Having simple habits that you do on a daily basis is great for creating a life of balance. Experts disagree on how long it takes to make a habit stick, but everyone agrees that they are extremely important. Some experts say it takes 21 days to solidify a habit while others say it takes as much as 240 days, the average consensus seems to be about 66 days. You can use our FREE habit tracker as a checklist until you’re doing the habits without thinking about them.
I’ve talked before about the importance of routines. Routines are simply a set of habits that you do at the same time or in the same order every time you do them. If you’ve never had a morning, evening or bedtime routine I highly recommend them. The easiest way to create these routines is through a process called habit stacking. Start with 2-4 steps in each routine. Once those steps are second nature, add or “stack” another one on. Continue adding habits until you have a routine that works best for you.
So what kind of habits should you put in your routines to simplify and balance your life? Here are a few simple suggestions. Pick the ones that you think will be of the most benefit to you.
We all know how much better we feel when we get a full night’s sleep, but in today’s hustle and bustle world it’s not always easy. The first step is to establish a sleep routine. Go to sleep and get up at the same time each day, even on weekends. I know a lot of you are saying “but the weekends are when I catch up on the sleep I didn’t get during the week”. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. You can’t save up sleep ahead of time or make up for missed sleep. Other things that will help you sleep better include cutting off caffeine in the afternoon and turning off electronics at least an hour before bedtime. Before going to sleep read a book, have a cup of tea, or get into comfy pajamas. Set up a routine that signals your body that it’s sleep time.
Write Things Down
Trying to remember things will not help you to stay organized. You should try writing things down. A pen and some paper is our way of remembering things externally, and it’s much more permanent. You will only further complicate your life by trying to keep track of important dates and reminders in your head. Write down everything: shopping lists for groceries, holiday gifts, home decor, and important dates like meetings and birthdays. Keeping a “squirrel catcher” notebook close by to write down anything that ops into my head keeps me from getting off task.
Make Schedules and Deadlines
Organized people don’t waste time. They recognize that keeping things organized goes hand-in-hand with staying productive. In addition, they make and keep schedules for the day and week. They make deadlines and set goals. And most importantly, they stick to them! Similarly, they live a very uncluttered lifestyle. They also include “white space” in their schedule, so that if adjustments need to be made, it won’t throw off everything for the week. Think of it as “decluttering” your time.
When we multitask, our brain doesn’t really do two (or more) tasks simultaneously. We actually just switch tasks quickly. But this constant task switching takes a toll on our performance. Rather than saving time, multitasking costs time (even very small micro seconds), it’s less efficient, we make more mistakes, and over time it can be energy sapping. According to Gary Keller in “The ONE Thing,” researchers estimate we lose 28 percent of an average workday to multitasking ineffectiveness. Multitaskers also experience more life-reducing, happiness-squelching stress. Steve Uzzell may have put it best when he said, “Multitasking is merely the opportunity to screw up more than one thing at a time.” Try concentrating on one task at a time and you’ll get more done.
Quit Striving for Perfect
Perfectionism can be paralyzing. And, when combined with procrastination, it can kill your productivity. I think the following quote sums it up perfectly.
“Good enough and published is 1000 times more valuable than perfect and not quite ready yet.”
If you are constantly trying to make things perfect before you put them out in the world, you’ll never move off the starting line. I wrote an entire article on this subject, Perfection and Comparison – Let It Go for a Life of Balance.
Create a weekly dinner menu
When people get busy, meal planning isn’t something they think about doing because they don’t think they have time. I mean, they’re already too busy, right? No, they’re wrong. The time that you spend planning your meals will save you a lot of time and stress later in the week. Simplified meal planning has added benefits too, you’ll eat healthier and probably save money. See my full article on meal planning here or get my Meal Planning System here.
Learn to Relax
Stop thinking that every minute should be filled with productive activity. You need a little bit of “downtime” every day to give your brain a break. If you’re constantly striving to fill each minute of every day, you will inevitably burn yourself out. You need to allow your body and mind to relax on a regular basis. Find a way to let everything shut completely down for a few minutes each day. You could use meditation, or just sit somewhere and notice the beauty around you. Trust me, this is a habit that will reduce the overwhelm almost immediately.
A really organized life is not overfilled with responsibilities, meetings, and deadlines. In fact, it has less because things that create stress have been slowly organized out. Check out our Simply Your Life for ideas on how to delegate things that you don’t want or need to do. Look at your to-do list or make one. Go through the list and find one task that you can remove from your list or give to someone else. Now feel the stress of having to do it fall away. Keep going, it’s therapeutic.
Final Thoughts on Simple Habits
Our lives are fuller than they have been in any other time in history. With computers and smartphones, we are constantly connected to the outside world. To find happiness and contentment in our life of balance, we have to find ways to slow down and simplify.
I hope these suggestions helped you. Let me know which ideas you implemented and how it went by commenting below or emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are several articles about routines on the blog. Check these out for more information: