Life has a way of taking over. It seems to run on auto-pilot especially when we are overwhelmed, in over our heads, or simply worn out from all that life is throwing our way. After a while of trying to keep all the balls in the air, we stop paying attention and simply start reacting. Amidst all the chaos, we know something has to change, but we don’t know what or how.
That was so me. I had many reasons to change before things started to fall apart, but I used my busyness as an excuse. I didn’t think I had time to pay attention to what was going on in my own life and heart. Author Elaine St. James has said, “One of the reasons we keep our lives so complicated is so we won’t have to listen to our inner voice telling us what we need to do to make our lives work better.” I was scared to acknowledge what was going on because once I did, I knew I’d have to change everything.
It doesn’t matter which of these 10 essential edits you start with. Pick the one you are curious about, or the one you think could bring a smile to your face today.
Create a diet that fuels your body, one that helps you sleep well and think clearly. Use your diet to encourage heath and reverse disease. Food has the power to do that. If you aren’t sure what the best diet is for you, try Whole 30, a challenge described as, “a short-term nutritional reset, designed to help you put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and balance your immune system.” or, talk to a doctor you trust about healthy changes you can make.
Edit out the stuff that makes you feel sluggish, tired, and cranky. Edit out the addictive stuff too, the stuff that makes you think, “I could never live without it.” Live without it.
In many cases, our closets are a reflection of our chaotic lives. Become more intentional with the choices hanging in your closet, and you’ll become inspired to do the same in other areas of your home and life. Consider a 3 month experiment to test the power of dressing with less.
Edit out the stress of debt, even if it takes years. Learn from Cait and Dave. If debt isn’t an issue, but overspending is, try a purchase pause or trade shopping for self-care. When money isn’t the driving force behind every decision you make, you can begin to create a life around what you love instead of what you owe.
Spend more time with people who lift you up, support you, and love you for you, and less time with people who don’t. This doesn’t require confrontation, or even a conversation in most cases. A subtle shift on your part will be enough for you to experience the benefit of making edits in your relationships.
Much of the worry, stress, overreacting, gossiping, and complaining we add to our day is unnecessary drama. Identify one of these dramatic elements in your life and behavior and eliminate it.
6. Digital Engagement
Edit your digital engagement by establishing rules for yourself. Our phones and other digital devices have become more and more pervasive and seem to demand our attention. Really though, it’s our demand, our need for more connection, more work, more information, more in-the-know. Unfortunately with our constant connection, we end up with less focus and attention, less accomplished, and fewer opportunities for meaningful connection.
Experiment and slowly edit out the digital distractions:
- Turn off all phone notifications. All of them.
- Understand how distracting your devices really are. Use Checky, the app that tells you how many times a day you check your phone or Moment to find out how much time you and your family spend online and set daily limits.
- Unplug during certain hours of the day, and for 24 hours a week.
- Challenge yourself with no email before exercise or screen-free evenings.
If you don’t have time for what matters in your life, stop doing things that don’t. A jam-packed calendar might, on some level make you feel important or needed and wanted by others, but it doesn’t take long before over scheduling yourself becomes a bad habit. Break the yes habit because a jam-packed calendar usually results in burn-out and depletion. Edit your calendar by removing things that don’t matter, and by protecting the white space.
If you need help breaking up with busyness, try the 21-day free Busy Boycott challenge here.
8. Heart & Soul
Why do we neglect our hearts and souls? Usually they don’t even make the list of things to take care of during the day. If you prioritize the nurturing of your heart and soul, by taking time to listen to what they want, by engaging in soul-soothing activities, and by using them to guide your actions, you will get your life back. You’ll remember who you are, and begin to attract people and projects that are a perfect fit for the real you. As a result of tending to your heart and soul, you will treat yourself better, and therefore treat everyone around you better too.
9. To-do list
If your to-do list is a constant reminder that you can’t keep up, and you have too much to do, edit the way you do to-dos. I’ve tried no lists, and small lists, but now I use a Bullet Journal. Bullet journals hold all of your lists and notes. Check out Kara’s Bullet Journal 101 series to learn the ins and outs.
No matter how you track your to-do’s, don’t let the list run your life. (see #8 for how to run your life)
If your mornings are a rush, your day will be a rush. I highly recommend a morning routine to edit out some of the craziness of your day. You can start one with just 5 or 10 minutes. I started mine while I was working full-time, driving my daughter to school, and not wanting to wake up before the sun. Today my morning routine takes more time, but it started small.
These are the places in my life where editing made the biggest difference. Some of these edits are ongoing. I am still challenged by junk food, a crazy inbox, or making my to-do list too long from time to time.
One thing has changed though. Now I pay attention. I took my life back and take responsibility for how I live it. I don’t need a wake up call, or a break-down, or break-up to make changes.
Many of the things that happen in our lives are beyond our control, but we can move through those things with more ease when we simplify and edit the things we can.