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Simplify Your Life: Stick to Simple Habits

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. (1 Corinthians 10:13, NLT)

It has been fun to do this Simplify Your Life series.  It has been an eye opener to me and I hope was for you too. The key to simplify your life lies in constantly evaluating what you’re doing and if you’re doing more than necessary. A simple lifestyle is a choice we have to make.

Life doesn’t need to be more complicated than it already is. Sometimes we add more to our schedule without thinking about how it would affect our lives. In the height of our activities, we may sometimes add new things to our lives that complicate matters – join an email subscription, start a course or new hobby, or volunteer to participate in a project, etc. Although these may be good activities, we usually find that we are a bit stretched.

A good practice especially before adding new things to your life is to ask yourself a few questions:

  • Do I need this added responsibility or activity?
  • Would it add or multiply value to my life?
  • Is it within my life plan or purpose?
  • If I take this on, is there something that I would be willing to give up?

The questions will help you weed out what you don’t need in your life. We don’t have to be involved in everything. To keep life simple, don’t give yourself more than you can handle because God doesn’t do that to you.

We do need to be purpose driven and simple in the delivery of God’s plan for our lives. Think about it – God’s plan of salvation is simple – accept Christ as your Savior and Lord; live for Him and eternal life is yours. If you choose to embark on or keep up a simple life, then be determined and stick to the plan. Don’t allow yourself, your family or friends to side track you. There is peace in keeping things simple.

I have just focused on a few ways to keep life simple and how to avoid having an overwhelming schedule. I have not, by any means, covered all the simple life habits we can develop to make our lives abundant and successful. After all, we are keeping it simple :).

Life is to be enjoyed (1 Tim. 6:17) and simplicity of life activities makes that possible.

Feel free to share how you are able to maintain a simple yet effective life.

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Simplify Your Life: Clear Your Mind

Then the Lord answered me, “Write the vision. Make it clear on tablets so that anyone can read it quickly. (Hab.: 2:2, GW)

I love writing (I guess that might be obvious by now). I always have a notebook and pen or my blackberry which I make full use to write notes, reminders and ideas. But we often overlook writing as a practice that can bring simplicity to our lives. Our minds can become cluttered and over-loaded with many details. If we don’t release all the to-dos, the dreams, the visions on paper, we begin to see the smallest tasks as big problems. Even in our thoughts we need to keep it simple.

For example, the thought about this series came to me while reviewing my emails. At first, my intention was to jot down a few points and to get back to it later. However as I started to write, I had to clear my mind and write everything I wanted to say. Whenever I get an idea or remember something I need to do but the time isn’t right, I have to write. Usually at night this would happen to me. I think I write and develop ideas better at night (that’s an Ah Ha moment there for me)! If I do not write out what came to mind, I become restless. Sometimes, I’d be reluctantly get out my bed and do (usually write) what I needed to before I could go to sleep.

So, we don’t just write when it comes to setting our goals or making life plans but writing is useful for keep any area of your life simple. For example, you can write a home to-do list, have an idea book for projects you want to do in the future, or plan your vacation. My Mum always says that when you make notes you have something to refer to and what you have to do won’t be easily forgotten. Here are some writing habits you can develop.

Simple Life Habits For Everyday Success
  • Write down your goals – short term, medium term, long term and life-time.
  • Gives clarity and definition to your life.
  • Regularly review your plans – daily do something that pertains to your overall plans
  • Keeps you focused on your goals and helps you to keep moving forward.
  • Always take a notebook and pen with you. If you have a smart phone, use it well – write notes, set appointments or reminders of tasks you have to do.
  • Clears your mind of the small details so you can think and work through important tasks.
  • Keep a journal – a prayer journal, a gratitude journal, a just-expressing-thoughts journal, a what-I-did-today journal
  • A great way to express yourself, appreciate God and relax your mind.
  • Express your thoughts and cares to the Lord and ask Him for wisdom.
  • Peace of mind is certain when you place God in the midst of your life. You will make good life decisions and not be stressed.

Apart from these tips on writing to help simplify your life, remember this: Do what you have to do when you have to do it. This would help you avoid rehashing things over and over in your mind and remove overwhelming feelings.

Do you write your thoughts down? Do you keep a notebook, a journal or have any kind of writing habit that has helped you to keep life simple? Share your thoughts.

Simplify Your Life: Remove the Clutter

As we continue this Simplify Your Life series, our focus moves from reducing the electronic load to being clutter-free. In this world, it is easy to accumulate more than we need. We overstock our homes with too much clothing, food, electronics, and many boxes of stuff that has not been used in years. We keep more than we need and as a result often feel claustrophobic and weighted down by all the stuff we have.

Clutter or disorder is not a part of God’s nature. Creation was the process God used to set the earth in order. He took great care in making this universe function in an orderly fashion – day and night, water and land, heaven and earth – were all created with a purpose. There is nothing chaotic or cluttering about creation.

This same order and purpose for everything is what makes life simple and free. Like our Father, we should have every area of our lives organized. We should rid ourselves of anything that encumbers us. Let look at some ways we can live clutter-free.

