Many of us live lives of constant busyness, racing ahead of ourselves just to stay still. Yet we crave simplicity, a world governed by order and calm. Is this easier said than done? Maybe not. Try the tips suggested in this post and you may yet discover your own oasis of calm in this frenzied world of seemingly organized chaos.
1. Live by the cockroach theory
It’s a theory that proposes you determine to take time to consider your reactions to all situations so that you respond to them, rather than allow yourself the indulgence of a knee-jerk reaction.
2. Learn to say no
If you hate the thought of offending people by saying no, you’ll struggle to have a simpler life. It is hard to resist the siren call of Facebook notifications, emails from colleagues and invitations to all manner of events. If you indeed find it difficult to say no, it’s important to consider when you say ‘yes’, you are in fact already saying ‘no’ to other things, which could be your health, your wellbeing or other important aspects of your life. Practice saying no to everything, but make exceptions for those things that matter to you. It won’t be easy, and it will require your courage and perseverance, but you will benefit from a simpler life as its result. Are you a leader? Then practice Silicon Valley executive coach Greg Mckeown’s ‘essentialism’: the “disciplined, (deliberate) pursuit of less”. It is the practice of focusing only on the few things that lead to success as Mckeown describes in this YouTube video.
3. Accept your limitations
The most successful among us don’t feel they have to do everything by themselves. They delegate. They ask for help. So can you.
4. Tell the truth
Determine that you will, at all times, tell the truth. Living by lies or untruths is the quickest way to complicate your life.
5. Place limits on your use of technology
Turn off your smartphone during particular time periods, reduce the number of social media platforms you use and minimise the amount of time you interact with technology generally. Learn to value other people and experiences over things.
6. Be clear about your purpose and your priorities
Only then can you discard anything that doesn’t support your purpose. Having a clear purpose could mean that you’re forced to sever certain relationships or leave your job. Complexity also arises from trying to emulate the ambitions, achievements and passions of others. Remember that you are different, and that’s fine. So instead, pursue those goals that make sense to your life.
7. Differentiate between your needs and your wants
’Stuff’ only accumulates. For a truly simple life, focus primarily on having those things that you need: somewhere comfortable to live, a way of earning a living and your physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.
8. Apply the Pareto principle to your life (the 80/20 rule)
In brief, the principle proposes that you concentrate on the few things (the 20 per cent) that will generate the greatest effect (the 80 per cent). For example, if you run a business, ask yourself, “Which 20 per cent of our customers generate most of our revenues?” Or at work: “What are the few actions I must take today that will give me the greatest productivity?”
9. When looking for a solution, begin with yourself
Often the solution can be found within ourselves, so it’s a good place to start. Too often we reach out to Google, but doing so automatically creates a need for someone else’s solution. And you then become a consumer, bait for a deluge of marketing messages you’re trying to stop. Identify the true problem and challenge yourself to find the answer to it using the resources within yourself.
10. Make things predictable
Develop systems, processes and frameworks that will require the minimum mental effort from you. It’s the fastest route to a simpler life.