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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 March 21, 2019

                  11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

                  11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

                  Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

                  You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

                  But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

                  To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

                  It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

                  “What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

                  The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

                  In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

                  Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

                  1. Start Small

                  The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

                  Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

                  Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

                  Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

                  Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

                  Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

                  It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

                  Do less today to do more in a year.

                  2. Stay Small

                  There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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                  But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

                  If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

                  When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

                  I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

                  Why?

                  Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

                  The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

                  Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

                  3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

                  No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

                  There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

                  What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

                  Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

                  This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

                  This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

                  4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

                  When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

                  There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

                  Peter Drucker said,

                  “What you track is what you do.”

                  So track it to do it — it really helps.

                  But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

                  5. Measure Once, Do Twice

                  Peter Drucker also said,

                  “What you measure is what you improve.”

                  So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

                  For reading, it’s 20 pages.
                  For writing, it’s 500 words.
                  For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
                  For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

                  Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

                  6. All Days Make a Difference

                  Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

                  Will two? They won’t.

                  Will three? They won’t.

                  Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

                  What happened? Which one made you fit?

                  The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

                  No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

                  7. They Are Never Fully Automated

                  Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

                  But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

                  What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

                  It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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                  The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

                  It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

                  It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

                  8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

                  Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

                  Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

                  When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

                  The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

                  Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

                  9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

                  The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

                  Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

                  You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

                  But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

                  So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

                  If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

                  This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

                  The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

                  Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

                  10. Punish Yourself

                  Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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                  I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

                  It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

                  You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

                  No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

                  The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

                  But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

                  11. Reward Yourself

                  When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

                  Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

                  The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

                  After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

                  If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

                  Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

                  If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

                  In the End, It Matters

                  What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

                  When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

                  And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

                  “Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

                  Keep going.

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                  More Resources to Help You Build Habits

                  Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

                  Reference

                  [1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
                  [2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
                  [3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
                  [4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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