UNITED STATES—How did modern life get so complicated? If you’ve been daydreaming lately about how much easier life must have been for ancient hunter-gatherers, who only had to worry about hunting a woolly mammoth now and again, it might just be time to take some steps to simplify. In many ways, contemporary life is complex because we let it get that way. You don’t have to go off grid to make it less complicated. You just have to prioritize. The tips below will help you focus on what’s really important.
It’s still paperwork even if it most of it is digital these days, and it can still feel like you are drowning in it. The best way to stay on top of paperwork is to get a system in place that allows you to quickly and mindlessly file something away until you need it or discard it if you don’t need it. For example, you need receipts for tax purposes. Make a point of filing them immediately.
You probably also need the paperwork related to your retirement account. On the other hand, there’s plenty that you don’t need. Go over what you can stop paying for and what you can throw out. For example, do you need that life insurance policy? If you don’t have dependents, it may be unnecessary. You can take a look at a guide on preventing and solving a policy lapse. If you want to stop making premium payments, you might be able to sell your policy through a life settlement, which can get you a substantial amount of money.
Downsize Your Home
Do you have too much house? How much space do you really need? Do you even want to live in a house, where you’re responsible for structural repairs and a lawn, or would you rather in move to a condo or an apartment? You might weigh the pros and cons and conclude that you do want to stay in the house, but this should be a decision you arrive at by thinking it through rather than by default. If you do stay in your home, consider choosing a new design for your room that compliments a simpler aesthetic and is in general less cluttered.
Streamline Your Obligations
The biggest source of complication in your life may well be that you simply have too much going on. There’s a lot of pressure to be productive and maximize every minute. But if you have a full-time job, a family, a volunteer gig and a few other obligations, you may be overburdened. Think about what you can get rid of. Obviously, the job and the family stay, but if you habitually stay at the office late, could you start leaving on time?
As for everything else, drop it if it isn’t fulfilling to you in some way. Someone else will pick up the volunteer hours even if you feel like you’re invaluable. This applies to relationships as well. Have you been bored with your book club for years but you don’t know how to get out of going to the meetings? You just stop going. It’s as easy as that. Streamline your leisure time so that as much as possible, it is full of activities and people that you genuinely love.