15 Days to A Simpler Life: Day 7: Health and Fitness

I worked as a personal trainer throughout college.

That job taught me that the absolute one thing everyone should do is take charge of his or her health.

Every single one of my personal training clients would always not only lose weight, but gain control of their lives as well. They’d be happier, confident enough to do things they loved, and every now and again were making more money because of the first two.

Now, I’m not saying you have to run and go join a gym right now (although I’m not saying you shouldn’t either), I’m just saying there are small changes you can make in your life to gain control of your health.

Too many people leave their families far too early due to preventable health complications. It’s a tragedy.

Here’s the secret though: health and fitness isn’t a huge thing. You don’t have to start working out for two hours a day. Jillian Michaels only does 30 minutes of a hard workout.

Some of the best changes are small ones.

Action steps today:

  • Most people sit WAY too much. Every hour or so you should stretch. Get up, walk around, raise your hands to the ceiling, touch your toes, whatever works for you.
    Here are some great ideas: http://www.artofmanliness.com/2014/08/05/undo-thedamage-of-sitting/
  • Pre-cook your meals. The only way to combat the ease of fast food and restaurants is to make your meals in advance. There are thousands of recipes online you can make on Sundays, wrap up, and have food all week. I work at home and I do this all the time. When I’m hungry, it’s far too easy to just order some food, but having pre-cooked meals helps both my health and my wallet.
  • Make quick decisions. Studies have shown that we only have a set amount of willpower in the day and the more decisions we have to make, the faster we deplete our willpower. This is why so many people struggle to go to the gym or eat a healthy dinner by the time the afternoon comes around. Automation is KEY. Don’t dwell on decisions: “What should I eat? Should I go to the gym? Where are my clean gym clothes?” Make these automated.
  • Mentally purge every night. Write out EVERYTHING bothering you. Things that are bothering us will disturb our sleep, so tell your brain to purge them out.
  • Mentioning sleep, you need more of it. Most people do not get enough sleep. I know, it can be hard with our hectic lives, but do everything possible to be in bed at a certain time.
    Here are some more ideas: https://medium.com/swlh/nightly-routines-and-howto-sleep-hack-your-way-to-a-productive-morningd341d58f3c3c
  • Get off the yoyo diets and focus on habits. The most common problem I encountered with most of my personal training clients when I worked at a gym, was keeping people from chasing the new shiny diet.
    Sticking to one thing for a few months almost always brings more results than starting a new diet/routine, stopping it the next week, seeing some new TV show and starting a new diet.

 

Want to read the other daily tips? They can all be found here: https://rethinktherulebook.com/category/15-days-to-a-simpler-life/

15 Days to A Simpler Life: Day 6: Schedules

Most studies have shown that anyone working more than 50 hours per week reduces their productivity overall.

In today’s world, it seems like we all have to work ALL THE TIME, but the truth is, we don’t.

You CAN control your life and your time.

The solution is to plan everything out and work in blocks of time.

Now, there is no one schedule that works for everyone. Everyone has different factors in their lives.

Some people like GTD, some like Franklin Covey planners, some like just good ol’ pen and paper, some people prefer digital… There’s no perfect solution.

The important part is to finally pick one of the systems and use it to see if it actually works for you.

Action step today:

I want you to write out a dream schedule. What you want your ideal day to look like.

Now, write out your current schedule.

They’re probably dramatically different, right?

What I want you to do today, is add ONE thing from your dream schedule into your current schedule and stick to it.

Maybe you end work today early.
Maybe you wake up tomorrow before your family and work on something important.
Maybe you make time for that dinner with your friends on Friday.

Schedule in something you want and be as strict about it as possible. Treat it like a doctors appointment.

You may not be able to live your dream schedule yet, but by making small changes over time, you will get closer and closer.

Control what you can when you can.

Side note: Work really hard to condense all your notes and to-do’s into one place. Everyone seems to have endless piles of notes everywhere and sorting through them takes way more time than just keeping them organized slowly every day.

15 Days to A Simpler Life: Day 5: To-Do Lists and Circle of Control

The first step to simplifying your to-do list is to gather all of your lists into one place. Most people have to do lists scribbled across various pieces of paper, in different planners, on different electronic lists, scribbled on their hands, or a hundred other places.

Today, your mission is to gather them all into one place. Or at least have one place for all digital gatherings and one for all paper.

Remove all the items that are outside your circle of control.

One huge time suck I noticed most people do is they worry about things they have no control over. Please, let them go as much as possible.

Always have things on your to-do list that only you control.

