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After having such a rough first half of the year, including a mental meltdown in front of my boss, I had to take a major step back from my life. I had to learn to listen to my body and take care of myself. I had to learn to speak out for myself.

Steps for recovering from burnout:

– Went to my doctor and tried some different medications.

– Started seeing a counselor each week. I began to learn that how I interpreted the expectations placed on me created real physical stress for me.

– I cutoff all ties from my job, no phone, no email.

– I stayed at home most of the time. I learned that I could not go to the store on my own without a panic attack.

– I spent a lot of time reading, writing, praying, sleeping.

– My husband would take me out of the house several evenings a week to keep me from being too housebound.

– He actually sent me off to Savannah, GA for a week. He drove me down there and got me settled in. I had a little apartment, time to read, rest, and walk on the beach.

– Once I returned, I actually started cleaning my house again, and doing laundry. I even began cooking again.

You see, I had been working so much for the past 2 years, I didn’t even know what a schedule for real people looked like. I learned the flow of eating regular meals, taking a shower, housework, rest, spending time with family, all things I really did not do much of for the previous 2 years.

What matters most

I began to remember the important things in life. Time to think, time to spend with my husband, time to dream, time to relax, time to spend with friends and family. Time to volunteer for those less fortunate.

I realized that there was more to life than money, than recognition. That if I didn’t have my health, my faith, or my family, what good was anything else I had? I learned that I had to devote time to developing who *I* was as a person.

I learned to search my soul for what my passion was, what I was meant to do in my life. I have realized that the passion I had in my job to help others with their lives was very important to me and that I wanted to use that further. And I realized that I loved to write!

Learned my limits

I also have learned that I have limits. I actually think I thought that I was invincible. I like to tease that I finally learned that there is a God, and it isn’t me! I think He is much better at it than I am, lol!

I do best if I am not around large groups for long periods of time. I need a balance of time alone versus time with others. As much as I thought I was a people person, I have learned that I love to be around groups for a short time, but then I have to be alone to recharge.

Even though this year was one of the toughest in my life, I am grateful for the lessons I have learned about life and about myself. I hope that I will live a lot longer because of it and that I will be healthier and happier!

I encourage you to take a look at your life this past year.

What didn’t work?

What did work?

Have you learned some important lessons?

As we move into 2011, I am conducting an 8 week Journey to Balance here on my blog. It is free to participate, just be sure to subscribe! If you know someone else who would benefit, be sure to share by clicking below!

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The look at what worked for Christmas and what didn’t was very helpful for me so I thought I would try the same approach for looking over this past year. The year 2010 was a pretty tough one for me!

What didn’t go so well this year-

My year started out with me working in corporate America. I had come through a very stressful Christmas season dealing with some family drama (a mentally handicapped brother, and another brother and his family, long story). I had spent Thanksgiving week in the hospital as I thought I was having a heart attack.

In my job, as a sales manager, I was responsible for the “sales quota” for my district. Being in recession, and a very slow 1st quarter, it was difficult to accomplish what was being asked from me. I increased the number of hours I was working, upwards of 80 hours a week. I could not turn off my work, it was always there with me. My boss even realized how tough it was on us and scheduled a retreat at the end of May. It was nice to get away, but we STILL had to get the work done.

I started writing my personal blog in May, Ramblings of a Woman. It was a way for me to vent, but it was also a way for me to learn about the blogging world and how it all works. It was a huge learning curve at first, so much to know! I realized, though, that I love to write and connect with my readers!

In June, I served on jury duty for the first time. It was a very interesting experience. I can’t say I would want to do it again, but it truly opened my eyes to my community.

Winding up tighter and tighter

All the while, my stress level was compounding. I always felt like I was climbing out of my skin and got to the point where I had to have a glass of wine every night just to be able to sit still. I talked to my doctor about how I was feeling (I was already on some meds for depression and anxiety). He suggested I wait until after my upcoming vacation and see how I felt.

