We are living in a fast-paced world. At some point or another you might have felt overwhelmed — sick, tired, stressed out and disconnected from what you feel is really important to you. Maybe you want more time to spend with your family, your partner or even just yourself but you’re stuck running on the treadmill of life that just never seems to stop.
What if we told you it didn’t have to be that way? If you’re dreaming of calm over chaos and looking for a way to create an oasis of peace then it’s time to simplify your life. It’s not as hard or as scary as it sounds — you don’t need to read a book or follow a 52-step process. Just follow these five easy steps and enjoy the seachange.
Nobody wants to be a negative Nelly but saying no is actually a valuable skill many people struggle to master. "The more you say yes, the more you’ll be expected to say yes," says Kelly Exeter, the writer behind the lifestyle blog A Life Less Frantic.
"It’s awfully hard to say the word 'no' but trust me, it gets easier. If you make it super clear how much you value family time, or even 'you time', the more respectful people will be when you say no," she explains.
The trick? Only say yes if the answer to the question is 'absolutely'. If you’re not totally set on an idea or an object, let the answer be no.
No-one can do it all and if you think you’re a stellar multitasker it’s time to get a reality check.
Unfortunately, human brains just aren’t equipped for multitasking tasks that actually require brainpower. Research conducted by David Strayer, director of the applied cognition lab at the University of Utah, found that 98 per cent of people can’t multitask — they are unable to do two tasks at the same time well.
That’s because your brain can’t take in and process two simultaneous, separate streams of information and encode them into a complete short-term memory. When information doesn’t make it into short-term memory it can’t be recalled and if you can’t recall it, you can’t use it, making the time you spent doing the task pretty much a total waste of time.
The trick? Focus on one task at a time. Remember that old chestnut your parents used to trot out about not being able to study while the TV was on? They were right.
Like saying no, clearing the clutter out of your life comes down to getting rid of everything you don’t absolutely treasure. "Throw away anything you don’t need or love and clear the clutter from your life — physical, mental and emotional," says Tania Basheer of Blue Sky Coaching.
But clearing away the clutter isn’t just about a spring clean — it’s about keeping your daily life tidy as well. "Doing a five to 10-minute tidy each night means you start each day with a clean slate," says Kelly Exeter.
The trick? Don’t let your life snowball. If you have a task you can complete in a minute, do it right away. Keep only that which adds real value to your life and each of those things needs a place to be kept in. Whatever doesn’t fit needs to be trashed.
Smartphones are great — if you’re lost, you can find yourself in a second. The world is at your fingertips. But thanks to email and mobile phones it has never been easier for people to get hold of us.
"Most people will agree that taking a one-minute phone call means you lose five minutes of continuity on whatever task you were working on. Just one phone call and one email in an hour and you’ve lost 10 minutes of using your time productively," says Kelly.
The trick? Set limits to your ability to access technology. Try to only check your email once or twice a day, then implement tip number two as you go through each email. Turn off your phone when you’re trying to work and log off at the end of each day with enough time to let yourself wind down.
Spending time with yourself is important. It helps you find out and remember who you are, what’s important to you and gives you a valuable chance to recharge your energy and focus on your dreams, goals and desires.
If you’re finding it hard to justify alone time then Kelly suggests taking a five-minute walk.
"Go for a five-minute walk outside. Fresh air will clear your head and just changing your surroundings will invigorate you and enable you to tackle your tasks with a bit more energy," she says.
The trick? Schedule in time for yourself every day. This might be just before bed, before everyone wakes up for the day, during your lunch hour or while you’re exercising. Be alone with yourself and your thoughts — you never know where they may lead you.
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