Simplicity brings balance, freedom and joy. When we begin to live simply and experience these benefits, we begin to ask the next question, "Where else in my life can I remove distraction and simply focus on the essential?"
Based on our personal journey, our conversations, and our observations, here is a list of the 10 most important things to simplify in your life today to begin living a more balanced, joyful lifestyle:
1. Your Possessions
Too many material possessions complicate our lives to a greater degree than we ever give them credit. They drain our bank account, our energy and our attention. They keep us from the ones we love and from living a life based on our values. If you will invest the time to remove nonessential possessions from your life, you will never regret it.
2. Your Time Commitments
Most of us have filled our days full from beginning to end with time commitments: work, home, kid's activities, community events, religious endeavors, hobbies ... the list goes on. When possible, release yourself from the time commitments that are not in line with your greatest values.
3. Your Goals
Reduce the number of goals you are intentionally striving for in your life to one or two. By reducing the number of goals that you are striving to accomplish, you will improve your focus and your success rate. Make a list of the things that you want to accomplish in your life and choose the two most important. When you finish one, add another from your list.
4. Your Negative Thoughts
Most negative emotions are completely useless. Resentment, bitterness, hate, and jealousy have never improved the quality of life for a single human being. Take responsibility for your mind. Forgive past hurts and replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
5. Your Debt
If debt is holding you captive, reduce it. Start today. Do what you've got to do to get out from under its weight. Find the help that you need. Sacrifice luxury today to enjoy freedom tomorrow.
6. Your Words
Use fewer words. Keep your speech plain and honest. Mean what you say. Avoid gossip.
7. Your Artificial Ingredients
Avoid trans fats, refined grain (white bread), high-fructose corn syrup and too much sodium. Minimizing these ingredients will improve your energy level in the short-term and your health in the long-term. Also, as much as possible, reduce your consumption of over-the-counter medicine - allow your body to heal itself naturally as opposed to building a dependency on substances.
8. Your Screen Time
Focusing your attention on television, movies, video games, and technology affects your life more than you think. Media rearranges your values. It begins to dominate your life. And it has a profound impact on your attitude and outlook. Unfortunately, when you live in that world on a consistent basis, you don't even notice how it is impacting you. The only way to fully appreciate its influence in your life is to turn them off.
9. Your Connections to the World
Relationships with others are good, but constant streams of distraction are bad. Learn when to power off the blackberry, log off Facebook or not read a text. Focus on the important, not the urgent. A steady flow of distractions from other people may make us feel important, needed, or wanted, but feeling important and accomplishing importance are completely different things.
10. Your Multi-Tasking
Research indicates that multi-tasking increases stress and lowers productivity. while single-tasking is becoming a lost art, learn it. Handle one task at a time. Do it well. And when it is complete, move to the next.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on Becoming Minimalist. It has been republished here with permission.