Vacation was good, although it took me too long to unwind. When I returned home, my stress was all still right there. One of my last straws was my boss’s boss stating in a broadcast message that to be able to accomplish the company’s objectives, we were to put forth effort 24/7. It was the next week that I had to prepare and present a mid-year review to my boss.

The meltdown

I could not concentrate on the reports. I could not wrap my brain around what I was supposed to be presenting. I could not find info I needed. My mental capacity was decreasing daily. I could hardly talk to my staff, and only left the house for absolutely mandatory meetings. Everything else I did by email.

When I met with my boss for my review, I fell apart. Into tears. Could not make it through, could not intelligently present my data. I left and immediately called my doctor. I believe I would have checked myself into a hospital if I had known where to go at that point.

My doctor immediately pulled me from work and put me on medical leave. He added and changed some medications. And I had to try to explain to everyone what happened to Superwoman. The one who had it all together.

Wearing the mask

You see, nobody knew I was suffering. Nobody at work, nobody at church, not my friends, and not even my family knew just how bad it was. I think my husband was getting a clue, but I did so well at pushing on, pressing forward, that people were shocked when I dropped off the face of the earth.

***And I want to reach out here to you, my reader. I know that there are some of you out there who feel this same way right now. You are overwhelmed and drowning and yet you won’t cry out for help. Since I didn’t ask for help sooner, I had to completely step away from my life. You may or may not need to do that, but the sooner you ask for help, the better.

Find someone you can talk to ~~ Be very blunt with them ~~ Tell them what you need help with~~ Make some changes for your sake and the sake of those around you!

While this post ends on a heavy note, be sure to read the next one! I will be talking about what went right this year, and what I learned from what went wrong.

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The Birth of a Blog

When I began my blog back in late May 2010, it was a trial run. I knew nothing about blogging, design, traffic, RSS, commenting, memes or carnivals. I didn’t know that there was such a thing as a mommy blogger.

I wanted to learn about blogging because I had an idea for a business and I had read that blogging would be a good way to promote it. Boy, did I jump into something so much bigger than I ever imagined! And I was headed into a very interesting period in my life, a period af enormous change.

Just Under the Surface

My life, at the time, was completely out of balance, although I had no idea JUST how unbalanced I was. You see, I was pretty good at hiding behind a mask and stuffing my emotions inside. My body was starting to rebel, but I wasn’t listening.

In July, I took a vacation hoping that would help me relax and move beyond my stress. About 5 days into my 7 day vacation I started to feel a little relief, however, within 2 days of returning home it hit me full force. As I was preparing to do a midyear review with my boss, I knew that I was in trouble. I had difficulty preparing my reports, I could not think clearly, and I was staying at home only when I did not have a very specific meeting scheduled.

get out of my box

The review was a disaster and it became apparent to me and to my boss that I could no longer do my job in my current state of mind. I took a personal leave and made an appointment to see my doctor. I have been on medical leave ever since. I am on medication, see a psychologist weekly, and have been doing much prayer and soul-searching during this time.

Our bodies are not meant to hold the kind of stress I was dealing with. I was overloaded beyond belief. I had work issues and personal issues I was dealing with. 

Part of it was external circumstances, however, part of it was due to how I handled and processed stressors in my life. I have had to learn with both sides of this issue.

As I began to write about my journey, I heard from more and more people about how they are dealing with the same thing on some level. They are stressed, overwhelmed and feel completely stuck in their lives. As I was working on my healing process, I realized I wanted to help those who were also feeling the same. This is where the change comes in!

The Balanced Life, Perfectly Imbalanced

I currently am working on another blog specifically geared towards helping women and men work out the balance in their lives. To put their stressors in perspective. To learn what to say yes to and when to say “No”.

My new blog is titled “Living the Balanced Life”. It will encompass 8 different areas of our lives:

Faith, Prayer and Worship
Connecting to Those Around You
Finding Joy in Life
Learning to Just BE
Live Healthy
Being Productive
Renew and Refresh
Manage Your Home and Time

Living the Balanced Life will have regular posts in each of these areas to help you in your quest for balance. I will also eventually be offering, for sale, resources to help you on your journey. 

