• Madhura

Simplify Your Life

Hello my dear friends !! Welcome back to the Morning Cup of Sunshine podcast. Welcome if you are tuning in for the first time. I am so grateful for you to spend a little time from your day with me. I try to be as uplifting and positive as possible. I just want you to feel good after listening to me every week. I hope you enjoy my episodes every week and continue to come back week after week. We are rapidly approaching the end of the year. This holiday season is different from previous years. We all are navigating the new and changed reality. We all were affected by the unpredictable 2020 in some way or the other. This holiday season is the reflection of that. This week, I want you to help you navigate these changes by simplifying your life. This is a vast topic and there are so many ways to simplify each area of your life, so I will try to concentrate on a few areas in this episode.

Happy Moment of the Week

But first, happy moment of the week. Last week was full work after the Thanksgiving holidays. It was a quite busy week but I was able to squeeze in time to learn something new. I wanted to learn a new project management application called Asana. I wanted to understand the nitty gritties of creating projects, project plans, managing teams and workflows in Asana. I was finally able to start learning. I was able to read, watch tutorials and even create some sample projects in Asana. I loved the process of exploring new applications. I absolutely love the process of learning new skills, it makes me so excited when I see my progress. This week gave me that confidence to keep learning , keep exploring new things. I believe that you are never too old to learn a new skill. This was on my bucket list for a long time and the moment I decided to take a leap and decided to spend some time honing my skills was definitely a happy moment for me. What about you my friends? How was your week? Did you do something new, exciting? Did you enjoy your ThanksGiving with your family and friends? Do let me know your happy moments in our facebook group, Morning Cup of sunshine community. I always have a weekly post where you can share your happy moments of the week. I would love to hear from you, so keep them coming as usual.

Alright, it is time to start working towards a blissful and simple life. Is it really necessary to create a life that is complicated, when we can focus on things that really matter to us and simplify our life. If you are stressed, you make your life way more complex. You can reduce your stress by simplifying life. Just imagine the peace of mind you can have if you live an uncomplicated life. I think there are some basic steps that we should take in order to simplify our life. The very first step is Decluttering.


Step 1 : Declutter

I have an episode, Less is More. This is by far my favorite episode. If you have not listened to it before, I would highly recommend you listen to that episode. We have a tendency to collect too much stuff. Sometimes, the shiny facebook or instagram ad make us buy totally unnecessary things. Sometimes a recommendation from a friend is so strong that we could not say no. Sometimes, deals and sales leave us no choice. Am I right? Before we know it we collect too much to manage. I have a funny story to share. When we first moved into a small 2 bedroom apartment right after we got married, we had very less stuff. The second bedroom was never even used. Then after a year, we bought a house and we wanted to move. We thought a small moving truck would be enough since it was just a year and we had barely anything when we got married. But to our surprise, we needed a huge moving truck. We collected almost ten times the stuff that we started with. I could not believe it. But did I learn my lesson? No absolutely not. When we moved to the USA, we had even less stuff, as we could carry two bags each. We stayed in a corporate apartment for three weeks before we moved to a rented apartment. Can you believe in those three weeks we collected twice as much stuff? We had to carry those 4 bags to the apartment, empty those out and again get the rest of the stuff from that corporate apartment. This was just too much for me. I finally started thinking. I slowly started reading about minimalism and intentional living. I always turn to books whenever I am in a doubt. This time as well, like my trusted friends, books helped me navigate this new found reality. I was amused by how much I can learn. I started following small steps, like asking the basic questions, do I really need this, before buying anything? Can I use something that I already have instead? I started decluttering my spaces frequently. Marie Kondo became my guiding pole. My friends still tease me about my love for cleaning and organizing. But it gives me joy to see a decluttered, organized space. I can focus more on more urgent tasks if I see a clean and organized desk. It gives me immense peace of mind if my inbox is free of unnecessary emails. It simplifies my work routine. It is that simple my friends. If you unsubscribe from all the emails that you no longer wish to receive, you can focus more on the urgent emails. If you periodically declutter your space, you can reach really required things easily. Dishes in the sink, toys everywhere, unfolded laundry, tons of paper clutter in your entry table can become the reasons for stress. It can complicate your life before you even realize it. I would love to make an entire episode about tips to organize your space. I do not have a big house, still I try to be creative and create the space that I truly love. My kids also have toys but what I learned over the years is they don’t need tons of toys, or every new toy in the market to be happy. Rather having fewer toys can spark the imagination. Having more open ended toys that they can explore are more engaging. Try to focus on quality over quantity. Miatreyi plays with a lot of Mihir’s toys which we bought when he was 2-3 years old. Toy rotation worked wonders with my kids, instead of having all the toys in front of them all the time. Keeping a few of them in a bin hidden in a closet and bringing them out while keeping the already out toys away in the closet every few months help maintain the charm of older toys. Decluttering does not mean you need all the pretty bins and etsy customized labels. If you have it, then that's great. But If you don’t have it right now, that does not mean you can not declutter and organize your space. Frankly, I would love to have a big pantry and all the same glass canisters with pretty labels. That is my dream pantry but that does not mean I should stop simplifying my existing space for my ease of operation. Having a space that you love makes you enjoy your life a little more. So, let’s do one thing, let’s declutter , purge and organize your space before you bring new goodies into your home.


