10 Steps to Simplifying Your Day

At this time of year, it seems that we go out of our minds with stress and anxiety.

And despite the frenzy, we still think that if we only work hard enough, we can achieve balance.

Why we do this to ourselves over and over again I don’t know.  But I do know that in order to be happy, it’s got to stop.

That’s why this year, I urge you to forget the word “balance” and replace it with “simplify.”

See, I’ve come to realize that the trying to achieve balance is a constant letdown.  Life is too busy for our days to be balanced.  It’s an organic, ever-evolving changing thing that develops every minute, hour and day. Trying to make it balanced is asking too much.  But simplifying it does seem to create a peace within.

Here’s a few ways to incorporate it into your own daily life:

1.  Write it all down. That way you’ll see what you have to do and you can realistically see what you can accomplish right now and what you should delegate and schedule for another time.  It only takes a moment or two, but it’ll save you bundles in the end.

2. Plan. Even if you don’t stick to it exactly, having your day planned out by the hour will help you stay on track and focused.  You can do it the night before or the morning of, as long as you have some guide to follow, you’ll get more done than you ever possibly could by simply trying to remember it all off the top of your head.

3.  Gather. Grouping together like items such as errands and phone calls will help you breeze through your to-do list.  If you’re heading out to the post office, why not drop off the dry cleaning, take your watch in for repair and pick up those birthday cards that you’re going to need for next month?

4.  Eat a balanced meal. Eating well will give you the energy to do it all and last throughout the day.  It will also keep you from reaching for sweets or junk food during stressful moments.  It’s one that most people skip and don’t realize the difference it can make.

5. Take a break. Look, your list is really, really long.  Take a break – replenish and rejuvenate.  Read a magazine, have a cup of tea, go for a walk.  It’s important not to burn out midday and then feel like you haven’t accomplished anything.

6. Say No. This is the hardest one for me to follow.  Saying that you can’t do something means more time to do the things you really want or need to do.  This is a crucial and difficult one, but it does get easier the more you do it.

7.  Clear. Are you distracted by all the stuff on your desk?  Clear it out.  Get rid of it.  It doesn’t have to be perfect, but the neater your desk, the clearer your mind.  Think I’m wrong?  Try it and see.

8.  Delete. Are you trying to get EVERYONE in the office a holiday present or do you always go overboard with gifts and cards?  Reduce your list by removing at least half.  It’s easier than you think.  Is your email bulging from too much mail?  Unsubscribe from all those newsletters and forget about keeping everything.  It’s time to clean house, once and for all!

9. Change it up. Are you cleaning every day?  Try changing it to every other day or once or twice a week.  You’ll see it’s not so bad.  Are you doing something because you feel you should?  Think about the reasons behind it – have you outgrown it or are you ready to shed your guilt about it?  Then go ahead!  Doesn’t it feel like time for a change?

10. Do what feels right. Often the easiest way to simplify is listening to your gut, following your instincts?  Want to get rid of that vase even though Aunt Cathy gave it to you?  It’s okay.  You don’t have to hold onto everything (in fact, you really shouldn’t) Want to stop being friends with an emotional vampire?  Go right ahead.  It’s your life and only you can decide how to spend your time, so spend it wisely!

Now you’ve only got a few things left to do and cross off.

Ahhh… Doesn’t that feel much, much better?

Stephanie Dickison is the author of the recent book, The 30-Second Commute: A Non-Fiction Comedy About Writing & Working From Home, which covers her career as book, music and restaurant critic.  She has been a journalist for over a decade and now spends much of her time writing about travel, food, beauty, style and celebrities for various publications and websites.

When she’s not writing, she’s eating, cooking, organizing, filing, making lists in sumptuous notebooks (you must use your beautiful journals) and colour-coding her ever evolving calendar.

She is one of the few writers still using technology AND paper.  But at least her paper is organized into pretty file folders…