My hope is to have Living the Balanced Life launch sometime early November, and to be in full swing by the time the New Year rolls around!  Please note that my plan is to continue to ramble my more emotional thoughts at THIS blog, while LTBL will be practical and action oriented (or NON-action!)
 

NEWS FLASH!newpaper-boy

To be sure you don’t miss out on when the new blog will be launching and when updates are made to THIS blog, be sure to subscribe via EMAIL by clicking HERE. I promise, I don’t share or sell your info, and I won’t hit you with spam!

Those who sign up via email will also receive for FREE the report “40 Ways to Live and Not Merely Exist!

In the meantime, for your education and encouragement…

As I am preparing to launch the new blog, my ramblings here will be on hold, unless I just can’t keep my mouth shut, lol!  I need to practice what I am preaching and balance my time and resources on what is priority at the moment, which is getting my other blog live.

So… if you are visiting during my hiatus, I have reorganized my ramblings (as much as one CAN organize ramblings!) for you to pick and choose the topics that might best help you where you are at. You can choose from my most popular posts below, or from the list of Posts by Category in the upper right-hand column.

I do enourage you to leave comments as I will still be reading those!

Some of my most popular posts:

So…Who IS This Rambling Woman?

10 Ways to Avoid a Mental Meltdown

Is Your Brain on Overload?

This is Your Brain, This is Your Brain on Overload

Someday is a Dangerous Word

Ahh, the American Dream

The Cure for the American Dream

If there are specific issues that you would like to see me address on my new blog, please feel free to send me an email to–

bernicemwood at gmail dot com! 

Also, if you believe a friend would benefit from my writings, please share by clicking the appropriate button below!

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I have recently gone through quite a bit of change and turmoil in my life. I basically had a mental meltdown back in July. (I don’t like saying ‘nervous breakdown’ and it is not a true medical term anyway!)  I had gotten to a point where nothing in my life was working. I had pushed myself to the MAX in so many different areas, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, in my relationships and in my career. My body finally had enough and said NO MORE!

My Life at a Standstill

depressed in a boxI had to take a medical leave from my job. I could barely leave the house, much less go to work. I couldn’t even go to Walmart by myself!  I reduced other responsibilities I had. Luckily my kids are mostly grown, so they can take care of themselves most of the time!  I stopped just about anything and everything I was doing. Pruned it away.

Rotten thinking

I had to start working on my mind as well. I had some pretty messed up ways of looking at things.

Things like…

  • I have to do all that is expected of me
  • I have to do it if I want it done right
  • My way is the best way and therefore the only way
  • I have to keep up a front that I am ok
  • I had to look the part of the professional role model all the time

Notice that these thoughts are all based on the big “I”. As I started pruning these things away with the help of my psychologist, my hubby and much prayer, I realized that alot of these thoughts were based in…

PRIDE

And, although I like to joke about this, I have had to REALLY learn that there is a God, and it isn’t ME.

I am NOT all powerful.

I CANNOT do everything.

I AM NOT Superwoman.

So, I am pruning out these thoughts… although I do find it is an everyday struggle!

STUFF!

Now that I am beginning to feel better, (more on that in a minute) I am also starting to prune away in my physical surroundings. I had surrounded myself with a lot of STUFF. I think that lots of stuff is another way of hiding. I am tired of hiding behind ANYTHING, so I am pruning away my belongings. Getting rid of the extra, the stuff that doesn’t add joy or value. 

Want growth? Gotta prune!

Now, I am no gardener, but I can tell you this, pruning is necessary for growth. If vines and trees and bushes are not pruned properly, they can never grow to their full potential.

In the Bible, in John 15, Jesus is portrayed as the gardener. As the Gardener, he examines each and every branch and twig in our vines to see if they are healthy or not. We also need to take this role in our lives.

Examine your life. Ask these questions

  • Am I fruitful in this area?
  • Or am I just spinning my wheels?
  • If I rid myself of “this”, could I better use my time over “here” instead?

Prune, or be pruned!

