16 Tips to Simplify Your Life (and Increase Your Productivity)

Someone once said “it takes a genius to live a simple life” and I totally agree with that.

In this world of “dramatic distraction” and information overload it is too easy to become overwhelmed, lose focus and be swept away from the things that matter most.

Here are 16 tips that I have learnt from other leaders, blogs and books, and have been trying to apply in my life to de-clutter, un-complicate and become more intentional about how I spend my time…

1. Turn off all technology for 60 minutes a day and focus on doing your most important work.

2. Don’t check your email first thing in the morning. (This one in particular has been life-changing for me!)

3. Start your day with exercise. (or even better, learn how to surf – no better way to start the day!)

4. Be obedient to the sabbath! (That means learning how to really rest and refuel – taking one full day a week as a complete recovery day.)

5. Learn to say no.

6. Plan your week ahead. (I spend 10 minutes every Sunday evening looking at my diary for the upcoming week and planning spaces for work, rest, exercise, relational meetings etc. It helps me to stay focused on that which is important and gives me permission to say no to that which isn’t.)

7. Don’t answer your phone every time it rings.

8. Get up early.

9. Go to bed early.

10. Eat a big healthy breakfast.

11. Clean out your closets. Get rid of things you never wear or don’t use anymore.

12. Stop watching TV. Or at least cutback to no more than 1hr per day. (Jess and I haven’t had a TV for the nearly 6 years we’ve been married. When you don’t have it, you simply don’t miss it.)

13. Make sure you plan a decent holiday break once a year. (I find it should be at least 10 days for it to become truly regenerative.)

14. Learn to protect your time. The data says workers are interrupted every 11 minutes. Distractions destroy productivity and complicate your life.

15. Do your banking online.

16. Use Evernote. Seriously, it’s an amazing piece of software.

In the end, it’s about priority. About deciding what really matters and, as Stephen Covey says, “putting first things first”! And so, as you simplify your life, may it increase your productivity and grant you a greater sense of purpose, and may it bring you great freedom and peace.


839 Comments on “16 Tips to Simplify Your Life (and Increase Your Productivity)

  1. This dude is smart. And he’s my husband. I’d just like to throw my two cents in and say that Tom really does live this out, and it has made a huge difference to our marriage and life together. I’m often amazed at how effective he is, how much work he does, and yet the balance he has. Its worth doing every single one of these – not just for yourself but for the people around you!

      • Great points Tom, I try live by a number of them, your success lies in the discipline…

      • Thanks for your blog.
        Another great tool is The Journal form http://www.davidrm.com. It is an electronic agenda and I use it everyday at my work as an Oracle Dba.
        Also about praying I think that my Blog will be perfect for those who:
        1- Speak spanish as have the translation of the Daily Mass from the Diocese of Worcester.

      • Tom, I am just born in wordpress..just one day old..I loved using Evernote, it is such a bliss for projects unfinished in one’s mind..its an electronic scrapbook as well…loved your blog!would like to pick your brain on ur sucess with “freshly pressed”.

      • I loved all your suggestions to simplify life. I would like to share my blog which is tagged “Life Simplified”. You can read my blog on http://www.amruthmakam.wordpress.com
        I also like to tell the readers of your blog that you can read the book – The monk who sold his ferrari. It is just a detailed version of your expression and in the manner of a story. It might interest youngsters since its a story. Btw i really appreciate your post and its fantastic to hear that you live by everything you have written. Cheers!

      • Love it Tom. Thank you for that summary. At some point I have practiced all of them, at least individually with success, to combine them with consistency seems to be the task at hand. And like DavidW said, “success lies in the discipline”…

    • Ahhh. I don’t even know you guys, but you make me want to click “like” on Facebook.

      But not checking email first thing… Ouch. Maybe in the days before my iPad! Seriously, would be interested to know how you can be so disciplined when you have one. When a computer takes forever to start up, you can tell yourself it’s too much effort, but when all ou need to do is tap…

      • Haha! 🙂 My wife is awesome! I must say the iPad has made it more tempting. But it’s short term pain for long term gain! Resisting now forms a habit that gives me more freedom ultimately.

      • Ha ha ha! Oh my gosh! Me too! It reminded me of my boyfriend and I. It’s awesome to see couples supportive of each other 🙂

        Thanks for the reminder to not check my emails first thing in the morning. I’ll check my work emails when I begin working, nothing else until later.

        Instead of surfing, I do Bikram yoga 🙂 I thought I’d throw that out there as a suggestion to anyone else. Doing yoga, or some form of stretching where you are actively engaging in clearing out the mind for 20-30 minutes makes a HUGE change on the entire day.

        Thank you for all the suggestions!

    • thats so sweet! I love this quote btw “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Kasha at itsPurePositive.

    • Tom I enjoyed your post and like your writing style. The endorsement by Jess is real cool too. Nothing like a loving, respecting spouse to confirm my Hubby is the real deal, I see it everyday. Especially liked the “Keep the Sabbath Holy, (restful) for those that don’t worship God on this Holy day. Keep up the good work. Reggie @ svideo4u

    • Oh my gosh. You guys are so sweet together! And these are some really great ideas for improving productivity–not just for producing more, but for creating better stuff and having a more engaging time doing so.


    • Great Post! This is really helpful for college students like myself, who find it hard to balance school-time with me-time. After reading this piece I cannot wait to try out your tips to de-clutter my days. I especially like Tip number 14! Distractions are a huge problem for me: roommates, music, texting, food, etc.! Anything that can keep me off task, will keep me off task. I’m am going to try my best to prevent distractions and remain productive! Thanks, you have just made me, not only a better Student, but a better person! Keep it up!

    • I am re-posting this one for my readers! These are things I have been coaching people to do to be successful for many years. A great list that every person should use. Rejuevnation is so much more important than Humans have thought! Several of the points are about down time and time away from too much information input sources. What a lucky girl you are Jess! (I got a great one too!) Thank you for sharing this 🙂 AmberLena

    • My husband & I went from a 5 bd, 6 ba, 4,000 sq ft house to a 2 bd, 1 ba, 900 sq ft apartment about 4 years ago. It was the BEST move we ever made. Not only was there less “stuff” to worry about & take care of in our house, there was just less “stuff” in our lives altogether! Simplicity is DEFINITELY something that we’ve come to embrace. We love having the time for our kids – going to the park, walking the dog, etc… And, our kids are two of the happiest children (if I do say so myself). We haven’t blocked out all media, etc. in our lives, but we’ve definitely tried to scale back. My husband used to sleep with the TV on, because he liked to listen to the “noise.” The only noise we like to listen to now, is the sound of our kids giggling/laughing as they play! Thanks for the tips, Tom! A simpler life is definitely a happier life!

    • I completely disagree about EverNote. I still have its darn widget somewhere.
      Evernote is a bad adaptation of Microsoft’s phenomenal thinking software, OneNote. I’d be using it now if there was support for Linux. I’ve managed grad school term papers in OneNote, along with keeping track of writing topics ~~ every step of the way, from the initial idea and query to the completed manuscript.

      • Many of them ARE hard, but they’re worth it. Don’t try tackle them all at once. Simple choose one or two thing and focus on those to start

  2. It all lies in making priorities and having that discipline to follow them. Sadly, I am working on the second one. Haha. Great post by the way! 🙂

    • Interesting thought Kathy. I totally agree. I often find myself reading so many productivity/self-improvement blogs/articles etc and even though all the advice is great, they too become another thing to do on our ever-expanding “to do list”. I think the key is focus, discipline, and taking small steps in the right direction.

      • I got a book about time management that advises readers to keep a log of how they spend their time. I can see how it might provide useful insight, but it seemed like it would be very time-consuming!

  3. It’s a interesting post I would probably say don’t answer the with-held numbers on the phone as they 99% of the time are always sales calls wasting your time !
    Stop watching TV is probably the best piece of advice ever, ask anyone that watches soaps what happened a month ago and they will tell you they don’t know haha

    • Thanks for the comment. My thinking when it comes to TV is that life is simply too short to watch TV – there are just too many good books i want to read, people i would love to spend time with etc etc.

      • Why so hateful on TV? Aren’t TV series and novels essentially the same thing, fiction one can resort to when in need of entertainment or just some distraction of their own life? Of course there are loads of great books to read but there’s also a bunch of good TV series to watch.

      • Not hating on TV. I agree with you, and I enjoy a bit of TV now and then. It’s just when it takes over and robs too much time out of your day that it can become a hindrance to your productivity.

  4. Wow! I really appreciate this. I’m always trying to simplify – and keep simplifying. It’s a bit of a neverending process because complications keep trying to sneak in. Thanks for this!

    • This helped me a lot I really really like these tips and plan on using them, and sticking to it. Maybe your next post should be about sticking to these things haha.
      -Alice Pleasance

  5. No tv, I never answer my phone, and it would feel weird to check emails first thing in the morning! Closet could use a cleaning though…

  6. I find that these are good types to do as well. They go a long way to help you to be able to get somewhere in your life as well.

  7. I really like this post. Thank you for helping us people out here get our lives worked out. I just found your blog and hope to continue being a patron. I am starting a blog much like this on life and how to.

  8. Oh my…I am doing EVERYTHING wrong! There isn’t one piece of advice that you give that I am currently adhering to…not even the one about eating a big breakfast! Ugh…this is terrible. My life is SO not simple and I need to change that!

    Thank you for the slap in my face that I needed today! 😉

    • Don’t be too hard on yourself. Even as i wrote those thoughts down, it was a slap in my own face too! We are all works in progress, but it’s about taking small steps in the right direction.

