Modern life can get hectic and complex. It seems like there’s always something, whether it’s an unexpected bill that you’re unsure how to pay or a child who needs glasses. And then there’s the daily grind. How can you manage it all?
One way is to cut out all the daily decision-making “clutter” that exhausts your mental state and distracts you from the task at hand. Here are six smart ways to simplify your life.
1. Reduce Your Monthly Expenses
Do unplanned expenses leave you scrambling at the last minute? You don’t want to become an indentured servant, selling hours of your free time to babysit out-of-control children in exchange for your friend helping you keep the lights on at your house. Finding ways to shave expenses saves you pennies, but it can also prevent the desperate, last-ditch deals with the devil you might make to avoid the alternative.
Sit down with your budget and look for ways to reduce spending. Fortunately, many financial institutions now categorize your expenses for you — are you spending a small fortune on takeout? If so, skip to item #2 on this list.
Then, get on the horn and make some calls. Do you have a clean driving record? You could potentially save quite a bit on your auto insurance by negotiating your rate. Are your credit cards out of control? Contact your creditors and ask about a temporarily reduced interest rate to help you pay down your balance.
2. Plan Your Meals
Those glowing neon signs look like a banquet to a starving person at the end of a long day when you have no energy to cook. However, relying on the drive-thru can drain your wallet and add unwanted pounds to your waistline. Healthier options via delivery might work in the occasional pinch, but you’ll send yourself to the poorhouse if you rely on such services too often.
The solution? Plan your meals. Food preparation need not mean restricting yourself to the same dinner — it’s simply a way to reduce the tasks that prevent healthy cooking when you lack the energy. Invest in a food storage system to save those veggies until you make that crispy salad or toss them in the wok for a stir-fry.
3. Switch Up Your Workout Routine
When was the last time you tried a new activity? If you find yourself dreading the elliptical, the answer to your workout rut may be busting boredom.
Instead of looking at it as, “I have to work out,” switch your mindset. Your exercise routine is your adult playtime — look forward to it like a child anticipates recess. Take a walk around your neighborhood one day and stop to pet every puppy. Go for a hike.
Make your commute part of your playtime if you live close enough to the office. Today’s electric bikes let you add a motor to pedal power to have you arriving at the office less sweaty. You’ll still burn calories and reduce your carbon footprint.
4. Make a Cleaning Schedule
If you’ve ever watched an episode of “Hoarders,” you might recognize how letting small chores slide can turn into a mighty mess so big that you don’t know where to start. Instead, make a cleaning schedule.
Start by writing a list of those places in your home that need organization. Tackle one per day or weekend. Once you have everything in ship shape, create a schedule for keeping tidy. It only takes a few minutes a day once you get a handle on it.
5. Learn to Delegate
So often, people take on too much, fearing it would take longer to explain how to do things than to manage them yourself. However, doing so sets you up for burnout and can make you resent your family members, and even your staff, if you work in management.
Take some tips from Harvard Business School. Play to the other people’s strengths — if you hate folding laundry, but your spouse is a whiz at it, let them handle the wash. Provide positive feedback and don’t micromanage. That way, when you do have to make improvement suggestions, the listener embraces what you have to say instead of growing defensive.
6. Embrace Minimalist Principles
Many folks benefit from adopting minimalist principles. For example, practicing “one-in-one-out” living, recycling, or upcycling one item before buying new can help you get a handle on your budget and keep your closets tidier.
Become more mindful before making impulse purchases that add to your clutter and stress levels. Ask yourself how your life would change if you had the object you desire. If it wouldn’t add value, leave it on the shelf.
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