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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.