Advertising
Advertising

Overwhelmed By Too Many Choices? Here’s How To Simplify

Overwhelmed By Too Many Choices? Here’s How To Simplify

National Simplify Your Life week occurs during the first week of August and it reminds us that less is more.

Simplicity is an age-old practice. Proverbs 14 states that “the simple believes everything, but the prudent gives thought to his steps.” That is, an effective person prunes out the unnecessary in order to forge a better path. Islam teaches Muslims that there is “dignity in humility and grace in simplicity.”

Cut the clutter

Choice is good: We love freedom and choice gives us more. But at what point does too many options lead to complexity and stress? How often have you stopped at the grocery to buy a couple of items before eventually finding your shopping cart overstuffed with a dozen purchases. Supermarkets on average carry over 42,000 products, according to the Food Marketing Institute—reflecting the myriad choices we’re forced to make each day.

Advertising

“Paralysis is a consequence of having too many choices,” says psychologist Barry Schwartz in this popular Ted Talk presentation. Schwartz, who is the author of The Paradox of Choice, explains that too many options—i.e., complexity—lead to people feeling overwhelmed. And according to his research, that causes non-participation or delay in taking action.

Here are key considerations for simplifying your personal life.

1. Decide what matters (and what doesn’t)

Clutter prevents you from getting organized and being efficient. Simplifying is an exercise of prioritization—so as you focus on what’s important, you’ll ignore what doesn’t matter as much.

Be specific in what you’re trying to accomplish each day and remove all items and activities that serve as distractions. That may mean doing any of the following:

Advertising

  • Cancel irrelevant magazine subscriptions
  • Delete apps that waste your time
  • Consolidate your accounts
  • Unfollow people on social media who flood your feed
  • Limit your technology to ones that are actually useful
  • Use all-in-one applications that present most or all of your personal information
  • Donate or sell items that don’t add value
  • Eliminate clutter and organize useful belongings

If you need help, here’s a free app that prioritizes your goals and to-do lists in a priority matrix. And a similar app, Prioritize Me!, lets you select which of your goals are most important.

2. Focus on the 20 percent.

Follow the 80/20 rule which states that 80 percent of effects come from 20 percent of causes. In layman’s terms, that means 20 percent of your activities lead to 80 percent of your effectiveness. If you’re a homeowner, 20 percent of your possessions are associated with 80 percent of your activities. According to the National Association of Professional Organizers, we wear just 20 percent of our clothing. Perhaps it’d be prudent to donate or sell the rest.

If you want technology to help you simplify, the Tody app lets you organize and prioritize tasks. And to keep you on the right track, the mobile app will prompt you when a chore is due.

National Simplify Your Life Week
         July 2016 Capital One Simplify Your Life Survey (1,000+ U.S. respondents, ages 18-54)             

     3. Be practical.

    Love life and personal finances are the two most challenging areas to simplify, according to the July 2016 Simplify Your Life survey by Capital One. A majority (60 percent) of over a thousand respondents said a practical approach is the best way to simplify their finances:

    Advertising

    • Practical (sensible and straightforward): 60%
    • Mindful (reflective and introspective): 14%
    • Optimistic (positive and hopeful): 14%
    • Ruthless (strict and unrelenting): 6%
    • Creative (unique and unexpected): 6%

    According to the same survey, 41 percent said a mobile app—with access to all account information—was their must-have tool. Most smartphones are littered with random apps. However. it’s essential to know which ones boost your productivity. For example, one tool that comes with Capital One’s Quicksilver and Venture cards and consolidates your account information is Capital One Wallet. It’s a mobile app that allows you to keep track of all your purchases in real-time.

    The paradigm of simplicity requires attention to important matters, and treats the rest as noise.

    National Simplify Your Life Week

      The takeaway

      When it comes to purchasing decisions, consumers often succumb to buyer’s remorse because of unmet expectations, says Schwartz. Moreover, people often have unrealistic beliefs that better alternatives exist—even if the original selection of a product was a great one.

      Advertising

      Our gadgets and possessions should guide us toward our goals rather than distract and steal our precious time. It’s interesting to note that in the Simplify Your Life survey, only 6 percent of Americans surveyed said that creativity is the best approach to simplifying their financial lives.