  9. I enjoyed reading this post, I was able to think of ways to make your tips more specific to me and am excited about implementing these new concepts into my life. Overall, simple beats out complicated any day of the week, and simplifying things may be a complicated process but it will always be worth it in the end.

  10. Excellent post! Lesson 14 is the most crucial one because it encompasses all the other ones. Glen McQuirk says, “Time Management Precedes Life Management” and Dr Mike Murdock says, “Let people respect your time. If a meeting is planned from 13:00-13:30 and they come 10mins late then they will know the meeting can only go on for 20mins!”

  11. Without change, we would be forever stuck in the present world. That change is built into every kind of existence, means that all existing things are also infected with this ability to become something new. And, to the extent that the present world is less than ideal, it is only the fact that change occurs, that allows us to hope for a better world to come.

  12. I totally agree with you on all of these points. I constantly say ” I don’t have time” but in reality if I did one task completely without being interupted I would have the time!

  13. Really like your tips here! (Even if you dont stick to number 4 by doing number 6) 🙂 I think leaving 1 day to rest is a great idea which i will try this weekend, means I’ll have to do more Saturday though!

  14. Great time saver tips! First things first – add a walk before work in the morning – at least 3 times a week (baby steps, right!!??) Next – simplify! Yikes – that may be tough! Will have to work at it! Great advice!

  15. Easier said than done, my friend – at least in my case. I could add few more things or you least:

    – limit browsing internet and social networks (I don’t watch tv but this is another vice)
    – work when you work and rest when you rest (I feel that I work 24/7 but actually do not)

    … number 2. (check emails and social networks first thing in the morning) I find also extremely important. another one:

    – check emails at intervals during the day, e.g. around lunch time and then in the afternoon, every few hours instead immediately as it interrupts you working on other tasks… (email doesn’t have to be immediately answered either)
    – clean your desk from unnecessary stuff (that works pretty well for me as I feel that it takes of my energy)
    – when you need a break, make a ‘real break’: open the window and breath fresh air, look in the sky or trees, have a stretch, chitchat with colleagues INSTEAD of checking the news or browsing for a moment


  16. This are great suggestions! I think the one about not checking email right away is something I need to hear…sometimes it’s the first thing I do after getting out of bed!

  17. This has to be the first time I’ve ever read both the whole of the posts and all of the comments that followed. It’s all very interesting. The verse that comes to mind is this: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33). I thank God that I do not need to do it in my own strength, because I can’t! But “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Philipipians 4:13)
    You are more than welcome to check out my blog. Its purpose is to explore what it means to find calm in a world full of chaos, by looking into biblical truths using music and poetry as a stimulus.”
    P.S. “Life is too short to watch TV.” What a strapline! Love it. Thanks Tom

  18. Speaking as someone who has raised procrastination to a fine art, I found this post really useful. Maybe I’m never going to achieve all 16 but I’ll take a few bite-sized chunks. I’ve already improved my life by not turning on my computer at all on a Friday and giving over the day to other things, although the temptation to peek at my email is almost irresistible. I’m going to start with your number 2 tip – not looking at my emails (and I’m adding to that not looking at my blog stats) until I’ve done at least one productive thing every morning.

  19. Thanks so much for posting these tips Tom! I printed them out to post somewhere I’ll see them often as a reminder. I’ve been struggling with feeling overwhelmed and distracted from the things that are important to me, so I’m very glad I found your post today.

    I don’t intentionally do most of the items on the list, except that I do my banking online and I don’t watch TV. I gave the latter up because the commercials drove me crazy, and I don’t miss it at all. If there’s a show I really want to watch I’ll catch it on DVD and watch it at my leisure, preferably with friends. I do spend inordinate amounts of time on social networks and playing video games, though. These are definitely things I should cut back on.

    I also find that, about once each week, I have a day where I just decide I’m not going to tackle the things on my to-do list, I’m going to focus on me. Usually that day involves decluttering one or more rooms and/or doing laundry. I feel so good afterward, it really seems like an appropriate use of that time. I like #4 observe the sabbath and #6 plan your week ahead of time. Maybe when I’m scheduling my week I can pick a day to rest, so when I then decide to rest on that day it seems more like an “appropriate” use of the time to care for myself and not rebelling against the ever-looming to-do list.

    So, again, thanks. I’m not going to try to do all of these at once right away, but I’ll begin gradually incorporating them into my routine. Best wishes.

    • Sonds like you are on the right track. Baby steps are the only way – trying to tackle it all at once only becomes overwhelming and depressing! All the best!

  20. This is really helpful! I’d never experienced the stress with e-mail but now I’m the president of an organization at my university and that equals me being the person to mail on the list-serv so I’m often tempted to check first thing in the morning! That only stresses me out though so I think I’ll use your tips to organize it better and not let it stress me out.

  21. Thanks Tom for the reminder, we all need those.

    My favourite and most powerful thing I do is turn off my mobile every now and again, mainly at the weekend so I don’t get distracted from the things I really love doing and especially so as I pay 100% attention to the loved ones that I am with !

  22. 3. exercise is a definite. You should exercise when you get up (even if it’s 7am or midday) because your metabolism goes up more//for longer. I hate how it’s a known fact that people’s attention is 20 minutes….why schedule 2-hour lectures then?! Ohh the pain, I faded too early in my class today haha!

  23. Great advice. I’m only 23, but I certainly do understand the value of SLEEP! My friends all make fun of me because of my 10PM bedtime, but the joke is on them when they party all night and go to work with hang overs! 🙂 I tried the trial version of Evernote, not too impressed but maybe I’ll give it another shot.

    – LisaaLinh

  24. Excellent list…I agree with all of it and appreciate the link to Evernote. Now I look forward to when I have the OS that will run it. Thank you for this excellent synopsis.

  25. Thanks! Your list is great. I’ve tried the no checking e-mail first thing, but I have to admit that I don’t always stick to it. :-/ But, you’ve encouraged me to give it a go again! I do think that it helps.

    Thanks again!

  26. Very good, I especially appreciate the thought to turn electronics off and only one hour of tv. It’s amazing how much time and energy it steals.

  27. Thanks for the great tips. Now, would you have any tips on increasing your productivity when you’ve got nothing urgent to do, the phone never rings and you don’t actually have emails in the morning? Not that I’m a loser or anything… just wondering.

    • Actually a great question though. Just off the top of my head, i think the key in both cases is to have a VISION. To have a plan or a dream and then to strategize steps on how to get there. Studies show that people (especially men) retire and have nothing to “fill the void” are prone to depression and anxiety. We are not designed to sit around. We all needs hopes and dreams and a reason to get up in the morning.

      • Hey, you’re good! You know how to take the bait and even how to let it go… As a reward, I’ve decided I’s start my day with a run, starting tomorrow. You never know, that might get the phone ringing! Thanks again.

  28. I really need to start my day with exercise rather than checking Twitter and Facebook.This is a helpful post.And By the way sir, are you a seventh day adventist? …. 🙂

  29. Good advice! It rings very close to the advice from Carl Honore’s In Praise of Slowness book. I would pick that up. It changed my life!

  30. totally agree with you on the TV tip. i barely watch TV. i only turn it on for documentaries (can’t give up on them). sometimes it does feel a bit odd when i hang out with my friends who love TV series and game shows, and they stop nonstop and joke and laugh about the latest episode of How I Met Your Mother, while i totally have not a clue. but by and large, when someone turns to me and ask who is my favourite in Friends, i’m glad (and kind of proud) to say “i don’t watch TV.”

    • Thats fantastic. Well done to you! I’ve watched on episode of How I Met Your Mother, and i just didn’t get what everyone was raving about!? maybe i missed something. Give me 30 Rock any day. 🙂

  31. Great tips but of course easier said than done. I went without TV for a few years when I lived in the mountains but now that I am back in civilization and back in the news business I have to have it. Great post.

  32. I totally agree.. however I’M ONLY halfway there in living a simple life. Hopefully I get there soon. It takes alot of focusing to live a simple life!

  33. Great list! am trying to sleep early. that’s my biggest problem right now. other than that is checking emails first thing in the morning. However, trying to discipline to the list is hard work but i guess it’ll worth it..

  34. I agree with everything on this list and have been advocating most of the points for years, although not necessarily living by them! It is amazing what can be done if you out the objective beforehand. Also, the technology advice is something that is well warranted because people do not realize the surroundings they are missing by looking into their mobile devices all the time. It is a wide, abundant world, not a 2″X2″ world of scant resources and dearth.

  35. Great tips but it’s hard to not check my inbox in the morning or to not pick up the calls when it ring. Anyway, I agree the idea of being obedient to the Sabbath though I also find it hard for myself. Since I have to work until Monday to Friday, I postpone the meetings with my friends and family gathering until weekends. In weekend, I’m busy with all those things. And, Monday comes again. Sleepily starting another week. 😦

  36. Tom Bassen, you are fantastic. Thank you so much for these tips. I’m going to try to implement the “no technology” rule starting tomorrow. I doubt I can do 60 minutes because of the nature of our work/lives (we have very very very very long hours), but I can probably do 30 minutes a day without. I’m always looking for ways to declutter and reconnect. Thank you for sharing – you really deserve the honor of being freshly pressed! I look forward to hearing more fabulous things from you!

  37. Tom, this is really good stuff. Really enjoyed reading this. I actually do a lot of this things just like you point out, I just have a different ritual for exercise as I do it after work and have specific times to check my email. Unfortunately, as soon as I get up is one of my scheduled checks.

    Look forward to reading more from you and feel free to read my blog on business and sports with a touch of motivation.


