Do less – and live more!
Got too much to do and never enough time to do it in? Perhaps it’s a case of making yourself busier than you really need to be. If so, read on for easy ways to simplify your life
1 Accept you’re not so important!
The first step is perhaps the toughest – accepting you’re not as essential as you think you are! “Many people fall into the habit of trying to control just about every situation, but all they are doing is creating extra work and obligations for themselves,” says best-selling author, cancer survivor and wellness activist Kris Carr. [http://kriscarr.com/] “Your participation isn’t always life-and-death. Your colleagues can run that meeting without you, your seven year old can make her own sandwich (and even clean up the mess!). Sometimes the need to micromanage everything erodes confidence in ourselves and others. Accept people are much more capable than you think – and let them have a go.”
2 Focus on quality rather than quantity
You might be busy, but are you happy with what you’re achieving, or too worn out to care!? Maybe it’s time to get off the hamster wheel and focus on a single task. Do one thing at a time – properly – and enjoy the sense of achievement and pride you get.
3 Figure out what you should be doing
“This is all about setting yourself clear objectives,” says business writer Fergus O’Connell. [http://fergusoconnell.com/] “By knowing just what your aims are, you can work out the best way of achieving them and formulate a plan by which to do so. For example, at work, figure out what measures you need to take to ensure you’re doing your job properly and that both you and your boss will be happy at the end of the year. Then talk to your boss and make sure you both agree or, even better, work together on other more tailored objectives. Once you know exactly what is expected of you at work, you will be able to get that stuff done and exceed expectations with the least amount of effort and wasted/misdirected time and energy. A little planning can prevent a lot of last-minute firefighting,” says Fergus. “And you will get to your desired destination by the quickest, most efficient and safest route possible.”
4 Prioritise viciously
“Make a list of everything you’ve got to do, then ask yourself, ‘If I could only do one thing on this list, what would it be?’ And then make that your number one priority,” explains Fergus. “You then take the remaining list and ask the questions again and so on and so on until the list is prioritised. Then you divide the list into those things that must be done and things that are really not important. If you are doing this in a work situation, you will probably need to agree this with someone else (such as your boss), and outside of work it could be the person you live with.” Then, you can remove anything at the bottom of your list that isn’t wildly important knowing that it’s OK to make it disappear!
5 Learn to say no
Is there a friend or family member who is always asking you for favours? A colleague who seems good at passing tasks your way? Or a boss who schedules meetings like crazy and insists you attend them? If so, learn to say no. “You don’t have to be rude,” explains Fergus. “There are many ways to say no nicely, like, ‘I’m sorry, but I just don’t have the time at the moment,’ or in relation to a meeting, ‘I have a deadline to meet, can I sit this one out and read the minutes afterwards?’ The more you turn things down, the less demands will be made on you.”
And cut out distractions, especially the internet. Just because you get a long chatty email from someone doesn’t mean you need to respond in the same fashion. And if the email isn’t important – just delete it!
6 Continually question what the right stuff is
If there is anything on your list of things to do that you’re not sure how important it is – test your theory. “The only way you can truly test it is by not doing that item on the list – and see what happens,” Fergus explains. “If the sky falls, then it was important. If nothing happens, then maybe not!”
7 Accept that ‘good enough’ is better than perfect
While it’s good to give a task or project our all, it’s not always possible, practical or sustainable. In your head you might want to organise the best kids party/family get-together/dinner party ever, but time is against you. Don’t beat yourself up, says Kris Carr. “You can’t give every task equal priority and time. Sometimes you can do less than perfect. It’s not being lazy, it’s being realistic – especially if your expectations are too high. Occasionally, doing less is more than enough.”
8 Don’t feel guilty
The idea of doing less can trigger feelings of guilt if you’re a ‘busy, busy’ person. If everyone else is rushing around at warp speed, you might feel a little uncomfortable trotting along. Remember, it’s important not to judge yourself by what other people seem to be achieving. “People care less about your actions than you think – they have their own problems!” says Kris.