The first week of August is National Simplify Your Life week, so here are 5 quick and easy ways to simplify your life.
Sometimes, all that I have to do and all that I have filling my days can be simply overwhelming. So much so, that I don’t seem to get anything done. And here I am, a professional organizer and librarian. I’m not supposed to have days like this. Right? Wrong! Everyone has times when we take on too much or get lax or overwhelmed going through the demands of life.
So now that summer is wrapping up and we look ahead to new school routines coming up oh so fast, I thought this would be a good time to share some of my favorite ways to simplify life. Most of these are quick and easy and once you get in the habit of doing them, you can feel less stressed and more in control of your daily routines.
Throw out all of the ink pens that don’t work.
I started out with a nice easy task for a quick sense of accomplishment! 🙂
If you are like me, you have pens all over your house – in the kitchen, at your desk, in your car. It is so frustrating to grab and pen and find out it doesn’t work! Take a few minutes, grab some scratch paper and doodle away. If the pens don’t work, toss them. This is such a fast and easy way to declutter and you’ll also know the pens will work next time you need one.
Here are some other quick ways to declutter: 5 things to declutter in 5 minutes!
Prepare for the next day the night before.
Get your whole family into the routine of preparing for the day the night before. Make sure homework is in its proper folder and gym clothes are in the backpack. Do as much prep work for lunch boxes (both yours and the kids’) as you can the night before. Put snacks, carrots, and other items in snack bags ready to go, etc.
Did you bring work home from the office? Get it back in your briefcase and have it right by the door, ready to go in the morning. (Make sure you didn’t leave the flash drive your presentation is on in the USB drive of your computer. Trust me. I know this one from experience…)
Heading to the gym after work? Have gym clothes and sneakers in a bag by the door. Kids have practice after school? Make sure their uniform and equipment is packed all together, so 1) you know it is clean and all the parts are there, and 2) you won’t have to make a trip home to get it.
Make a to-do list. Then prioritize it.
Check your family calendar. We keep ours on the fridge and it has all of the family’s appointments, school activities, meetings, and anything else going on. Make a list of all that needs to be accomplished in a day or the week. Then go back over the list and head the list with those things that MUST be done and then those things that you’d like to get done, but aren’t as important. Making a list helps keep you focused on all that needs to be done and is a great way to stay motivated as you complete tasks and cross them off the list.
My hubby asked me to create a honey-do list for him as I see things that need fixed. I keep this on the fridge, too, and it’s a great way to make sure that squeaky door gets oiled or the batteries in the smoke alarms get changed, etc. It is awesome that he is so handy, and he also prioritizes the jobs to complete in their order of importance or by how much time he has 🙂
Just say “no.”
Sometimes we find ourselves agreeing to every demand for our time and talent that we get so bogged down it seems as if there isn’t time to breathe, let alone do all that you have committed to. Take some time and really take a hard look at all of your commitments. Are there ones that you can delegate to others? Are there ones that you are doing because someone asked and you just couldn’t bring yourself to say no?
Go through your list and decide which things you feel are most important for YOU to do. Once you have made that list, find ways to either delegate the other items to others or by simply biting the bullet and apologizing and telling the person who asked you to take it on that you simply cannot do it.
I remember hearing a sermon once where the pastor asked people to think twice when the church is asking for nursery workers and you don’t like dealing with children, but you sign up anyway because they really need help, because you will be miserable and the kids you are watching will be miserable, too.
We all have our own talents and we need to use them, but we also need to be able to have the TIME to do them to the best of our ability, and we can’t do that when we are juggling too many commitments. So, practice just saying no. It will allow you to really do the things you have committed to well.
“A place for everything, and everything in its place.”
I love this quote from Isabella Beeton in her famous book of practical advice to help English Victorian housewives, Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management. This is simple but sage advice and is what I try to live by.
When I help clients with organizing, I use this quotation with them. As they go through a space and decide how best to organize it. I tell them to look at each individual item and ask themselves, “If I was looking for this item, where is the first place I would look.” And that is where I tell them they should keep it.
So, if you are feeling overwhelmed with all of the stuff in your junk drawer or garage or hall closet, for example, take some time, look at each item and decide first of all, if it something you want or need to keep, and second, where is the best place for it to “live” so you can instantly find it the next time you look for it.
So, I hope you will try some (or all) of these ideas of how to simplify life. Like I said earlier, most of these are quick and easy (well, except the saying no part. But, I am working on that one). And take it from me, once you get in the habit of doing these things, you will feel less stressed and find you can accomplish much more each day.