    Twitter: @asanvicente

  38. This post has arrived at an opportune time for me as I am currently desperately seeking some balance due to working full time, studying at night, organising a wedding, some days I literally fall into bed, my eyes screaming at me because I have yet again strained them too much over the day – I think they are currently planning a mutiny. One morning I will wake up and they will have packed up my eyelashes and abandoned me. I used to exercise everyday and meditate and have outings with friends and go to the movies with my fiancee… there’s just no time now. I think one of my biggest things is not knowing how to say no… but I have been working on it. Thanks for the inspiration to renew my efforts 😀

    • Thanks for being honest and sharing your challenges. I think we live in a world where “busyness” is out of control and the we can become seduced by words like “efficient”. They key is to start small. Choose one or two things on the list and focus on those.

      And good luck for your wedding day. I”m sure it will be wonderful.

      • I think sharing what you struggle with is half the fight, other people are going to be having similar experiences to what you are and they might have some insight or tips on what helped them.
        I did not turn on one computer all weekend! I am quite proud of this fact and only used the telephone when people called me. I reorganised some stuff in the house and my trunk is now full of stuff for goodwill and I feel a lot more relaxed now than I did on Friday.
        There is some irony in your message above because, “efficient” is one of the words often used to describe me by people at work hahaha.
        Weddings are always good once they are happening, it’s just the crazy undue stress beforehand that one can do without. It will be beautiful and probably worth it all on the day though and the 2 week holiday which I have not had in the 14 years I have been working will be glorious!

  39. Love this post.

    “Make sure you plan a decent holiday break once a year. (I find it should be at least 10 days for it to become truly regenerative.)”

    This was the one we all miss.

  40. I agree with each and every one of your tips. The hard part is to change one’s life and keep it that way… Thanks for sharing this! Tom.

  41. great thoughts! you know things are true when you feel them. I felt these as I read through the list to simplify because a lot of them ring true in my life. I just need to take that first step. Ready, go!

    • By the way, I’m an avid Evernote user as well and I agree with your assessment of it. Awesome app. Another app I use to simplify my calorie tracking is MyFitnessPal. It’s been worth it. More power to your blog.

  42. Hey,

    Congrats for Freshly Press..

    Suprisingly, I never follow any of those tips and will start following with “Stop watching TV ” and “Eat Healthy Breakfast”..

    Thanks for all those tips…

  43. I am trying my best to do all this!

    In the last month or so, I have no started to give away clothes, paintings, things that I don’t use or relate to anymore. I don’t pick up my phone every time it rings, but then I check my mail every morning when I get up!
    So already half way there and the other half should be worth it as well!

  44. lots of good point are there. I don’t receive my phone every time it rings. so at least i am doing one. And i will work on those other 15 tips for sure. Thanks for sharing !!

  45. The problem with TV is that even if you don’t like what is on, you watch. ?? Even me. I do it!

    I currently have no TV for 8 months now. But, when I get a chance to watch it these days, I get so excited! Then, I find myself constantly searching for something interesting- eagerly hoping to be satisfied. Ultimately, its all commercials and disappointing! Even when you watch actual television programs, its so obvious that there are ads in the shows. And, the actual entertainment part is only like a total of 5 minutes! Ha! In fact, when my fiance` and I find ourselves in a place with TV, we talk about how weird it seems now with all the commercials. And, I think that shows me that I was immune to the commercials when I used to have TV… I find that interesting..

    And, this is why we are not hooking up TV when we are done traveling! Everything I want, I already have and I think that’s the point you are making.

    I honestly don’t have answers for why we are so busy all the time, doing a million things. and being all over the place and un-zen-like all the time… I guess we are always trying to keep up with everyone else? And, when you let go of trying to keep up with everyone around you, its like simplifying your life.

    I think its great that you are doing this, and I am trying as well. Its a constant process… Its like working out or eating healthy or saving money- Once you get into the habit its easy, but its easy to get wrapped up in the hustle of life around you! Being disciplined and thoughtful about your actions is a lifelong practice, as it should be! That’s why its rewarding – b/c if it was easy, everyone would do it!

  46. Ha! GREAT post Tom. Don’t have a TV either and we don’t miss it. The only thing I WISH is that someone would invent something so that I HAVE to complete an online exercise programme before my email will open. You’ve just given me an idea for another post. Thing is, it’s not in my plan to write on my blog today :0)

    Another tip i have which really helps, is to set your email to only update every hour. It gives you some breathing space. You could set it to two hours if you’re brave enough – something i’m simply not able to do. I’m a slave to my (4) work inboxes.

    Have a great day today!

    • That’s great insight. There are even software programs that limit intent access or email access and the only way to get in is to restart your computer. This obviously makes it easier to resist the temptation… Interesting stuff.

  47. The most important thing in my opinion is the no-tv-thing. My darling and me haven’t had a tv for 3 years now and we don’t miss anything. Thumbs up for that one!

  48. Interesting blog! Enjoyed going through it. Especially this post. I like the point where you say learn to say no. Thats the most important thing in order to stay focus.
    I was actually looking for a blog as interesting as this one where you talk about productivity, spirituality, relationships and gadgets all at the same time.
    Good Going!

  49. Thanks for a great post. Many things you are listing that I am going to try to apply in my life. I don’t have a TV to start with so that’s good. Have not really watched any TV for the last couple of years. My phone is not a problem either. I don’t use it very much. I do spend to much time on the computer. That happens naturally as I am studying online and it is easy to just go from studying to surfing the net. I started getting up earlier and going to bed earlier two month ago. That really helps to improve your life. I have tried to start my day with exercise and while I lived in Spain where the weather is nice I found that easier. I am trying to start my day with meditation now instead.

    Anyhow..there are so many things we can and not do in our everyday life to feel better 🙂

  50. We all needed this. At one time or another. Thanks for a great post. Currently living a simpler life because of half of your points. It’s a start.

  51. Will try to remember as many points as I can out of the above 16 points! But somewhere I had read that one should say a YES more often because when you say a YES you open a whole new set of possibilities before you.Yes I know the power of ‘NO’ too :):)!
    Only time I feel bad about life is when I am unable to justify myself clearly among arrogant and rigid people..
    Anyway check this –
    How Well Do You Know Yourself?
    This test aims at discovering how well you know yourself.

      • This is our family philosophy about spending money. We live like paupers so that we can travel to exotic places. When we came back from a two week trip to Greece and Italy, a friend asked how we could afford such a trip. I thought (but didn’t say!), we don’t have brand new cars (like she did), we didn’t buy a house with 30 acres of land and a swimming pool (like she did), I don’t have a cell phone (like every member of her family does), we don’t eat out (much – about once a month), Say No to those sideliners and say Yes to Jamaica, China, Hong Kong, Bahamas, Europe, Hawaii.

  52. Yes I should definitely do my banking online! cutting down on TV time is going to be so hard though…that’s how I relax when I get home after work 🙂

  53. Agree with everything, especially the TV part : “When you don’t have it, you simply don’t miss it.” I haven’t had a TV at home for about four years now, and I’ve never been happier. I find I am more productive, I read lots of books, write even more, practice my art and my music, spend more time with friends… basically, instead of watching TV and seeing how others live their lives, I actually go out and live mine! Great post!

    • “..basically, instead of watching TV and seeing how others live their lives, I actually go out and live mine!”

      I feel the SAME way.

      Husband and I don’t have cable, so TV isn’t a crucial part of our lives. We rent a movie, occasionally, and have a “junk food” night where we spend an hour and a half “watching other people (actors) live their (ficticious) lives..” the rest of our lives, is our own. 🙂

      Aun Aqui

  54. first of all thanks for the great tips…
    I personally never agreed with experience speaks more… but the thing you said about getting rid of TV was the master piece… ha ha…
    you are true “if you don`t watch it then you wont miss it”….

    Thanks you ton`s of times…. i really enjoyed your post…….

  55. Very catchy opening line: it DOS take a genius to simplify life: I agree. My favorite tip was saying NO. Can I get personal, and say no to family invitations?

    “I have a surfing lesson that day” would be a hilarious excuse, given the east coast suburb I live in.


  56. This is great. I find that I’m constantly distracted but also drawn to technology and it definitely affects my productivity. Text messaging, Twitter, Facebook, email. I can lose a whole evening on these things! Great tips. I might even start eating breakfast!

  57. I tried giving up watching TV for one full week and while it was “okay,” I truly missed TV. I like it too much to not watch it. I agree with most of your tips, in theory, but in reality, it’s hard to follow them.

    • thanks for your comment. I think every person’s list make look different. The point is to be disciplined to cut things out that may feel good at the time, but ultimately just stress us out and overwhelm us.

  58. I’m just starting the journey of productive self discovery. I often jumbled my life with so much on my plate that I wasn’t enjoying any of it. I say ‘yes’ to everything!

    A big part of my journey, is learning that I cannot please everyone – and there is no point in killing yourself over it. Accepting the fact that sometimes people just don’t need a reason to not like you and as a people pleaser, this maybe the hardest to overcome! But here goes nothing!

    Great post!

  59. It took me ages to work this all out. Much better way to live – actually live and not be controlled by everything and everyone around you. (Ok, sounds a little more freaky than I intended but I’m sure you get the general idea!)

  60. Wow! This is really great! I’ve just recently started doing some of the things on this list – exercising first thing in the morning and not answering the phone every time it rings. Wow! Both of these have been so helpful for me! I’m definitely going to try some of the others on this list.

    Just curious, though: how would you recommend protecting your time?


    • Thanks for reading. I think the key is learning to say no. But in order to know what to say no to, we have to know what we want to say yes to. This means having a clear vison and plan, and gives you permission to say no to those things which ultimately are not helping you to achieve your vision. hope that makes sense…

  61. All extremely great pointers. I highly agree with not checking e-mail, not always answering the phone, and eating a big healthy breakfast! Going to bed early is a must. And no TV is lovely. For about 4 years I didn’t have a TV and I didn’t miss it at all. But, of course, saying no is also really important. Great post!

