There is beauty in simplicity. Living a simple life, a life where you can do what you want without distraction, can be attained with the right steps.
If you are like me, you have maybe felt the overwhelming burden of stress in one form or another during your life.
Bu,t did you know about all the adverse effects stress can have on your long-term health and quality of life?
Stress in its chronic (long term) form has a long list of symptoms including, but not limited to: mental health problems, cardiovascular problems, gastrointestinal problems, sexual dysfunction, and eating disorders. That’s quite the list!
Sadly, you often cannot control the sources of stress in your life.
But what if I told you that there is, quite literally, a simple way to manage stress?
Making efforts to simplify your life is a great way to limit your exposure to stress.
In this post, I’m going to share with you 5 foolproof ways you can simplify your life and live more simply.
5 Ways to Simplify Life and Live a Simple Life
Living a simple life is doable with the right framework and plan. While it might sound easy, living a simple life can be tough with all of the distractions that surround us in the 21st century.
The 5 foolproof ways to simplify your life are:
- Block out the noise
- Re-Evaluate your Time Commitments
- Take it one day at a time
- Automate your Finances
- Destroy your Debt
Let’s get into each of these in more detail below.
1. Block Out The Noise
The first step to simplifying your life is to block out noise.
Noise is everywhere in life, both figuratively and literally. This method of simplifying your life focuses on the figurative noise all around you. What is this noise exactly?
I deal with statistical noise all the time at my 9 to 5 job. Take a look at the graph below: the red points are the actual data, while the blue line is a trend. The jagged ups and downs of the red lines are “noisy” compared to the smooth curve of the blue trend line, which is the line that is significant.
Noise of any kind cannot be controlled, anticipated, or prevented. All you can do is tune out the noise, leaving only the important things behind.
Tuning out statistical noise is a common task for me at my 9 to 5 job. You can apply the same concept to remove distractions and become successful in your life as well.
The Sources of Noise in Our Lives
The noise of the world is greatly amplified by technology. The best place to start filtering out noise is the device in the palm of your hands! These are all steps you can take from your phone.
Go to your email inbox and see how many promotional emails you’re receiving. How many of these actually benefit you? If you unsubscribe from email lists that don’t provide value, you can make your inbox tidy and distraction-free.
Another huge source of noise is the news. The matter of fact is that much of world news is irrelevant to your daily life.
Should you be informed? Certainly. But, to the point where the negativity of it all is hindering you? Absolutely not.
Be wary of consuming news content in any form, whether it is through TV, social media, or mobile apps.
Finally, limit your exposure to social media. Not only can it take up a lot of time, it can also promote some toxic behaviors such as comparing yourself to others.
2. Re-Evaluate your Time Commitments
The second step in simplifying your life is to re-evaluate your current time commitments.
You have 168 hours every week. How do you use them currently, and how do you want to use them?
Everyone has a different answer. We all have different commitments, and we all enjoy our free time in different ways.
I want you to take a good, hard look at your commitments. What are they?
Here are the categories you should look over:
- Look at how many hours a week you work, including your commute time. Work should be challenging and rewarding, but it should not be consuming.
- If work feels like the latter, consider making changes that will bring balance to your life. This can be as simple as learning to say no to extra work, or as drastic as changing positions or companies. Put your own wellbeing first!
- How much sleep do you get? Odds are you do not make sleep as high of a priority as you’d like. You will eventually pay for this with the many side effects accompanying fatigue.
- Exercise & Nutrition
- This is one many find challenging. You only have one body; are you eating what you need to ensure its well being?
- Exercising 3 times a week would take up no more than 4 hours of your week (including changing / showering). Can you fit these 4 hours, or 2.38% of your week, into your schedule?
- Are you seeing your friends and family as often as you’d like?
- Take a good, hard look at the quality of your relationships. Toxic ones should be removed from your life to free up both valuable time and energy.
A Tip Prioritizing your Time
Someone once told me, “Try saying ‘it’s not a priority’ instead of ‘I don’t have time’.”
Now, this person didn’t have an original idea by any means; this mindset has been explored many times on the Internet.
However, it still holds meaning!