Simple Life Habits For Everyday Success
  • Take time over the next few weekends or take half-hour slots every day for a week to remove some unwanted stuff.
  • Apart from giving your home a lighter feel or look, you will know where to find what you need and certainly release a heavy load.
  • Clear your closets of the clothing you don’t wear, don’t like and that no longer fits. Give away the nicer ones and toss what looks worn.
  • Flexing your generosity muscles will make you feel good.
  • Reduce the paper load. For each piece of paper decide what you will do with it – file, read, action, or trash.
  • Controlling the paper giant will make it easier for you to find information when you need it.
  • Keep things where they belong (in their designated place of your home or office).
  • This will save time, effort and frustration especially when you quickly need to find something.

There are other areas that you may need to de-clutter as well. Do you receive newspaper and magazine subscriptions that you don’t have time to read? Take a look in your pantry – do you have expired and soon-to-be expired food stuff? What about your garage – is it overloaded with boxes? Consider your car – do you keep it tidy or is the trunk another place for storage?

Having moved from a three-bedroom house to a one-bedroom condo unit at one point, I know how it feels to have too much in a small space. When I did a major clearing of items I no longer needed, I felt a lot better – I felt relieved and free.

How do you keep clutter under control?

Simplify Your Life: Reduce the E-Load

In this Simple Your Life series, we have identified simple life habits we can develop to make our lives easier. This topic may prove a bit of a challenge but if we try it we would be pleasantly surprised by the relief it brings. Today we want to focus on how we can lessen the weight of the electronic world from off our shoulders.

How can you actually do this? I process my personal emails at least three times a day – before work, lunch time and after work. It works wonderfully! Along with that simple life habit, I also decided that there were some email subscriptions which I don’t need anymore – so I’ve removed my email address from these mailing lists.

Check your inbox, how many emails do you actually read or tell yourself that you will attend to later. Clean your inbox. Find out how to merge them or close a few if you have to.

We need to keep simple and under control what we can and email management is one of them. Here are some simple life habits you can develop to manage the e-load.

Simple Life Habits For Everyday Success
  • Avoid the temptation to check your inbox too often. Process emails at least three times a day.
  • Email management will help you to be more focused on and productive in your work.
  • Reduce the number of emails you receive. Consider eliminating some personal email accounts.
  • This gives you the freedom to actually read what is of most importance.
  • Set time limits on your social media activity.
  • When you place controls on this activity you will gain quality social time for family and friends.
  • It’s easy to get distracted online clicking a link here and a link there. If you have to do research online, write what you are looking for and when you’re done close the browser.
  • Being intentional in how you use the internet will ensure that you carry out what you wanted to.
  • Technologies are great but limit the number of gadgets (mobile phone, desktop, laptop, e-reader, GPS, and tablet) you have.
  • You will have fewer devices to support and avoid additional cost of purchasing or upgrading.

Not being technology savvy or connected is unheard of in this age. However, it’s this ‘need’ to connect that makes life complex at times. We often have no breathing space because there is always someone to respond to or something to do. Having less is sometimes more.

I know that there are ways to keep abreast of e-life happenings and still keep it simple. What do you do to keep the e-load in check?

Simplify Your Life: Manage Your Time

So far in this series, we have discussed areas where we can develop a few simple life habits that will improve our lifestyle and keep it uncomplicated. Today, we continue by reviewing some simple time management practices.

So teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12, NKJV)

Time is our most precious resource. Today matters for the today and when today is gone is it lost forever. As such time is highly valued but sometimes in an effort to maximize our time we get too busy.

However busyness does not mean productivity nor does being productive mean your life must be hectic. Simply put, being productive involves knowing what to do and doing it. It requires knowing how to make the best use of your time.

How is your life right now – hectic or productive? Whatever your answer, check your life and consider what you can drop from your schedule.

Learn to say ‘No’ at times and mean it. You can’t be involved in every church activity or social event. You may even need to say ‘No’ to a personal project you’ve been doing. It may not be the right fit now.

While you may opt of a few activities, you may need to say ‘Yes’ to yourself. Give yourself some personal time for self-care, recreation or relaxation. Say ‘Yes’ to rejuvenating yourself so you can be more effective in fulfilling your purpose.

Consider some of these time management habits:

Simple Life Habits For Everyday Success
  • Plan your day. Write down 4-7 things you want to accomplish the next day. However, leave room for contingencies.
  • You will gain clarify since you know what to do. You’ll be a more focused and driven person.
  • Speak success over your day. Tell God your plans and ask Him to bless your day.
  • You will experience favor wherever you go. Even when challenges arise, you will be confident and be able to overcome them.
  • Acknowledge that time is a priceless commodity that is spent even if you don’t use it wisely.
  • You will value your time and that of others. You will treasure moments with family and friends.
  • Give yourself 24 hours before commitment to anything new.
  • This will help you to avoid over committing yourself.
  • Evaluate your day. Did you accomplish what you planned? Did you slack off or did you have to deal with the unexpected?
  • You may not always check off everything on your list but the benefit is that you remain focused and can recoup the next day.

Set aside some time to determine if your use of time correspond with your goals. One way you can track your time is to keep a journal. Record the time for each of your activities at work, at home, at church, on the road, etc. After a week or two evaluate how much time is spent on what matters most to you. With this information in hand you can then re-arrange your schedule to align with your goals.

Share what you have learnt about yourself while tracking your time and how you will improve your time management.

Until next time,

Keep life simple.

Simplify Your Life: Ask for Help

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. (Philippians 4:6-7, MSG)

The previous post in this Simplify Your Life series discussed a few life habits we can develop to remain focused on God. Peace and confidence are blessings which become evident when God is central in our lives. In this post, we will consider an often overlooked practice that can reduce our busy schedules.

Asking for help isn’t always easy. Pride can get in the way. We all like to know that we can hold our own. However, asking for help relieve feelings of frustration and pressure and prevent you from becoming exhausted.

I recall an occasion when I needed help. Every Monday I hosted and led a small group meeting in my home. At the start of a new school year my daughter’s school program changed and I needed to help her with homework. Those evenings proved challenging as I juggled meeting preparation and homework.  I discussed alternatives with the group members but changing the time wasn’t feasible.

Then I asked God to show me the best way to fulfill both commitments. Within two weeks, my daughter’s school introduced a homework program. This was the answer to my prayer for help! She was able to complete her work during the after-school program giving me the freedom to continue the group meetings as scheduled.

If you feel overwhelmed or think you are headed for burn-out, consider these simple life habits to get your life on track and receive the help you need.

Simple Life Habits For Everyday Success
  • Pray about everything in your life.
  • Doing this will release you from worrying. As you seek God’s direction He will show you what to do or send you the help you need.
  • Recognize that God is always with you.
  • This will certainly bring peace into your life. Knowing that God is with you provides inner strength.
  • Have weekly family meetings for open discussion, prayer and thanksgiving.
  • This keeps everyone at home on the same page and working together as a unit relieves the stress of going it alone.
  • Relieve yourself of full time duty. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help and accept it when offered.
  • It will create some free time rest as well as give you the opportunity to do something you’ve always wanted to do.

No man is an island. We are not here to go it alone. The Word constantly comforts us with the promise that God is with us always. From the beginning we weren’t meant to live in a vacuum. Embrace at least two of the life habits above that you know will make your life simpler.

If you’re the type to do it all yourself, I have challenge for you: Think about an area where you need a helping hand. Identify friends or family members you can ask to assist you accomplish that task. Then, ask them. You may be surprised to hear, “Yes.”

Until next time,

Keep life simple.

Simplify Your Life: Focus on God

In July, I started an 8-part series called Simplify Your Life, if you miss any part of the series you can catch up here. Last week I offered a general introduction of the areas we will cover in this series.  At the end of it, I hope that we can all make headway in leading uncomplicated, uncluttered, productive and successful lives.

This Book of the Law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe and do according to all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall deal wisely and have good success. (Joshua 1:8, AMP)

Sometimes if we take a close look at ourselves, we’d realize that our schedules become so overloaded that we don’t spend time with the Lord as we should. For example, I generally read the Bible at least twice a day – in the morning and at night before bed. Recently, I realized I was dropping that night habit and furthermore I was not meditating on the Word as much. I have recommitted myself to do that night reading however little. It keeps me focused on the God’s plan for my life. I am refreshed as I meditate on the promises and commands in the Word and apply them to my life daily.

To keep focused on God you have to be intentional. You will need to develop simple habits that will keep your thoughts and heart toward God continually.

Simple Life Habits For Everyday Success
  • Prayer at all times. Although this sometimes seems like a daunting task it is possible. The key to having an open and continual conversation with God (prayer) lies in recognizing that God is with you at all times.
  • You will have a blooming relationship with your heavenly Father and be attuned to His will.
  • Read the Word at least twice a day. Technology has made it possible to have the word of God at our finger tips. To get the Word in use every possible format available – audio, video, e-readers, laptops, mobile phone applications. This will keep your spirit well-fed.
  • The Bible is our manual for successful living. When you learn God’s word you will know how to lead your life well.
  • Meditate on specific scriptures. Take a few scriptures that speak specifically to your life, your family, your dreams and on a daily basis mutter and repeated speak God’s word over your life.
  • Appropriating the promises of God will help you to become more like Christ and build your faith in Him. As you meditate on scripture you will also see God work in your life above and beyond what you speak and think.
  • Think about good things. Purposely banish negative thoughts from your mind. For example, the moment you begin to think that you’ll fail reflect on God’s word: “As a blessed child of God, whatever I do shall prosper”.
  • You will develop the ability to flush out negative self-talk. You will be able to handle life’s challenges with more confidence as you view from God’s perspective and not the world’s.
  • Praise continually. Remember that God is worthy of praise no matter what situation you are facing. God is always good and He is always doing good to you. Praise Him.
  • You will develop a heart of gratitude toward God and to the people around you. A more positive attitude will develop in you

Any one of these suggestions above will lead to a strong spiritual walk. Having a great relationship with the Father will give you more confidence and calmness. In this hurried and complicated world, life will be less complex and you’d be able to make sound decisions without doubt or fear.

What are some of the life habits you have developed to help you stay focused on God?