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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.

    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 How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

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    1 7 Helpful Reminders When You Want to Make Big Life Changes 2 Why Do I Procrastinate? 5 Root Causes & How to Tackle Them 3 9 Powerful Questions That Can Improve Your Quality of Life 4 How to Plan Your Life Goals and Actually Achieve Them 5 20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

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    Last Updated on September 15, 2020

    7 Helpful Reminders When You Want to Make Big Life Changes

    7 Helpful Reminders When You Want to Make Big Life Changes

    Overcoming fear and making life changes is hard. It’s even harder when it’s a big change—breaking up with someone you love, leaving your old job, starting your own business, or hundreds of other difficult choices.

    Even if it’s obvious that making a big change will be beneficial, it can be tough. Our mind wants to stay where it’s comfortable, which means doing the same things we’ve always done[1].

    We worry: how do we know if we’re making the right decision? We wish we knew more. How do we make a decision without all of the necessary information?

    We feel stuck. How do we get past fear and move forward with that thing we want to do?

    Well, I certainly don’t have all the answers, but here are 7 things to remember when you want to move forward and make positive life changes.

    1. You’ll Never Have All the Information

    We often avoid making important decisions because we want more information before we make a tough call.

    Yes, it’s certainly true that you need to do your research, but if you’re waiting for the crystal clear answer to come to you, then you’re going to be waiting a long time. As humans, we are curious creatures, and our need for information can be paralyzing.

    Life is a series of guesses, mistakes, and revisions. Make the best decision you can at the time and continue to move forward. This also means learning to listen to and trust your intuition. Here’s how.

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    2. Have the Courage to Trust Yourself

    We make all sorts of excuses for not making important life changes, but the limiting belief that often underlies many of them is that we don’t trust ourselves to do the right thing.

    We think that if we get into a new situation, we won’t know what to do or how to react. We’re worried that the uncharted territory of the future will be too much for us to handle.

    Give yourself more credit than that.

    You’ve dealt with unexpected changes before, right? And when your car got a flat tire on the way to work, how did that end up? Or when you were unexpectedly dumped?

    In the end, you were fine.

    Humans are amazingly adaptable, and your whole life has been helping you develop skills to face unexpected challenges.

    Have enough courage to trust yourself. No matter what happens, you’ll figure out a way to make it work.

    3. What’s the Worst That Could Happen?

    Like jealousy, most of your fears are created in your own head.

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    When you actually sit down and think about the worst case scenario, you’ll realize that there are actually very few risks that you can’t recover from.

    Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Once you realize the worst isn’t that bad, you’ll be ready to crush it.

    When you’re preparing to make a big life change, write down all of the things you’re afraid of. Are you afraid of failing? Of looking silly? Of losing money? Of being unhappy?

    Then, address each fear by writing down ways you can overcome them. For example, if you’re afraid of losing money, can you take a few months to save up a safety net?

    4. It’s Just as Much About the Process as It Is About the Result

    We’re so wrapped up in results when we think about major life changes. We worry that if we start out towards a big goal, then we might not make it to the finish line.

    However, you’re allowed to change your mind. And failing will only help you learn what not to do next time.

    Furthermore, just because you don’t reach the final goal doesn’t mean you failed. You chose the goal in the first place, but you’re allowed to alter it if you find that the goal isn’t working out the way you hoped. Failure is not a destination, and neither is success.

    Enjoy the process of moving forward[2].

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    5. Continue to Pursue Opportunity

    If you’re on the fence about a big decision, then you might be worried about getting locked into a position that you can’t escape from.

    Think about it a different way. New choices rarely limit your options.

    In fact, new pursuits often open up even more opportunities. One of the best things about going after important goals with passion is that they open up chances and options that you never could have expected in the beginning.

    If you pursue the interesting opportunities that arise along the path to your goal, then you can be sure that you’ll always have choices.

    6. Effort Matters, So Use It

    It sounds simple, but one of the big reasons we don’t make life changes is because we don’t try. And we don’t try because then it’s easy to make excuses for why we don’t get what we want.

    Flunked that test? Are you stupid? “Of course I’m not stupid. I just didn’t study. I would have gotten an A if I actually studied.”

    Stuck in a job you hate? Why haven’t you found a new job yet? “Well, I haven’t really tried to get a new job. I could totally ace that interview if I wanted.”

    Why do we make excuses like these to ourselves? It’s because if we try and fail, then we just failed. But if we don’t try, we can chalk it up to laziness.

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    Get over it. Failure happens to everyone.

    And the funny thing is, if you actually try—because it’s pretty clear that most people aren’t trying—then you’ll win a lot more than you think.

    7. Start With Something Manageable

    You can’t climb Everest if you don’t try hiking beforehand.

    Maybe applying for your dream job seems intimidating right now. What can you start with today?

    Can you talk to someone who already has that position and see what they think makes them successful? Can you improve your skills so you meet one of the qualifications? Can you take a free online course to expand your resume?

    Maybe you’re not quite ready for a long-term relationship, but you know you want to start dating. Could you try asking out a mutual friend? Can you go out more with friends to practice your communication skills and meet new people?

    You don’t need to be a world changer today; you just need to make small life changes in your own world.

    More Tips to Help You Make Life Changes

    Featured photo credit: Victor Rodriguez via unsplash.com

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