Step 2 : Systems

Having systems that work long term, help you ease out that decision fatigue and let me tell you, this is a real thing. I have talked about systems that I implement in many episodes. Life is vast, unpredictable and complicated but systems make it simpler. I understand, we can not control every aspect of our life but systems help us take control of at least some aspects of our life. It takes out the pressure to take a decision at every step. You need to have a clear set of goals in order to define a system. It needs a focus point, a definite set of inputs and output. If you don’t set the expectations correctly, the system will be designed haphazardly and won’t work in a long term. If the system does not work long term and if you have continuously keep changing the system that means it is not completely optimized to suit your requirement. A well designed system is like a well oiled machine, it works smoothly no matter what. Any task you have to do repeatedly, even if it’s only annually, can benefit from a system. The system can be simple, but it must contain all the information and tools needed to accomplish its purpose. If it doesn’t, it’s not a system; it’s a half-built system, and it’s not usable. System needs to be repeatable and teachable. But that does not mean a system can remain static. Our needs change, our seasons change, sometimes our priorities change so we need to do a regular maintenance of our systems. They might need a little tweaking based on your ever changing life. But for the most part, it should be a no-brainer. But the important aspect is to keep those systems interesting, enjoyable and effective. Let me give you a simple example. I have a very small kitchen, with limited cabinet space. I don’t have a separate pantry to store dry goods. I struggled the first few months to accommodate everything. Frankly, I don’t enjoy daily, routine cooking but I love to cook different dishes and I absolutely love to bake. Being an Indian, we love our vast variety of food in this household. So I have a decent collection of utensils, spices, baking goods and what not. Initially I thought, I could never accommodate everything in those tiny cabinets without overflowing them. I arranged and rearranged my cabinets several times. Finally, I figured out a way to keep everything inside those cabinets, keep them organized. My cabinets now can accommodate everything and still feel airy and tidy and completely organized. Every time I open my cabinets, I look forward to cooking, instead of stressing out over the cluttered cabinets. I devised a system that works for me and my family, considering the space I have. I implemented the small solutions like, using the vertical space in the cabinets, putting the similar items in a bin and what not. But I am so happy to tell, that I have been living in this home for almost 5 years now, and I didn't have to change my system in those years, because it works perfectly for us. We all know where everything goes, everything has its own place. I am not telling this to brag or anything. I don’t have a pinterest worthy cabinet but what I have surely works for us. On top of that, it feels good and stress free when I see those beautifully arranged cabinets. It simplifies my life as I can find what I am looking for right away. It makes me enjoy my space and lets me focus on the actual task on hand and that is cooking. So, try to establish the systems that work for you. It can be your morning routine or evening routine or workout routine. It can be the way you meal plan or grocery shop. It can be used for helping kids study, making a system for them, that they can follow independently. Trust me, systems always work. The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary can speak.


Step 3 : Priorities -

I always say that we all have 24 hours in a day, you, me, your friend, her neighbor. Everyone has 24 hours in a day. We can do only so much in those 24 hours. If you keep filling your day to the brink of breaking, it will stress you out and complicate your life. Priorities help you give the sense of things. We all think that we are too busy in our life and can not change the current complexity of life, but the fact is, it is all about priorities, you will take out a time if you feel the importance of that task, if it is in your priority list. It is time to look closely at our priorities to simplify our life. What is the most important thing for you in your life? What are the things for which you will always have time? Everyone has a different set of priorities. It is never about having time, it is always about making time. If you love something, if you enjoy something, you always make it a priority. You need to set up your priorities to simplify your life. In this season of my life, my kids, my fitness, my job and my podcast takes the priority over anything else. I will always prioritize my family, my kids over anything else. I might have to say no to a few things if those commitments can’t fit into my priorities. Even when you can fit new commitments into your schedule, but if they burn you out and make you lose your focus on what’s important,then you have to politely say no to those commitments. Your life becomes stressful if you have too many things to accomplish in the limited time. Do what you absolutely have to, do what you enjoy, do what you love but rest of the things, the things that you are doing out of obligations just try to say no to them. Don’t allow other people’s priorities to take away from your own. I completely understand that, it is not that easy. I struggle with it even today. The hardest thing for me to say is no, to someone or something. But, I am trying and I will keep trying for my sanity. I truly believe that good things happen to you when you set your priorities straight. If you think, it is important, then trust me, you will find a way but if it is not that important to you, you will find an excuse. Prioritize at least one thing everyday, that you absolutely love. It will boost your self love, it will boost your confidence and self compassion. Working out, working on my podcast and journaling are my absolute must do priorities apart from my day to day chores and family time. I feel accomplished if I work on these priorities every single day and that makes me feel good about myself. It gives me mental energy to work on my day job if I give time to things that I absolutely love. By having priorities, you simplify your schedule and by simplifying your schedule, you can focus on what’s really important and in turn you can simplify your life. You need to remove any unnecessary noise, distractions, and/or busywork that doesn’t promote clarity from your schedule. Take the time now before days become weeks, weeks become months, and so on to look inward and be brutally honest with yourself. Create your days with purpose and in alignment with what matters the most to you! It is your duty to cultivate life priorities! I understand that your day may look totally different than mine. We can have totally different sets of priorities so you have to work on your schedule, the one that works for you. Life priorities are so individualized, don’t feel intimidated because your placement differs from others. Remember, there is only one you and one life. You are in charge of your priorities. But the end goal is to set the priorities and accordingly set the schedule and finally stick to it to simplify your life. The surest way to simplify your life is to focus on what matters. Isn’t it?

Recap

On this note, let’s quickly recap this episode. Simplifying your life is the goal that is always important. It is the goal that all of us want to achieve. Today, I talked about three easy ways to achieve this goal.

Step 1 : Declutter

Step 2 : Systems

Step 3 : Priorities

This week, declutter your space and your mind to focus on what’s really important. Create systems to avoid the unending decision fatigue. Finally, try to pencil in your priorities, think about the things that really matter to you. Just trust, it is possible to simplify your life. Don’t waste the years struggling for the things that are unimportant. Don’t burden yourself with possessions. Keep your needs and wants simple and enjoy what you already have. Don’t destroy your peace of mind by looking back, worrying about the past, instead live in the present and simplify.



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