Remember the time when we – people as old as me will definitely recall with fond nostalgia – had only one TV channel – Doordarshan? And our daily window to the world of news was the bulletin at 8.30pm. The only music program of the week, Chitrahaar, was eagerly looked forward to on Wednesdays at 8 pm. Our play time with friends ended early on Thursday evenings to watch Giant Robot, the only kids’ show on week days. During vacations, we had to go out in the real world and play. Or read books. The number of options available were quite limited.
But today, it’s great that we have so many choices for pretty much every thing in our lives. There are a million options to dine in and a jillion TV channels. Apps make services accessible at, literally, our finger tips. We can shop without even stepping out of our homes and choose from a zillion brands and product choices online. Plenty of social media options help us keep up with our school friends living in distant lands.
But despite all the progress we have made to make life easier, we somehow feel overwhelmed. So many apps to improve productivity and yet there isn’t enough time. We are connected to a few hundred friends on Facebook yet find no one to talk to when we really need to. Our lives conveniently fit into our cell phones but our enslavement to the devices leaves scope for little else.
So today’s post about how to Keep It Simple, Stupid! First, an interesting fact about the term, KISS. KISS is a basic design principle attributed to one of the engineers of the US Navy in 1960. The principle says that systems work best when they are simple rather than complicated. And hence simplicity is the main aim while designing systems. But this principle is so apt to the system called life too!
Now, by suggesting that we keep it simple, I don’t mean that you sell all your belongings and assume a zen like life from tomorrow. But you will all agree that we can do with some KISS principle in our lives. So let’s look at a few ways to do it. And I will keep this list simple because..well..who wants a long, winding list on simplifying life!
1. Scan your life: Sit quietly in a place and look around you. What are the things that seem to disturb you the most – internally and externally. Is your house cluttered? Is your inner voice too loud? Is your to-do list overflowing? Are you around people who pull you down and you hate them for it? Just assess the different areas of your life to notice where the bottle necks are. Deal with each category to gradually simplify it.
2. Simplify relationships: Really listen to people when they talk to you. This cuts out most miscommunication. Tell people only what you mean. If required, reduce the number of people in your life. Don’t accept requests from everyone. I don’t join groups on Whatsapp or add people to my Facebook unless they mean something to me. This makes managing my contacts simpler.
3. Simplify work: Prioritise. Stick to the list. If there are unpleasant tasks on your list that you’ve postponed forever, ask why? Are they really necessary? I had lists of books to read, sites to look up and movies to watch. Those lists only made me anxious when I couldn’t find the time to do it all. Once I learnt to differentiate between “must-do” and “nice-to-do”, I just let go of things that didn’t matter.
4. Simplify social life: Rather, get off virtual social life. The amount of time we spend glued to our screens is only adversely affecting our health. You don’t have to be on every social media platform. And apps for each don’t have to be on your phone. I am on about 3 different platforms and I have never felt the need for more. 3 are all I can manage. So reduce screen time and gradually get rid of anxiety and other problems that excessive use of social media heaps on us.
5. Simplify life: Learn to say no. And I can’t emphasise this enough. The more commitments you force on yourself, the more complex your life gets. And it gets that much harder to balance with other aspects of your life. Stop multi-tasking. It’s a myth that only decreases our productivity. Get enough sleep.
Are there more things that you feel need to be sorted. Here is a longer list of 75 ideas to simplify your life.
I have a couple of more resources on minimalism but I figured that it might be a tad too much and complicate the matter of simplicity. So this is where I am going to end – Simplicity is under rated but highly important in today’s fast paced and complex world. We need to learn to step back, scale down and deliberately slow ourselves. We need to step off this fast life forever trying to get somewhere and just stop to smell the roses on the way there.
This post is a part of A to Z blogging challenge where I am going to write about 26 soft skills in 26 days and give tips on how to improve on them. If you like these posts, do share them and tell your friends about it.