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8 Ways To Declutter Your Life

8 Ways To Declutter Your Life

We all know that life can be quite hectic and out of control. Drama and complications come from the lack of control over our lives. I assure you, some of them can be easily controlled and eliminated if you try out these easy tips. So, let’s get to it! (Yes, minimizing complications already.)

1. Know your priorities

People get distracted and procrastinate; it’s part of being human, but when is it too much and too late? At work or school, remember to keep your attention on the assignments at hand. Any urgent tasks should be dealt with immediately and not be put off.

Focus on what needs to be done right now and choose to do the things that would make the most difference. After you have accomplished that, ask yourself what other areas need the most of your time.

What haven’t you been doing that you know you should do? Knowing what you need to do first will give you a sense of control over your life, and thus, less drama. If you have time, here is some further reading if you need more help getting to know your priorities.

2. Keep a well-organized schedule

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    If you don’t already keep a schedule, then go right now and make one! Having a well-organized schedule will make your life so much easier. Whether you like old-fashion calendars or mobile apps, the act of keeping track of future events will dramatically decrease the likelihood of complications.

    Once you start a schedule, you can conveniently see what is planned for the future and not be overwhelmed by upcoming events because you have had time to prepare yourself for them.

    The perks of an organized schedule do not stop here. You can also look back at how you spent your time and improve your time management skills.

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    Perhaps some meetings could have been completed in an hour. Perhaps you are spending too little time with the people you care about and spending too much time at work. Annie Dillard once said, “How we spend our days, of course, is how we spend our lives.” What do you want your life schedule to look like?

    3. Keep a list, any list

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      As mentioned before, knowing your priorities will be helpful in decluttering your life. Like any grocery list, you put down things you want to do in the future so you won’t forget. A nicely arranged list will provide you with a visual cue to prioritize your day.

      Check out this list of good list-keeping apps! Choose one that has sharing capabilities so you can share your lists with friends, family and significant other: it certainly makes things easier when you go shopping!

      If you already keep lists, decide on three most important tasks to do in the morning every day. This way, you know exactly what needs to be done that day, and completing them will give you a sense of accomplishment! I personally love the moment I tick-off something on my to-do list!

      4. Make shortcuts for everything

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        Another way to make your life simpler is by setting up shortcuts for everything you do. These shortcuts encompass areas like work, school and everyday life. Depending on the kind of software you use most frequently, you can look up faster ways to do the same thing.

        For Windows 8 users, here is a great list of shortcuts you probably aren’t already familiar with. We use computers for the majority of our day, and by knowing how to do the same thing with the least amount of time, we can definitely accomplish more.

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        Does your job include answering emails and doing repetitive tasks? It might make your life so much easier if you establish canned responses.

        A shortcut I personally love to follow is especially handy when I have piles of work to read through. This is what I would like to call “The NV” reading method: when I need to read something really quickly, I only pick up the nouns and the verbs of the paragraph.

        Once you get used to reading like this, your brain will be able to read papers much faster as it is now trained to piece words together.

        5. Have good routines

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          In order to feel like you have control over your life, routines are one of the best ways to go about decluttering it. The ideology behind routines is that patterns make people feel safe and comfortable – everything is going exactly as planned.

          When you follow a set of patterns, it feels like nothing will go out of hand. My friend suggested a nice routine for lunches during weekdays, so that you can save time on decisions with “guaranteed results.”

          For instance, you can have Fancy Mondays to blow away the Monday blues, Taco Tuesdays, and/or Espresso Fridays to power through the last day of the week. And once routines get too boring, just throw in something you don’t usually do to bring in some unusual and surprising new flavours.

          6. Limit your social media usage

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            A lot of our everyday drama comes from social media. People often compare their own lives to their friends’ Facebook updates, but what they often do not see is the ugly side of everyone’s lives. Who would post that on Facebook, right?

            Social media is also the prime evil of procrastination – you know you’ve spent more time up there then you should have. Now, there is a new browser application that enables you to limit your usage. Key in the websites your rational side knows you shouldn’t be spending so much time on, and go cold turkey!

            7. Separate different circles of friends

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              The more your co-workers know about your daily life, the more awkward things get! Try your best not to let your actual life intersect with your work life; the further apart they are, the less drama and gossip there will be.

              The workplace is a very competitive environment – you would not want any untrue rumors to go around about you that may have a drastic effect on your reputation.

              Depending on what kind of a job you have, letting your clients know about your private life may also affect your professionalism. They might no longer see you as someone with the authority and power you had before. Sometimes it’s crucial to be a little distant!

              8. Spend time with the right people

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                We all have limited amount of free time each day, so who do you choose to spend it with? Here’s a simple list of questions that will make the decision easier:

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                1. Do you feel yourself and comfortable around them? If you have a full-time job, you might not get enough rest and relaxation every day, so it’s important that you can be yourself during your off-hours.

                2. Can you tell the truth when something upsets you? Who we tell the truth to is, of course, who we should spend the most time with. If you have to put on a mask when you hang out with someone, he or she probably isn’t the best person you should spend your time with.

                3. Are you genuinely happy and satisfied when you are with them? Some people spend time with the kind of friends they believe will make them happy. It can be tiring and impractical to rely on someone for your mood – be the person you want to spend time with. Know exactly what makes you smile from the bottom of your heart, and then you know who to spend your time with.

                4. Do they tell you the truth? The truth isn’t always the sweetest thing to hear, but we need to hear it anyways. Who else would tell it to your face, if not someone who truly cares about you?

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                  We’re all unique, bar-code unique. So, some tips are not meant to be followed rigorously as everyone’s situation is different. These are simply suggestions that you may find helpful to dedramatize and declutter your life! Say YES to a simpler life!

                  Featured photo credit: Hipster Wallpaper HDW via heavyeditorial.files.wordpress.com

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                  Last Updated on July 17, 2019

                  The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

                  The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

                  What happens in our heads when we set goals?

                  Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

                  Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

                  According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

                  Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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                  Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

                  Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

                  The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

                  Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

                  So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

                  Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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                  One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

                  Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

                  Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

                  The Neurology of Ownership

                  Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

                  In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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                  But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

                  This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

                  Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

                  The Upshot for Goal-Setters

                  So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

                  On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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                  It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

                  On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

                  But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

                  More About Goals Setting

                  Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

                  Reference

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