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11 Habits that Will Make Your Life Simpler

11 Habits that Will Make Your Life Simpler

More and more we are realizing that simpler is better: that when we simplify our lives the better they get. From a young age I realized that happiness was in simplicity, but it took me many years to realize how to make it work — to realize that the adoption of routines and habits could make my life better, not boring.

Here are 11 habits that I have adopted over the years that have contributed to making my life easier, and a lot happier!

Give Your Kids a Routine

To many parents, living with routine is a normal part of life. It took me until the birth of my third child to accept and adopt routines. I was 24 when I had my first child, too young and cool to accept structure in my life. I loved spontaneity and resisted routine. It took me ten years to realize I wasn’t doing myself any favors. Stick to bedtimes, mealtimes and bath times. Kids feel more secure in the structure and you get to have more relaxed free time for yourself.

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Plan Your Week in Advance

Use a calendar and plan your week. Include all appointments, meetings and work that needs to be done. You are much more likely to do the work if it is scheduled in your calendar. Your calendar is the number one tool to beat procrastination.

Write Things Down

Get everything out of your head weekly. Write down all your tasks, responsibilities, ideas, goals and dreams. By getting everything out of your head you are not going around with an overloaded brain, which disturbs your focus and ability to think clearly.

Use a Task Manager

When you get everything out of your head, you should get the tasks you need to do either into a task manager or your calendar. Tasks that are date- or time-specific should go into your calendar and all other tasks can go into your task manager. I use Evernote to store my tasks, it has the added benefit of capturing everything and giving you a place to store reference items, such as social security numbers or any other details that you may need at a moment’s notice.

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Stay Clutter-free

Clear out your home and your office regularly. The less stuff you have the less complicated your life will be. Keep it simple when it comes to personal belongings; don’t hang on to stuff that is neither useful nor beautiful. The more I clear from my house and my office, the lighter I feel. There is less to tidy and sort through each day, giving me more free time to do whatever I want.

Clean as You Go

My mommy always told me, “Clean as you go.” I was never good at taking advice, but when I finally decided to accept her wise words I started to benefit from more free time at the weekends. Always wash the dinner plates after dinner. Get the kids to clear up their toys after they finish playing with them. Try and stay alert to what needs to be put away. Tidying as you go will keep the place neat and organized.

Plan Your Meals

Plan out your meals for the week before you go shopping. It will save you time in the shops, save you money because you will eat everything you buy, and save you a lot of stress by having it all planned out. Weekly shopping and weekly meal planning are great ways to save time and money.

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Create a Budget

Keep tabs on what you spend each day and enter it into a spreadsheet for later analysis. Write in everything you spend money on in the month and look to see if you can make any savings. When you know what you spend, you can make an informed decision about whether your current spending pattern is the best way to spend your hard-earned cash. When you know how much you want to spend on shopping, entertainment, presents etc. — stick to it.

Disconnect

Having down time is essential for our health, wellbeing and sanity. Make sure you have times where you disconnect from electronics and you live in the real world for a period. Time out in nature will do you and your body good. Take back the control of your life and create a regular habit of disconnection.

Learn to Say, “No”

Helping others is a noble trait, but it is also important to recognize when helping others is making you suffer. Get into the habit of putting yourself and your family first. If you say, “Yes,” to helping someone at work, does that mean you have to say, “No,” to reading a bedtime story?

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Be Present

The more we can live in the present moment, the simpler and happier our lives will become. As Lao Tzu said:

If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the moment.

Learn to simplify your life and be grateful for all the things that you have in it. Happiness does not come from more possessions and more achievements. Happiness is in simplicity.

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Ciara Conlon

Productivity coach, speaker, blogger and author of Chaos to Control, a Practical Guide to Getting Things Done

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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