  62. Pingback: My Productivity List « I just hope

  63. Fantastic Post! I’m a Professional Organizer, and I couldn’t agree more. Also, my husband and I moved our TV into the basement. Not having it in our family room means we watch far less of it. I think it’s incredibly important for people to recognize that they need to refuel, and that means downtime.

    Thanks for sharing!

  64. OMG thank you so much for your post! It’s exactly what I needed to read to stay focused! #1 and #14 hit home for me–turn off technology to protect your time!

    Less distraction=more focus, time, and productivity!

  65. 4. Be obedient to the sabbath! (That means learning how to really rest and refuel – taking one full day a week as a complete recovery day.)

    As a Seventh-day Adventist, I found that super interesting.

    Also appreciated point 11 on cleaning out closets! My husband and I try to do this atleast twice annually. Organizing my living space declutters my mind.

    Also – an additional point to add, perhaps (or maybe this goes along with “dont check your email first thing”) – DONT surf Facebook or text right after you wake up while you’re still in bed. I waste atleast 10-15 minutes doing this every morning. (Is it really that important? Is the “information” and are the status updates that interesting?)

    I enjoyed this! Thank you, sir.

    Aun Aqui

  66. Great post. Though I don’t find everything applicable for a college student like me, I will surely do these when I graduate.

  67. This is very smart and useful! Thans fo sharing!
    I’ve heard it’s also good to make a list everyday of the things you have to do. Then list them in order of their importance. And you have to takle item one, ignoring everything else until you finish, then item two and so on. So that way you do one thing at a time and stay focused on the most important tasks of the day.

  68. Couldn’t agree more with your tips. I’m fulfilling most of those, and will definitely try to incorporate the ones I’m not – thanks for sharing! Congratulations on being freshly pressed, it’s well-deserved!

  69. wonderful post.. I’ve been trying to exercise things like these and I was able to do that to an extent..I can live without a TV forever but the one thing that I’m not able to give up is “Facebook”.. I’m too addicted ! I tell things to myself like “Only half an hour for facebook today” and I end wasting 2 hours.. Hope I achieve this himalayan task one day 🙂 🙂

    • you know what they say. nothing is new under the sun. the key is not the information, but the application, which it seems you do. well done and thanks for reading.

  70. 17. Choose your leaders wisely because once you take the first step into hell you will not recognize the rest.

  71. So many great nuggets of truth here! I think I’ve got most of these covered, but as is always the case, there are certainly some areas I could work on. Thanks for the helpful reminders!

  72. Really enjoy your post. As a college student, finding the best way to increase productivity is a dream that’s not really worked for. The technology bit is especially difficult when your classes requiring their assignments to be finished online.

    Hmm… that does raise the question: What could one do in that particular scenario? I had thought of having a browser specifically for studying, where all the usual websites are blocked, but that hasn’t worked. I would really like to hear your point of view.

    • I hear you. The tech one is hard. But I think choose a specific time or times when you go offline. Start small – maybe 20min – and then slowly increase as you can.

      There are also programs you can install on your computer that block websites or apps between certain times and you have to restart your computer to override them. Makes it easier to resist the temptation! Good luck!

  73. I agree, I don’t always pick up my phone, or check my e-mail in the morning. Just because I don’t want to be bothered with stuff like that so early. I did had evernote aswell, but I just didn’t saw the meaning of it. :c

    But, this was a wonderful post!

  74. Hi! This is a great post. It really makes me want to sell my television, but I just love hockey so much. Anyway, I was wondering if you made the picture at the top? Or how you did that? Is that a photoshop thing? It’s super. I want to do stuff like that on my website.

  75. There are some great tips here and I will certainly implement as many as I can into my day.
    One quick question though, what about when you have kids? Mine are still young enough that they demand constant attention so free time for us as parents is minimal.
    I’m not certain how many of these tips I would successfully be able to build in to my routine around them.

    Great post though, wish me luck!

    • I hear you. My wife and I have a 3 month old baby boy who keeps us on our toes constantly. But they key i think is focus – knowing what you want and having a plan to get there. Everyone’s plans will look different.

  76. So now wait – the world needs people who have “come alive”, but also, we should be focused on “productivity”, as if we’re corporations or machines rather than human beings.

    Do I have that right? No thanks. You claim to be a Christian; was Jesus productive? He quit his job to go wandering around, meditating and preaching and protesting.

    You and the robot class can keep your lifestyle. The Protestant work ethic is inhuman bunk. Let the ants be the ants. It’s for people to be people. Not until we begin to treat ourselves like human beings, rather than machines or resources, can we justifiably expect others to treat us like human beings rather than as mere machines, or resources. Ie, in a Christian manner, as men. Do you get me?

    • I understand your point. I think we live in a world so focussed on “knowing” and “doing” and we forget that we are human “beings” created in the image of God. Sometimes, in this crazy fast-paced world we must learn to simply “be”, and not to value ourselves on what we do or what we know. These things will fade.

      However, I have also find that God often responds to me when i take a step or decide to act. It’s no good talking about poverty. I believe God wants us to ACT. To get our hands dirty. To make plans and do the work he has called us to. Application isn’t legalism.

      Thanks for your thoughts.

  77. Some great tips here! I have a similar post on my blog about getting up and just doing! Check outon my blog, I’d love to get your feedback!

  78. Those are some great tips! I have a similar post on my blog about getting up amd just doing! Check out my blog, I’d love to get your feedback!

  79. Good tips, & I love the quote at the top about doing what makes you come alive. There are so many directions a person can go in as far as spending time and making money; finding what really brings life to your spirit is a good basis for making a choice.

  80. Very helpful tips.

    I like these lines, ” Stop watching TV. Or at least cutback to no more than 1hr per day. (Jess and I haven’t had a TV for the nearly 6 years we’ve been married. When you don’t have it, you simply don’t miss it.)” —so true, you really don’t miss a thing when you don’t have it. I have not been watching TV for almost 2 years now and I didn’t miss it all…

    I will apply these tips especially devoting one day a week to just rest and be free from the everyday routine.

    Thanks for sharing and congrats for being Freshly Pressed. You deserve it.

  81. Wow thanks! I am just starting to work from home as a Parent Coach and I am amazed at how disorganized and distracted I have become. These tips all ring true, Thanks again!

  82. I’ll try them, I need to improve my discipline too :S.
    At leastI don’t have to worry about the TV tip, I haven’t seen tv all the year, since I don’t have the only channel I used to watch, I just whatch what my family watches while eating dinner…

    This year is the busiest year I have ever had in my life, and I’m thankful for that! because now I feel alive!

  83. I really enjoyed reading your post. It links up nicely with my very first blog posting, Stop and smell the roses. It is so difficult for we perfectionists and workaholics, isn’t it? Thanks for writing this one Tom!

  84. Tom,

    Nice post. And great advice about resting one day a week. It’s the way it was intended. You’re right, we all need to simplify our lives. I recently wrote an article about building “pauses” into your day and living a more reflective life. Your 16 tips are a great start. Thanks for sharing.

  85. Darn! Knew I shouldn’t have read this post! Now I’m gonna feel guilty about checking my emails every morning!

    • If it’s an important call, they will leave a voicemail, which you can check, and decide if you will get back to them. In my experience though, 90% of the time it’s not that important and can wait.

  86. Thanks Tom for sharing this Tips. I was faithful to number 3 , but been lazy for a while now. I will defintely get back on track and also put into practice your advice and see how it works.

  87. This is great, planning your week in sunday nights shower before bed works! Pressing pause in your life is hard but so good. Great tips to work on, thanks

  88. Very good tips, having no TV is really a good idea. I liked this quote ‘When you don’t have TV, you simply don’t miss it’ 🙂

    I guess you have read the book ‘Who will Cry when you die’…

  89. “it takes a genius to live a simple life” … I fully agree with you as well. Nowadays it seems that there is a tendency to live a life that is more complex than it sould be. From now on, I will make sure that my life will be more simple.

  90. Evernote is great. I has really helped me out in many situations. I encourage everyone and their puppy to try it out. Also, I agree about the going to bed early and waking up early. Waking up early makes you feel like your day can be so productive. The going to bed early, I have trouble with actually doing myself, but it’s a work in progress!

  91. thank you for the tip.

    i have quit watching tv 3 years ago, only watch documentary if needed. living in london feels a bit different, however it is my intent do to so 🙂

  92. Pingback: Mastering the Art of Self Discipline by Tom Basson & My Gameplan « vital endeavor

  93. Gotta figure out how to get Freshly Pressed one of these days….I just wrote something about simplifying my life after discovering the Minimalists.

    Anyway, good tips, and mostly stuff I’ve heard before but fail to keep in practice. #12 will never happen, as it’s the reason I get paid. 😉 I HAVE curtailed a lot of my home viewing, though….now to wean further from Crackbook–er, Facebook. And if I can figure out a way to make #4 work with my crazy work schedule, the rest will probably fall into place.

  94. Great post… I took it one step further and quit my job, sold my house and I’m now on a round the world trip (posting this from Cambodia). I’ve lost 2 inches off my waist and my stress levels are halved… only thing is… I’ll need a job when I get back home… oh and a home for that matter! 🙂

  95. Where to start……
    As noted by one poster , too many rules can cause problems.

    1) Not really a problem, as I don’t work in an office and don’t take a tablet or netbook with me.

    2) Almost never do it.

