It is virtually impossible to prioritize your health, wellbeing, and happiness when your days are filled to the brim with excessive clutter, both physical and emotional. Taking some steps to simplify your life will do wonders for your state of mind, productivity, and balance, and will allow you to better fill your plate (so to speak) with things that make you happy, healthy, and taken care of!
1. Say NO! The biggest mistake overworked, overburdened people make is saying yes to too many things. Social engagements, play dates, work assignments, favors, the list goes on and on. We’re all afraid that if we admit that our plate might be a little full, it makes us some sort of colossal failure. Well, newsflash! Taking on too much means the things you are doing aren’t getting your full attention, which significantly lowers the quality of your engagement — with your friends, your family, your work, everything! So stop being afraid to say no. Pick what really matters to say yes to, and get a raincheck on the rest!
2. Make your bed. Guess what? Momma was right on that one (I know, it kills to admit it!)… The simple step of making yourbed every morning starts your day off with a little more order, a little less clutter, and a little more mental space for productivity. Our physical environment is a reflection of our mental and emotional environment, a phenomenon that goes both ways. Having just a little more neatness in your physical space will contribute to more calm and balance everywhere else… And it literally takes but a minute!
3. Reclaim your inbox. Yes, I know it is super duper important that you not miss out on any of the eight billion flash sale sites that you’re signed up for, and that getting newsletters from every single store, travel site, or gallery you’ve ever visited is absolutely crucial to your feeling in-the-know in life, but all that is really just contributing to your feeling of overwhelm and stress. When you open your inbox every morning to a barrage of (let’s be honest) totally unnecessary crap that you need to sort through to get to the one email from your friend about her upcoming birthday party, your day is simply not getting off to a great start. Not only is this is an enormous waste of your precious time, but it also gives you the illusion that you are a lot more stressed/busy/overworked/overwhelmed than you really are! They’re just emails! They’re not even important! So go through your inbox and unsubscribe to absolutely everything but the most important, life-affirming, happiness-making content (like my newsletter! Which you can sign up for right over there —–>), or make good use of the Hotmail or Yahoo account from the 8th grade, and change all of your commercial correspondence to be delivered there. That way, you can check it once a week, or whenever you really feel like a Gilt sale will boost your spirits, and pretend that whole mess doesn’t even exist the rest of the time.
4. Quit multi-tasking! Ok, I could hear the collective gasp from everyone reading this. “But Natasha! I’ve spent the last 10 years of my life cultivating the skill of reading emails, listening to music, talking to my mother, eating lunch, and finishing my quarterly report all at once! It’s a defining aspect of my amazing character!” Yes, I say to you… But how well has that worked out for you so far? Do you feel like your work, your relationships, and your self-care are all getting the attention they deserve? Or is everything perpetually getting about 30% of your headspace? I’ve gotta say, multi-tasking is probably the most harmful and counterproductive trend of the last two decades, and it’s time we put it to rest. Truly successful, productive, balanced people do NOT multi-task! They dedicate themselves fully to one task at a time, whether than be work, talking to a friend, eating a meal, or watching The Big Bang Theory. This allows you to not only get more done (like, really done, not half-assed done), but it also allows to you enjoy what you are doing so much more. Work on chunking your time into specific task-oriented blocks. Carve out time for answering emails, calling your mom, eating lunch, relaxing, reading, and exercise and don’t let any of those activities overlap! I promise you, after a week or two of living this way, your cortisol levels will go down, and your seratonin levels will go up. Hell, you may even lose a pound or two, or get a promotion! Everything that you do will be done infinitely better, and more importantly, you’ll feel better doing it!
5. Write down the five things in the world that are most important to you. This simple step will allow you to refocus your time and energy on what really matters, and let what really isn’t worth your time fall by the wayside. Keep your list somewhere handy and read it at least once a day. Have you done something to benefit, support, or move towards a goal related to the things on your list that day? If not, schedule it in. It is way too easy to waste our lives focusing on the minutia of the day-to-day, while ignoring what matters most. But luckily, it is totally up to you whether or not you live this way! Take control of your life today.
6. Pencil yourself in. When you’re looking ahead at your calendar, make sure you have some you-time scheduled in every single day. This might mean a 1 hour yoga class, or a 10 minute walk in the sun, and anything in between. Whatever it is, make it something you enjoy that leaves you feeling more revitalized and happy. Every day. When you start making yourself a priority, even on such a small scale, it becomes a whole hell of a lot easier to stay in control on your time and your emotions!
7. Delegate. This one can be the hardest to do, but yields the highest pay off. Allow me to let you in on a little secret… You can’t do it all. This isn’t a criticism, it is simply a fact. You cannot stay on top of every single little detail in your life and the lives of your family members and expect to stay sane. It’s just not possible! So start delegating. Pick 3-5 of your least favorite tasks that you consistently need to accomplish and delegate them to someone else. Hate cleaning your house? Get a housecleaner! Even once every other week, for $75-$100, having someone get your home into sparkling clean condition is SO completely worth it! Can’t stand administrative tasks? Get an assistant, or better yet, hire an intern! There are so many smart young things out there just dying to get experience doing exactly what you do for very little money, and sometimes just the cost of lunch! Ask your spouse to wash the dishes or take care of laundry, ask your mom to take the kids to their dentist appointments. It’s so easy to forget that the people in your life love you and want to help you stay sane and happy! Whatever it is, figure out who can help you get it done.
8. Make smarter to-do lists. Once a week, write down everything you need to get done that week (of course, after having SAID NO, DELEGATED, and WRITTEN DOWN WHAT’S IMPORTANT). Assign yourself 3-5 specific tasks for each day of the week, no more. If you can’t fit all your weekly to-do’s into 3-5 tasks per day, you need to go back and read the list above again. Say no, delegate, write down what’s really important, and cross some stuff off that weekly list. 3-5 tasks per day is really all you can commit yourself to accomplishing well, while still leaving yourself plenty of time for penciling yourself in and taking care of what’s really important. I promise, this will change your life!