In today’s world, it’s normal to be busy and all too easy to feel overwhelmed. With an ever-increasing list of things that demand our time and attention, unlimited access to an endless stream of information and a worldwide culture that values "busyness" as a sign of productivity, it can be tough to step back and find ways to slow down and take time to really enjoy life.
When you’re trying to keep up with the frantic pace of the world around you, you’ll often find yourself craving a little more structure, simplicity, and joy in your day-to-day routine.
If you’re wanting to simplify, but finding it hard to know where to start, here are five tips that can help on your road to a happier, more peaceful life.
Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize!
You can’t simplify your life without first determining your priorities. Make a list of all the things that place demands on your time, and try separating them into 2 or 3 categories in order of importance. Which tasks are of utmost importance for the health and well-being of your family? Which are fun and rewarding, but ultimately elective?
Create a daily or weekly schedule ranking everything you need to accomplish in order of importance. Aim to complete the “must do” tasks first, then move to others on the list. If you find yourself running out of time, energy, or stamina before you get to the bottom of the list, that’s okay! Be realistic with the expectations you set for yourself, and remember that non-urgent tasks can always be reassigned to another day or week.
Learn when to say "no"
Although it can be tough to turn down a fun invitation or decline taking on an important responsibility, it’s important to learn that sometimes, you need to say “no.”
If you feel you can’t perform a task somebody has asked you to do, gently but firmly explain that you won’t be able to take that on, right now. If you’ve been invited to do something that you know you’d love to do, but simply don’t have time at the moment, suggest rescheduling the event. If that’s not possible, it’s okay to gracefully bow out.
Remember that only you can know your own needs and limitations. Safeguarding your time and resources will help you to have more to give to those around you. Sometimes, a simple and loving “no” can be exactly what you need to help combat the overwhelming feeling that comes from being too busy.
Recognize when things aren’t as important as they seem
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and overworked by your everyday responsibilities, it can seem likeeverything that demands your time is of crucial importance. Nearly always, however, closer inspection will reveal that this isn’t quite true.
Many things that feel important and urgent turn out, after a closer look, to be less important than we think. Be honest with yourself in acknowledging which responsibilities really are crucial, and which are assignments that you’ve taken on yourself. Remember that it’s sometimes OK to let go of less-important tasks — as Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, “A wise man once distinguished between ‘the noble art of getting things done’ and ‘a nobler art of leaving things undone’” (emphasis added).
De-clutter and don’t buy things you won’t use
Nothing can complicate simple living as quickly as a house filled with things you don’t really need. Take a hard look at the toys, gadgets, media, and other material things in your home — are they necessary? Are they used often? Do they help make your life easier, or do they seem to get in the way and make clean-up more difficult?
Take a weekend to clean and de-clutter your home, letting go of things that aren’t meaningful or helpful to you. Consider donating what you don’t need to a charity or thrift store.
It’s also important to be careful in the purchases you make. Will this purchase simply add to the clutter in your home, or will it serve a useful purpose? Try not to buy things you won’t be using often. Think about getting books, movies, and other media from a local library or similar source — not only will it save shelf space and cut down on the clutter in your home, it will save you money.
Take time for yourself
As you work to re-organize your schedule and simplify your life, don’t forget to take time for yourself. Giving yourself the chance to rest and rejuvenate by doing something you love will help you move forward and accomplish the things you need without feeling drained and overwhelmed.
Although it can seem daunting at first, implementing some of these simplification tips into your life can help you find the extra measure of peace and fulfillment that you crave. You might just be surprised — often, you’ll be able to get moredone when you’re making sure to stay organized, de-clutter your schedule and your home, and take time for yourself.