In a previous post I wrote, "Simple living is reducing the clutter of life and space down to the essentials of what is important; allowing what remains to stand out and bring value." And from there I moved on to ways to simplify the physical life. But simplifying our lives starts in our mind, an idea that beyond the physical clutter is a life that is better. It is the answer to the question, "What is my life about?"

flickr/cc - Robert Scoble
The media attention goes to those who sell all possessions and live on 100 things or drop out from CEO life and donate time and money to a charity(not that there is anything wrong with those). For the average person, the steps to a simpler life are smaller and quite often starts with the realization that they don't want to spend all their waking hours working to acquire and pay off stuff.

For the essentials to standout we need to set up some rules:
1. Set limitations - We would like to think we don't like limitations. But it is those limitations that empower us the most. Children must get a lot of rest to grow and function properly, yet as we get older we think we limitations don't apply to us until a scientific study comes out that says we need to get more sleep, drink in moderation and get exercise to grow and function.

Now we need to apply these standards to ourselves. If writing a 140 character tweet to get my point across, than a 1400 word paper must be better. Not always. There is only so much we can convey to someone before it is redundant.

This limitation in word allows us to take that information and make it more powerful in a smaller package. I remember reading about political and religious prisoners who would try to get information out to family and friends in their letters, they would write their short letters with as much information as possible and try to convey a double meaning in what they said. A powerful punch within their confined limitations.

2. Maximize time and energy - Efficiency is the the word for this idea. However, we seem to try to do the opposite, how can I cram as much into my day to be most productive. But there is a bit of a bell curve. The more we put into our day the less they seem to pay off.

It is about a two item to do list, giving yourself the time and energy to properly put into something that will be more rewarding; instead of working on a page of to-do list items in the hopes that you just complete them, who cares how decent they turn out.

With these two rules in mind, we want to choose those things that gives us the best long term reward; the most impact.

How do we determine those things with the most impact and reward? Look at your to-do list and your goals and ask yourself:
  • Will buying this have an impact beyond a week, month or year? 
  • Can this decision bring a positive benefit to my future?
  • How will my actions on this further my goals?
We have many distractions in life so forcing ourselves to a limitation requires us to do things more thoroughly and efficiently. We have gotten out of habit and just moved along with the status quo that this type of change will take time. And each day will bring new teachable moments to ourselves. As Thomas Edison is quoted to have said, "I have not failed. I've just found 10000 ways that won't work."


  1. Kimberly // Sunday, November 21, 2010 4:32:00 PM  

    Simplicity in life does mean reducing the amount of stuff we have and the amount of stuff we DO. I'm just now learning about reducing what I do.

  2. Debt Free Daniel // Sunday, November 21, 2010 6:24:00 PM  

    A lot of people had this notion that being simple in life is depriving one’s self of luxuries. It is not the case, it just knows what makes you happy and eliminates those that are not necessary and brings less joy than others.