Do Less Now – 7 Ways to Simplify Your Life

As previously seen on Wit & Delight


We live in an achievement-oriented society, where being “busy” is practically a religion. Sure, we’re getting stuff done, but we often forget about the healing power of sitting around in our pajamas and doing nothing. This time is good for us because it allows us to actually like our lives and just be. And by “just be,” I don’t mean meditating or writing in a gratitude journal. I mean watching TV with one eye and buying joggers online with the other. This time feels good—and when I get enough of it, I’m nicer, happier and less resentful of others.

So how do we get more chill time? Start doing less. Here’s how.

1. Face Reality

I used to have an app that let me list all my daily goals and check them off. My ultimate goal was to have an “every goal day,” where I checked off everything from “walk to work” to “draw” to “cook.” I eventually realized this was impossible. No one has a Hermione time travel watch (as far as I know…) so admit defeat to the pressure to do everything. Do some things. That’s enough.

2. Spread Your Goals Throughout the Week

Once you’ve admitted that you can’t do everything, settle on doing just one thing that matters to you every day. Cook on Monday. Go to barre class on Tuesday. Paint on Wednesday. If you do more than one thing, awesome job! You rule! But you don’t have to.

3. Delegate

The psychology of why we don’t trust other people to help us with basic things is beyond me. Maybe it’s pride, selflessness or because they don’t do it *exactly* the way we do, and that is for some reason is bad. I get caught up in these hurdles constantly. Try to look at what keeps you from asking for help from your family, friends, and co-workers, and make it a point to get past it.

4. Pay Someone to Do Something, and Don’t Feel Bad About It

The New York Times recently reported on a study that found that people who spend money on time-saving purchases (lawn mowing, food delivery) over material things reported a higher sense of well-being. If you save, say $30 a month, you can possibly get one task you hate off of your plate. If someone gives you a hard time, who cares? If it makes you happier, tell them so.

5. Say No More Often

So-and-so’s brother is in a fun run. A band you liked in high school is in town. Someone from yoga is having a summer solstice party. There are countless opportunities to do things, but how many opportunities are there to do nothing? Not enough! I used to get caught in the trap of saying yes to everything unless I felt like I had a legitimate excuse not to, and my friends would get annoyed when I would eventually get overextended and flake. Just flake from the start—at least it’s honest! Plus then you can spend more time with your dog, your baby, or your TV.

6. Quit Something

Can you imagine how stressful life would be if you never quit anything? I was on a Taekwondo sparring team as a teenager and I used to spend a fair portion of my school days worrying about whether or not I’d get punched in the throat. When I eventually quit, a huge source of stress left my life. Look at what you can leave behind, whether it’s an expensive fitness class, a less-than-rewarding job or a toxic relationship. Say sayonara, and never look back.

7. Care Less

I know this sounds sacrilegious—what would happen if you weren’t emotionally invested in everything?! Well, possibly good things. Let’s look at your job. How much are you counting on it to Justify Your Very Existence as a Human on This Earth? A little bit? A lotta bit? And if that’s the case, does it make things like taking feedback really hard, because your entire sense of self-worth is rolled up in how well you do? A healthy sense of emotional distance can give you the perspective that helps you stay afloat when things go sour. Plus, if you care less about the day-to-day, you might just find yourself with more energy to fight the battles that really matter.

Image sources: 1 / 2 / 3


Becky Lang is a writer, creative director and occasional podcaster living in Minneapolis. She also likes to draw dogs and female protagonists.

 

  • Number 7. OMG. Becky, I was recently praying and told God “I’m so tired of holding it all.”
    I literally just wrote the entirety of the paragraph in my journal. So I can go back and read and re-read. I needed to hear this so bad.
    Thank you.