And, personally, as a Christian, I believe that if we do not make these adjustments to our vines on our own, the Gardener will bring or allow things into our lives to do the pruning for us. That, is what I feel happened in my life. I had let many things get out of control, I had weeds and vines all intertwined and had allowed quite a mess!

But I think that the Gardener was sitting back and saying, “I have SO much more for you. There is such great potential for you, but you cannot see it with all this overgrowth.” And so PRUNING was required. I had no choice at this point. I was at the end  of myself, and so the pruning began.overgrown vines

Cutting away those things that were unhealthy for my mind, soul and spirit. Clearing away the brush so I could see the open sky waiting for me. Chopping out completely the limbs that were diseased.

Was it painful? Absolutely.

Was it humbling? You better believe it. You see, before, I had quite a plant growing. I mean, I had vines going every direction, and it looked liked there was growth and life there, and then it was all cut away.

Now, however, I have hope. I know that the Gardener only wants the best for me. And instead of that mess I had, with his pruning, and my new growth with his guidance, I can grow into something more like this, with beauty, and the opportunity to see and do so much more than I could have before.

flowering vines

Am I there yet? Nope. I’ve got a lot of growing to do. I’ve gotta make sure I am doing the right things for the right reasons. I have make sure my thoughts don’t get skewed again. I need to add the right things to my life for the right reasons. For now, this is how I see myself.

sproutSee that little shoot growing from the cut stump? That is me. Rising up from my pruned state, green leaves reaching toward the sky in anticipation of what is to come!

Have you ever been through the “pruning process”? What are some things that were pruned away?

 

My goal is to help as many people as possible with these issues we all deal with! Be sure to subscribe via email or RSS so you don’t miss any posts! If you know of someone who would benefit from the info in this post and in my blog and you would like to share with them, please click on the appropriate link below!
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That got your attention, didn’t it?
I don’t mean in THAT way, or actually, I guess it COULD be!

How lucky are you?

gambling luck rouletteDo you consider yourself lucky? Do good things seem to come your way?

Or do you feel as if you always have a gray rain cloud over you and you are never dealt a “good hand”?

A rabbit’s foot, a lucky charm, or determination?

I personally don’t believe in luck as some ‘magic’ force out there, waiting to ‘give’ itself to those who are ‘lucky’.

I believe we make our own luck. By changing your attitudes, behaviors and actions you can change your luck. If you see obstacles as opportunities rather than difficulties then you can turn them to your advantage.

Now, I am not talking about wishing for something. I mean, if you want to win the lottery, you’ve at least gotta buy the ticket! But that is not really the kind of luck I am talking about here. To make a change in your life for the better, you have to put forth some effort.

Luck comes down to your attitude and the actions you choose on a regular basis

We all know someone who seems to be lucky. Serendipity seems to be their best friend. Definition of serenditpityan aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident.

True ‘lucky’ people create their own serendipity. They don’t sit around and wait for luck to find them, they make things happen. Experts agree that with a few simple steps, you can significantly increase the chances of meeting your soul mate, finding the right business partner, or steering your life in a new direction. That might sound unlikely or even naive, but there’s real science to prove that while you can’t control the randomness of life, you can definitely create your own luck.

So, how can you ‘Get Lucky”?

  1. Believe that YOU can be a winner. You CAN be successful. If you can’t believe in yourself, then who will?
  2. Learn to listen to yourself. You have to be comfortable in your own skin and trust what you are feeling and thinking. Develop your intuition.
  3. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Put yourself out there. Go to different places than you would normally go. Expand your horizons.
  4. Keep your eyes and mind wide open. Learn to ‘see’ with your heart.
  5. Work on other areas of your life. Want to be successful? Learn to do the things successful people do. Create the habits of successful people. Don’t know where to begin? Darren Hardy is a great place!
  6.  Expect to take 2 steps forward and 1 step back. No one succeeds in everything they do. Thomas Edison had 1000’s of failures before his light bulb actually worked. What if he’d given up after the 10th or even 100th attempt? Figure out what did work and what didn’t, make adjustments, and then move forward!

