Putting the simple back in simplifying: Realistic ways to streamline your day
Trying to fit too much into your day can leave you feeling cranky, tired and overwhelmed. Check out our tips on realistic ways to streamline your day so you have the time you need to relax, unwind and actually be more productive.
Do you feel like you are running on empty from sun-up to sun-down? Follow our expert tips on simplifying your life so you can actually enjoy it instead of merely surviving it.
The morning mayhem
A hectic morning can set the stage for a hectic day. Parenting expert Dr Michele Borba, author of The Big Book of Parenting Solutions, says to skip the time consuming pancake breakfast and provide healthy, yet easy breakfast foods within your kids' reach. "Make it easier for your children to help out in the morning by placing breakfast necessities within reach. Move bowls, plates and glasses to the lowest shelves of your cupboard. Move all breakfast foods, including orange juice, milk, cereal and breakfast bars, to the lowest shelves of your refrigerator and pantry."
She also recommends that you create a tradition with your husband and/or kids in the morning. "Create a special good-bye ritual with your kids that won't take any extra time from your busy morning, such as a fun handshake, hug or saying that you repeat each morning, or even a sweet message left on a sticky note in your kids' lunchboxes."
Start a cleaning schedule
Simplify your house cleaning by creating a schedule – instead of a full day. "Instead of planning a marathon day of cleaning every week or two, start setting aside 15 minutes a day for cleaning. Even better, delegate some of your cleaning chores to your children!" says Kristl Story of The Budget Diet.
"Doesn't 15 minutes a day sound better than spending half your Saturday cleaning or going crazy the day of your party to make the house look perfect? The key is to make a house cleaning schedule so that every room in your house will be cleaned every 2 weeks."
Clear the clutter
A cluttered space does in fact create a cluttered mind. "As counter-intuitive as it may seem to take more time out of the day to clear clutter when you are already slammed with a huge to-do list, when it comes to time, the clutter-free lifestyle pays for itself many times over," says Tess Whitehurts, author of Housekeeping: Simple Charms and Practical Tips for Creating a Harmonious Home (Llewellyn 2010).
She recommends keeping clutter from piling up by getting in the habit of donating the extras, taking junk mail and tossing it straight into the recycle bin (instead of letting it pile up) and getting rid of furniture that you constantly trip over, such as coffee table or rugs.
Allow yourself to say "no"
"Cut out all the unnecessary, non-pleasurable commitments and activities that don't make your life better. Free your calendar and leave some white space," says celebrity organizational expert and host of HGTV Canada Jill Pollack. You may be surprised at how liberating it is.
Schedule more time than you think you need
Take charge of your schedule by giving yourself more time for tasks. This will instantly de-stress your day because you won't have overpromised and undelivered.
"Think about the tasks that you have at hand and how long you realistically think it'll take to complete them. For tasks that you've never done and don't know the time frame, take a guess, DOUBLE that time and put it on your calendar -- and respect that boundary. For tasks that you have a pretty good idea of its time frame, increase that time by 50%, and put it on your calendar -- and respect that boundary," says Paul Tran, senior director of Fransmart.
Live in the moment
Practice calming the constant chatter in your mind and enjoy and live in the moment. We may do this while we are on vacation and lying on the beach, but you can do this in your everyday life as well.
"I would not have believed you if you'd said silence and simplifying is powerful but in my experience it is," says Joanna Runciman, CLC Certified Life Coach, who says to simply do one task (such as folding laundry or chopping vegetables) and nothing else, including chatting on the phone with a friend or watching TV. "This simplicity not only makes us more efficient, but we enjoy life more. Mindfulness is not just on a beach or in the spa, we can simplify our lives just 'living' life."