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The Secret to Living a Happier Life? Follow the Rule of Less Is More

The Secret to Living a Happier Life? Follow the Rule of Less Is More

There are a plethora of self-help books that will guide you towards leading a happier life. Maybe you’ve bought the majority of them and even applied a lot of what’s been said. But do we really need all this advice? If there could be one habit we could adopt to be generally more happy it would make our path to happiness and wellbeing much easier.

So what is it? Well, it’s the concept of ‘less is more’ or, in other words, taking a more minimalist approach to life.

What Minimalist Living Really Means

Minimalist living may conjure up images of a bare house or cutting down on the stuff we enjoy – in other words, we must sacrifice enjoyment to be happy. Our modern world offers us so much to choose from and surely living minimally means we’re not taking the full advantage of what we can have, right?

It doesn’t have to mean giving up on our favourite things or getting rid of all our home comforts. As a concept, what minimalist living really means is recognising your worth more than the worth of material things.

We can get very caught up in the things we want – those things that satisfy short-term – instead of focusing on what we need. Another way of looking at it is giving ourselves the sense of freedom – freedom from the external things and freedom from the need for possession.

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This doesn’t have to be a life-changing task but rather a shift in mindset and perspective towards what you consider is important to you.

How Living Minimally Will Benefit Your Life

There are so many benefits to creating a more minimalist life, not just for your physical living space but for your positivity of mind – it’s a process of decluttering and decluttering can do wonders for our general wellbeing.

It allows us to refocus on what’s important, creating more energy and time for ourselves. Buying and maintaining the stuff we have is a real money drainer so eliminating possessions also eliminates worry and stress, opening up a sense of breathing space.

But It Also Comes With Difficulties…

Many of us find this a hard concept to put into practice. As mentioned before, we live in a time when we’re bombarded with a never-ending selection of stuff at our fingertips. Society makes it so there’s a certain expectation – we can’t live without a mobile phone, we should keep up with the latest fashions, we need to continually upgrade to make sure we’re not falling behind.

All this can make it difficult to declutter our lives and take on a new way of approaching how we live. But once you start considering yourself, your self-worth and what’s important to you rather than what’s important to your society, it can be a truly freeing experience.

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Put It Into Action: Ways To Go Minimalist

Becoming minimalist doesn’t have to happen overnight. Making small shifts is a better way to sustain a long-term perspective on decluttering. Starting the process little by little will help you to feel a slow but sure difference in the way you approach life and ultimately make you feel lighter and happier.

1. Clear Out Your Wardrobe

The best way to start is with your clothes. How many of your clothes sit in the wardrobe or drawers only to be pulled out once or twice a year – or more than likely never? This process of throwing out items of clothing can be a very liberating experience. More often than not, they are taking up unnecessary space and you’ll be surprised at how much you won’t even notice they’re gone once you’ve thrown them out.

Give yourself a challenge of getting rid of any clothes you haven’t worn in the last 6 months. Watch as your stressful mornings of outfit dilemmas disappear.

2. Do The Food Challenge

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Eating well is a must but our shopping bills can be way more expensive than they need to be. Enjoying minimalist living doesn’t mean scrimping on good food and eating the same boring meals every day in the name of ‘less is more’. Being savvy with the types of food we buy and finding interesting recipes that use cheap and tasty ingredients, can slash our shopping bill by more than we think. It’s about training ourselves to shop smart and really be mindful of the choices we make.

3. Declutter Your Living Space

It’s very tempting to buy decorations that will look good in our home but over time it can add up. Once we’re used to stuff being around us we’re almost blind to it. Take time to really look around and see what needs to go. Keep the things that are meaningful or really suit the scheme of your home and consider giving away things that don’t have a place anymore. This can include furniture or the accumulation of kitchen utensils – remember duplicates are rarely necessary!

