Reprinted from Personal Safety Nets
PSN e-Newsletter—August 2015, Issue 80
At Personal Safety Nets (PSN) we’ve downsized. For individuals, downsizing has often been undertaken to make life smaller, less cluttered, or more affordable. In the business world, it’s often been connected to reducing immediate expenses by decreasing the operating payroll. For PSN, though it does have these aspects, the downsizing is intended to expand usefulness and access by moving to an online format. This correlates with research showing that, today, both individuals and businesses are downsizing in search of results that say a lot about a desire to live a better life. In this column we focus on personal downsizing.
Blogger Nina Nelson calls downsizing the opportunity “to focus on those things that matter most to me.” Nina’s downsizing focuses upon time and time management. As a result of re-prioritizing her work and life schedules she found her life and that of her family improved in several different ways.
First: Her health and that of her family improved. With time to research and implement the things she learn about, her family “rarely gets sick now. And when we do, it doesn’t last very long.”
Second: Extra time also fuels her creativity, “Which, for me, fuels joy. And I find that I become so much more creative in other ways – I’m not just making new things, but I’m also more creative with parenting problems.”
Third: Downsizing has given her a look at her and her family’s stressed, overworked and exhausted life. “Maybe your kids don’t need such a busy schedule. Maybe you don’t need to volunteer for 50 different organizations. Maybe you need to take a nap every once in a while without feeling guilty about the things you aren’t doing while you do take said nap.”
Fourth: This new outlook has provided much more time for fostering relationships. Now she and her family are more able to interact with those who are important to them and not have to one day ask, “Why didn’t we spend more time with them?”
Fifth: Downsizing has also meant meeting with a financial planner to pay off debts faster which “lifted a giant weight off my shoulders and now our living situation allows us even more freedom to travel, save money and put more time into relationships.” Cutting expenses certainly helped too.
Remember, this is a process, but you have to start somewhere. Do you need to downsize? Decide. Get some help if you’re uncertain. If you do make the decision to downsize, make a plan and start taking the steps you need to take back your life.
Rodney Harrell of AARP also says that while older Americans often equate downsizing with changing their housing arrangements, they are quickly finding out that the decision has wider effects. Issues related to financial hardship, health, taxes, insurance, upkeep, public transportation, opportunities for social interaction and entertainment will all arise and should be part of what’s considered.
David Friedlander of LifeEdited suggests not waiting for a good time to start. Once the decision is made: START NOW … maybe by downsizing possessions. “The time to start something is – and always will be – now. Don’t worry if the changes are tiny – maybe throwing away a pair of old sneakers you never wear – make them as soon as possible.”
While it may sound easy, Friedlander knows it’s not. “The unfortunate fact is a certain amount of sacrifice is necessary for simplification.” However, the more you change, the easier it will be. “Remember, simplicity is the path to a downsized life, and simplicity and manageability are contagious.”
Lastly, for this column, Leo Babauta, in his book, The Power of Less, also echoes Nina as he talks about streamlining life – identifying the essentials and eliminating the unnecessary – thus freeing you up from everyday clutter and allowing you to focus upon accomplishing goals that can change your life for the better.
Babauta gives us goals to follow:
1. Simplicity: identify what’s essential, then eliminate the rest. Focus on what’s essential to your goals and your personal satisfaction. Choose to pay attention only to things that matter the most and instead of spreading yourself too thin. You’ll be able to focus on the essential which will help you accomplish the things that matter most.
2. Limits: Set limits – they don’t set themselves! Without setting limits, it’s very easy to waste time and energy working beyond the point of Diminishing Returns.
3. Focus: Only one thing at a time. Multitasking – don’t even try it. Every time your focus shifts, it takes your mind a while to load the information it needs to operate effectively.
4. Goals: No more than 3-4 active goals and/or projects at a time. Do these well.
5. Prioritize: Have three Most Important Tasks (MITs) every day, and do those before working on anything else.
6. Batch: Batch similar tasks together to preserve your focus. Practice grouping similar tasks together, then tackling them all at once.
7. Positive Habits: For best results, focus only on installing or changing one habit at a time, and start with small increments. Practice that habit until it becomes second-nature, requiring no thought or willpower to do every day. Then, and only then, should you choose another habit to install.
8. Minimize Your Active Commitments: Don’t be afraid to say “no.” your time, attention, and energy are finite. When you overwhelm yourself with commitments, you’re shortchanging the most important activities that will contribute the most to your productivity, satisfaction, and success.