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11 Ways to Use Less to Make 2008 Your Best Year Yet

11 Ways to Use Less to Make 2008 Your Best Year Yet

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    A few days ago, Dustin suggested that I write a post about “ways to use ___” to kick off the new year. At first, I was at a loss to fill in that blank. I couldn’t think of any gadget, program or trick that was important enough to make a year-long impact.

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    Then it hit me. Maybe the reason I was having trouble coming up with a tool that would make an impact is because I was looking at the question the wrong way. Perhaps the problem with many New Year’s Resolutions, gadgets and the latest GTD hack is that there are too many of them. Simplifying your goals, to-do lists and gadgets you use might have a better impact than adding more to the pile.

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    Simplicity Saves More than Time or Money

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    A simpler lifestyle is easier on your wallet and schedule. But probably the biggest benefit of using less is your ability to pay attention. If you clutter up your environment with objects, tasks or gadgets that aren’t really important, you steal attention away from those that do.

    I’m sure I’m not the only person who wants to do more, accomplish more and be more in the next year. Here’s a few ways you can do that by actually using less:

    1. One Book at a Time. How many bookmarks do you have, scattered in half-finished textbooks, guides and novels? Reading only one book at a time does two things. First, it forces you to finish books instead of just starting another. Second, it forces you to abandon bad books instead of leaving them in your bookshelf purgatory.
    2. Eat Simpler Foods. Meals at the latest restaurants or even your regular breakfast snack at a fast food joint can add up the cost to both your bank account and your body. Try preparing simpler foods in advance so you need to eat out less. Brown rice and homemade stir-fry can be cooked in a large batch once a week, providing healthy, cheap and simple meals.
    3. Use a Simple Exercise Plan. Neon leotards and a 40 GB iPod aren’t core requirements for a workout. If you’re just starting to get back into the gym this year, I suggest taking a simpler approach. Try jogging, push-ups or sit-ups for 30 minutes each morning. Complex exercise plans with long commutes and classes can’t complete with a plan that sticks.
    4. Simplify Your Planners. I don’t use the full-version of GTD. Although having dozens of folders, lists and project planners for every possible task may be useful for corporate executives, as a student, I find it unnecessary. One of the best changes I made in 2007 was to simplify all my lists and folders into just a calendar, to-do list and notepad. Excessive productivity tools can actually slow you down.
    5. Squeeze Your RSS Reader. What’s the point of scanning 100 feeds if you can only read 10? Quality is more important than quantity. I’d rather carefully read one good article than skim over two good articles.
    6. Focus Your Goals. What aren’t you going to accomplish in the next year? It’s easy to set ten super-important goals and accomplish nothing all year. I think it is far better to set one challenging, but realistic goal and work towards it. A friend of mine who is a published author gave this advice, “You’ve got your whole life to learn to write.” Trying to do everything at once is a recipe for completing nothing at all.
    7. Slow Down Your Morning Routine. Are mornings for you a hasty scramble from the alarm clock, chugging down a cup of coffee before a rushed getaway to work or school? I recently added reading for an hour and a half to my 5:30 wake-up time. Waking up earlier and inserting a quiet activity into your morning can give you a relaxed focus for the rest of the day.
    8. Take One Day Off Per Week. For many of you, myself included, this is probably the hardest one on this list to accomplish. Taking a day off might seem suicidal when working non-stop still doesn’t seem to get everything done. However, giving yourself some time to rest can give you more energy to take on the world for the rest of the week.
    9. Watch Less Television. Do you really need more noise in your life? I’ll be the first to admit that a bit of television can be great. But a few shows a week can quickly turn into a continuous flood, distracting you from goals, work or meaningful entertainment. If you can’t find something more fun than television, perhaps you have a different problem.
    10. Cut Down on Internet Consumption. A little surfing can soon turn into a tidal wave. Last year I batched all my internet and e-mail usage down to just thirty minutes every morning. Keeping myself unplugged for the rest of the day ensures I don’t use the net as a crutch for reading real books, having real conversations and accomplishing real work.
    11. Live a More Frugal Lifestyle. The difference, in my opinion, between being frugal and being cheap is realizing the value of money. Frugality means you save your money carefully so you can invest in the future and spend it on things that will give a lot of value. Cutting down expenses that don’t matter can help you pay down debts, invest and buy things that are important to you.
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    More by this author

    Scott H Young

    Scott is obsessed with personal development. For the last ten years, he's been experimenting to find out how to learn and think better.