    3) Would like to, but since I reliously avoid 8) and 9) , it doesn’t affect me.

    6) My weeks have more of a regular schedule than yours do perhaps, as I generally do without an appoinment book.

    7) Since I’m a uni lecturer, that goes without comment.

    10) Eaten a light breakfast the last 2 years, no worse for wear.

    11) Been pushing my partner for years on this one..recycling makes more space .

    12) Hmm , depends what you watch and what you do while you’re watching.

    13) Ouch, my wife and I take 2-3 longer vacations a year, so in opinion you’re getting shortchanged.
    14) My distractions are my students, so one learns to live with them . 🙂

    15) and 16) Uh, perhaps less online time would be better?

    Anyway, different ‘rules’ for different lives.

    • Thanks for your insights. As you say, the point is not the tips, but rather the principle of planning, vision, discipline and intentional living. Sometimes saying NO now gives us permission and freedom for greater things down the road. Thanks for reading.

  96. Love the tips and I already try to do most of them. My all time favorite is #14. I can only wish I was distracted at work every 11 minutes. I think my phone rings or someone is knocking on my door every five. Drives me batty.

  97. I really need these tips because I always feel so stressed out even on weekends. Sometimes I just want to shout and make the world stop but it doesn’t work that way. I need to make a step to declutter my life. Thanks for the tips and I really hope it will work for me. Thanks again!

  98. Thank you, Self discipline really matters a lot, but I am having a hard time to practice it, perhaps with the help of this friendly guide, i’d be able to make things that I am supposed to do on time.

  99. Perhaps, these are our common base loopholes or hindrances which takes a back seat towards productivity & day today life. I don’t agree with a big breakfast instead a nice & healthy light meal. Really inspiring, thanks.

  100. Great ideas! Friends of mine recently got rid of cable so they could focus more of their time on each other and their marriage. They’ve been able to save money and have reconnected again.

  101. Pingback: Productivity: Another Good Reminder « Digit-ly

  102. Thanks for the useful tips and please allow me to copy this note to post on my facebook wall and share with my friends who are also needing these advises 🙂

  103. Pingback: 16 mẹo đơn giản hóa cuộc sống của bạn | My Little Boring World

  104. What a wonderful post, especially your reminder to, “Be obedient to the sabbath!” Part of my obedience to the Sabbath is to read and respond only to the posts that interest me as a person. I don’t look with a business person’s eye, or respond from that place inside me. So, when I’m on the web on Saturday – I’m Jewish – I’m here for fun and relaxation. Or to study Torah – have you seen the study materials available for Bible online?!
    Anyhow, I’m getting ready for a guitar lesson soon, and have spent the morning with my 8-year-old granddaughter. Spending quality time is a wonderful way to rest and refresh and find both a reason and a way to recharge.

  105. Number 12 is so true for me. I don’t have TV at home because of budgetary reasons since the cost of cable and satellite are ridiculous. Plus on top of that you can just about stream everything online anyways.

    I rarely miss TV now and when I was traveling there were two large flat screen tvs in my suite and i hardly noticed that they were there.

  106. some things are obvious, but I am a person who is easily distracted, at least when I want to relax for much work. I don’t know you, first time I read a blog, and you do not know how much you helped me, I’m young and I’m just starting working life.

  107. Pingback: Simplifying our technology driven life « Pinks' Mix

  108. This is just amazing thing nowadays happening to me or in my life whatever you can say. but wordpress or the web is offering me things exactly what i m looking for. I don’t know, its kind of ‘the secret’ book.

    Oh, I m just exaggerating, I know! But I was looking something really like this, and found your post in freshly pressed.

    Thanks, Basson I will try my best to follow your game plan.

    Let’s just consider that things don’t turn into chaos out of the order, Amen!!!

  109. Pingback: When You Run Out of New Snaps to Show Off!!! « Mayur Hulsar Photography

  110. I totally agree success comes with great discipline… huh the tv rule, I probably will have to cut back alittle but can’t X it out. Nice post thanks.

  111. i actually do most of these—except the “don’t watch tv” or “disconnect from technology for 1 hour”! it’s one habit that I simply cannot kick.

    I LOVE your quote: “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” It’s so true—if people do what they love, the rest will fall into place.

  112. Maybe I should print this list out. I’m in graduate school with a full schedule and a huge amount of stress and distraction. One of my colleagues recently told me that she could sum me up in two words: organized mess.

  113. Wow!!! Im really trying to connect with my inner self and have recently taken up Bikram Yoga. However,apart from decluttering my mind for 90 mins every other day, it has certainly helped to see in print the small things we can do everyday to help make us feel at peace and stress free.
    I have posted this link on my facebook page and hopefully my nearest and dearest can also take on your advice. A BIG thank you! N

  114. Love it. I check emails the second I wake up….I’m going to stop this! I must say though, I clear out wardrobes every quarter and use it to procrastinate so I’m not sure this increases productivity. Feels good though haha!

  115. A great article. Have you read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron? Doing the Morning Pages every single morning before doing anything else (of course prayers must come first) does make some improvement in your writing skills. A great site which I will be visiting.

  116. Pingback: Simplify your life « hiergruentz

  117. wow.. great article.. I agree with your wife.. you’ve given emphasis to the important matters that most of people of our generation are facing nowadays.. 🙂

    thank you so much for sharing.. also congratulations for making it on freshly pressed.. :))

  118. I’m not sure I can do any of the above! Well maybe except for the fact that I do get some healthy breakfast every morning. Technology, phone calls, internet – its all the stuff I need for my job! Getting to bed early is impossible and hence waking early is a begrudging chore to perform. See, leading a simple life is the real luxury that money can’t buy…

  119. YES! I totally agree with the diary time! Recently I was starting to wonder if I was spending too much time thinking about how I’ll be spending time, but my days are more seamless and productive than ever before. It’s a cohesion I’m enjoying! Hurrah for simplicity.

  120. hi Tom, new into blogging and found this post on freshpress. Thanks for sharing your refreshing ideas. As you say, it’s all about knowing and committing to what we want. Thumbs up!

  121. Thank you for this! I am on a journey of simplification and I love to soak in some great advice and see what I can implement next. Im signing up to get your posts in my inbox (which I will try not to check first thing in the morning)!

  122. in the 1st tips i already can’t follow up, because i need my notebook for doing my assignment but in the meantime whenever my notebook is on, my facebook is on too….it’s hard for me not to log in to the facebook everyday.

  123. this is amazing I must learn to do is constant practice to keep this up and do you punish yourself if you make a mistake? I need to add discipline to my list too!

    • I don’t think we need to punish ourselves when we fail. Failure is a necessary part of learning. It’s all about picking ourselves up again and trying again. Just about doing the next right thing.

  124. Dude I totally agree – we are living in an age of mass distraction. Thanks for the post of the condensed tips, I’m printing them up now and am going to try my best to apply these to my daily routine.


    – TLE

  125. Pingback: 16 Tips to Simplify Your Life (and Increase Your Productivity) « perception

  126. These are great tips! It’s so true that in this age of technology and information overload, it’s hard not to get distracted unless we make a conscious effort to fight against it.

  127. Everything sounds so easy untill you try it… It´s actually hard work and I can do it! 🙂 Thank you!

  128. I read somewhere “One who doesn’t obey himself gets commanded. One who gets commanded becomes a slave”. Its time I started with some of these things you mentioned. They seem simple enough, even if it may not be easy enough at the start. Thank you.

  129. i couldn’t agree more with your list…although it doesn’t mean i’m great at practicing everything. i need to do much better at taking 60 minutes a day off technology, and avoiding my email first thing in the morning. but i am currently detoxing from facebook…just deactivated my personal account today. it’s a little bit liberating 🙂 thanks for sharing!

  130. Pingback: 16 astuces pour vous simplifier la vie (et augmenter votre productivité) de Tom Basson. « SoapClub

  131. It’s hard for me not to check out my email when I wake up in the morning, and I generally don’t have anything waiting in their except for ‘junk’ mail. I do love your tips though and will try to apply them to my personal life too. I think that the Evernote might be perfect for my hubby-to-be too.

  132. I agree with ALMOST everything you say. That’s GREAT. I do think we spend way too much time online. I teach technology, design websites and help clients build up their social networking. However, there’s nothing better than spending a few days on a boat or camping and not being distracted by petty emails and phone messages.

    I’ve learned to say NO, I exercise almost every day and enjoy many other interests.

  133. I was just thinking about cutting back my TV session, like an hour ago, to increase my productivity. Such an inspiring notes! I think practicing just half of them would already make a big improvement in our life.

  134. Hey Tom, Nice post. Lot of this stuff I do too… in my own way… for instance, I never keep my phone on a ringing mode, so no pressure to take calls. Weekends are a complete winding down. Long back I started this habit of shutting my mind from work as soon as I leave from work. And that I believe has been the biggest thing. I don’t carry work home so the work-life balance is rather perfect…

  135. I enjoyed reading through your list. I am an English teacher with a large amount of take-home work every day, and have been looking for ways in which to increase my productivity, free up time, and gain more energy. I will definitely be checking out Evernote, and will try to incorporate exercise into my day. In my research on time management, I came across something called the Pomodoro Technique, which I have found to be very useful. Perhaps you would be interested in trying it. If so, check out my blog, zoeconfidential.wordpress.com, for a quick overview of what it is, where to find it, and most importantly, what it does for you!

  136. I agree then when I am able to do these things, it helps with my productivity and my overall well being. We don’t have a TV either, and don’t miss it. And we have three kids who don’t miss TV either, and don’t constantly nag at us for advertised stuff.