My daughter’s story

my daughters eyesI have a personal story to relate this. My youngest daughter is 17. She has had 4 jobs so far, each one she quit because she found something better by putting herself out there. She is starting online classes next week for fashion design. She wants to work in film and/or modeling as a fashion stylist.  So far, she has had 1 or 2 parts as an extra in TV/movies.

Last week, she spent the day with her boyfriend at a fitting for an upcoming feature role he has, she learned a lot from the wardrobe person, asking a lot of questions and watching everything going on around her. She actually ended up with a part that day as well, but her goal is to “get in the door” and learn the fashion and costuming side of the business. Her boyfriend worked his way up from being an extra to being a feature, just by talking to people. Not being afraid to start conversations and express his ideas. And she will be capable of doing the same thing, and learning and making connections.

Let me just tell you, we do not live in New York or in California, so we are not near major hubs for this sort of work. We live in a country town 60 miles outside of Atlanta, so she will have to ‘find’ these opportunities. The days of filling out an application and hoping someone calls is over.

Waiting for your ship to come in?

my ship to come inIf you want something in your life, I encourage you to start looking at steps you can take to make it happen. Learn everything you can about the subject. Research opportunities that might be close to you that you can take advantage of. You can’t sit at home on your hands waiting for your ship to come in! You need to be researching online, out talking to people, and then show up at the harbor asking questions!

What actions are you taking to create your own luck?

My goal is to help as many people as possible with these issues we all deal with! Be sure to subscribe via email or RSS so you don’t miss any posts! If you know of someone who would benefit from the info in this post and in my blog and you would like to share with them, please click on the appropriate link below!
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What has our quest for more gotten us? Do we have ‘more’ than ever before, or have we ended up with less?

In America, the first 7 or so years of the decade brought a great deal of growth and wealth in our economy. Property values were appreciating, unemployment was at low rates, we were all enjoying the ‘good life’. Many went to college and got their 4 year degrees, taking out student loans looking to be repaid once they entered the workforce.

The Housing Industry Crisis

As a new mortgage officer entering the business in fall of 2006, I came in just in time to see the downfall of the housing industry. I saw people who were able to borrow and buy a house that would require a monthly payment of 60% of their PRE-TAX dollars. I saw people who were refinance ‘happy’ and eager to pull out all the cash value their house had gained, borrowing up to 100% of the value of their home. Many times, they were doing this to payoff credit card debt they had accumulated or to take a lavish vacation. After all, they could afford the monthly mortgage payment!
recession ahead

Eventually the whole chain of events began, Wall Street, layoffs, housing sales declined, and it became a vicious cycle. And people were paddling like crazy to stay above water.

In our quest for more, we put ourselves in a precarious position. Before the ‘recession’ began,  Americans were consistently spending 106% of what they earned. How is that possible, to spend more than you make? By using credit. By charging, by borrowing. It also means they were not SAVING any money. And when their jobs disappeared, they were in trouble.

recessionAlso, as housing values fell, many people were in houses with mortgages that ended up upside-down, owing more than the house was worth. Early on, banks were attempting to get homeowners to refinance at a higher riskier rate, or to come up with the ‘extra’ amount that they were over the value of the home. Even though our situation was better than most, we had a home equity line of credit that was not maxed out, thank goodness, but the bank reduced it by 20%, because they said our house value had depreciated.

recession 2

Spending, Good or Bad?

Since the recession has come and hung around longer than any of us had hoped, now Americans are spending about 96% of their income. What does this mean? We are actually spending less than we make. We are not borrowing, we are SAVING. What a unique concept.

Now, there is a delicate balance here, one I don’t completely get and I am not an economist, but evidentally Americans saving is BAD for the economy, whereas Americans spending is GOOD for the economy. The catch 22 is that saving is GOOD for the American family, and spending beyond our means contributed to this whole mess in the first place.

So, have we learned anything from the recession? I’d like to think so. I think that family’s are reassessing what is really important. A $20k minivan will work just as well as a $50k prestigious SUV.

