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31 Magic Tricks to Simplify Your Life

31 Magic Tricks to Simplify Your Life

How many times has life overwhelmed you? It’s okay. It happens to everyone. The world moves at breathtaking speed. You have a hundred times the choices and ten times the work. Blink your eyes, and everything has changed. Where do you start, and when will it end?

Take a breath. Relax. You have permission. You don’t have to drop out or quit to simplify. More importantly, you don’t have to sacrifice your sanity and life’s simple pleasures to get what you want. All you need are these 31 magic tricks.

1. Choose to be happy.

At a young age we’re taught there are winners and losers. Life becomes a game to earn the most points, often measured in dollars and trinkets. Along the way, we lose our soul. I’m not saying don’t set goals, just the opposite. It’s the why that’s important. Goals should be born from your passions and the desire to grow and learn, not to achieve trophies for self-validation.

This requires a decision to be happy, to live in the now. In other words, be grateful for what you have. Appreciate what’s in front of you. When you can do that, it will be easier to achieve the impossible. If you’re stuck on the how, read The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky.

2. Change your mindset.

Mindset expert Carol Dweck, author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, explains that people have either a fixed or a growth mindset. Those with fixed mindsets need constant validation. They see success, talent, and fate as predetermined by genetics or your last name.

Those with growth mindsets see challenges in the world as opportunities to learn and grow. They understand no one is perfect, and that the process and failures along the way creates growth, fulfillment, and achievement. If you want to simplify, embrace the growth mindset and release the baggage of everything else.

3. Imagine it’s the last day on Earth.

Imagine the world is about to end. What would you do, and who would you do it with? Would you quit your job, kiss the girl (or boy), or spend the rest of the day with your family? Or, would your reflection on the time you’ve squandered paralyze you?

Life is too short to waste being miserable. Decide what’s important, and let go of the rest.

4. Forgive.

Choose to be a victim or forge your own destiny. People may inflict harm but forgive them anyway. While you’re at it, forgive yourself. Don’t let the baggage of what other people have done keep you down. You can’t change events, but you can change your reaction to those events. It’s the sum of your reactions that determines the course of your life.

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5. Think about what you would do if you lost everything.

Imagine you are in a building, a tower right after a plane hits. The lights go out. The room turns black. Soot fills your lungs. You’re halfway down the stairs when the stairwell buckles from the collapse of the tower next door. You survive, but just barely. You escape with your life and nothing else. Your job is gone, and so are your friends and coworkers.

That’s the story of what happened to thousands of people after 9/11, and the lessons you can learn from them are many. The simple truth is that life is what matters. No one can take away what’s in your mind, the experiences you’ve had, or the wisdom you’ve gained. Everything else is just window dressing.

6. Reflect on those who have nothing.

Millions of people lack the basics most of us take for granted, things like running water and a bed. If you’re reading this article, chances are you’re not one of those people, so what right do you have to complain?

If you want to simplify your life, strip down what’s dragging you down. Don’t worry about what you don’t have. Quit keeping up appearances and complicating your life with unnecessary stuff and the stress that goes with it. Let it go. Focus on what you really want, not what other people expect you to have.

7. Rediscover your childhood dreams.

As a teacher, I hate when other parents, coaches, and teachers tell students to be realistic. Will Smith said, “Being realistic is the most commonly traveled road to mediocrity.” Yet, many of us believe the sick twisted lie that we should be realistic. We’re told to set “achievable” goals so we don’t set ourselves up for failure. The irony is that it’s the failures that teach what is required to live a fulfilled life.

Jeff Olson in The Slight Edge explained how he read an article which stated only ten people cry at the average funeral and only one-third of the people who are supposed to go actually show up. The question this raised for him was: Why waste your time worrying about what the rest of the world thinks when they don’t even bother to show up at your funeral?

It’s true you won’t always achieve your ultimate dreams, but it’s not about the dream. It’s about the ride. The one thing that is true, is that you’re guaranteed to fail if you don’t try. Don’t listen to those who’ve given up or allowed fear to paralyze them. Don’t waste your time cluttering up your life with other people’s expectations. Discover your passion, stay the course, and I promise you won’t live a life of regret.

8. Discover who adds value to your life.

Your parents were right. Don’t hang around bad people. By bad people, I’m referring to those who don’t add value to your life and who are a net negative.

It’s been said you become like the average of the five people you spend the most time with. If you spend time with people who tear you down, you’ll be torn down. Choose wisely and let go of the dead weight.

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9. Change your inputs.

Stress, misery, confusion, indecision, and frustration are perceptions reinforced by thoughts. Strong evidence supports the belief those perceptions are reversible if you change the words you tell yourself. Many of us don’t realize it, but we frequently tell ourselves self-defeating things that reinforce negative beliefs. If you want to change those beliefs, elevate your self-talk.

Don’t stop at self-talk, change your other inputs. Listen to or read constructive books, audiobooks or podcasts. Take half an hour a day on your commute or from your entertainment time to listen to something constructive. Remove the clutter of your mind and replace it with clarity and direction.

10. Reflect daily.

Take stock of your day and reflect on your accomplishments. Write them down. Write down what went wrong, when time was wasted, and which irrelevant tasks kept you busy instead of effective.

11. Exercise.

You don’t have to spend hours at the gym to benefit from the mental clarity and rush of endorphins that comes from physical exertion. Spend five to fifteen minutes a day in your home or outside to boost your energy level, improve your overall health, and allow your mind the chance to decompress. Spend more if you like, but start somewhere.

12. Unplug.

We have more free time than ever, so why do we feel like life is moving at ever increasing speeds? The answer is information is exploding, and so are devices used to access it. Each notification breaks our focus. We lose time in the shuffle, and our day flutters away.

