Streamline Your Life

February 11, 2014 4:00 pm

clutterIt’s now February, and 2014 has well and truly begun. This time, I have decided to take a more philosophical approach to my resolutions for the year. And by this, I mean being less concrete and short-term, and instead opting for the longer-term, flexible approach. Now this might sound as though I’m just being lazy, but so far I have found it to be much more effective than my previous experiences. That is, this year I will not say ‘I will no longer bite my nails/eat rubbish/procrastinate etc. etc.’ – I have accepted that I am a human, and not a robot.

Program a robot not to bite his nails and what you get is a non-nail-biting machine. Tell a human not to bite his (or her, in my case) nails, and you end up with a very depressed human with bitten nails and an overwhelming sense of failure. No.

This year I have embraced the holistic approach, and come up instead with a small list of ‘life goals’ which I can then use to feed into my short-term and long-term plans as they crop up. My list is as follows:

1)      Streamline my life

2)      Be happier and more fulfilled

3)      Accept I’m not perfect, and be resilient

These might seem very airy-fairy and abstract, but they actually serve a very important purpose. Think of them as the house blueprint you give your builder. Without them, telling him you want French windows in the living room and a wooden floor in the kitchen would be a huge waste of time. The same applies to resolutions. Without producing an ultimate goal, the short-term goals are completely meaningless and we lack the parameters to know how to achieve them.

For example, in deciding to streamline my life, I decided this means having less clutter (both physically and mentally) and I started with small steps. Firstly, I decluttered my room, being ruthless and throwing away/recycling/charity-shopping anything I didn’t need. 4059154289_44d9d5702f_oThen, I logged into my email and unsubscribed from every unnecessary newsletter and mailing list (I don’t know why I have never done this before instead of going through my daily deletion ritual and shaking my head at the sheer audacity of Amazon to send me yet another useless email) , and deleted the emails I no longer needed. The remaining ones I sorted into folders and the end result was a nice, clean inbox. I also resolved to check it (and Facebook) less often.

This way, I could check it in short bursts just two or three times a day and focus my energies on dealing with what I received in one go instead of letting it become a Time-leech. So far, it’s worked.

I’m bearing Life Goal #3 in mind and so if I do find myself unwittingly being an email or Facebook slave, I can accept it went wrong for a bit and then get back on track. These two things combine to produce the end result #2: I have more time for the fun things and people in my life, which is always much more fulfilling than spending two hours procrastinating on Facebook and then having to turn down an exciting invitation because you haven’t managed to get your work done that’s due the next day.

Step 2 in streamlining my life: de-cluttering my beauty regime. Being a girl, I had all the typical things you’d expect in my bathroom, namely bottle upon bottle of weird and wonderful cleansing, moisturising, and (apparently) beautifying products, without any regard for what I was slathering onto my skin. And then I became concerned about the reality of what I was doing. Looking at the ingredients lists I suddenly realised that I had no idea what most of these products were, and none of them sounded particularly nourishing: Poloxamer 184Butylene GlycolCeteth-20, Peg-20 Glyceryl Laurate – we don’t even know what they mean. And this stuff was going on my body? A little bit of research later I decided that, as they ran out, I would slowly replace these products with more natural alternatives where possible.

Young Woman Removing Make-Up

I’m still in the process of doing this but so far I have replaced conditioner, body lotion, night cream, cleanser, and lip-balm with coconut oil, and have discovered that green tea gets rid of spots like magic! Result. I have now replaced many of the various bottles that were lying around the bathroom with just one jar of coconut oil, and have got much softer hair and skin to boot.

The final thing I have started to do (and I am aware this sounds very ridiculous and you are welcome to laugh at me, but I urge you to try it) is just before I go to sleep, just run through my head what has gone right for me that day. It could be as simple as ‘I began a job application’ or ‘I started that book I’d been meaning to read for ages’ or ‘I got my packing done’. Of course, it can be bigger things as well, but they’re not going to occur every day, and doing this briefly just before you go to sleep (I have found anyway, maybe it doesn’t work for everyone)  puts you in that better head space that you want to be in when you wake up. Goal number 2: Tick.

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