6 Secrets to a Stress-Free, Simple Life
- Relax Your Standards. One of my perfectionist friends realized, after having two children, that she couldn’t maintain her usual standards without creating undue stress. After staying up until two in the morning decorating the cupcakes for school, she created a new motto, “Good enough is good enough.” If the cupcakes came from a mix, no worries now. Who says you have to wash your sheets every week? Who says you have to have a “Martha Stewart” Christmas? Who says you have to have a fancy dinner party when entertaining friends? Relax your standards and you’ll find you enjoy everything you did before without the stress.
- Examine the Roles You’ve Assumed. Have you fallen into a stereotypical role that is stressing you out? Who says the woman should be the cook and cleaner? My husband loves to cook and it relaxes him after a stressful day so I let him do that as I prefer to do the gardening. Take a good look and see if you have taken on roles that you don’t enjoy. Can you swap with your partner? Get the kids to do it? A neighbor? Delegate it to professionals? One colleague, whose idea of cooking was putting a baked potato in the microwave, was astounded to find she actually saved money by having all her meals professionally prepared by a cooking service. In my opinion, any woman who works should hire a professional cleaner to clean the basics weekly—women tend to automatically take on the housework thanks to cultural conditioning and training—and if your spouse objects, give him the job!
- Do What You Love. We all get stuck in ruts and may be wondering why life feels stale or dull. Track your activities for a week, then take an objective look and evaluate what is giving you pleasure and what isn’t. This will help you identify any roles you’ve assumed that you no longer enjoy (see tip 2). Are you in the habit of watching TV at night, but would actually prefer reading a book or going out dancing? We all fall into behavior patterns, so it is worth an annual review to see if you still enjoy the activities that consume your precious time. You may also enjoy this article Talane’s Top 10 Ways to do Work You Love.
- Give Time to What You Enjoy. If you love reading, and hate cooking, but find yourself embroiled in preparing elaborate dinners every night, then it is time for a rethink. Some ideas: check into local cooking services, delegate to the kids, hire a chef, or do as they do in Germany and have cold suppers of cold meats, cheese, bread and raw veggies—no cooking, no mess! What if you want to exercise, but just don’t seem to find the time. I had to sit down with my husband and work out our priorities so that we could both fit in exercise. Then we found a weight-lifting routine that only takes 20 minutes a week and now we train each other in less than one hour a week (The Power of 10). It took some time to get used to this new routine, but wow, what a time-saver! Try rearranging your schedules so that you can accommodate everyone’s needs.
- Develop Flexibility by Doing Something Different. We can get trapped in unsatisfying routines and habits. Shake yourself up a bit by doing something different just for the sake of change. Have pancakes for dinner. Take a different route to work. Do your emails at night instead of in the morning. This will help you break out of habits that are unfulfilling and help you look at your life with fresh eyes. Order something different at your usual restaurant or eat at a new restaurant instead of your old favorite.
- Orient Your Life Around What You Love. What activities give you the greatest joy and pleasure? Simplifying our lives enables us to have time for what is truly most important, whether that is your career, your relationships, your passions and interests. The more you can automate, delegate and simplify the dull or boring tasks, the more time you have for what you love to do! Obvious, but so few use this simple time-management strategy.