It’s hard to feel on top of life when you never seem to get caught up. Your to-do list is too long, your inbox stays full, you’ve got voicemails to return, your house is a mess, and your bills … ahh, the bills.
The only way you’re going to simplify and streamline your life is to cut some things out—but where? And what?
1. Set a morning routine.
It may not seem like much, but creating and sticking to a morning routine will set the tone for the rest of your day. Whatever it is that helps you get going in the morning, do it every day, and defend that time. Use your morning ritual to collect your thoughts for the day. Make a list of all the things you need to get done so you don’t forget anything and so you feel ready to take on the day. Bonus: it’s very gratifying to cross those things off your list.
2. Say ‘yes’ less.
Over-extending yourself complicates your life and eats away your free time. Learn to tell others no when you don’t want to do something. Memorize and repeat this line, “No, that’s not going to work for me.”
You don’t owe anyone a reason or an excuse. If the person persists, repeat it again. After the second time, the person will get the message.
Is your email inbox full of newsletters you never read? Unsubscribe. Are you bombarded with messages about sales on items you don’t need? Unsubscribe. Do you get magazines you rarely read? Unsubscribe. And, most of all, unsubscribe from subscription box services. You don’t need those things. You probably don’t even want them. And if you don’t forget to log in and skip each month, they’re going to charge you anyway. Unsubscribe, unsubscribe, unsubscribe.
4. Be your own gatekeeper.
Stop answering calls from people you don’t want to talk to, replying to texts you don’t want to reply to, and saying yes to events you don’t want to attend.
If an old friend is still committed to bad habits you want to kick, stop hanging out with her. You don’t have to stop caring about her well-being, but you can care without exposing yourself to her unproductive tendencies. Same goes for social media—unfollow what’s-his-name who offends you on Twitter, Facebook, etc.
Streamlining your life may feel risky at first, but the time and mental clarity you’ll gain make it well worth the effort. The payoff is more time, more money and less stress–and who doesn’t want that?
Need some help getting back on track? Ronald J. Drescher has been assisting clients with their legal and financial troubles for more than three decades.