Americans feel busier than ever before, even though we are objectively working less. Even as technological advancements, like dishwashers, vacuum cleaners and washing machines, have made necessary chores faster and easier, other changes have made us feel the pressure of using every spare minute to the fullest.
Watching several of the hundreds of television shows available, staying up on the latest fitness trends, and making sure your children are experts in at least one sport and one musical instrument feels like a cultural requirement. These things that used to be leisure activities can start to feel like obligations.
All of these pressures mean that everyone is looking for ways to simplify their lives, to make things run more smoothly. Here are some ideas on how you can do that. It’s as simple as 1-2-3.
You can’t do everything. It’s a hard reality to accept sometimes, but it’s true. But have you ever looked back at a day (or a week or a year) and thought, “Why did I spend so much time weeding the garden when I don’t even really care about my yard?” If we don’t spend some time really nailing down our priorities, we can spend way too much time on things we don’t actually care about, to the detriment of our actual passions.
One way to think about organizing your priorities is to use the Eisenhower Box. Famously used by President Eisenhower, the matrix allows you to organize things you need or want to do based not only on how important they are but on how urgent they are.
Prioritizing naturally leads to planning. It’s one thing to decide which tasks, which goals, which activities matter to you. It’s another to actually do them. Whether it’s meal planning, budgeting, or the super popular bullet journal method, taking the time to plan ahead can save you a lot of stress and chaos later. It can also be downright therapeutic.
If you’re the type of person who doesn’t like a lot of structure, planning a little bit can still be helpful. You can build flexibility and downtime into your plan. By doing this, you can be sure that time will not be interrupted due to remembering a chore or errand that must be completed.
There are a lot of tasks that simply have to get done: paying bills, making appointments, returning emails, etc. But there are a lot of ways to automate tasks now that weren’t available in the past. For example, even if you know you can set certain bills to autopay, you probably don’t have all of your bills being paid automatically. And this can lead to additional problems, like forgetting which bills you have set to autopay and which you don’t. Getting every single recurring expense automated will save you time and stress.
But there are a lot of things that can be automated that you may not have thought of. For example, Eva allows you to automate professional gifting, AnyList automates a grocery list, and Buffer lets you post to several social media outlets at once. Simplifying tasks with automation is 21st century delegation.
Simplify your life by prioritizing, planning and automating. Once you’ve followed these three steps, you’ll find that you’re spending more time on the things you actually care about. And isn’t that what everyone wants?