      So forget the fancy methods. Rather, do the important stuff and weed out what no longer needs to be done.

      Featured photo credit: Stokpic.com via stokpic.com

      More by this author

      Marvin Dumont

      Entrepreneur, Disruptor

      Tips for Shoring up your Finances in 2017 5 Ways Technology Can Make Your Travel Stress-Free 5 Last-Minute Holiday Shopping Tips to Beat the Holiday Rush Five Myths that can Harm your Credit Score 5 Ways to Outsmart Hotels and Save Money

      Trending in Money

      1 25 Easy Tips on How to Save Money Fast 2 What Is a Good Credit Score (And How to Get One) 3 9 Millionaire Success Habits That Will Inspire Your Life 4 10 Reasons Why Following Your Passion Is More Important Than Money 5 How to Pay off Debt Fast Using the Stack Method (A Step-By-Step Guide)

      Read Next

      Advertising
      Advertising
      Advertising

      Last Updated on June 26, 2020

      25 Easy Tips on How to Save Money Fast

      25 Easy Tips on How to Save Money Fast

      “How to save money fast?” This is the question asked by all of us not in the top 1% of rich people.

      If you are looking for ways to drastically reduce your expenses immediately, first look at what you need to spend money on every week. And I mean really need.

      You don’t really need to order in food. You don’t really need to buy expensive perfume.

      Building from that, you can work out how your regular expenses can be reduced.

      As for irregular expenses, they can also be deceptively costly in the long run. Once-off buys can also be tackled with some prudent planning and a little extra research.

      And remember: a budgeted lifestyle does not mean a bad or boring one!

      But first, understand what budget you can cut down on daily:

      • Regular expenses for the average adult (can be trimmed but not eliminated):
        • food
        • rent/mortgage
        • cell phone
        • insurance
        • socializing/entertainment
        • transportation
        • hygiene products
        • household bills
      • Irregular expenses for the average adult (can be eliminated or cut down a lot):
        • travel
        • clothing
        • medication (*depends)
        • grooming (hair, nails etc.)
        • gifts

      Now, let’s dive right into the 25 ways to save money fast:

      Save Money on Food

      1. Bring a stock of food to the office/work

      Instead of popping out for an overpriced salad and a smoothie, leave a set of basic utensils at the office as well as a stock of non-perishable goods such as tinned fruit, tuna, rice crackers and so on (try to avoid the junk food and this can turn into a pretty great diet!).

      Advertising

      Stocking up means you won’t forget or say “I didn’t have the time” when you rushed out to work in the morning.

      2. Buy the store-brand version

      Many basic foods, such as bread and milk, will taste exactly the same as their branded alternatives. Go for stuff with minimal additives and preservatives. Meat in a tube is probably insanely unhealthy!

      3. Eat cheaper cuts of meat

      Learn how to tenderize and flavour cheaper meat and fish, and save on the (typically) most expensive item on your grocery bill.

      4. Have group dinners

      If 10 friends put $5 each in the kitty, it’s pretty easy to make a giant lasagne and get refreshments, as well as hang out with your favourite people.

      Save Money in Transport

      5. Get a bicycle

      Save on gas money and bus/metro fares with this underrated mode of transport.

      6. Use public transport and/or don’t get taxis

      Some places can only be reached by car. But as a good practise, check your public transport website and see if any routes pass nearby where you need to get to. Walk as much as you can.

      7. Find the cheapest gas

      Regularly check out where the cheapest gas can be bought.

      Save Money in General Shopping

      8. Shop online

      Not only will you save on the gas or transport fares from going to the shopping mall but you will also find better deals

      9. Sell your old stuff

      Get your unwanted belongings up on eBay ASAP and earn a few dollars.

      Advertising

      Here’re more ideas for you: 25 Things to Sell to Make a Lot of Money

      10. Bulk buying stores

      For regular non-perishable/slow perishable purchases such as toilet paper, cat food, pasta, washing powder and so on, do an epic stocking-up trip to a co-op or equivalent (my mum used to go to a place that restaurants buy from).

      Be wary of supermarket “deals”, as some have been found to be fraudulent after working out a simple calculation.

      11. Become a flea market/car boot sale/street market guru

      You can find original gifts and develop good negotiation skills at these places.