We don’t have to have the latest and the greatest to be happy. We can take our kids to the park and run and play and bike with them. Forgoing the extravagant Disney vacation for a smaller quieter vacation close to home at a beach or lake.

family on beach

The Most Important Things in Life are FREE!

You see, the important things in life are not things after all, they are PEOPLE. They are those in our towns and communities that need someone in their life to reach out and befriend them. Relationships matter!

picnic with friendsWhen the resources are not there for buying and spending and financing expensive activities, families and couples, and groups of friends find that there are much less expensive ways of entertaining, and they usually involve human interaction. We are spending more time in our backyards, playing family games, hanging out with friends.

Shopping, which was the great American pastime for so, many has lost its glamour, as we see how unimportant ‘things’ are. Many are turning back to what our ‘original’ forms of entertainment were- spending time in nature, enjoying the beauty that God has given us, no matter what area we live, whether it is the deserts of Arizona, the beaches of Virginia, the Rockies in the west or the marshes in Florida.

Recovery?

family-going-for-walk-in-fallWe all hope and pray that the economy will turn around and pick up soon, and that people will be working again. It will take a long time for America to recover, especially the housing market. I also hope and pray that the lessons we learned during this time, that things don’t matter, but people do, will not be forgotten. That even when we have more disposable income, we don’t waste it, that we use it wisely, and that we continue to build and cherish the relationships that we have built.

Disclaimer– I know that I basically lumped all Americans together in this post. I do know that there are many who did try to do the right things. I am not throwing darts at anyone. My goal is that we ALL learn something from this mess!

If you would like to share how the recession has changed your outlook on life, and changes you have made, I would love to hear them!

My goal is to help as many women as possible with these issues we all deal with! Be sure to subscribe via email or RSS so you don’t miss any posts! If you know of someone who would benefit from the info in this post and in my blog and you would like to share with them, please click on the appropriate link below!

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Resources for Simple Living
Love Life not Stuff
Slow Down and Enjoy Relationships
How to Live a Better Life with Less

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As I am learning to slow down and appreciate life and learn to just BE, I have come across some great resources I want to share! This blog post below is a great one to help you start to simplify your life. Leo Babauta from ZenHabits has a lot of resources. You can check one of his websites ZenHabits out here

One aside- quick personal note to post, my son’s girlfriend is in labor! We should be having our 7th grandchild, and born of all days, Labor Day, lol! We know it’s a girl, Kenley Grace, say a prayer for us today! They are young (17 & 19) so it’s a little scary!

Is life too complicated to simplify?

signs of stressSimplifying can sometimes be overwhelming. The amount of stuff you have in your life and the amount of things you have to do can be too big a mountain to tackle.

But you don’t have to simplify it all at once. Do one thing at a time, and take small steps. You’ll get there, and have fun doing it.

In fact, you can do little, but important things today to start living the simple life.

And these are not 10 difficult things, but 10 simple things that you can do today. Not tomorrow, not next week, not next month. Today. Choose one and do it today. Tomorrow, choose another.

If you do these 10 things, you’ll have made great strides with little effort.

1. Make a short list. Take out a sheet of paper and fold it into a small square, perhaps 3×5 inches. Or take out an index card. Now make a short list of the 4-5 most important things in your life. What’s most important to you? What do you value most? What 4-5 things do you most want to do in your life? Simplifying starts with these priorities, as you are trying to make room in your life so you have more time for these things.

not to do2. Drop 1 commitment. Think about all the things in your life that you’re committed to doing, and try to find one that you dread doing. Something that takes up time but doesn’t give you much value. Perhaps you’re on a team, or coaching something, or on a board or committee, or whatever. Something that you do each day or week or month that you don’t really want to do. Now take action today to drop that commitment. Call someone, send an email, telling the appropriate person or people that you just don’t have the time. You will feel relief. I’d recommend dropping all commitments that don’t contribute to your short list (from Item #1), but for today, just drop 1 commitment.