    The Art of Humble Confidence 7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness Top 4 Misapplications of the 80/20 Rule How to Motivate Yourself: 13 Simple Ways to Try Now

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    1 9 Powerful Questions That Can Improve Your Quality of Life 2 Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Overcome It) 3 How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators 4 How to Be Confident: 51 Proven Ways to Build Self-Confidence 5 How to Become an Early Riser and Stay Energetic

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    Last Updated on November 12, 2020

    9 Powerful Questions That Can Improve Your Quality of Life

    9 Powerful Questions That Can Improve Your Quality of Life

    Living a quality life is about moments when things are tough and we still somehow find a way to turn things around, from fear to calm, from blame to empathy, from distraction to clarity—moments when we can be grateful for all that is right, even when so much seems wrong.

    It’s natural to complain or feel fearful when times are tough. We might not act exactly as we want to. We might make mistakes or take actions we later regret.

    However, when we get off track, I think the secret to a quality life lies in discovering how to find our way back, turn things around, make amends, find the silver lining, and sit with ourselves and others, even when we feel afraid.

    To help us do this more often—create turnarounds in our lives—I have found that asking ourselves these nine questions can help. Here are questions you can ask yourself to improve your quality of life.

    1. What Do You Value?

    If life were to end or change dramatically for you today, what would you hold most dear? What would be most important to you?

    Our lives become richer when we ask ourselves this question often and challenge ourselves to reflect on those values daily in the choices we make, thoughts we think, and words we say, day in and day out. We might get distracted or off track, but the more we connect with what matters most to us personally, the better our lives become.

    If you’re not sure how to identify your values, check out this article to get started.

    2. What Unique Gift Do People Receive By Just Being Around You?

    Sometimes, we get so caught up in life that we forget one core truth—we are unique, and as a result of that uniqueness, we each have something to offer others and the world that no one else can. That is hugely important.

    You have value that has absolutely nothing to do with what you have achieved. Your value is simply a result of being who you are.

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    Who are you when no one else is around and you are doing something you love just for the sheer joy of it? Who are you when you are alone with your thoughts?

    When you are just being you, connected to your highest self, without worrying what other people think, what do you feel like? What is your energy like? What is it like to be you? What is it like for others who are around you when you are in that state?

    This is your gift. One thing I know for sure: the more you are able to connect with that energy—that essence of who you are—and accept and let it shine, the better your life becomes.

    3. What Do You Stand for?

    If someone you love needed your help during a very difficult time, what would you want them to know? What advice would you offer that would make a difference? What is your personal message—the thing that answers most dilemmas in your life and in your opinion—that can help others the most?

    I believe moving toward a good quality of life is all about spreading our unique message, wisdom, and encouragement in whatever form it comes to us as often as possible through our actions, energy, and words.

    4. Who Do You Love Most?

    When we are in crisis, who matters most to us becomes clear. Right now, at this moment, who are the people you most love and care about? Who would you miss most if they were gone?

    The more we put our full energies into our relationships with these people—striving to be the best parent, partner, and friend we can be—the better our lives become.

    This means nurturing and cultivating these relationships, learning to listen, reaching out, telling others we care, and asking others how they’re doing. Cultivating depth in our relationships comes from being willing to learn from others, noticing the unique value they offer, and expressing gratitude.

    Truly loving means letting go of the small stuff, setting loving boundaries, doing our own work, having empathy and understanding, giving of our full selves, and reminding these special friends and family members as often as possible how much they mean to us.