    But here is a question: I hear people rave over evernote. I downloaded it and have messed around with it…and I JUST DON”T GET IT. What the hell is it good for? This is not a rhetorical question, I really want to know. What am I missing? Because to me, it just seems like a quick and dirty word processor. I lead a fairly complex and organized life online using Mac apps such as ICal, Address book, Numbers, Pages, etc. I use Bento (a database) a lot. I sync and have the applicable iPhone apps (including evernote) and I still don’t get what Evernote could possibly add to my life. Can I get a bunch of examples from you or your readers as to how you use it and how it helps? Maybe that would clue me in.

    • I hear you completely. I had Evernote for about a year, and I also didn’t “get it”. But then I started reading up on it and following the blog of Michael Hyatt, and started learning tips and tricks how to maximise it’s effectiveness. Basically for me it is now my online brain. The beauty of it is that it syncs across my iphone, ipad and computer seamlessly. And they key for me is learning all the different ways to get stuff into Evernote.

      You can email it to Evernote directly, scan stuff directly, clip articles, clip entire web pages, copy and past selected text, and a bunch of other ways. This means for me that anytime I come across an article/blog/quote, picture etc that interests me, within two clicks i have sent it to Evernote and i know it is well filed with tags and in the correct folder etc. When you email it to yourself, you can add @ and then the folder name you want that note to be filed, so it goes directly there for later retrieval.

      I am working on scanning all my postal mail, receipts etc and it all goes straight into Evernote so that I am almost completely paper free.

      sorry – i know this is a long reply that may be confusing, but check out http://michaelhyatt.com/ and search evernote. That’s a great place to start!

  137. Pingback: Life’s Too Short For TV « tom.basson

  138. Love this post! I recently started using Evernote for a research project, and I am curious to know how you would use it to simplify your life?

  139. I’ve seen many bloggers come up with these types of lists but this one is GOOD! I especially like the “…turn off all technology for 60 minutes…” and “Be obedient to the Sabbath…”.

    I am a firm believer in Sunday’s being a recuperation day; no housework, no regular work. My family uses are Sunday’s to relax, spend time with each other, and of course during the fall, watch football!

    Great insights!

  140. Pingback: 16 Tips to Simplify Your Life (and Increase Your Productivity) « Leon Burks, Jr.: Modern Entrepreneur / Gentleman

  141. Sleeping early and waking early is good until you try to do it!!! I will definitely try HARDER to do so. It really gives you way more time during the day!

  142. Great post Tom. I waste so much time on the computer faffing about with things I don’t really need to do and not doing the things I should. I will definitely implement some of your tips today!

  143. Wise words. The hard part is digging deep and actually applying them. I agree totally that having email constantly sending and receiving every few minutes is a HUGE distraction.

    That is the single biggest productivity messer-upper of them all.

    Check emails 3 times a day.

    Thanks for some great insights.

  144. Thank you! i seriously have to learn to say no. i can’t help myself agreeing to help my friends and then finding myself double booked every day of the week. thank you so much! 🙂

  145. Sorry, but some of those tips are not right.
    Re: getting up and goint to bed early – not sure if you’re aware of it, but not everyone is an early bird (I happen to be one, luckily) and some people cannot function when getting up early. These people usually go to bed late too, so in fact they have as much time every day as you do when waking up and hitting the sack early 🙂 Same goes for exercising in the morning – those people are in their physical prime in the afternoon. The proper tip would be: exercise and get enough sleep, your body knows what it needs.
    Re: emails – obviously it’s the first thing in the morning that every adult professional must do at work. Irrelevant. The problem – and a bliss at the same time – is that the time when everyone worked in their tight cubicle all alone with their thoughts is long gone and now we’re living in the era of interaction. Same goes for distraction – when a colleague of yours need an assistance, you won’t simply tell them to go away because you cannot be distracted.
    Don’t get me even started on how pointless planning one’s entire week is! My colleagues and I get that all the time at work and as a result people are only more stressed that they do not stick to some absurd plan that they had made before they knew how different projects would turn out in course of the following days. Flexibility is what matters.
    I totally agree on not having TV (I hate that brainwashing box) and holidays – crucial to wellbeing in general, not just productivity.
    My tip for producitivity is simple – get a job you enjoy and keep healthy proportion between work and pleasure 🙂

    • Thanks for your comment. The point of these tips are not the tips themselves but the priniciples behind them. Ie: living intentionally rather than simply by accident. Of course everyone has different circumstances and challenges and schedules.

      I think most of us rely on email for our work, but i have found not checking it first thing when i wake up or get to the office, allows me to actually be much more efficient and effective when i do check them.

  146. I agree very much with the comment about not missing television. I haven’t watched more than a couple hours over the last year and it has been wonderful. I have to time to do things now that I really enjoy and the days just feel so much longer! Its amazing how much television takes away from life


    • If you check out my comment above on Evernote, i have just found it to be the most stable and efficient out of all the various options (i’ve tried quite a few) and for me the key is how simple it is to get notes into Evernote, and that it syncs so seamlessly across my devices…

  147. Some of those are great ideas if you are NOT a service oriented person/company. If you just sit behind a desk and work in a job that just grinds out paperwork, then by all means these are good.
    However, running a small service company…I NEED to keep my cell, email etc on at all times…I NEED to check my email first thing in the morning. If I say no, then my competition gets an opportunity. I MUST answer my phone EVERY TIME that it rings……..
    The other suggestions about a Sabbath, bed times, eating habits, television and vacation are all great ideas, that will also keep us healthy!

    • I agree with you to some extend but recommend you read $ Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris. He is a millionaire in the service industry who has established filters and learnt to delegate so well, that he runs his company almost automatically and only checks his email once a month!

      Pretty extreme, but his thinking and principals are sound.

  148. Yes Great Post Like no TV, although I don’t have where I work in FL but I do watch CNN, NFL and some primetime online I must turn on my computers and tell it what to let me watch. I watch the NFL because its so great, the people involved are so dedicated to what they do every minute from the players and coaches to the owners. I also do get right up when I wake up and eat good there is no way I can start my day without food and I had to discover this, but I still can not take a break on sunday or take time off and I am a business owner so its up to me what I do and when I do it I am just dedicated to my customers who really want my help. Most have left out in the cold by the dealers they bought their scooter from so they find me.

  149. 300-something comments later.. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this! I naturally follow some of these, and some I “know,” but do not follow.. It was very nourishing to read this this morning.. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with our hustle and bustle culture 🙂

  150. I use Evernote to take notes in church. Between it and YouVersion, it has allowed me to actively get involved in sermons like never before. I have been trying it for the last 4 weeks and it’s awesome!

  151. I disagree with a lot of this post. It totally matters how you define “success” I love relaxing and doing things that are not necessarily productive. If doing so makes me a “worse” person than so be it. I know I’m smart and confident enought to not care about what others think is the right path for someone else. I may not be the most “successful” business or career wise … but I have a lot of meaningful and successful relationships with people. I watch TV, party the hardest on Sundays, and stay up late … and I have a lot of fun doing it.

    • Please don’t misunderstand. I don’t think we should spend every waking hour being efficient and productive. This is a deadly lie that will exhaust you and steal life from you. The point of this post is to help you cut out things in your life that ultimately hold you back from experiencing true freedom. Thanks for your comment.

  152. Nice summary but hard to follow in practice.

    1. Turn off all technology for 60 minutes a day and focus on doing your most important work.
    These days technology all around us. Maybe in the evening but during work day for some it is impossible for me.
    I am web developer and I use technology. most of the time I do not even take brake during the day.

    I will try with minimum 5-15 min just walk around and thinking. then we will see 😉

    5. Learn to say no. Most difficult task for me. But lately I try harder. It work but I feel bad to say no to people. So, I work on it.

    16. Use Evernote. Seriously, it’s an amazing piece of software.
    heard about it, now I will try.

    I like that you really communicate with people and reply to many posts.

    thank you, I will try them all.

    Nikolay Gul


    Syracuse, NY

  153. Interesting post – I’ve read a few books about this topic and your ideas seem to fit in well with the Slow movement which I admire very much.

    Just one point I’d like you to clarify if you get time! When you are having your complete day of rest who is making your food, doing the dishes, washing the family’s clothes and looking after the children (if you have any) because that person certainly is not having a day of rest… but nice idea.

  154. So many of these “Freshly Pressed” stories are super long, take forever to read, and want to make me give up on them halfway through. One of the reasons that I like this post is because it is quick, simple, and to the point, and that goes along perfectly with what the topic of the post is. I also really like the name, it definitely draws you in more than other names would have.

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  156. Wise words. I always have to prioritize my workload. If not, I would never get anything done! I always set one day aside for certain things, like a catch-up day, rest day, fun day, work day etc.

  157. Some of your tips seemed so simple…. turning off technology, don’t answer your phone every time it rings and just getting up early and going to bed earlier.

    Some of your tips I already do like: banking online, having a great hearty breakfast, and finding time to work out. Maybe I just need to work out first thing in the am…. but then I would have to get up at 5 am.

    I really like your suggestion about taking time to plan out your day or week or month so you aren’t flying by the seat of your pants. I think as humans we are always running from one thing to another, which leads me to the point about checking your email. Unfortunately people often expect instant responses via email and that we are always connected…..but where is the balance? How often should we check our emails, cell phones etc. to be connected but not too connected?

    I think the simple things make sense but how realistic is this on an ongoing basis? Maybe it would realistic to use one or two and the gradually build…

    • How do you eat an elephant? One bit at a time. I think you are right in saying we should choose one or two things and focus on those… Then once we have mastered those, take another step etc etc

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  160. Great tips there. Thank you for them.I always wanted to follow, but never made a list like this for myself.

