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Improve Your Life by Simplifying

By Mikkie Mills

We live in a world full of stuff. Our social circles are constantly expanding, our food and health choices seem to be getting more and more complicated, and it’s alarmingly easy to get swamped by a steadily growing to-do list. From keeping in touch with people to managing work and staying organized, these days it seems especially easy to get overwhelmed by everything around us. Much of it is necessary, and a lot of it is fun, but it often seems to be the unwanted clutter that clings to us and follows us around. A few easy acts of simplification can do a lot to streamline your life, even if you’re not consciously feeling stressed. Try a few of these simplifying techniques and note the difference.

Have some quiet time

This one sounds simple, but few people set aside time just to enjoy some solitude. A recent study has found that the average American adult spends eleven hours a day interacting with media, whether that be phones, laptops, TVs, or headphones. That’s a staggering amount of time. Media is great in moderation--it’s entertaining and educational, and can bring people together--but as a nation, we’re growing more and more dependent on it.

Set some time apart in your schedule to disconnect from media. Go for a walk. Do some yoga. Go for a (radio free!) drive, whether it’s on your Schwinn twelve-gear or in your Toyota Corolla. You’ll be surprised by how relaxing it can be to spend some time alone with your thoughts, rather than being bombarded by a rapid-fire stream of other people’s.

Make a morning routine

Starting your morning with a positive, productive routine can do wonders for the rest of your day. It can focus your mind and put you in a productive mindset even before you get to work. Many of us are very busy in the mornings, and an elaborate routine might be out of the question. However, there are a few small tasks that anyone should be able to fit into their morning that can have a lot of positive benefits.

Drink some water when you wake up (more than just a sip after brushing your teeth!). Drinking enough water is crucial to good physical and mental health, and if you can start your day with a little hydration, why not do it? Try to fit in some exercise. It doesn’t have to be a full-on, sweaty workout. Go for a quick walk, or just do a few minutes of yoga or stretching in your room. It will wake up your body and make you feel like you’ve accomplished something first thing in the morning. One last, easy-to-accomplish morning task is to visualize your perfect day. Imagine exactly what you want this day to bring for you, and it will be that much easier to achieve it.

Get organized

This is another task that sounds like a huge event, but doesn’t have to be! Start off by spending as little as five minutes a day cleaning and organizing, whether it be your closet or your inbox. Even doing that small amount of work per day will slowly eat away at a cluttered room or workspace, and will make the process feel much less intimidating. Don’t focus on what’s still left to organize; instead, take a sense of pride in what you’ve finished, and what you’ll finish tomorrow.

If you struggle to get rid of things--or really clean out the clutter--organization expert Marie Kondo suggests the following rule:

Ask yourself if the object brings you joy. If it does, keep it. If not, it’s time to get rid of it.

Sometimes it can still be hard to get rid of something, even knowing that it doesn’t bring you joy anymore. In cases like this, Kondo recommends thanking the item before getting rid of it. Out loud, say something like “thank you for the memories” or “thank you for keeping me warm last winter.” It might sound silly, but it can bring you a sense of closure in your quest to simplify your life and bring yourself happiness.

About Mikkie Mills: “I’m a Chicago native who loves to share her expertise about personal development and growth. When I’m not writing, I’m chasing the little ones around or rock climbing at the local climbing gym.” More articles by Mikkie.

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