I love the start of a new year. There’s just something about coming to the end of a well-worn calendar, tossing it out, and opening up a new one. Out with the old, and in with the new. It’s the perfect time to look back at the previous year and reflect on the good and the bad; while at the same time, anticipating the possibilities a new year brings. For the sake of simplicity, I prefer to choose a one-word theme instead of a long list of resolutions. In addition to my one word (persistent), I’ve been thinking of ways to further simplify my life. This year, I’ve compiled a list of 7 things to simplify in 2017.
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7 Things to Simplify in 2017
1. Simplify your ‘friends’ list. We all have pseudo ‘friends’ cluttering up our social media accounts. People that we don’t really know personally, or have never even met. Maybe they were a friend-of-a-friend you added on a whim. You know, the people you wouldn’t even recognize if they passed you on the street. Go ahead, delete them. Pare down your contacts on social media to your true friends. The same goes for Instagram and Pinterest. Unfollow anyone who doesn’t inspire you with their photos and pins. Make room for those who do.
2. Simplify your calendar. Make 2017 your year for politely saying “no”. Clear your calendar for 24 hours and treat yourself to a ‘do nothing day’. This doesn’t mean you sit on the couch for the day and ignore the world (unless you want to). Rather, clear your itinerary for the day and be spontaneous. You can meet an old friend for lunch, play board games with your kids, lounge in the sun with a good book, or spend the day at the park playing with your dog. Whatever you decide, it’s up to you. After you’ve experienced just one day of this, you may find yourself saying “no” more often to unnecessary commitments, and “yes” to more ‘do nothing days’.
Simplicity is making the journey of this life with just baggage enough. -Charles Dudley Warner
3. Simplify your paper clutter. I swear, paper has a mind of its own and it seems to multiply overnight. Every time I turn around, there’s a new stack of paper clutter to deal with. Here are three steps I’ve taken to simplify my paper clutter:
- Opt-out of junk mail. The Federal Trade Commission has a website dedicated to helping you reduce unwanted mail, calls, and emails. Follow this link for more information.
- Deal with your mail immediately. Keep a paper shredder or trash can by the door and sort your mail as soon as you bring it in from the mailbox. Shred documents with sensitive information, place bills in a central location and deal with them in a timely manner, trash any sales flyers before they have a chance to pile up.
- Choose to receive your bills electronically. I receive all of my bills electronically except one, and that’s because our water company hasn’t yet caught up to the ‘electronic age’. As soon as they offer online billing, I will be the first to sign up. It’s so much easier to open your email and see all of your bills at a glance. You don’t have to worry about forgetting to pay your paper bill because you misplaced it, but you do have to remember not to hit ‘delete’ until the bill’s been paid.
“People are remarkably bad at remembering long lists of goals. I learned this at a professional level when trying to get my high-performance coaching clients to stay on track; the longer their lists of to-dos and goals, the more overwhelmed and off-track they got. Clarity comes with simplicity.”-Brendon Burchard
4. Simplify your to-do list. I used to be the queen of to-do lists. As I said before, I am great at planning, but not so great on the follow-through. As a result, I would make elaborate daily, weekly, monthly and even yearly to-do lists which would then wind up in the trash before they could be completed. Why? Because I was overloading myself by expecting the impossible. There’s no way I could check off a list of twenty to-do’s even on a really good day. Yet I was pressuring myself to do so.
Now, I make a list of two to three things I need to accomplish per day in addition to my regular daily chores. For example, every day I do at least one load of laundry, homeschool my kiddos, and prepare breakfast, lunch, and dinner for my family. I may add one or two additional tasks to be completed for that day on my calendar such as; ‘clean the bathrooms’ and ‘schedule doctor appointments’. On days when I need to run errands, I will cut myself some slack and skip the laundry or make a really simple meal for dinner (i.e. sandwiches).
I don’t need a lot of money. Simplicity is the answer for me. -Linda McCartney
5. Simplify your diet. Like many families, our family struggles with food waste. As part of my efforts to reduce food waste in my home, I’ve decided to stop cooking the food my family doesn’t like to eat. Revolutionary, huh? Time and time again I end up tossing certain foods in the trash because the leftovers are not eaten before they spoil. For example, my family doesn’t care for pasta. As a result, anytime I make a pasta side dish or any pasta-heavy main dish, most of it winds up in the trash. They will eat it the night I serve it (because they don’t like to go hungry), but any leftovers will sit in the fridge, where they will go uneaten.
I’ve decided since my family prefers meat, potatoes, fruit, and vegetables, that’s what I’ll serve them for dinners. Breakfasts are usually a choice of pancakes/waffles, eggs, or muffins served with fruit and almond milk. Lunches are almost always some type of a sandwich and a raw veggie. I try to keep high-protein snacks in the house because, boys. Anytime they are hungry for a snack, they can have lunch meat, cheese, nuts or fruit.
I like simplicity; I don’t need luxury.-Francis Ford Coppola
6. Simplify your expectations. I’ve been known to go a bit overboard in my planning. While there’s nothing wrong with dreaming big, there comes a time when we need to scale back our expectations. This time of year, the media will be telling you to “do it all” in 2017. However, I will be saying, “Think small”.
Instead of declaring, “I will lose 50 pounds this year even if I have to starve myself!” Commit to eating more salads and going for a walk at least 3 days per week. Don’t say, “I will pay off $50,000 worth of debt this year or else!” Instead, vow to work diligently on paying off one bill at a time (starting with the smallest).
By elevating our expectations too high, right out of the gate, we are setting ourselves up for failure. If we start with smaller, more manageable goals, we are more likely to achieve and even surpass them. Therefore, we will be less likely to give up when we fail to see immediate results and more likely to stay focused on long-term change.
7. Simplify your possessions. If you are drowning in clutter and wish you could come up for air, make 2017 the year you simplify your possessions. Start small; one drawer, countertop or cabinet at a time. Reduce your possessions to those you love or need. Donate, sell or dispose of the rest. If you bring a new item into your home, let go of another. Imagine your house were on fire. If your family, pets, important photos and documents were safe, what three things would you want to take with you? Get yourself to the point where you can focus less on ‘stuff’ and more on people and experiences.
Hopefully, my list of 7 things to simplify in 2017 has motivated and inspired you to make a positive change in your life for the new year. I’d love to hear how you are progressing in your quest to simplify!
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