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Can't Keep Up? 4 More Ways to Simplify Your Life

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The Harry Rower Photostream

The Harry Rower Photostream

Yesterday I gave you three ways to simplify your life.

1. Stop trying to keep up and keep sane instead.

2. Drop out of , cancel or postpone any activities that don’t further your goals or happiness

3. Lower your standards

Here are four more ways to simplify your life.

4. Put white space around your activities

You can tell the difficulty level of a book by how much or little white space there is around the paragraphs and in the margins. Law textbooks, for example, tend to have more words on a page with smaller fonts and less white space than a 5th grade history book. For that reason the 5th grade book is less intimidating and easier to read.

Plan your time so there’s lots of space between activities. It will contribute to your peace of mind.

I was teaching an 8 AM study skills class one day when I spotted a 20 year old fidgeting on the edge of her seat the first day. She was nervously watching the clock as the hour neared 8:50.

Noticing her discomfort, I asked what was the problem.

“Will you be dismissing class on time? ” she blurted. “I have to be at work at 9 AM.”

This student was clearly asking for trouble. Even though her job was just a few blocks from campus, there was no way she could count on being at work by 9AM immediately following an 8AM class. I urged her to drop the class.

If you have an important meeting in the afternoon, don’t schedule three important activities in the morning. Space these out on different days.

Allow yourself more time to commute than you think you’ll need. It’s so much better to arrive unhurried and unruffled than to flop into the room panting and exhausted.

5. Slow down

No matter how many lanes they add to the freeways here in Southern California, drivers keep rushing down the road, taking scary chances darting in front of one another, risking all of our lives.

There is a reason why Buddhism is the fastest growing religion, why organic food is growing in popularity and why dowhshifting is even a word. Although the turn in the economy may have sparked the turn to simple living, many are voluntarily slowing their lives or officially joining the Slow Movement.

You can slow your life by eating in smaller bites and chewing longer. Health experts say that this aids our digestion, lowers our stress and helps us lose weight. The best part is that we can finally actually enjoy the taste of our food, savor it. How cool is that?

You can also slow down your reaction to things that aren’t going your way. The old saying that you should count to ten is not just your Grandma’s advice, it’s also a sound anger management technique.

Waiting before you react  diffuses your anger, gives you time to think and empathize with the other party. Most of all improves how you will respond.

6. Beware of bright, shiny objects and good ideas.

This tip is especially for me.

I was clipping along making good progress down my to-do list this morning, for example, when I got an email reminder from Jon Hansen of PI Window on Business that his radio show was starting in a few minutes. (I love his shows.)  His guest this morning was British historian, Albert Jack, who has written several books about the origins of popular sayings like “turn a blind eye,” or “stealing your thunder.” 

I hadn’t scheduled his show into my day, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. There was, of course, the danger that I could have gotten so distracted that I couldn’t back to my to-do list, but I didn’t, this time.

Even things that are wonderful and that are good ideas don’t need to be acted upon as soon as you learn about them. If they don’t advance your goals for the day, or deprive you of much-needed rest, file, bookmark or make note of them for another day.

7. Make good use of that technology you own.

One day as we were on our way to a family reunion, a phone call came through on my cell phone. My son was holding the phone and noticed the telemarker’s company name in the caller ID.

Rather than get upset with the telemarketer for calling at a time when it was not convenient, we just didn’t answer it.

My son very thoughtfully said, “Whoever invented caller ID should be given a Congressional Medal of Honor, Nobel Peace Prize, the Pulitzer, the Grammy, the Emmy, the Tony and an Oscar. And if he’s dead, he should be dug up and awarded them posthumously!”

That made me curious so I looked it up.

Caller ID was first developed  by Theodore George “Ted” Paraskevakos, a Greek inventor, businessman and a naturalized citizen of the USA.  He worked on Caller ID while employed as a communications engineer for SITA. Ted holds over 40 patents, but for this one has advanced the cause of simplifying life like no other.

Thank you Ted Paraskevakos!

Now, thanks to Ted, you do not have to pick up the phone to speak to anyone you don’t want to speak to. Take advantage of that wonderful feature.

There are many other labor-saving, time-saving and stress-reducing devices, some which simplify our lives and some which cause frustration. The key to making good use of technology is use it, not let it use and control you.

Commit to following these ways to simplify your life and keeping up will no longer concern you.


  1. I definitely need to have more white space in my life. I will keep this in mind when I make my schedule for the rest of the week.

    I agree that caller ID is wonderful. When I am busy I only answer calls that I am expecting. The others can leave a message and I will respond when I can.

    • Hi Julia,

      Thanks for stopping by my blog. I took a peek at yours too, and love the little books service on your site.

      I’m delighted that you were reminded to leave white space. I work toward that goal each week.

      As for caller ID, it’s one of my favorite inventions next to GPS and the computer, of course.

  2. I relate to No 6- so easy to lose ones momentum- I used to have Garry Vee looking down at me asking Have you crushed this today I think I will put this up again- as I have listened today to a call that could have taken me on another track, till I stopped myself and realized that I did now have time to take anything else in and that I could probably teach most of what was being said
    thanks for sharing

    • Hi Suzie,

      I think #6 is a trait that creative people share. Those excursions off course can be fun, but if they derail our plans that no good. Thanks for your comment.

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