Bottom Line Up Front: Simplifying your life will make the most effective use of the limited willpower, decision-making ability, and time that you have. Here are 5 ways to simplify your life.
I am aware every day of the many obligations I have and the many decisions I have to make every day. I think about how much opportunity there is to receive information today. This is a stark contrast to just about every average man who ever lived before 1900 (and many alive today who live a rural life outside of an industrialized nation). Think about the year 1500 anywhere in any continent in the world. The average man lived on a farm and had a family (he needed help on the farm). He had some land, animals, and crops. He didn’t have many decisions to make and had very little information coming to him every day. Compare him with the average man in the United States today.
He has information flying at him from 100 directions (email, phone, computer, television, and radio). He is worried about the economy, his job, his family, his kids’ education, personal finances, saving for college, saving for retirement, etc. He has social engagements, family obligations, work obligations, needs to exercise, needs to eat better, needs to sleep more to name a few. Anything he can do to simplify his life will make it better. Here are some ideas.
Anything you can get done without having to do anything yourself is time well spent! If you can auto-pay a bill, do it. You can automate buying of some basic items you normally buy like shaving razors or shampoo through sites like Harrys.com (for razors), Thrive Market, and Amazon. I have every bill I have automatically paid.
2. Bulk Purchase
Buy things you buy regularly in large numbers so you can buy them less often. Instead of getting razors sent automatically every month, you could just buy 6 months’ worth. The extra up front money is worth the mental energy savings.
3. Get a Routine
Do the basics the same way each time. Same meals is an easy example. If you can decide once each week what to have for breakfast and lunch, think of the time and energy savings. Decide on the weekend, buy the food, prepare in bulk, and eat it throughout the week. I cooked 5 chicken breasts and 5 heads of broccoli for lunch this week for example. I then put them into giant containers. I throw one breast and some broccoli into my Pyrex bowl for lunch each morning. I usually don’t eat breakfast. No thinking, no agonizing, no bad decisions when you revert to the easiest/cheapest/tastiest thing at 1200.
4. Make Commonality a Virtue
I use a cell phone, tablet, Kindle, Bluetooth headphones, and FitBit every day. Four of them use the same charger. That isn’t an accident. I typically won’t purchase something that doesn’t use a MicroUSB charger (I caved on the FitBit because it has great battery life and doesn’t need charging more than once a week). This is a discriminating factor for me as I remember the days of bring four propriety cables for four devices on a trip.
5. Look for Dual Uses
If you can find something that fits the bill of another thing, do it. Get a smartwatch that tracks activity (consolidate a watch and a FitBit-type device). Get a phablet (ditch a phone and tablet). My favorite personal example: I had three kinds of socks I wore on a routine basis: work, exercise, and casual. I had boot socks for work, half socks to exercise, and longer socks for casual wear. I would sometimes have worn a pair of each many days in a week. I decided to try one sock that would fit the bill for all of them. It is a basic black mid-calf sock that I can wear for all three occasions. I can wear the same socks to work that I can wear out later that evening. I just wear socks from the previous day to exercise in the next morning or workout barefoot. One pair, three uses now.
* Pro tip for socks: Buy them all at once and throw them out all at once. You can then always pair them together without worry one is more faded or older or different. When many of my socks are getting bad, I throw them all out that match, and buy 7-10 pairs of new ones. Makes laundry very easy. I usually just have one kind of sock, which I quickly gather and throw in a drawer.
These are just 5 ways you can take the complex lifestyle most of us live as basic Americans and make it just a little more simple. Any time and sanity you can save will pay dividends in the long run towards making your more mission capable!
QUESTION: Do you have any tips for simplifying life that you have found successful? Post thoughts to comments.
References & Further Reading