a tickle of words to create smiles

Archive for September 10, 2012

Simplify…Less is More

Clutter-free space liberates the creative spirit in me!
~ Dr. Angela Kowitz

I came across this magazine article, Twenty Ways to Simplify Your Life: Less is Really More by Amy Flurry, which dates back to 2001; but, it is still relevant today. Much of the article is advice for households with children, but there are many good ideas that apply to everyone. I am taking liberty to paraphrase much of her wisdom… mostly just using her 20 taglines.

1. One In, One Out. The thing I most struggle with is managing all my stuff…the art supplies and books I have amassed. The golden rule is one thing in, one thing out. For me that is easier said than done. The “one in, one out” rule can also apply to scheduling events. Don’t take on another event or project until you completed one.

2. Streamline Appointments. Grouping appointments (and errands) together is a fabulous idea, especially if you have a family of children. Schedule all medical appointments together and try to get the first one in the morning, because you will have less wait time. I streamline my errands. If I need to do grocery shopping then I dovetail and include as many other errands with it such as: stopping of at the library, post office, dry cleaners and refueling my car with gasoline.  There is no sense in making special trips, which wastes time and gasoline.

3. Pad Your Schedule by One Hour Each Day. This gives you wiggle room for inevitable, unscheduled events and SNAFUs (Situation Normal All Fouled Up). Furthermore, padding your schedule with extra time gives you a bit of guilt-free time and breathe-easy room for you to share with friends or downtime for yourself.

4. STOP Justifying Your No’s. Who says you need a reason to say NO to a request or invitation. With gratitude, thank the person who asked, and state that you cannot do it at this particular time. Put yourself in their shoes, would you want to hear a bunch of excuses. No. If you can’t make an event or do a task, other people will. This affords them the time to ask others.

5. Envision The Life You Want. If all obstacles were eliminated, what would your ideal life look like? An activity I do with my professional life coaching clients is to visualize yourself already there in your ideal situation. Include as much detail as possible. Then have your future ideal self tell your present self tips on how he or she got there. You will be amazed how wise you already are!

6. Replace The Word “SELFISH” With “SELF-CARE”. This is something I do often and have my loved ones and clients do often! There is absolutely nothing selfish about putting your needs first. You have to take care of yourself before you can take care of others, lest you become drained, tired, crabby, or even sick. Think of the airplane adage…place the oxygen mask over yourself first before you even think about helping others.

7. Trap Your Time Thieves. Track your time. List everything you wish to accomplish along with the estimated amount of time you believe it will take. Then check them off and write down actual time spent on each activity. Did other things pop up into your schedule? Jot those down. Often, we just do not know where the time went. This gives us a visual tool to trap the time thieves.

8. Underpromise And Overdeliver. For all you Trekkie fans, do you remember how Scotty always promised to fix things in a given amount of time; but, often it was ready before the estimated time…just in the nick of time to get Captain Kirk out of a sticky situation. When you do promise to help on a project or event, give yourself ample time to complete it. The best of businesses follow this practice. I adore my car mechanic…I took in the car in on a Thursday afternoon; he promised to have it ready no later than Tuesday morning (his shop is not open on the weekends). He delivered my car ready, Friday at 10:30 a.m. I was delighted to have the car for the weekend!

9. Balance Your Expectations. In fact detach yourself from results and focus on the process. You will just stress yourself out with unrealistic expectations whether you place them yourself or others.

10. Extinguish Emergencies Fast. In other words, prepare for the worst case scenarios before they become emergencies. Keep your emergency supplies stocked and fresh; have all important documents in a safe and secure place, etc.

11. Make “Low-Maintenance” Your Motto. Choose low-maintenance fixtures, flooring, surfaces and furnishings to decrease the time spent on the upkeep of your home. This also applies to landscape. Container gardens or planting perennials are a great alternative to having to plant annuals every year.

12. Think Of Ways To Cut Down On Work. Look at what creates more work and/or interrupts your time and come up with a clever solution. One thing that comes to mind for me are meals. I  prepare enough food for at least two meals and wrap up leftovers for future meals in individual servings. This reduces work and time!

13. Make Room for Spontaneity. Keep a few days open each month free of social plans or commitments to allow for “free-time” to enjoy family and/or doing things you really love to do. Use these uncommitted times to recharge your batteries, connect with nature and truly relax, mediate and daydream.

14. End Mealtime Madness. Involve the family in meal preparation by assigning each person a specific task. With children, make them each a super hero with powers to set tables and clear them off. Make it fun for them as you teach them responsibility. Make if fun for yourself, too.

15. Be a Supermarket Star. Have an ingredient list handy for several quick-fix meals and keep your pantry stocked with them for those evenings when you are frazzled or stressed. You get double score points for catching sales because you were prepared and you know what you need because of that handy list.

16. Make Communication Foolproof. Have a central place in your household for phone messages, mail, bills, important papers, etc. Hang a large calendar there for everyone to jot down important dates; and, keep sticky-notes and pens at the that central place for messages (love notes) to each other.

17. Take a Joy Break. What simple activity to you take delight? Perhaps it listening to birds sing in the morning or watching the moon rise at night. Take a moment everyday to indulge in that simple pleasure.

18. Form a Clean Team. This is similar to number 14; establish what chores need to be done in a regular basis to maintain cleanliness in your home. Delegate each task to family members. Give each chore a clever name and make a game of it. Have fun and delight in doing such “chores” as the TOILET AVENGERS.

19.Get a Grip On the Gadgets. When the next techno-neat-o item comes into the market and it whets your appetite and tickles your got-to-have-it heart, ask yourself: Do I really need it or do I just want it? Do I already own something that does the same thing? Would it really make my life easier or is it going to take up more space? You may already need to weed out some of the gadgets you already own. Look in your cabinets and closets. You might consider having a garage sale or donate the excesses.

20. Give Your Home a Makeunder. Put the most effort into the 2 or 3 rooms you enjoy the most. Decorate with the things that brings you the most joy, things that are the most functional and most of all, keep it simple.

Overall, the best way to simplify your life is to accept all things as they are. Enjoy and delight in the moment. You are where you need to be. Then you can look at how you can tweak the quality of your life and weed through the minutiae.

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