It’s easy to chase the white rabbit of information down the internet hole. Limit the time you spend on your devices, and take the time to completely unplug and free your mind. Allow yourself time to think. You’ll be surprised at your amazing insights.

13. Meditate.

Many highly successful entrepreneurs meditate. They do it for one simple reason: It keeps them focused amongst the chaos. I encourage you to try mindfulness meditation. Scientific evidence points to many benefits including improved memory, focus, and reduced stress.

14. Take a nap.

Fifteen to twenty-five minutes a day may be all you need get back on your A-game and regroup midway. I stack my habits of meditation and napping each day once I get home from work. You may do it at lunch. Napping will increase your energy and focus. In the process, you will feel less stressed and overwhelmed.

15. Get enough sleep.

Don’t try to be superman. You can achieve your goals and still get the required seven to eight hours of sleep needed to function at peak performance. If you get enough sleep, you’re more effective with your time, and your body will thank you. If you don’t have enough time, it means you need to let go of what’s keeping you busy instead of effective. There will always be more stuff you can do. Force yourself to stop. Create a daily deadline, and stick to it.

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16. Take a few weeks off.

Great epiphanies in life will often come when you’ve removed yourself from the day-to-day clutter and routine. It’s also a great way to enjoy life and recuperate from life’s demands. A few innovative companies are catching on and reaping the rewards. Take advantage of the time you have, and don’t be afraid to ask for it.

17. Make a bucket list.

Create a long list of things you want to do, regardless of how absurd they sound. Shape your list around things you want to do, not accomplishments you hope will impress others. When the opportunity presents itself, do those things. It’s your life. Step out of your comfort zone. Take a risk, and simplify your life by doing what excites you.

18. Pretend to go on vacation.

You don’t actually have to take  a vacation to benefit from one. Just think about what you would do if and when you have the time. If the things you would do can be done where you live, start doing them. Save time normally wasted on meaningless tasks and use it to do what’s important.

19. Pretend that you have only five minutes to prepare.

If you truly want to declutter, imagine you only have five minutes to pack. Now imagine the vacation is permanent. You’ll quickly realize most of the stuff in your life you don’t need. If you want more suggestions, Tim Ferriss has some great tips in The Four-Hour Workweek.

20. Simplify your calendar.

If your to-do list never ends and keeps getting longer, it’s time to put your items on a calendar. Scheduling may seem like the opposite of simplifying, but when done properly, it actually makes you feel less overwhelmed and increases your effectiveness.

Evidence shows only eleven percent of people complete their to-do list. When you put your items on a calendar, you commit to completing it, but you also have a clearer perspective of the time available and enhanced judgment about what can be completed in a given day.

21. Schedule buffers.

Create buffers during your day to regroup and decompress. Schedule them on a calendar, and be religious about avoiding appointments and other work during that time. It will improve your focus.

22. Organize.

I’ve read the reports that creative minds are more cluttered. That may be true, but if you organize your home and your life, it’s easier to see what you need, what you want, and what is simply trash. A cluttered home is a cluttered mind.

23. Simplify your life.

One powerful way to simplify your life is to systemize it with a master document. I prefer Google Drive because I can access it wherever I go. The document contains clickable links to other Google Docs that focus on specific areas of my life.

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In business, systemization is necessary to scale up effectively. In life, it’s easy to forget what you’ve learned and what works if you don’t write it down. A master document can also include your action plan, goals, and habits. It’s a shockingly powerful way to simplify your life and accomplish more with minimal effort.

24. Be flexible.

A master document may sound rigid, but it’s actually easy to change. In life, if you’re stubborn, you create unnecessary headaches for yourself. Be willing to go with the flow when things take an unexpected direction, and listen to different opinions. You don’t always have to agree, but if you refuse to move, it will only be a matter of time before your life’s branches break.

25. Simplify your errands.

Group similar tasks. Don’t waste time switching back and forth between things. Quit checking your email every time you get a notification. Doing so reduces productivity and increases stress. Shut off your notifications. Instead, do those tasks all at once. Apply the same principle to other actions. When you do, you’ll feel less busy and have more time to do other things.

26. Supercharge your focus.

Quite wasting time on the eighty percent of things that have minimal impact on moving you forward. Use the Pareto Principle and focus on the twenty percent that matters. This requires that you first take inventory of your time.

27. Give yourself the slight edge.

Think like the tortoise instead of the hare. If you produce small but consistent action towards your goals, you’ll progress more than the person who gets excited, overworks and burns out. It’s the slight edge over time that makes all the difference.

28. Use the Pomodoro Technique.

Drop the multitasking and focus on what needs to be done using the Pomodoro Technique. Set a timer for a desired length of time, and shut out all other distractions while you work on the task. Reward yourself when complete. You’ll be more productive, and you’ll start looking forward to completing the tasks on your calendar.

29. Say No.

Don’t spend time doing things you don’t want to do. Learn the art of saying no and allow yourself the opportunity to say yes to the things that truly matter.

30. Simplify your priorities.

Your daily calendar shouldn’t be littered with too many things. Pick the three things that will help you be most effective at your current life priorities and do them as early as possible or at times that work best for you.

31. Simplify your goals.

Goals are great, but supercharge your life-plan with a singular focus. Take the advice of entrepreneur expert, John Lee Dumas, and elevate one goal to the top of your list with a completion deadline. Break that goal into smaller milestones and achieve them with the magic of your daily three priorities. When you focus on one goal at a time, it will be easier to accomplish more without feeling overwhelmed.

Now that you know the 31 secrets, apply that knowledge. You have the tools needed to break the cycle of stress and distraction, but you won’t realize the benefits if you don’t take action, so do something about it, and do it now.

Featured photo credit: Steven Businger via soest.hawaii.edu

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Roy Huff

Author, Scientist, Teacher

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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