Yes, you can have a list for people who you’re waiting on, but don’t combine them into one list.

For example, if I’m waiting for feedback from a client on a new sales page (I’m a copywriter), I keep that in a separate list. There’s nothing I can do about that actively. Keeping them all on the same list makes the list way too long.

To simplify your to-do list even more, only focus on the few things that have the biggest impact.

Many of us, especially people with entrepreneurial tendencies, have lists MILES long on everything to do. However, you and I both know that only a few of those things matter the most.

DO ONE TODAY.

Organize your list then knock out three things: one thing that has been stressing you out, one that makes you happy to do, and one that is an action step toward your dream life.

Don’t overthink this.

Then from there you can do the other things you need to accomplish to maintain your life (work tasks, chores, errands, etc.), but always put your goals first.

Only AFTER you have accomplished those, go back to your regular to-do list.

Another huge tip to managing all the to-do’s in life: Decide on a system that works for you and STICK WITH IT. With all the new apps constantly coming out, it’s easy to jump from one new shiny app to the other. Stay away from this habit. It’s far more time-consuming to switch systems than it is to just get things done.

If you really need to simplify, a small notebook with three action steps every day will do the trick.

If possible, have a list on paper because you don’t want to always rely on your technology to know what’s happening in your life.

As always, do what works for YOU. Focus, simplify, automate.

15 Days to A Simpler Life – Day 4: Decluttering / Minimalism

This may be a longer project than just for a day.

One thing I know for sure, is that here in America most of us simply own too much stuff. It’s not that we mean to, it just happens as life goes on.

I’m not generally a minimalist, since I like my useful gadgets. However, I’m a huge fan of decluttering and donating.

Action steps today:

  • Pick one small area that has been bothering you. Get a trash bag or box and put everything in it that you would rather have someone else enjoy. Donate the box or bag next time you’re running errands. If it’s something worth money, you can try and sell it online, but set an end date. It’s easy to sell EVERYTHING and let your house stay cluttered because “It will sell one day!” If it doesn’t sell by a certain date, donate it.
  • Look around at the things you own that you don’t use. Get out your notebook and write down the feeling you wanted when you bought the item. Your things are the keys to hidden desires about what you want in life. For example, one year I bought WAY too much outdoor stuff. Sure, I live in Colorado, but I live in the city.
    What I realized was that I was craving adventure, so instead of buying more things, I made sure to go on more hikes throughout the year. All of a sudden, my buying impulses calmed down. I’d highly recommend doing this practice.

That’s it for today. Pretty simple! Sometimes removing the clutter from a single area in your house is inspiring enough to spark creativity in your life. Plus, donating something you’re not using gives someone else the opportunity to use it. It’s a win-win!

15 Days to A Simpler Life – Day 3: Home Life

A home should be a place of peace.

Instead, many people have turned their homes into their second workplace. (Hi! Super guilty here.)

For those who work from home, like I do, it feels even harder to separate work from a peaceful home environment.

While it would be nice to simply hire someone to do all the cleaning, not all of us are in such a position.

Let’s just dive right into your action steps today:

  • Set a cleaning schedule. If you need some inspiration, here is one of my favorite lists to pull ideas from: http://www.flylady.net/d/getting-started/flyinglessons/routines/
    It’s SO easy to be overwhelmed by cleaning projects, but a clean home = a clean mind. I’m not asking you to completely scrub your floor from top to bottom today, today is about making the schedule for the daily management of it all.
    Personally, I LOVE dry erase boards and checking things off throughout the week. I have a schedule I put in a sheet protector so I can cross them off with my dry erase marker. I never have to think about “what to do today” because it’s automated. Simple, easy, automated.
  • Implement the “2-minute rule”. If it takes two minutes or less, DO IT. No questions asked. You’d be shocked at how many projects around your house take less than two minutes. I’ve embarrassingly let things like switching out light bulbs take weeks because it seemed like “too much work”. Every time I saw it, it would bother me. What a waste of time and mental energy. Don’t do that!
  • Dedicate just 15 minutes a day to clean. I have found (let’s keep in mind, I don’t own a huge house, I’m in an apartment), that 15 minutes every day of focused work saved me a whole day spent cleaning on the weekend.
    Plus, isn’t it way better to spend your weekend either relaxing or having fun instead of cleaning?
    It used to take up an entire day on the weekend to clean everything, time I’d rather spend with family and friends.
  • Make a system for your paperwork. Everyone is different on how they like to organize, but decide on some kind of system. I have an “inbox” on my desk I deal with at a set time in the day. If it’s something I can do fast, I do it. If not, I put it in my planner to do in the future and move the paperwork to a “scheduled” folder.

