In my novel ‘My Summer of Magic Moments’ my main character, Claire, has just got over breast cancer and is trying to come to terms with some huge changes in her life. One of the things she learns through the story is how to appreciate the simple things in life again, and to make the most of every magic moment.
Life can be extremely busy for all of us. Work, a home to look after, maybe children or other family, partners, even social media – there is always something demanding our attention and time. I think we all wish at times that things could be a little simpler. So here are my thoughts . Why listen to me? Well, I juggle the day job helping to run a holiday park, with writing my novels which I really love but takes a lot of time, I have two children, a husband, a dog and cat, family that live away, a village community that I’m involved with, my daughter’s wedding coming up this summer, an active social life and more.
So, here are my top ten tips to simplify your life. I hope they might help:
Don’t Multitask as much – I know this can be difficult especially with small children, but where you can, just do one task at a time and do it well. You’ll be more focussed, get it done quicker and do it better.
De-clutter – whether it’s your house or your office, get rid of what you don’t need (eBay or charity shops are great for this). Tidy up, put paperwork in order, sort out old clothes (my gauge for clothes is not just ‘if it fits’ but ‘do I feel good in it?’ and ‘have I worn it in the last year?’). Life will be easier with your ‘stuff’ more organised.
Write a TO DO list – when there is so much on, sometimes it just spins in your head and it’s hard to focus. So write it all down, and put it into priority. It’s a great feeling then ticking off your list.
Do the Worst Jobs First – There are always some jobs you’d rather delay or put off, but they still niggle away at you. So just do them first. They are often not as bad as you fear once you tackle them, and once they are done you will feel great!
Be Your Own Best Friend – when life is hectic, we often put ourselves last on the list, or we never even make the list. So make some time for yourself too - schedule in time to sit and read a book, go to a class you like, meet a friend for coffee, meet up with other mums, go for a walk in the park or on the beach, or just lie and relax in a bubble bath. A little time put aside for you re-charges the batteries and you’ll be good to go again and get much more done afterwards.
Get to Know Yourself – when do you have more energy to work better, or need that quiet time out? How do you like working or doing the chores? I find housework much easier with some music on. With my writing, if I’m under a tight deadline I work far better getting up early (I’m doing this right now. It’s still only 7am!) rather than trying to work late at night. And mid-afternoon I often lack energy, so that’s when I take a break and go out and walk the dog.
Learn to Say No – stop trying to please other people all the time. It took me a long time to learn this. I always tried to do everything for everyone , and would take on more and more. I don’t mean you should sit around and be selfish, help others where you can and want to, but all the other stuff that people might dump on you, do you really want to do it? Politely say no. It’s easier if you have some good reasons prepared, so you can say ‘I’m sorry but I’m already I’m snowed under with work’, ‘I have a busy weekend with family’, or perhaps ‘I can’t do that, but can I help by doing this?’. Do things your way.
Eat Well and Look After Yourself. Lack of energy limits how much you can cope with, and this can often be linked to your food and diet. So eat well and try to cook from scratch where you can. It’s not as time-consuming as you might think, and use lots of fresh fruit and veg. Be creative and have fun with cooking, dabble a bit and find what works for you. I love The Hairy Dieters books, and Joe Wicks ‘Lean’ books for healthy recipe inspiration. You are probably now shouting at me that you haven’t got time to cook – but give it a go, and cook double and freeze half then you are cooking only half the week! Also, try and fit in some simple exercise – walk more, join a class, whatever works for you.
Turn Off Social Media for a while. I’m from a generation where we didn’t have social media, and I feel far more pressured now. So try it and see! Maybe just for an hour here and there. Being constantly connected can be draining. If you have a big project on at work, or just want some special time with your kids or your partner, switch off for a while. It’s a good feeling when you can concentrate on what you are doing right now. And it’ll all be there to catch up with later.
Live in the Moment, Enjoy the Simple Things in Life and Appreciate Every Magic Moment!
Good luck, and thanks for reading this! And even if you take one snippet of an idea away and it helps, that’s just brilliant!