4. Travel Lightly

How often when travelling, do you pack way too much? We think of every possible scenario that could potentially happen that justifies taking much more than we need. Most of the time we don’t use half the stuff we take. So if you’re going for a week then pack for 3 or 4 days. Not only will you have less to carry, but you’ll realise you can live with a smaller choice.

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5. Declutter Your Mind From Social Media

It’s normal these days to be glued to our phone and check social media several times a day but is it really necessary? How many times do you scroll through your Facebook feed and think why am I looking at this again?!

This approach to minimalism is purely for your mind. Give your brain a rest and make a conscious effort to not check social media. Don’t beat yourself up when you do, but just note when you do it and question yourself. Over time you will notice you check it much less and you’ll feel happier for it.

So, adopt the ‘less is more’ philosophy and see how decluttering your life will work wonders for your mind and perspective on what really makes you happy.

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Jenny Marchal

A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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Last Updated on November 3, 2020

How to Use the Prioritization Matrix When Every Task is #1

How to Use the Prioritization Matrix When Every Task is #1

It takes being productive to get things done correctly and on time. So how do you know which tasks are essential and which can wait? The answer is in the Prioritization Matrix, also known as the Eisenhower Matrix.

The matrix took its name after Dwight David Eisenhower.

Eisenhower was a general in the US army and the 34th President of the United States from 1953 to 1961. As a five-star general and a Supreme Commander in the US Army, he drafted the strategy for an Allied invasion of Europe.[1]

Eisenhower had to make tough decisions every time about which tasks to prioritize out of many he needed to focus on daily. So, he came up with the famous Eisenhower Matrix, or the Prioritization Matrix.

What Is the Prioritization Matrix?

The Prioritization Matrix is a tool for rating your tasks based on urgency. It helps you know the critical activities and those tasks that you should bypass and can be useful in project management, small businesses, or personal tasks.

Eisenhower famously said of the matrix:

“Most tasks that are urgent are not important, and most tasks that are important are not urgent.”

This quote became the maxim for Eisenhower in managing his time.

There are four quadrants in the Prioritization Matrix, which help in comparing choices of what to do first and last, allowing you to prioritize projects and create strategic plan[2].

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Eisenhower Matrix Template

    The quadrants are:

    • Do
    • Schedule
    • Delegate
    • Eliminate

    Do

    Do is the first quadrant in the Prioritization Matrix, and it incorporates important activities. That is, those tasks you need to carry out urgently — crises, deadlines, and issues that need your urgent attention and are highly relevant to your life mission.

    Hw do you know which task falls into this quadrant?

    Start by analyzing your priorities, and then establish if it falls within the ‘do it now’ criteria. If the task is achievable within a day, or within 24 to 48 hours, it’s urgent.

    Another approach you can adopt in prioritizing tasks in this category is to adopt the “eat the frog” principle by Mark Twain. This principle recommends that you do the most urgent activities as soon as you wake up.

    Here’s a practical example.

    Let’s say you need to draft a content strategy and submit a report to your manager. It’s Saturday, and the deadline for submission is Monday. Can we say the activity is urgent? Definitely!

    Schedule

    The second quadrant of the prioritization matrix is Schedule. The Prioritization Matrix classifies tasks in this category as important but not that urgent.

    They are long-term objectives and tasks with no immediate deadline. Those tasks could include meditation, journaling, studying, family time, and exercising.

    You can plan out activities in this quadrant for some other period. For instance, you should exercise for good health, but you can allocate time to do it.

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    Schedule these activities in such a way that they don’t transfer to the “Do” or “Urgent” quadrant. Ensure you have sufficient time to carry them out.

    Delegate

    The third quadrant of the prioritization matrix is Delegate.

    These tasks are not important to you but are quite urgent for others. This is where teamwork comes into play.

    You can technically perform tasks in this category, but it makes sense to delegate them. Delegating tasks will ensure you have more time to pursue activities in your first two quadrants.

