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20 Simple But Powerful Changes You Can Make To Simplify Your Life

20 Simple But Powerful Changes You Can Make To Simplify Your Life

Life is a whirlwind of people to see, places to go, and things to do. Does your life feel like a never-ending To-Do List? If so, I invite you to apply 20 simple but powerful changes you can make to simplify your life today.

1. Eliminate distractions

Disable all text notifications that serve no purpose. Facebook, Twitter, and e-mail notifications are the Big Three that are probably eating up more time than you could ever imagine.

2. Stop judging other people

Does carrying a grudge or being judgmental ever make you feel any better about yourself? It might give you temporary gratification, but is it really worth your time and effort? I don’t think so.

3. Live in the moment

How many times have you walked right past a beautiful thing without even noticing it? Look at the glorious sun, floating clouds, shining stars, and gigantic trees in your backyard. Pay attention to the beauty surrounds you every day.

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4. Spend less time behind the wheel

Stop spinning your wheels without purpose. Make grocery-shopping a weekly occasion and errand-running a monthly event. Most bills can be set-up on automatic payment, so check in with your bank and service providers to automate your financial life.

5. Compliment total strangers

There are few things more wonderful than a random compliment. The next time you go downtown, offer a kind word to a total stranger. Maybe they have a cute purse, stylish hat, or snazzy suit that you think is super neat. You just might make somebody’s day in ten words or less.

6. Cook in bulk

Who says you need to prepare a fresh meal every day? Prepare a week of meals on the least busy day-of-the-week and then all you have to do is zap them when it’s chow-time. You will be more likely to make healthy decisions and you’ll have more time for those other things you tend to put off (working out, anybody?).

7. Wake up an hour early

This simple change could make a world of difference in the quality of your morning. Wake up an hour early and you could perform a quick exercise, read a few chapters in that novel you can’t put down, prepare a delicious breakfast, or a combination of all-of-the-above.

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8. Prepare your gym gear the night before

Do you tend to skip out on your workouts? Go ahead and prepare to hit the gym the night before you do it. If you workout in the morning, lay your workout attire on your dresser so it is the very first thing you will see in the morning. If you workout after work, pack up your stuff and toss it in the car so you’ll be less likely to “run out of time” in the morning.

9. Silence your phone

Please don’t be one of those people who answers their phone when they are in line at the grocery store or out for drinks with friends. It can wait — I promise.

10. Outsource business tasks

Are you a self-employed business owner or blogger? If so, you might want to consider outsourcing certain tasks that you’re not good at. I self-publish books on Amazon, but must confess I’m a lousy graphic designer, so I would never try to produce a cover myself. I also out-source things like logo design, some marketing functions, formatting jobs, and really just about anything I can. Even if you’re operating on a shoe-string budget, you can find affordable freelancers at Fiverr and Upwork who would be happy to do a bang-up job on your project without digging a hole in your wallet.

11. Breathe

Breathing is essential to life, yet it is so easy to forget to do. When is the last time you took a few moments to breathe with intention? Short, rushed breaths will make you feel stressed out while long, deep breaths will help you become calm and cool. Focus on deep breathing while driving to work in the morning. If you’re doing it right, your belly should come forward with each inhale and move backward with each exhale.

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12. Stop complaining

Yes, gas is outrageously expensive, but what can you do about it? Maybe that restaurant meal wasn’t the best thing ever, but why would you fuss at your waiter when it wasn’t his fault? Stepping in dog poop is a bummer, but is pitching a temper tantrum going to make you feel any better? Complaining is often an exercise in futility that just makes you more stressed out, so knock it off.

13. Say “please” and “thank you”

Show appreciation to the people around you for a happier life experience for everyone involved.

14. Ask for help

You are not alone in the world, so why wouldn’t you turn to trusted friends or colleagues if you need help with something? I’m always asking my followers for feedback about book ideas. I seek guidance from mentors when I could use a gentle push in the right direction of my business goals. My friends and family are always here for me if I’m under stress and just need someone to listen. Don’t feel like you’re inconveniencing a person by asking for help, because more often than not, people enjoy offering a helping hand. This gives them an opportunity to be helpful, which will make them feel needed, and they will appreciate the fact that you thought to turn to them.

15. Slow down at the dinner table

Why are you in such a hurry all the time? As Ganhdi said, “there is more to life than increasing its speed.” Don’t shovel your food down your throat without thought process. Eat mindfully while paying attention to the aroma, texture, and taste of your food. Focus while you chew and try to imagine all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish. Slowing down will help you avoid eating past the point of fullness, which will help you lose weight.

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16. Stay positive

If it isn’t positive, don’t say it. There is already enough darkness in the world. Be a source of light.

17. Smile

Feeling down? Smile anyway (even if you don’t feel like it!). The act of smiling, be it genuine or forced, can improve your mood and reduce stress. In addition, it’s quite difficult to remain bummed out when you a beaming smile on your face (I dare you to prove me wrong).

18. Learn to say “no”

It’s wonderful to have tons of friends who are always inviting you to do things, but saying “yes” to every invite that crosses your path could make you feel overwhelmed in a hurry. I know you might be afraid of hurting someone’s feelings, but please understand that alone time is necessary for your mental health. If you’re faced with an invite you don’t want to accept, say something like, “I’m sorry, but I can’t make it. We will catch-up soon.” You also might want to click here to learn the gentle art of saying “no.”

19. Be a kid

Who says adults can’t play board-games, climb trees, blow bubbles, build sandcastles, or have a water-gun fight? You are never too old for fun.

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20. Take action

Devouring all of the personal development articles in the world won’t save you if you’re not willing to take action. I’m happy you’re reading this article because that means you want to simplify your life, but words without action are meaningless. Are you willing to commit to make a positive change? If so, leave a comment telling me what change you are going to make today.

More by this author

Daniel Wallen

Daniel is a writer who focuses on blogging about happiness and motivation at Lifehack.

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Published on May 18, 2021

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

More Tips Improving Listening Skills

Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

Reference

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