15 Days to A Simpler Life – Day 2: Technology

Technology is both a blessing and a curse.

Uncontrolled, it can wreak havoc in your life.

Here in America, a Time magazine poll said that 84% of people couldn’t go a single day without their cell phones.

Of course, cell phones are wonderful inventions. However, think of how often you see people on their phone instead of talking to the people right in front of them? Or ignoring their family members because something on their phone was more intriguing?

In the past, once you left work, your day was over. Now, emails and texts fly in at every hour of the evening, and it’s impossible to escape without some boundaries.

These steps are not about deleting technology from your life. Instead, it’s about gaining back control of your relationship with it.

Technology should enhance your life, not detract from it.

As with all the sections of the book, pick and choose what works for you. If you aren’t sure if something works, try it and then make up your mind.

Your action steps today:

For your cell phone:

  • Remove the amount of notifications that get pushed to your home screen. Did you know that a study by the University of California found that it takes on average  25 minutes to refocus after an interruption?
    If you’re letting every single “ding” go through, you’re absolutely destroying your productivity.
  • If you can, keep your phone on silent all day. This was the best decision I ever made. I schedule phone calls and never ever hear my phone go off. This is how I’m able to write 2,000+ words a day.
  • Take the e-mails off your phone. If you can’t do it during the day, at least turn them off at night. Except for extremely rare occasions should anyone check his or her e-mails in bed at night.
  • One day a week away from your phone. This one might hurt, but believe me when I say the rewards are well worth it.
  • Delete the unnecessary apps.
  • Never play on your phone when you should be working. Creativity comes just after those initial moments of struggle when your brain is resisting, but it only comes if you stick it out.

For your computer:

  • Do not have a million tabs open when working on something. Set a timer and focus when you’re working. Multitasking can make a simple 30-minute task instead take hours.
  • Close your mail tab when you can. Remember the above study on how long it takes to refocus.
  • Disconnect your computer from the internet when possible. It’s far too easy to go right to Facebook and lose an hour of your life when you’re working on something.

For your e-mail:

  • Schedule time to check your e-mail. This one is incredibly hard, but it will let people know you are only available certain hours. If they hear from you 24/7, they’ll think they can expect that at any time. Set the bar for your time.
  • Unsubscribe from unwanted e-mails at: https://unroll.me/ It is 100% free!

Even if you do one of the steps above, I promise you will feel better over the next few days.

Let me warn you: It might be hard to reign back on your technology. It’s a constant dopamine rush to check everything all the time. Even when I take Sunday off from my cell phone, the first few Sunday’s are SO HARD. That’s why I know it’s even more important to do it.

Every time you struggle, pull out your three goals and visualize them in your life. It will help refocus you on what is important.

Day 3 coming soon!

15 Days to A Simpler Life – Day 1: Getting Clear, Goal Setting, and Purpose

Why would you need to set goals when this is about simplifying?

Because in order to simplify your life, you need an overall vision for your life. This gives meaning to the actions you take.

Unlike a lot of “guru’s” on the internet, I’m more interested in helping you build a life that you want instead of pushing you toward some life that I want.

Your action steps today:

I want you to set a timer, open your notebook, and for 5 minutes write down what a simple life means to you and some goals you have.

Go through all the areas of your life: family, money, health, physical things you want, vacations, travel, businesses, retirement, donations, giving back, friends… Everything.

Write down how you want your day to look, the people you surround yourself with, what time you end work, and anything else you’d do if you had stress-free days.

Seriously, this is not a time to just read through a series,

DO IT. Get the timer!

If you’re stuck, make another page with things you don’t want in your life because those help spark the idea of the things you do want.

Done? Good.

If you need longer time, feel free to take it.

Once you’re done, I want you to go through and highlight the top three that would excite you the most.

Take these three and turn them into goals.

For example:

“Having time to read” –> “Make time for reading in the evening.”

“Having a stress-free morning” –> “Prepare for the next day every night.”

“Spending time with my kids” –> “One fun family activity every week”

This process takes the ideas that would make you happy and turns them into concrete goals that you can accomplish.

A huge part of reducing stress is getting excited about the possibilities of doing more things that bring you joy. This makes your life clear because you start to focus on what really matters instead of all the day-to-day stress that gets to us.

Excitement helps you narrow on what is essential in your life, and other things that must go that drain you.

Put these three in your journal and remind yourself of them every single day.

Day 2 coming soon!