been planned that doesn’t happen often, or is it impulsive and unnecessary?
3. You’re buying too much “stuff”.
Before making the decision to purchase something, ask yourself if you already have enough of it. Do you really need that 5th set of pumps or that HDTV that is 10 inches bigger than the one you bought last year?
All kidding aside, maintain a rational mindset when you buy something. Consider how hard you work for that money you’re about to spend – is that hard work going towards something that you already have plenty of?
4. You’ve gotten away from spirituality.
Not tending to your spiritual needs is a direct consequence of complex living. You’re working too much, rushing around… or maybe making a quick, unscheduled stop at the mall (stop!).
Yes, your time is limited as with most people. You don’t need to become a sage that prays 5 hours a day to meet these needs. Consider spending 10-15 minutes in the morning or before bedtime meditating, reading scripture or something else.
5. You overuse technology.
Please don’t be that adult or teen texting on the highway.
Please don’t be the coworker that is checking email when someone is talking to you.
Please don’t be the mom or dad that has the laptop at the dinner table.
Please don’t be the owl that gets four hours of sleep because they were on the Xbox…and then misses work.
Yes, we are connected all the time – cell phones, tablets, laptops, tablets that become laptops, “smart watches” –there are even “phablets” (it’s an actual word) being sold by the millions. We truly do have a problem with this nonstop connective culture.
Consider shutting it down for at least a couple hours each night.
6. You have no alone time.
Ah, yes…the relaxation and rejuvenation that results from some alone time. There is nothing like it, is there? Well, unless you have no alone time.
Solitude is important because it relaxes your brain, enhances creativity, boosts memory, improves focus, and (perhaps most importantly) charges your inner battery.
Sneak in some solitude through the work day and at home. If it’s a few minutes, great…if more, even better.
7. You’re constantly granting favors.
We all want to appear nice and not hurt any feelings. As such, we often say “Yes”, “Yeah”, “Sure” or “You got it” to someone’s request without even knowing what the heck was asked in the first place.
It’s generous of you to accommodate someone…when it’s feasible. When it causes an adverse effect on your life, it’s not okay. Learn to say “no”.
8. You’re rushing throughout the day.
There is no need to explain why we rush around. Too many things to do and not enough time…check.
However, when we make the conscious decision to slow our lives down and prioritize, we can actually become more productive. Action is not to be mistaken for productivity. This mindset has (somehow) been accepted as truth; perhaps as a consequence (and influence) of business interests.
Prioritize. Be present. Think about the now.
9. You’re constantly eating out.
Fast food is quick, easy, cheap (dollar menu!) and convenient. Even though it may taste good, most of it also happens to be terrible for your health. French fries, double cheeseburgers, fried chicken, patty melts, bacon burgers, milkshakes…all available for a few dollars and a five minute wait.
Living in a fast-paced, hectic world can make it difficult to manage your diet. That being said, eating out every day is not the answer. Even if you have to wake up a little earlier to prepare a healthy breakfast or lunch, it will have great benefits.
10. You’re always multitasking.
Multitasking is another myth that’s been promulgated by the corporatization of America and other societies. To clear this misconception, here are some scientific facts of multitasking:
– The brain is physiologically incapable of processing two things at once.
– Multitasking slows down most tasks.
– Multitasking is less efficient and more stressful.
– Multitasking takes more time than single-tasking.
Watch out for the subtle bids for you attention, as well. When you’re working, minimize or eliminate distractions – limit email, instant messaging, and co-worker interaction. Make your environment conducive to single-tasking and focus.
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The same goes for when you need to tend to something at home, when reading, or any other activity that requires cognitive effort and concentration. Take the initiative and set the expectation that you’re not to be distracted or disrupted.