    You should also monitor the tasks you have delegated. It will only amount to a sheer waste of time if you don’t have a tracking system for delegated tasks.

    Eliminate

    The last quadrant highlights your productivity killers. They are tasks that are not important to your goals and not urgent. The only way to boost your productivity is to eliminate them.

    Some examples are constantly checking your phone, watching movies, or playing video games.

    They could also be bad habits that you need to identify and delete from your daily and weekly schedule.

    Successful people have learned how to prioritize and stick to what’s important. They have learned to find a better person for a task or eliminate less significant tasks.

    Let’s consider two inspiring personalities that have designed their prioritization system.

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    Warren Buffet developed a two-list prioritization model to determine which task deserves his best attention. The bottom line is bypassing things that are important and useful but not top of the priorities.

    Mark Ford, a business advisor, marketer, self-made millionaire, and author devised his strategy:

    “Start work on the most crucial priority, take a break, work on the second most important task, take a break, then sort out the less important activities and any tasks he received from other individuals by afternoon.” [3]

    How to Use The Prioritization Matrix

    Using the Prioritization Matrix can be tricky if you’re new at it, but by following a few simple steps, you can learn to utilize it in the best way possible.

    1. List and Rank Your Priorities

    Highlight all the tasks you need to carry out in a day. Then, classify them with weighted criteria based on urgency and importance.

    Identify any activity that requires prompt action. I’m referring to a task that if you don’t complete that day, it could produce a grave consequence. For instance, if you don’t submit your content strategy, other content writers cannot work. It means you need to check for high-priority dependencies.

    2. Define the Value

    The next step is to examine the importance and assess which of them impacts your business or organization the most. As a rule of thumb, you can check which tasks possess higher priority over others. For instance, you need to attend to client’s requirements before you take care of any internal work.

    You can also estimate value by examining how the task impacts the people and customers in the organization. In a nutshell, the more impact a task has on people or the organization, the higher the priority.

    3. Take out the Most Challenging Task

    Procrastination is not a symptom of laziness, but avoidance is. The truth is that you will typically avoid tasks you don’t want to do. The former CEO of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein, once said he would take out the most dreaded task first thing when he got to the office.

    Brian Tracy called these tasks the frogs you need to eat. That will remove the nagging dread, which mounts pressure on you when you postpone necessary tasks[4]. This is where the Prioritization Matrix can help; eat the “Do” frogs immediately.

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    If you need help overcoming procrastination, check out this article.

    4. Know What’s Important to You

    As long as you are in this cosmos, you will always encounter different choices that may be contradictory to your goals. For instance, a fantastic promotion that requires excessive travel will isolate you from important relationships. If you are not priority-conscious, you may accept it, even though your family is your priority.

    Therefore, it makes sense to identify what is important to you and to prepare yourself not to compromise those important things for immediate pleasure or gain.

    Yogi Berra captioned it this way:

    “If you do not know your destination, you might end up somewhere else.”

    5. Establish Regular “No Work” Time

    YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki established a rule not to check her emails between 6 pm and 9 pm. According to a CNN Business report, she was the first woman to request maternity leave when Google just got started. She prioritizes dinner time with her family despite being the CEO of YouTube[5].

    Is it possible to cut out time for our relationships and interests outside of work?

    Of course, and that’s why you need to set out your “no work” time. This approach will enable you to renew your energy levels for the next task. Also, you will be in the best position to introspect as you are not in your usual work zone.

    6. Know When to Stop

    You can achieve everything on your list sometimes. After you have prioritized your workload and assessed your estimates, remove the remaining tasks from your priority list and focus on your most urgent and important tasks.

    Conclusion

    It’s not enough to be successful at work. Ensure you make out time for your family and an important relationship in your life.

    Getting started and finding time may be tricky, but with some practice using the Prioritization Matrix, you’ll find that you are more productive and better able to divide your time between the things that are important to you.

    More Tips on Prioritizing

    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

    Reference

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