Desperately seeking simplicity

How much is on your “to do” list right now? Do you need more hours in the day? When it comes to your time, have you ever considered your return on investment?

Every day you are investing your time in something. By nature, we complicate things, take on too many tasks and do a lot of things the hard way. The result is stressed out, burned out people, frantically functioning through life, without really living it. Henry Thoreau said, “Our life is frittered away by detail…Simplify, simplify.” If you really desire more time for what’s important, it’s up to you to simplify. Here are some suggestions:

Start by identifying what is most important to you. Boil it down to two or three main things you do with your time that you feel will have the most lasting impact. Put those at the top of your list … and keep them there. Then list all of the other ways your time is spent and scrutinize everything you do today.

Eliminate or delegate things of lesser importance. Scan the list for things you don’t really have to do, but you do anyway. Determine if it’s time to eliminate some of these things, or if someone else could do them just as well. Consider email lists to which you can unsubscribe to eliminate clutter, magazine subscriptions you can cancel because you never read them, and chores you can assign to others in your household – especially if they’re just as “qualified” as you are to do them!

Automate as much as possible. Consider using direct deposit to save a trip to the bank, automatic bill pay to avoid missing critical due dates, creating grocery lists and appointments in your phone so they’re always handy, and letting calls go to voicemail if you know you don’t have time to talk to the caller.

Don’t overcomplicate tasks by requiring perfection. There are cases where perfection is the only option, but for the majority of things, good enough is good enough. The house will eventually get dusty again, but your children won’t grow smaller. Determine what can function just as well with good enough right now and save perfection for the things that really matter.

Consider your time a precious commodity. Invest it wisely.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” — Leonardo da Vinci