Tuesday, July 31, 2012

How to Simplify Life: Divide and List

Today we begin the simplification process.  First, we must divide our lives into 3-4 different categories: Personal, Relationships, and Household.  If you have a job in addition to these responsibilities, add "Work" as well.  I found it helpful to list these 3-4 categories as headings at the top of a sheet of paper.

Next, choose one category and list the things you do for that particular aspect of your life.  For example, the list under my Household heading looks something like this: cleaning, organizing, grocery shopping, paying the bills, cooking.  Do this for each category until most of your life is mapped out on paper.

Now, look over your lists and cross out anything that is not "small or simple."  Especially on the "personal" list analyze your hobbies and other things you devote your time to.  Make sure they are building your spirit, or bringing you a sense of fulfillment or purpose. Most of the "household" and "work" list will need to stay out of necessity, but is there a way you can revise any of the tasks to make them a little simpler?  Is there anything on any list that is draining your time and energy?  Are there things that need to be changed or completely crossed off?  How about adding a few small and simple things to your daily schedule that you've really been wanting to, but haven't had time because of your busy life.  Consider adding a few (not too many at first).  Things such as reading for a few minutes with your children, writing a thank-you card, a small service, or a personal hobby or pursuit may be a worthy investment of your time.  I won't set a limit to how many items can be in each category, but be very careful not to overload yourself.  The point of this exercise is to cut out, or at least to cut back and simplify, simplify, simplify.  Take some time and play with your sheet until your life feels more simple and small.

This sheet now becomes your "Master List."  Make copies or convert it to the computer where you can easily duplicate it in Word or Excel.  Then every week add the specific things in addition to the general things already listed that you must accomplish.

Now, before this just becomes another day planner or organize, let's make sure this is a means for simplification.  Before you add anything on the list, ask yourself, "Is it small?  Is it simple?  Does it bring me joy?"  If you answered yes to any of the questions, you have permission to add it to one of the categories.  If you answered no to all three questions, and it really must be done, add it to a 4th (or 5th) category called, "Necessary." On this list are those things that must be done.  However, put a limit as to how many things you can have on the list at a time.  For me, 3 seems to be the magic number for now.  Only when I am able to cross off something on the list can I add something else.

Happy Challenge:

Do the above steps and see what changes you can make to simplify your life.

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