    Doing is better than thinking or saying “You know, I wanted to do this”. So, I took your points and customized them for myself :).

  161. After reading the first few points there was no denying that this is useful information. As a college student I constantly find myself battling with procrastination. I’m not a tv junky but I do spend endless hours in the day either on my iphone or laptop–or both. i think 60minutes or more of “technology free-time” will definitely help me get back on track and be more productive. Great post!

  162. Great tips. I have not heard of evernote but it is downloading as I type… I can truly say that all the others I do regularly. Definitely helps keep you sane!

  163. I like the bits about eating a good breakfast and surfing, but can’t say I like the part about getting up early. Ugh! No thanks. I’m quite happy after a good sleep-in!

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  165. Sadly, I need to work on numbers 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 11 & 12!! Ugg…great article though. It was kind of eye opening for a work-a-holic like myself! 🙂 Turning off the phone is HARD and not answering when it rings is even harder! Will try. I think I can…I think I can

  166. Superb post ! Cutting time on TV is the best thing I have seen. It seriously takes up much of a valuable time which otherwise we could spend with the family.
    One more suggestion, you might want to add one more point : “include sitting idle doing nothing at all not even talking for 10 min a day” Well this doesn’t even include meditation. For any busy bee, this could b the toughest :).

  167. Exercising in the morning is a great tip that should be incorporated into everyone’s routine. Unfortunately, the long Canadian winter makes it difficult to jog daily. I guess a treadmill will do.

  168. thanks for sharing this Tom! I am happy to realize that i’ve incorporated half of your list already in my daily life and the rest of half are compelling enough to follow them too with discipline. I am sure, i will be greatly thankful to you for this amazing post in days to come.
    This is the first post i read from your blog and i am sure that am goin to follow you regularly now 🙂 Interesting work Tom! Keep it up!

  169. Great points here! This is very motivating and although I do practice some of these, there were some others I’m incorporating into my day, starting tomorrow. Thanks!! I’m passing this on to my friends.

  170. I found this very inspiring. After I finished reading it, I turned off the T.V., which I had only turned on for background noise anyway, and turned on some music.

    I am curious though, and would like to ask you the following question:

    Do you think technology, which plays an ever increasing role in our lives, has a more positive or negative effect on our quality of life?

    • I would say it can have both, depending on how we use it. I know for me i love technology and some of the things it allows me to do (this blog for instance), but like all good things, when they become ultimate things, it can be destructive, and instead of giving life, take it away. thanks for reading.

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  172. Tom,

    A helpful reminder of the importance of getting a right balance and some good tips on how we can do so.

    I find not checking email first thing in the morning a brilliant way of avoiding the mayhem and set aside time during the day for reading and responding.

    Not answering the phone ‘all the time’ is one I’ve started to implement more recently and it works a treat! Golden rule though – TURN THE PHONE OFF when spending time with spouse, children, friends or when wanting to rest.

    I’ll be sure to check out your posts in the future!


  173. I find tip Number 7, about not answering your phone every time it rings to be particularly liberating and effective. I am amazed at how many people will interrupt what they are doing – even things like family lunches – to slavishly answer the ring of the phone!

    Own your phone, not the other way around!

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  175. Really simple, very useful tips. Many of which I too have picked up along life’s journey but needed to hear again because I’ve let them drop off. I have not heard of Evernote so will be looking into that. Thanks Tom.

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  177. This is your first post I read & I am just amazed…. I really like the post…
    Will definitely try to follow the steps……

  178. This is so true. It is definitely easier said than done but I agree with everything. EXCEPT the part about getting rid of the TV. I am a little addicted so I don’t think I could actually go through with that one.

  179. Loved this article. Sometimes the seemingly simple tasks such as time management can be rather difficult to do. Great reminder!

    By the way, I use Evernote too. An amazing way to sync all my notes on my computers and mobile devices. I recommend this free application to everyone!

  180. I have seen similar posts like this before and I could not agree more on the impact that some of these things can have. I can’t stay away from my computer or cell phone and turning them off for a bout an hour and sometimes longer is an amazing feeling. The productivity increase is awesome.


  181. Great post, thank you! (Of course, speaking of productivity, I’m reading–and commenting–instead of working, but still…great points.) The most difficult one I’ve found consistently: getting to bed early and thus getting up early. It sounds so SIMPLE when it’s written down…

    Anyway, thanks for making it all look as simple as it ultimately is. Back to striving.

  182. These are great tips, thank you for taking the time and writing this article.

    Another one you could add to this list is

    “Never pros-pone tomorrow what can be done today”

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  184. Number 11 has been absolutely life-changing for me. In the past, I’ve had to move house to enjoy the same catharsis. Thank you for sharing your assemblage!

  185. Having just started a blog about my gradual journey into a simpler way of life, this post is very relevant for me! I’m only blogging once per week now and have other plans for the next couple weeks, but sometime in the future would you mind if I shared your tips (with a link back to your blog of course)? http://asimplersmith.wordpress.com

  186. Very interesting list. I haven’t had a TV for years and only watch series and movies from time to time but some tips will sure help me when I’ll have gotten that new job.

    Best regards from Paris !

  187. Nice post Tom! I’m from Brazil and i simply discovered your blog by the initial page of wordpress, and now it’s on my navigator’s favourites pages!

    Loved the tips (especially that one that reccomend us NOT answering the phone all the times it rings) and i’ll try to put, at least, some of them in pratice!

    Keep writing! 🙂

  188. Totally agree with this list! TV free for 3 years and it’s wonderful the amount of time you gain in a day to do something meaningful and productive. I need to get better about #3 and #10 though. And now I’m off to find out what Evernote is all about! Thanks for the post…excellent reminders!

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  190. Thank you for the tips. I know that I am really bad about watching television a lot. Another problem I have is that I am addicted to my laptop and my iPod touch. If I were to just cut down the amount of time I invest in those two things, I would have a much more productive school and work life.

  191. Simple, concise and practical. This especially applies to teens and young adults of our tech-centered society who all too often get lost in the multiplicity distractions of the internet. Re-tweet, re-post, for the sake of your friends and loved ones!

  192. Simple, concise and practical. This especially applies to teens and young adults of our tech-centered society who all too often get lost in the multiplicity distractions of the internet. Re-tweet, re-post, for the sake of your friends and loved ones! Thanks Tom.

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  195. Honoring the Sabbath . . . now that’s something our society seems to have forgotten. Such a great thing to keep in mind because it’s very tempting to get distracted by life on Sundays. It’s also tempting when you have an opportunity to make some extra cash on Sunday. I know, though, that God rewards those who respect the Sabbath; that extra money you could make on Sundays will find its way into your pocket through some other avenue.

    We should frequent Chick-fil-A because their owner honors the Sabbath by being closed on Sunday. Anybody up for grabbing a spicy chicken sandwich deluxe?

    Thanks for such great reminders!

    • Thanks Heather. I don’t think sabbath HAS to be a Sunday, but I do think it is vital that we have a day per week set aside for rest and for God. Thanks for reading!

  196. This post makes lots of sense, every time I wake up in the morning I always look at my phone to check for incoming emails. I don’t know why, but I’m always expecting something in my inbox that has to do with business. And I am always interrupted like every 25-30mins when I am working. And now that I think of it, it really does slow productivity and progress a lot. I already use Evernote but very little, now that you convinced me I will start using it more often. Thanks for the post, this is really going to help out.

  197. Great list of tips… It’s so easy to waste time wandering in techologic entertainment. The concept of sabbath is worth exploring. A day of techno detox each week sounds like a good way of life.

  198. Great post. When you stop trying to live better, you stop living. Everyday we should try to learn something. I appreciate the comment about taking time to rest. Without reflection, how can we realize if we are learning/getting better or going the opposite direction. I have a sign in my house with a great quote, “time spent reflecting is never wasted.”

  199. Since I started college I learned the value to use my time wisely. I would love any tip to increase my productivity. These 16 tips to simplify my life seem so simple yet effective. I will for sure try out the tip to turn off all my electronics for one hour to be productive. Between my phone and laptop there can be multiple distractions. Simplifying my life for an hour by turning these off seems very beneficial to me. Thank you for the great tips!

  200. Thank you for these tips. ^^ Though it may be difficult I’ll try tomorrow. ^^

    P/s: can I translate ur post into Vietnamese? I want to share this post with others so it can help them x”D

    • this is great Tom… but what of us whose day is mostly dependent on what email the boss sends deep in the night or dawn. He comes to the office and asks, did you print what I asked you to? No sir, I have not seen the mail.. you quickly sign in and notice that the message was sent at 5am. I doubt if the excuse of not getting distracted would work out.

      • Great question. While this may be hard, I’d have to say “boundaries”. Does your boss expect you to be working at 5am? If so, maybe you need to speak up and negotiate whether this is realistic or not?

        Hopefully your boss will recognize the truth that these “practices” of discipline will actually make you more efficient in the work place, not less. There is tons of science that prove this now.

        Not easy though… 🙂

  201. these tips are very practical and make a lot of common else. A few i already follow, i will try not to answer all calls and take up some physical activity in morning to keep myself fit. Looking forward to next post.

  202. Hey Tom. This is a great post. I used to be really disciplined but now I’m not. Haha. Hopefully these will work to my advantage. 🙂

    • I store just about every bit of info on there. Pictures of wines I like. Business cards, articles I want to read or liked. Blog ideas, quotes – prayer journal. Sermon ideas etc etc etc

  203. Well written post. I am curious as to why it is recommended not to check one’s email first thing in the morning? If you could elaborate on that point, I would appreciate it.

    • Really this is just my own advice. everyone will have different things that work for them.