3. Purge a drawer. Or a shelf, or a countertop, or a corner of a room. Not an entire room or even an entire closet. Just one small area. You can use that small area as your base of simplicity, and then expand from there. Here’s how to purge: 1) empty everything from the drawer or shelf or corner into a pile. 2) From this pile, pick out only the most important things, the stuff you use and love. 3) Get rid of the rest. Right now. Trash it, or put it in your car to give away or donate. 4) Put the stuff you love and use back, in a neat and orderly manner.

4. Set limits. Read Haiku Productivity for more. Basically, you set limits for things you do regularly: email, RSS posts, tasks, feeds, items in your life, etc. And try to stick with the limits. Today, all you have to do is set limits for a few things in your life. Tomorrow, try to stick with them.

5. Simplify your to-do list. Take a look at your to-do list. If it’s more than 10 items long, you can probably simplify it a bit. Try to find at least a few items that can be eliminated, delegated, automated, outsourced, or ignored. Shorten the list. This is a good habit to do once a week.

6. Free up time. Simplifying your life in general is a way to free up time to do the stuff you want to do. Unfortunately, it can be hard to find time to even think about how to simplify your life. If that’s the case, free up at least 30 minutes a day for thinking about simplifying. Or alternatively, free up a weekend and think about it then. How can you free up 30 minutes a day? Just a few ideas: wake earlier, watch less TV, eat lunch at your desk, take a walk for lunch, disconnect from the Internet, do email only once today, shut off your phones, do 1 less thing each day.

clean desk7. Clear your desk. I can personally attest to the amazing feeling that a clean desk can give you. It’s such a simple thing to do, and yet it does so much for you. If your desk is covered with papers and notes and gadgets and office supplies, you might not be able to get this done today. But here are the basic steps:

     1) Clear everything off your desk and put it in a pile (either in your inbox or on the floor).

     2) Process the pile from top to bottom, one item at a time. Do not defer decisions on any item — deal with them immediately and quickly.

     3) For each item, either file it immediately, route it to someone else, trash it, or note it on your to-do list (and put it in an “action” folder). If it’s a gadget or office supply, find a place for it in your desk drawers (or get rid of it).

     4) Repeat until your pile is empty and your desk is clear. Be sure to get rid of any knick knacks. Your desk should have your computer, your inbox, perhaps a notepad, and maybe a family photo (but not many). Ahh, a clear desk!

     5) From now on, put everything in your inbox, and at least once a day, process it in the same way as above.

8. Clear out your email inbox. This has the same psychological effect as a clear desk. Is your email inbox always full of read and unread messages? That’s because you’re delaying decisions on your emails. If you have 50, let’s say, or fewer emails in your inbox, you can process them all today. If you have hundreds, you should put them in a temporary folder and get to them one chunk at a time (do 20 per day or something). Here’s how you process your inbox to empty — including emails already in your inbox, and all future incoming emails:

     1) process them top to bottom, one at a time, deciding and disposing of each one immediately.

     2) Your choices are to delete, archive, respond immediately (and archive or delete), forward (and archive or delete), or mark it with a star (or something like that) and note it on your to-do list to respond to later (and archive).

     3) Process each email like that until the inbox is empty.

     4) Each time you check your email, process to empty. Ahh, an empty inbox!

9. Move slower. We rush through the day, from one task to another, from one appointment to another, until we collapse on the couch, exhausted, at the end of the day. Instead, simplify your life by doing less (see Items 1, 4 and 5) and doing them more slowly. Eat slower, drive slower, walk slower, shower slower, work slower. Be more deliberate. Be present. This isn’t something you’re going to master today, but you can start practicing today.

10. Single-task. Instead of multi-tasking, do one thing at a time. Remove all distractions, resist any urge to check email or do some other habitual task like that while you’re doing the task at hand. Stick to that one task, until you’re done. It’ll make a huge difference in both your stress level and your productivity.

As for myself, I am in the middle of purging my book collection and selling them on Amazon. I am also working on my closet!   What specific things have you done to simplify your life?

My goal is to help as many women as possible with these issues we all deal with! Be sure to subscribe via email or RSS so you don’t miss any posts! If you know of someone who would benefit from the info in this post and in my blog and you would like to share with them, please click on the appropriate link below!
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