If you are like me it seems as if life in general could not possibly get any busier or complicated. We seem to find a way to keep all the balls in the air without any crashing down around us but it costs us something.
Then along comes a profound change that forces us to re-evaluate. Or maybe we just get tired of keeping all those balls in the air at the same time and decide to do something about it (this would be the preferred but least likely option of course). Next comes the hard part – making a commitment.
Maybe you want to make that commitment but don’t know how you can maintain it. I’ll tell you how I am doing it: I am being intentional about simplifying everything I can about life. Some of this (much of it actually) falls in the category of managing the mundane. It may be mundane but man, does it ever add up! Some of it relates to resetting priorities for time, some of it means simply not doing what really does not need to be done.
Sounds simple, right? It is simple, but not necessarily easy. You must be willing to change and to give others around you the freedom to do the same. You must be willing to let go of some things and even to be a little different at times. Simply delegating everything you don’t want to do is not your way out. No fair dumping everything onto someone else’s To Do List in order to simplify your own.
But there are surprisingly simple actions that have a larger than imagined cumulative affect. Here’s what I’m talking about.
- Organize your inbox and let it do the work for you. Use filters and keep what you have to deal with to a minimum. When you don’t have to deal with it…don’t. “Unsubscribe” is now my favorite email action.
- Keep your own emails short and on point. My new benchmark is three succinct sentences. If the subject requires more than that it probably warrants a personal interaction. Imagine that!
- Your calendar is a strategic tool. Time is your most valuable asset yet most of us feel as if we don’t control it. Take control. Block out time for strategic thinking and reflection. I’m not talking about thirty minute slivers. Block out enough so that you can actually think and work through important tasks or issues.
- Get some air! It is too easy to get shackled to the desk. Break the habit by creating a new one. Get up, move around, put MBWA back into active mode. Don’t just say it, do it. You will get some air, you will feel better, and you will learn more than you ever will reading reports.
- Subdue the urge to over organize. Keep structures simple and use the magic of metadata and sorting routines. Just doing this one thing will clean up your desktop and help you focus. Besides, the technology is better at knowing where all your stuff is than you are.
- Decide what is really important and focus there. For me that means family and faith. Things that I used to do, I don’t do anymore; and things I never had time for are now my most cherished moments. Examples, you ask? Read on.
- I dumped my Facebook account. No kidding. Not because I didn’t like it but because I liked it too much. I was spending too much time on something that added little real value. I know, it’s a huge counter-culture step. It’s also been a huge win.
- Twitter is for business. I allow myself fifteen minutes each evening to schedule the next day’s tweets – but only if the fifteen minutes does not take time away from priority activities.
- Zap the apps. I used to collect apps like a …well…collector. My smartphone looked impressive but the reality is that I use only a small number of them on a regular basis. The second level are useful on occasion and have been retained. Gone are the games, sports sites, multiple photo apps and the like that were clogging the screen and brain.
- The TV has an off switch. Who knew? Sure I miss a few big shows and events; but I get real time back to invest where it matters. I know, TV is for decompressing and letting go of the day. I would much rather take a walk around the block or on the beach, sit and talk, read and discuss, or just hang out with family or friends.
- Be intentional about relationships. You’ve known your family all of your life and theirs. That’s why they can tend to become routine or take second seat to the tyranny of the urgent. I am not saying I am perfect on this one, but I am definitely more purposed…and loving it.
- Get a hobby! Yes, I actually have time for mine. Someday I’ll be good at it. It gets me out of the house, lets my creative side have a turn for a change, and takes me to places and experiences I would not have otherwise.
I am guessing that some of these actions sound pretty extreme. They are not. Life can become too busy with too many pressures, demands and expectations. When it does take notice and take action.
I am fond of saying that all I need for a quick getaway are two palm trees and a hammock on an open stretch of beach. That’s a good place to be for sure, but there is peace and tranquility to be had amid the every-day experience. We just have to want it bad enough to grab it.
Image Credit: Alexander Salamov via Dreamstime