The first week of August marks National Simplify Your Life Week. Who couldn’t benefit from being better organized, less over-scheduled, and working in a less cluttered environment? This week, our goal is to help you simplify your life with some simple planning and organization tips. A quality day planner can help you keep track of only those things that matter most, and keep you from over-booking, over-committing, and over-stressing. We’ll show you how.
Step One: Prioritize
If your days are filled with to-do lists, social engagements, work commitments, and home chores, you’re likely to flop into bed every night feeling exhausted. Even if you accomplished everything you set out to do, there’s likely just as many tasks and commitments waiting for you tomorrow. That feeling of never being able to get ahead, or never really having an empty slate, can lead to unnecessary stress, anxiety and worry. Start simplifying your life by writing a list of the top four or five priorities in your life. Think big. When you really think about it, your top four or five is likely to encompass your family, your health, and your job. Not keeping your house clean or signing up for the next boot camp class at your gym.
Step Two: Reevaluate Your Commitments
It can be easy to keep signing up for more commitments, clubs, teams, and opportunities—until you hit the scheduling wall and realize you’ve double, or even triple booked yourself on most days. When that happens, you’re physically not able to do it all, which means you’re letting someone down—and it’s likely yourself. Reevaluate everything you’re currently committed to, from social clubs, to fitness classes, to parent organizations, to volunteer groups, and decide which ones truly offer your life value. For all others, politely excuse yourself from your ongoing commitments. When you’ve done that, your calendar should clear up more than 50 percent.
Step Three: Organize Your Planner
Simplify your life by staying organized. Stress and a hectic day are the result of being disorganized, running late, and forgetting commitments. Use a day planner to keep track of appointments, deadlines, and social commitments. Click here to learn how to color code your planner for optimal organization.
Step Four: Learn to Delegate at Work
If you’re the type of person to overcommit your time, you’re likely also the type of person who never says “no” to a request. How many times each day do you sigh and think to yourself, “I could ask someone else to do it, but it would be faster if I just did it myself”? It’s time to break this habit. Commit to training other co-workers, subordinates, or interns to help you with key tasks. It may take more of your time to train someone else to do the job once, but it will save you time with every instance they do it themselves in the future.
Step Five: Organize Your Home
If your house is cluttered, it’s harder to unwind and relax at the end of the day. Rather than being able to sit down and do something you love, like yoga, reading, or writing in your journal, you’ll see all the tasks that are still on your to-do list, like laundry, vacuuming, hanging the kids’ new school pictures, and weeding the yard. Spend time this month decluttering your home and better organizing all the items you choose to keep. Think about the last time you used every item in your home. If you haven’t used it in a year, sell it or donate it. The same goes for your clothes (including those pants from ten years ago that don’t fit you anymore). An uncluttered home allows you to simplify home organization and maintenance tasks, freeing you up for more personal time.
Remember that simplifying your life does not have to be about getting rid of the things that you use regularly, or parting ways with organizations, events, and commitments that you enjoy. It’s about seeing the separation between the needed and enjoyed, and the clutter and the noise. By making these changes, a month from now, you may be surprised to learn you have time for a new hobby. We suggest calligraphy.