7 Steps to Simplify Your Life
Before I start I just want to point out that none of this is my original thought although I wholeheartedly agree with it 100%. I was visiting a local church Sunday evening as they had a visiting speaker that I have LOVED for the best part of two decades. Paul Scanlon is an amazing teacher, trainer and fantastic communicator. When he said that he would be talking about how to ‘Simplify Your Life’ my iPad notes were even more ready to go if that was possible.
Now I’m not one to just regurgitate things that I have heard, but this was so helpful to me. I felt that it would be almost criminal to not share this information with the majority of my audience that are busy mothers trying to juggle a life/work/blogging balance. As a race we crave simplicity but we’re moving further and further away from it with each generation. It’s true that complexity is costly…the more we have, the more we need to maintain. Makes sense doesn’t it? So, with all this in mind I’m going to pass on these little nuggets of wisdom.
If you would prefer to listen to the podcast for yourself then click here.
1) Try to reduce Drama in your world
For there to be drama you need a victim, a villain and a conspiracy theory. When I was struggling with depression this was so true for me. I was often the victim, and I would believe that people didn’t like me. Usually I just had too much time on my hands and I’d decided that they were doing it on purpose. When the reality was, they probably weren’t giving me any second thought. I saw some of the people at the weekend who had often made me feel so small, and I had determined in my head, that it would be lovely to see them now that I was happy. I wouldn’t be searching for little things that backed up my once conspiracy theory. In this case, it turns out, it actually was them. I was crazily happy and tried to chat away as normal, they switched on their ‘mean girls’ act and genuinely were as rude as I’d convinced myself they couldn’t be. I cried for an hour, as it took me by surprise. You know what though, in those scenarios, I have now removed myself. I will not put myself in their company again. It is not worth the time, drama, it is not worth risking going back to that place of feeling down, when I’ve been doing so well. So to reduce that drama, I simply will remove myself from that situation as it isn’t somewhere that I ‘have’ to go. In our family lives, it’s not always as easy to just cut people out, but if you reduce the drama in your life that you can control, it makes it a lot easier to cope with the real dramas that life throws at us and our loved ones sometimes.
2) Learn to say No
This is so vitally important. I guess when it comes to the blogging world, you can compare this to linky’s, reviews and projects that really you don’t have time for. When I first started blogging I was so enthusiastic and wanted to do so many things. I had so many ideas. I knew Morgana at ‘But Why Mummy Why‘ from outside the blogging world and I would text her asking if she wanted to join in with these linky ideas that I had. She would respectfully decline as she already had a lot on that she was trying to keep up with. I may not have understood it then (I certainly do now, with blogging etiquette, trying to improve readership and lots of commenting) but I 100% respected her decision. It’s so easy to say yes to things, especially reviews when you’re starting out, but if something is not worth your time, or doesn’t fit in with the ethos of your blog then feel free to say no.
We go out of our way to teach our children that it’s ok to say no. No if they don’t want to do something in particular, no if they don’t want kisses. Sometimes in life there are things we just have to do, and we teach them that too. Other than that I am a firm believer in establishing personal boundaries for myself and for our children. I was a yes person for far too long and as lovely as it is being the person that people can rely on, it is the fastest way to burn out. Take the time to love yourself and learn to say no.
3) Try to control your media intake
It is everywhere. There is so much information flying at us from everywhere all the time. It can be a distraction and often it isn’t the best information for us. The internet for one can be an amazing resource that serves us in many ways, but also, in today’s society trial by media is now a disgrace. It used to be innocent until proven guilty, now the media determines what they think about something and drag names through the gutter to the point that the innocent will probably take their own lives before they even get to trial. It’s so sad. Remember to take a step back. Have a time that you put the phones away. I love what Katie at ‘Mummy Daddy Me‘ says about having a no technology rule when they go to bed. It makes it so much easier to switch off, converse with your spouse, have quality time, and actually get the sleep that we need without a twitter message demanding our attention.
4) Get Organised
I love the quote that he used here ‘it’s hard to change the world when you can’t find your keys’ haha.
I’m married to a dyspraxic so I’m very aware of how being disorganised can affect our world. I love organisation, that doesn’t mean that I’m blaming everything we do wrong on my disorganised husband, it means we just have to work harder together to be organised. To be fair, James doesn’t ever know what’s going on, I just tell him what we are doing that day. He has to work extra hard at work to keep track of what is going on. It usually means for him that he doesn’t leave something until he has finished the task at hand, otherwise he will get sidetracked too easily.
Being disorganised brings complexity and stress into your life that you don’t need. It affects your own self-confidence, it can cost you financially (yep, disorganised people are the ones who end up paying the late fees). This doesn’t mean that you need to become OCD, he stated it as a commitment to live well, not live tidy.
The truth is we can only really do what we can organise.
5) Get some Margin in your life
Margin is the distance between you and your limits. This was so helpful for me. I have recently been feeling so much better that I have been looking at things around me and wondering what else I can start doing. Hearing this was literally like a light bulb moment for me. I felt like God was going *nudge* ‘listen up here’. I start work in 13 days, I will be working night shifts. Martina will be going back home at the end of September. I felt like God said to me, ‘that’s enough for now’. There is enough change coming into my world at the moment. Just because I am feeling great doesn’t mean that I’m yet in a place to be offering my services to every man and his dog because I love helping people, and I feel like for once I can. (I mentioned that I was a yes person for so long). Through my depression, I learned that there are times I just have to say no. It’s great that I’m feeling good now, but if I keep piling up then I’m going to not have much distance left between my feeling great and being stretched to my limit.
I love being busy but I have certainly had to learn my limitations as a Mother of 4. It was all well and good trying to do things for the church, but when I wasn’t managing to cook dinner for my own family or keep on top of the washing then it wasn’t really helping anyone. Being that way can start to build resentment, and really, it’s only brought on by yourself.
6) Learn to play
This was my favourite point. I absolutely loved learning this next information. Now I am by no means a scientist or biologist, neurologist, but I found this fascinating. He talked about how there are divinely superfluous neurones in our brain that are fired up when we play. Stimulating these keeps us young. This will be my biggest reason for doing the crazy challenges with the children on our YouTube channel. He talked about Grandchildren and how they remind us of the importance of play (I can’t wait for Grandchildren haha, but I would like to keep our little ones small as long as possible first).
He chatted about people who had been through horrendous circumstances and families dealing with cancer and how when they engaged in play, you could see the shift on their faces, because play helps us momentarily forget. It has the power to shift you, to reintroduce you to fun, joy and happiness. I discovered this the other week (and I wrote about it ‘Sun, Sea and Sinking Sand) when we decided to venture dangerously off to the sea despite having no changes of clothes. It was so much fun. I felt like me again. I realised the depression had finally lifted and I was beyond happy again.
7) Learn to manage your expectations
This is something I again had to learn the hard way when I was depressed. Depression is very selfish, it just is. It is all consuming, and you struggle sometimes to see where everyone else is coming from. There were many times I wondered why person ‘x’ wasn’t doing what I would do in that situation if I saw myself struggling as an outsider. People have their own lives though, their own struggles and I am not the centre of their universe, even though I was unfortunately my own.
James could not meet all of my needs, it would be impossible. If we expect too much from people then nobody ends up happy, they feel stretched trying to make us happy but will only ever fail, and then we feel disappointed.
Paul Scanlon put it like this ‘if you don’t learn to manage your expectation you will have to manage your disappointment’.
Learning to manage your expectations is the greatest gift you can give to yourself.