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    5. What Brings You Joy?

    What truly brings you pleasure, the kind that goes deep? Is it the balance in your checkbook or when a baby reaches out her hand and offers you a toy? Is it your ribbons and trophies, or is it the rush you get when you are creating or doing something you love completely in your creative zone?

    Do you find joy when looking at photos of all the places you want to travel to some day, or looking around at the absolute miraculous beauty of where you are in this moment—like the wildflower sprouting up through a crack in the concrete or the way the sunlight is hitting your kitchen window?

    The more we focus on what is good about our lives in each moment with gratitude and honor those things that truly bring us joy, the more our joy expands.

    If you need some simple ways to practice gratitude, start here.

    6. What Makes You Laugh About Yourself?

    True humility comes with a sense of humor. When we realize how funny our foibles are, we stop taking them so seriously.

    What’s a mistake you recently made? What’s something totally embarrassing and human you have done? What’s goofy about you that makes you chuckle?

    When we gain the ability to soften around our humanity—to stop trying so hard to be perfect or the most beautiful, productive, successful, or best and instead embrace ourselves just as we are—there is a softness about us that naturally leads us to be more likable, understanding, and loving toward others.

    This is not the bully kind of laughing at yourself that is mean and critical. This is the sheepish kind of laughter that is kind and magnetic, the sort of humility when we don’t take ourselves too seriously and are authentically okay with not always being okay.

    7. What Do You Really Want to Create?

    Having a sense of purpose makes life better[1]. Research has shown that even at the end of life, having a project that gives a sense of purpose improves the quality of life. We remember our value, and we have something worthwhile to dive into when we need a positive distraction.

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    Improve your quality of life through a sense of purpose

      One study found that having a strong sense of purpose even decreased mortality in people over age 50 as it improves both physical and mental health[2].

      What is something you want to create? What is a pursuit that makes your heart sing?

      It doesn’t have to be your job or business. It might be a garden or an artistic project. It might be creating a beautiful, nurturing home.

      Whatever it is, make time for whatever it is that your soul is calling you to create in this moment, this week, and this lifetime. Pouring your whole self into it will improve your quality of life.

      8. What Isn’t Working (What Are You Doing About It)?

      What are those small things that are nagging you? What are you doing about them? Rather than complaining (which we all do), what’s your plan? What can you do today to start fixing them?

      There is so much in our lives that are out of our control, but there is a lot that is in our control that we often don’t take time to do.

      The small stuff matters, whether it’s clutter, wanting to be more fit, or cleaning up your neighborhood. If there’s something you find yourself complaining about a lot (even if it’s just in the privacy of your mind), what is one simple step you can take today to improve it?

      Little steps go a long way when done consistently and strung all together. Just for today, choose to do one small thing to make your life better. Maybe your biggest complaint will one day become your greatest turn-around story.

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      9. What Helps You Turn Things Around?

      What is your unique strategy for turning things around when life isn’t going as well as you’d like it to? What helps you to reach out, forgive, repair relationships, or find things to be grateful for in difficult moments?

      What helps you turn around when you’re heading down a path towards being in a bad mood? What helps you change your mindset, take your power back when feeling overwhelmed, and choose to do good in the world and your own heart?

      There is not a simple formula for creating a better quality of life. Only you know what works best for you. Only you can turn your mood, relationships, self-care, and life around. Only you can change a ho-hum moment into one of the best of your life.

      Final Thoughts

      Asking the above questions can help you uncover your personal formula for improving the quality of your life. You might want to bookmark this article and over the next nine days, ask yourself one of these questions, one per day.

      Journal about it, discuss it with a friend, and be on the lookout for your personal ah-has in order to start improving your long-term life satisfaction.

      You already have the formula you need to improve the quality of your life. You just have to uncover it and apply what your soul already knows about how to create the best life for you.

      More on Improving Your Quality of Life

      Featured photo credit: Thought Catalog via unsplash.com

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