      12. Generic brand medication

      More often than not, the generic version of paracetamol and other basics work the same as the branded version.

      13. Choose deodorant, not perfume

      It blows my mind when someone drops $70 on a bottle of spray. Stick with a nice deodorant, and not only will you smell just fine but you’ll be sweat-free as well!

      Cut Down on Household Expenses

      14. Printing

      Ink is one of the most expensive substances in the office and coloured ink is doubly so. B

      e more efficient and choose black and white, and if your printer doesn’t have a print-both-sides options, just print odd pages first, re-insert the paper and print even pages.

      Expand the margins of what you are printing as often as you can to save on paper.

      Advertising

      15. Minimize SMS and phone calls

      A combination of a free chat service such as WhatsApp and a free call service such as Skype can reduce your bill to nothing (so long as you have a decent Wifi connection).

      16. Shop around for insurance

      Most people don’t spend enough time searching for the best insurance deal.

      Keep a watchful eye out for deals and new competitors in the market.

      17. Try re-negotiating your rent/mortgage

      If you have built up a good credit history or a good rapport with your landlord, then chances are a frank chat about needing to tighten your spending could result in lowering your payments. You’ve nothing to lose from trying.

      18. Don’t get a TV

      Invest in a computer/laptop and an internet-only package. You can watch more (and often better) entertainment on the web, and skip the advertisements as well.

      19. Pool your internet bill with a neighbour

      My apartment building is basically a big old house split into three apartments. There are five of us in total. We pool the internet bill, making it crazy cheap.

      Save Money in Socializing, Entertainment And Travel

      20. Have house parties

      Instead of paying for overpriced drinks, set up a series of in-house get-togethers with your friends. Everyone takes a turn, so it’s not always your house that needs cleaning.

      For sound insulation, hang heavy drapes on the walls and windows. For music, invest in a good second-hand set of speakers which you can connect to your computer. Let Spotify or Grooveshark playlists do the rest.

      21. Open festivals, meetups and events

      It never fails to surprise me how much underground stuff goes on around me for free or for very cheap. Find out who runs the blogs and websites that list all the less well-known cultural activities.

      Advertising

      22. Volunteer

      If you can’t pay for a ticket, volunteer and get to be there anyway.

      23. Housesit

      There are multiple housesitting websites offering you the possibility to avoid paying hotels and skip the discomfort of crummy hostels.

      Save Money on Hygiene and Beauty

      24. DIY beauty

      French manicures, pedicures, waxing, eyebrows… pretty much all of these can be achieved at home (and done well) with some practise. There are plenty excellent blogs and YouTube tutorials to help.

      25. Fewer haircuts/volunteer at a trainee hairdresser

      If you can’t bear the risk of a trainee touching your locks, learn more ways to manipulate your hair as it grows and get haircuts sparingly. Women’s haircuts are outrageously priced in many cities.

      Bonus: Effective Money-Saving Tips for Everything

      Here’s a summary of what you can generally do to save more money:

      • Share/pool resources. Organize a neighbourhood sharing scheme, common resources for your apartment block or with your friends. Not everybody needs an individual lawnmower.
      • Buy energy-saving everything. The easiest way to lower your bills – replace those lightbulbs!
      • Buy in bulk. Be sensible about it (i.e. make sure you have space!), and drastically reduce weekly expenditure.
      • DIY. Skill up using YouTube tutorials on plumbing and many other essential services so you never have to pay for simple problems again.
      • Research a lot before making a decision. Most money-wasting is the result of poor preparation and planning. Don’t shirk this part just because you don’t like it!
      • Use your network. Your network is full of resources that can ease the pain of budgeting. Ask for help.
      • Stop and think. Do I really need it?

      Unfortunately, there are some things that require plain ol’ giving up for the time being. This can include high-cost sports such as skiing, the latest versions of some technologies, the finest brands of food/drinks, premier seats at the opera and most other indulgences.

      What is important to remember during lean times is that when you look back on your life, it will be the experiences that stand out, not the extra comforts.

      Living on a budget can teach you a lot about how much you can really get out of your paycheck. We only live one life, so make the most of every penny you earn!

      More Tips for Personal Finance Management

      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

      Read Next