Revisit the previous examples.
Say, “The gym is not a priority” instead of “I don’t have time for the gym”, and see how that sounds to you. If you are content with that, then no further action is needed.
Consider truly making a change if the act of saying that bothers you.
3. Take it One Day at a Time
The third step in simplifying your life is to take things one day at a time.
It can get overwhelming real quick when thinking about the future. How are you supposed to know what you want 5 years from now when you don’t even know what you want for dinner tonight?
While it’s important to have goals for the medium to long-term, you also need to take life one day at a time.
Here is a trick to stop the future from stealing time and energy in the present. All you need to do is set aside dedicated time every day or every week. Any time something about the future comes up, write it down!
You aren’t allowed to think about those thoughts until the dedicated time you’ve set for yourself. You’ll be relieved knowing you’ll have a set time to think about these worries later. You’ll save precious time today by not dwelling on the future.
If this sounds like an intriguing idea to you, then you may want to buy yourself a daily journal. You start every morning setting your goals for the day, and finish it by reflecting on your day and whether or not the goals were accomplished. It takes no more than 5 minutes out of your day!
4. Automate Your Finances
The fourth step in simplifying your life is automating your finances.
Thinking and worrying about money can take a toll on you. 62% of Americans are stressed about finances in some way, according to the APA.
Full disclosure: this method won’t magically solve all your financial problems.
However, it will help you onto the right track, especially if you struggle to manage discretionary spending.
Most, if not all banks allow for the setup of auto-transfers between accounts. What you have to do is set up a recurring auto-transfer that is in sync with your payday.
If you get paid every second Thursday; you can set an auto-transfer for every second Friday, moving money from your checking account to your savings!
Automating your savings contributions allows you to simplify your life by removing one key element: the element of choice.
There is one less decision to be made, and one less dilemma to think about. When you automate your finances, you are saving.
You need to be careful though. You must ensure that you aren’t saving too much, or else you won’t be able to pay your bills.
Taking a quick tally and projecting your regular expenses will help you figure out how much of a contribution you can afford.
5. Destroy Your Debt
The fifth and final method is also a personal finance one: destroy your debt!
We already discussed about the strong ties between finance and mental well-being.
Sadly, those ties are even stronger when it comes to debt.
In fact, people with mental health problems are 5 times as likely to have problem debt (i.e. debt in which you cannot keep up with the payments). 86% of respondents with mental health problems (from the same survey) said that their debt was a contributing factor.
Luckily for you, there is a whole section of this site dedicated to destroying your debt. Having an effective plan to pay off debt will clear up both your finances and your mind.
The Two Methods to Pay off Debt Effectively
You will need to come up with a list of all your debts (balances and interest rates) in order to work with either of these two debt pay off methods, so I suggest you do that first.
The two methods are:
- Debt Snowball Method – paying extra towards your smallest balance first, then your second smallest, and so on. Like a snowball growing larger building momentum!
- Debt Avalanche Method – paying extra towards the debt with the highest interest rate first, and then second highest, and so on. You start high and work your way down, like an avalanche.
In case you’re wondering which method is better, the answer is “it depends.” The debt avalanche method is mathematically the best option, as it will save you the most money in interest.
However, personal finance is personal. You need to take psychology into account, which is where the debt snowball method has the advantage.
Paying off smaller debts first triggers the reward mechanisms in your brain and leaves you motivated, wanting to chase the next “reward.”
By paying off debt, you’ll be able to continue to focus on what matters to you and live a simpler life.
Start Living a Simpler Life Today
You now have multiple new tools at your disposal that can be used to simplify your life.
Filtering out noise and re-evaluating your commitments will lead to less stress and pressure on you.
Focusing on one day at a time allows for small but consistent progress to compound and help reach your long-term goals.
Automating your finances and destroying debt will help mitigate one of the leading stress producers – financial trouble!
Implementing some or all of these techniques in an intentional and proactive manner will lead to a simpler, more rewarding life.
A simple life may not happen overnight. However, over time, you can definitely find success and reach your goals.
The best time to start, as always, is today. Get out there and take the first step towards a simpler life today.