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How to be more effective and happier: simplify!

There’s just too much stuff happening. Masses of digital material, programmes to watch, podcasts to listen to, ideas to follow up on, meetings to attend – I don’t need to tell you. Keeping all the piles on your work desk, home office, emails, to-do’s etc. all under control is just about possible. But at what cost? And what would happen if you didn’t keep it all under control?

Probably two things. Firstly, you’d mess up or miss out on a small handful of less important items (as the important ones probably still stay in your mind). Secondly, you’d relax and have time available to think and let your brain work actively, not just processing stuff. The net benefit is, in nearly every case, overwhelmingly positive – in terms of effectiveness and calm contentment (which in itself tends to inspire others and lead to more productive upbeat relationships).

You’ve probably seen the articles about Warren Buffet, Arianna Huffington and Richard Branson – people running huge businesses and with loads of interests and activities, yet seeming to manage with a level of serenity and calmness (whilst they ponder on where the next billion is coming from or what to do with it). I think there’s a clue there – and that’s to simplify, to try to not do stuff, or not have stuff.

I’ve used the 3D’s principle of dealing with incoming actions/ideas/emails etc. – first try to Decline, then try to Delegate, and if all else fails, Do it. But first, only agree with yourself to spend your most precious asset (time) on things if you are really sure. Make the default “no”.

This can be expanded to the idea of going through your diary/to-do list/desk/files/wardrobes and seeing how much you can just get rid of – and it’ll feel great afterwards! Without clutter and “stuff” to clog your life up, you’ll have time and space, and a sense of freedom and control. You’ll be able to let your mind just wander – and if you do, my bet is that you will come up with some useful stuff – but make sure it’s genuinely useful and good stuff not the other sort of put-it-on-a-list stuff.

If you do this, you may well experience the next level reward, which many people only discover as they get towards their end – and that’s live for today. Sure, you need to keep an eye on the future and not be daft: putting money into a pension and staying fit is obviously a good idea – but don’t spend your entire day planning for the future, or saying to yourself “I’ll work like mad now and retire early, rich and happy, ready to take my family around the world”. Life has a habit of tripping us up on such ideas – the kids grow up and move away, the fortune we’d aimed at doesn’t materialise, or we find our joints don’t allow us to do that epic walk we’d wanted to on retirement. Enjoy today, now. Relish the time you spend today, the experiences, locations, people you meet. Look around you – there’s loads of great stuff that, in years to come, you’ll look back and miss – so enjoy it today.

“Life is not a rehearsal”. So get on with it, get rid of as much “stuff” as you can and stop reading all these blogs….!