By Josh Rueff on April 23, 2013
“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”
Our lives get complicated quickly. With society’s high-paced and complex forms of work, habits, and communication, it can become a nightmare to keep up while staying sane. This list of things to simplify will help you gather your thoughts and minimalist ideas in a way that will hopefully inspire goals that will improve your life.
10 Things to Simplify
1. Things: This is probably the most popular place to start, and with good reason! This is a concept that gets repeated over and over. And it’s time to start listening to it: The things we own often own us. Mortgage debt, credit card debt, car payments, boat payments, our golfing green yards. A good rule of thumb is this: If it causes more bad than good, get rid of it. Simple enough. More on owning less here.
2. Money: When my wife and I received marriage counseling, our pastor told us that money is one of the top 3 causes of problems in marriage. If you’re not married I’m sure you can still see the importance of good money management – it’s how we buy food and shelter. It’s how we support our sports and hobbies. It’s how we get gifts for people we like. From personal experience I can say that the most freeing experience was simplifying my finances. It can seem intimidating, but it’s really just a mole hill. Read “Minimalist Living: The Simple Budget” to learn one way to simplify your finances.
3. Time: Ever heard the saying “Time is money”? Time is a scarce resource in a finite, and it’s infinitely valuable. Plan your life in a way that cuts the excess fat off of your day. Do a time “audit” on yourself. If you find that you’re wasting 10 minutes each day on a long route to work, and take the short route, you’ve just added an hour a week to your life! 4 extra hours a month can make a world of a difference. And I’d bet you can find more than that 😉 Here’s 100 other simple ways to simplify your life.
4. Relationships: Some people are better at this than others. Those of us who try to have meaningful relationships with too many people often find themselves hurting the friendships and acquaintances they value the most. Make a list of you most valuable friends, family, and business relationships, then weed out the lower priorities until you get to a manageable number. I realize this sounds a bit Machiavellian, but it’s worth it to save your relationships and see them thrive. More on simplifying relationships.
5. Work: In a capitalist economy (for better or for worse), we have to compete. I personally love to compete, but in the workplace that often means exerting myself beyond what I should in order to stay competitive (and beat the competition). Higher priority values such as time spent with family and friends, helping people, and/or traveling (or whatever other activity you place a high value on), should never suffer because of your work habits. If they do, it’s time to cut back. If you can’t cut back because you’ll lose your job, well that’s one of the joys of living in America – find a new one! One quick tip: The less money you need to live off of, the more freedom you have in your career decisions. Read how I got out of the rat race completely.
6. Studying: For many people, studying is one of the main avenues of self improvement. Both students and non-students alike benefit from simplifying their study habits. Mold your study habits around the Pareto’s Law; the 80/20 rule – 80% of your success comes from 20% of your studying. Find out when and how that 20% occurs, and shape your study strategy around the when/what/where/and how of that 20%.
7. Fitness: The same goes for fitness. You can almost certainly achieve the same workout goals in less than half the time you normally spend at the gym using the 80/20 rule. This is an area I’m seeing good progress in – I haven’t achieved all of my goals yet, but I decreased the amount of time spent working out from 1 hour and 40 minutes to 30-45 minutes by setting up a home gym (cutting out time spent on travel) and cutting my hour workout to a half hour (by spending less time on warm up/cool down/breaks). Here’s one of my 30 minute home workouts.
8. Eating: As Confucious says “all things in moderation”. There’s a number of things you can do to simplify your diet and increase you’re health. This is be something I plan on diving into in more detail on in the future, but for now my best strategy is the IIFYM diet: “If it fits your macros, eat it.” This method helps you simplify your diet to the bare minimum, while keeping you healthy and fit.
9. Drinking: One of the most overlooked areas of health is hydration. All it takes is this simple calculation for your daily water intake: Body Weight/2 = Ounces of water. So if you weigh 200 lbs you should be drinking 100 ounces of water a day.
10. Sports/Hobbies: Again, Pareto’s principle and the rule of thumb I mentioned earlier apply: If it causes more bad than good, get rid of it. My dad made a tough decision about watching sports that I admire him for – he realized it hurt his relationship with my mom when he spent too much time watching the games, so he cut back. Way back… He listens to the Royals/Chiefs game on the radio every Sunday and that’s it. Kind of an extreme example, but it’s all about priorities – He placed a higher value on his wife than the things he enjoyed, and I hope to do the same for my wife. Read more: “100 Minimalist Hobbies!”