Operation: Simplify

As a visual person, I often turn to Pinterest when I’m conjuring up a plan for an upcoming vacation, a project at home or even business ideas. So when I first began Operation: Simplify, I did the same. “Simplifying my life”, and here’s what I got:

Capture

Oh the irony…. Pages and pages of boards in which people pinned ideas for de-cluttering, organizing their belongings, finances, decisions, etc.

There are articles like this one by Paul Stamatio that made me want to take on this task to simplify my online life. And even Gretchen Rubin begins The Happiness Project with eliminating unnecessary clutter in your house. But I think it was this article in the New York Times last spring, which really resonated with me and helped me appreciate that having less, can make you feel more. So after thinking about this for a while, I turned off my computer, grabbed my notebook and pencil and found a cozy spot outside to get creative the old fashioned way. Here’s what I came up with.

Online

  1. Email: Clean up your inbox with Unroll.me. This service helps you regain control of your subscription emails by rolling them into a single daily digest.
  2. Bookmark Bar: I add all of my most visited sites to my bookmark bar using only the favicon as a guide. This saves me time and decision energy by not sifting through a long bookmark folder or typing each address into Google search.
  3. Online Privacy: Every six months I go through what I call a “personal reputation search” in which I will request personal data to be deleted from the public record databases. This is quite a task so consider paying $129 to have DeleteMe take care of it for you. Or follow their guide to opting-out of these sites yourself. I’ve also installed DoNotTrackMe Chrome app to block spammers and identity thieves from tracking my internet browsing.
  4. Blogs and Social: It took me a while to organize all of my favorite blogs but now I have the perfect formula. I use Feedly for RSS and Buffer to post to my social networks. The Awesome Plan is only $10/month and everything I could ask for in managing my social media accounts.
  5. FOCUS: As an entrepreneur, sometimes it is very tricky to manage your time wisely but one way to simplify your focus time is to eliminate distractions. If you use a Mac, consider downloading the application, SelfControl as a way to block sites that could tempt you into losing focus.

House

  1. Eliminate Clutter: Buy organizers for your junk drawers, get rid of old magazines and papers laying around. When you can say sayonara to useless clutter, you immediately begin to feel lighter.
  2. Beauty Products: On a quest to use non-toxic, all natural beauty products, I trashed all of my old makeup and began investing in beauty supplies that will keep me healthy and vibrant for years to come. This is something that will take a little time and money but it’ll be well worth it in the long run. Here are some great natural beauty tips from my friends at Considering You.  
  3. Clothing:  Although selling your clothes can take even more time than it’s worth, there are a few apps that could help you get the job done without much hassle. Try posting pictures of your clothes to Threadflip or PoshMark to allow people to shop your closet. If you want to choose a quicker route, donate.
  4. Cleaning: Something I did a couple years ago was hiring a cleaner. She charges $100 with tip to clean everything from the bathroom to my balcony and totally worth it.
  5. Life & Business Documents: Go paperless. Who needs folders of bills from your first car? Get real. Scan or trash all of them.

Time

  1. Eliminate decisions: The reason President Obama only has blue and gray suits is so that he doesn’t have to suffer decision fatigue when deciding what to wear in the morning. Fewer options you have to make a decision on, the better.
  2. Schedules: I plan my workout schedule on Sundays and include physical activity every single day of the week. This holds me accountable and reminds me that fitness is part of my life just like working and eating. I also plan a basic dinner schedule for the week. Thus, eliminating decisions and costs associated with dining out. It’s not a strict schedule but rather a suggestion or guide so that I don’t have to make decisions. Another great part of my daily routine is to make sure juice replaces one of my meals. This cuts out bad eating habits and helps with decision fatigue.
  3. Amazon: I order everything on Amazon: dog food, notebooks, paper towels, everything. This eliminates a trip to the black hole that is Target.
  4. Groceries: The things that I can’t buy on Amazon, I get at my local market. I create one grocery shopping list and alter it each week to only the important items that I need.
  5. Transit: If you live a big city with great public transit, consider getting rid of your car all together. This could save boat loads of money that you would spend on insurance and car payments, as well as time that you could be doing work or reading on the bus rather than waiting in traffic during your commute. Columbus just got CoGo bike share which is a great alternative to driving.

Now that I have extra time…

Since Operation: Simplify, I’ve had a lot more time to myself not worrying about the things I need to de-clutter or organize. I now have time to focus on meaningful things.

  • Learning a new language with Duolingo
  • Treehouse lessons to keep coding in my life
  • Working smarter on NextChapter
  • Practicing Yoga & Meditation
  • Cooking healthy meals at home
  • Reading and listening to audio books

Did you take some time this summer to simplify? What was your experience like? I’d love to hear any tips or hacks in the comments.

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