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Why Streamlining Your Life Is So Essential

Why Streamlining Your Life Is So Essential
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When we have clutter in our lives, productivity goes downhill, we become flustered and it’s often difficult to focus. Streamlining your life can affect you in more positive ways than you realize. As you reduce clutter from your space, you begin to think more clearly. Clearer thinking is going to bring productivity into your life. It takes some determination but the benefits are worth it. Experts say the hardest part is the first step but once you begin, you’ll feel lighter immediately.

Streamlining Your Life via Minimalism

The opposite of clutter is minimalism and to achieve this, the rule of thumb is to have no more than 100 items to your name.This might feel a little scary but it’s time to do some inventory of what you have in your space. Remember not to beat yourself up for all of the things you’ve accumulated. You’re probably going to be surprised how much “stuff” you have. Make a plan to tackle one room at a time and give yourself a deadline.

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It’s possible you may become overwhelmed when you begin the process of streamlining your life. There is often a psychological reason you have difficulty letting go of material items. You may find it hard to let go because of the sentimental value or perhaps you spent a lot of money on something. Even if you haven’t used the object in a long time, you have an emotional reason to hold onto it. Researchers of Yale have recently discovered that areas of your brain that associate with pain give the same response to giving up an object as real pain. You connect to these material items and letting them go can feel like losing a part of yourself.

Note that everyone has a different tolerance for the clutter around them. Researchers have discovered that some people even thrive well in a work environment that has a little bit of clutter. This can be attested by a picture of Steve Jobs work space. Yes, clutter has been proven to show a negative effective on job performance but it’s how you look at your clutter that matters more. Say you have photos of loved ones on your desk because it makes you happy, that’s not clutter. Your space, above all, should make you feel calm and happy.

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Why Streamlining Your Life is so Important

When you have “stuff” everywhere, it’s difficult to process information properly. Neuroscientists at Princeton University have compared an organized and unorganized person’s task performance. What they found was that clutter is distracting and takes attention away from performing well and it can cause stress. UCLA researchers found that a mother’s stress hormones will increase greatly when they have to deal with their things. It’s the same effect on the brain as multitasking is as the clutter stresses one out with an overload of sensory data.

Beware of the Digital Clutter

Most of you don’t even realize how many messages are being thrown at you from your digital devices. Notifications noises and visuals from social networking are distracting you from sticking to one task. The digital clutter deteriorates your ability to perform any one task to the best of your abilities. Mark Hurst, a New York Times best seller author spoke of the problem we face dealing with the incredible amount of information thrown at us constantly. The amount of to-do items are overwhelming so you have no way of investing your energy into any one thing. This causes a problem with your ability to filter information, bounce between tasks efficiently and keep a strong memory. It’s called physical clutter which is varied between people

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Turn off your devices when you have a task to do and also when you go to bed. Give yourself a specific amount of time to complete tasks and don’t deviate from the task. Don’t check your email, don’t answer the phone, shut your door and focus on one thing at a time. Of course, this isn’t always realistic but one of the things you should always do is turn off notifications on your mobile device.

Meditation for Streamlining Your Life

Meditation can allow you to slow the mind down, center your body and go deep within. As you feel the deepest emotions of yourself, it prevents you from spending money on things. Finding the inner peace and fulfillment really has an impact on how you feel about yourself. There are certain meditation methods that can greatly help you find simplicity within. A time where you’re not connected to the digital world or dealing with anything else but being present in the moment.

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Loraine Couturier

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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