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Simple Manifesto #25 – Streamline your life


This is part of our series on The Simple Living Manifesto. We invite you to join us on the journey.

The 25th idea in the manifesto is:

Streamline your life. Many times we live with unplanned, complex systems in our lives because we haven’t given them much thought. Instead, focus on one system at a time (your laundry system, your errands system, your paperwork system, your email system, etc.) and try to make it simplified, efficient, and written. Then stick to it. Here’s more. Another good article here.

smoke 6 colours

Smoke 6 colours | Photo by Aubergene

I’ve been working on streamlining a couple areas as of late. And there are a couple areas that could use additional streamlining as well.

Area 1: Freelance jobs

Working with several clients, each client likes to send their updates and requests in various formats. Some send them in voice mail, some send them via Facebook and some send them via e-mail.

In order to keep track of each request I’ve started using my Gmail account and Gmail’s labels as my to-do list.

No matter how the request comes, I make sure I have it in an e-mail in Gmail (even if that means writing an e-mail to myself with the notes).

I label each of the e-mails with their corresponding project/client and a “to-do” label. These labels make it quick and easy to scan and see what’s still pending or needing attention.

As I work, I start a reply to myself making notes of my progress along the way and saving the e-mail as a draft.

Once the project’s done, I delete the “to-do” label from the e-mails and move on to the next project.

Area 2: E-mails

This has been a big change in my daily habits.

Rather than leaving my e-mail client open all day long, I’ve moved to a 10-2-4 approach for checking e-mails.

I do a quick check of e-mails when I first come into the office and then only check e-mail at 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.

With each check I immediately process my e-mails with my own adaptation of the “inbox zero” method.

Along with keeping my work e-mail client closed throughout the day, I’ve also turned off notifications in Google Talk and the e-mail app on my Blackberry. Now I’m not constantly alerted of new e-mails there either.

A few areas where I could use some more streamlining…

  • Morning rituals – I need to get better at getting up with time to eat breakfast in the morning. I am not a morning person. I get up with plenty of time to get ready and head out the door but I usually miss sitting down and enjoying a good breakfast in the process. I’d also like to try to add some exercise or yoga in the morning.
  • Snail mail – We have a bad habit of getting our mail each day and throwing it on the kitchen bar — where it usually sits for most of the week. I may grab a magazine or open and sort through letters addressed to me, but if the letter is addressed to my wife, I leave it there. And she does the same for me. We rarely go back through the stack during the week to see if we can take action or trash the mail that’s sitting there.
  • Planning meals – I’ve taken on the task of planning and cooking all the evening meals at our house this year but lately I’ve been doing poorly on the planning. I need to find a better system to make it work without loads of time involved. Perhaps the tips from Simple Mom will help.

So there are a couple solutions I’ve found and a couple areas I need to improve. Steven’s shared some of the areas he’d like to improve as well.

What about you? Where have you streamlined? Where would streamlining help you the most

Join us!

Write a blog post about the point above and then share the link in the comments below…

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