      I just find when i check my mail first thing, or every five minutes, i become a slave to my inbox! I find my most productive and creative times are morning, and so if i start checking my mail i get sidetracked form my important work, and start replying to emails or following up mails that really could wait an hour or two. Before I know it, its 11am and i haven’t done what i was supposed to do becuase i’ve been battling my inbox all morning!

      Also, when you get into a habit of checking it at set times or later in the day (i’m still working on this) people become used to how you work and work around you, instead of the other way round.

      Hope this helps

      • I think your comment on the “slave to inbox” is very insighful. We tend to be too available sometimes which fragments our day. I’ve seen recommendations to set a “auto-responder” letting people know you only check 1-2x a day so that you can begin to re-train your day around being more productive/creative.

  204. really great advice !!! i like the idea of dedicating at least one hour outside the technology vacuum … we dont really realise but it really absorbs our energy … and will have to try not checking my email first thing in the morning !

  205. Great post….I recently moved from NYC to Switzerland and your post spoke right at me….so true all the above…my life is so much simpler…yet productive!!!! 5 stars for you!

  206. Thanks tom.i’ve been having some problems with my life lately,but your post just gave me courage and tips to start again in tryin to make my life good and make myself happy.

  207. I love some of the points on this post, although I think it all depends on the type of person you are and the profession you are in. I do like the idea of exercising in a morning, although whether I could muster the enthusiasm for physical exertion at such an ungodly hour is another question!

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    • I think everyone’s solutions will look different. Perhaps you could turn off the internet or block Facebook for an hour. The point is not turning off technology so much as it is about creating space in your life to do the most important stuff, not just the urgent stuff that are always clamoring for out attention.

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  212. Pingback: Greata advice;) « Keeping It Simple

  213. I am new to blogging and the first post I read post joining is your 16 tips!!! Amazing list indeed — Certainly simple on the face of it but apparantly difficult to implement given the lifestyle. Thinking of implementing one by one starting with the no technology one 🙂 Thanks!

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  215. Tom, Great post! Not checking email first thing also changed my life. I try to spend some time in the Word first thing every day to keep my focus on what is important but struggle with honoring the Sabbath. It seems like a catch up day in the afternoon and I tend to do the work activities I enjoy then. This post reminds me that is important and in the end probably gives me the recharge God intended.Thanks for laying it out so well.

  216. Sometimes, the most fundamental things that we (seem to subconsciously) know already become ever so helpful when we hear it from someone else. This post is one of those for me. Not that I didn’t know any of it. But having read the post, I just thought to myself, “Of course! Tom’s so right. Wait a minute… I knew that. I just didn’t structure my thoughts and get organised.

    Thanks Tom. This post really helped. By the way, I’m downloading Evernote while I write.

  217. This is a cool blog post here, I always try to change around how I do things, I think it’s important to have a counter regiment planned, each day as well, so that if you fail to follow one, you can always fall back on the default one, like how some of these Cloud computing companies do if one of their clouds goes down. Think of all the headache they have daily dealing with millions of members on a single network. This was interesting & a worth while read. Thanks for adding.

  218. Thank you for your post. It really uplifted me as the ever elusive goal of being simple eludes me. One thing I do practise is not answering my phone every time it rings and this is a priceless feeling of liberation. Thanks again x

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  221. I definitely agree with all your tips. Not going to lie, it will definitely be hard to not answer every call but I can try! Did you know that a lot of people sleep with their phones right beside them, just in case someone calls them?

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  224. Excellent Post!!
    I’ll try to do everything you say here…NO..I’ll make a point to do them, and simplify my life.

    Except for the Evernote thing, I’ve tried it…it just binds you to technology even more…my opinion.

  225. I finally decide to take a moment and read a random post…and I couldn’t have chosen one more relevant and informational! Thanks Tom! Simple, direct and feasible! Guess I’ll be walking in the morning! 🙂

  226. HI, Tom
    I am so newbie about using Blog, and how to make it looks nice.
    first of all, I really love your theme and your social media icons.
    Second, these 16 tips are real truth.
    let me follow you by now 🙂

  227. among the main problems in the world is people going to strange extremes to try to make themselves feel important. everything people do to try to feed their ego will ultimately starve their soul.

  228. Great advice mate, and as a fellow Christian I really appreciate your point of view on these important lessons. And I use EverNote constantly lol. I’ll definitely give this a second read and even take some notes =)

    – Danny Escoto (Gameplay Designer)

  229. I used to go running every morning before work and it made me feel wonderful. I have just moved countries and changed jobs and have let it slide. Time to get back into it. Tomorrow morning.

  230. This is a great article. Thanks for keeping it short and sweet too.
    I’m a university student and I’ve been trying to simplify everything around me to balance college work and my freelance work and everything else, so this is a really helpful guide!

    Thank you!

  231. Excellent list…I agree with all of it and appreciate the link to Evernote. Now I look forward to when I have the OS that will run it. Thank you for this excellent synopsis.

  232. Great tips! I mapped out this week (on Monday) and it made a huge difference. I am making progress and can already see where I need to go next week!

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  234. Love those tips! My family and I have started to really try to stick to the Sabbath. Now if I could just convince my husband and kids to turn off the TV more. Thanks and congrats of being Freshly Pressed.

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  236. Going to be honest, I think the eating a big healthy breakfast is my shortcoming. I’m not a breakfast person at all. I’ve been told to eat breakfast numerous times and I’ve tried it, but I spend the day being hungry and feeling less productive.

    I do really well at not answering phone calls sometimes, although I know I need to do better with ignoring texts. I keep telling myself that I’m going to turn my phone off for a weekend, but it hasn’t happened yet.

  237. Very wise words!! We had much more time before we had a baby… now we just feel like we are playing catch up! Need to follow your points as I think they are so worthwhile.

  238. Hi Thanks for lovely article and useful ! I didnt know about this fact: Learn to protect your time. The data says workers are interrupted every 11 minutes. Really? 🙂

    I love to try using a Everynote from now. Thank you !

  239. Congrats on getting Fresh Pressed, Tom!

    There may be 16 ways to simplify but there’s ONLY 1 WAY to COMPLICATE your life… It’s very EASY! The 1 way to complicate your life is to get involved with a woman 😉 Kidding of course 🙂 Well partly. I’m sure those guys out there would agree 😉 Why can’t we women be as direct and simple as you blokes? It frustrates me with myself sometimes 🙂

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  241. Well said (and I love that your wife had your back on this post).

    I used to be a night owl and recently changed my habits to getting up earlier and going to bed earlier… and I’ve noticed a positive change in my energy levels and find myself more productive.

    I agree with all your points.

  242. Some really good points. I am new to the blogging world. I think the important take away is sometimes just one change can make a difference. My blog is entervention.wordpress.com its about introducing adventure into your life. Thanks for your words.

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  244. Yuppers ! I need to start embedding some of these actually all of these …!!! Life is so overwhelming especially when your a tech junkie like me…. Sometimes we just need time to breathe

  245. i am getting wilde these days after joining company here.as my habits( daily routine ) gona died as no more time i get to do any of the above mentioned ,It helps me to make a chart of rules to follows strictly as i m forgetting these rules in my life and i really need them .I need a change .

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  249. hey nice blog 🙂 it’s taking simple steps towards a goal that sees the quickest improvements. I’m new to this blogging thing and I’m volunteering for a charity called artlink central, writing about their mental health and arts link. please check out my site.

  250. I just kind of stumbled upon this post, but I love it!!
    I live in Ohio, so no surfing for me, and I don’t think we’ll be giving up our TV anytime soon but these tips are a great collection for inspiring better living.

  251. Killed my television 15 years ago! One of the best decisions in my life. Now, of course, Youtube is a tempting pull 😉

  252. I am now following you and thanks for the information. After spending about 30 minutes reading posts I am so happy I took a look here. No TV!! I thought I was the only one who felt this way. There is just something about wasting my time letting shows do my thinking for me.

  253. Loved: Wake up early; Go to bed early.
    My daughter, in college is saying that this habit is ruining her social life. Parties end at 3-5 AM and kids sleep in sometimes all day on a weekend.

    I worry that we are locking up our young people for 4 people during their most productive and energetic years, requiring them to seek higher level knowledge and penalizing them if they get a full-time, well-paying job during a college semester. We do not require any responsibilities from them. We call them “kids”. We tell them to separate from their parent to “grow up”. Yet, many end up indisciplined, and irresponsible with frequent hangovers. We do not require them to even take turns at cleaning their own puke-laden hallways and bathrooms during weekends. These “adults” actually wait for service to clean their filth on Monday or Tuesday, when Monday is a holiday.

    Perhaps, your simple message of productivity, along with Steven Covey and others needs to be taken to our institutions of learning to teach how to be productive in real life. It would also be amazing if productivity gurus could begin a dialogue with academic gurus on whether our institutions are outdated and need a make-over; and should incorporate a full-time job in most of their curriculum. There is simply too much testosterone and estrogen being used unproductively for too many years.

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  256. Pingback: 16 Tips to Simplify Your Life (and Increase Your Productivity) Filed under: Productivity, Spirituality, Tech by tombasson — 665 Comments June 20, 2011 Someone once said “it takes a genius to live a simple life” and I totally agree with that. In this

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  258. Saying NO is SOOOO important. Helping EVERYBODY and doing EVERYTHING is simply not possible and puts so much stress on You that you dont even get done the things that you have time for. So saying NO once in awile when carefully though out is a GREAT TIP.

    This goes RIGHT ALONG with Planning your week so you know what you have time for, and what you DONT

  259. My added two cents, which are kind of late, are these. It’s hard for people who don’t have the habit of a simplified life to truly start one or know how to begin. To begin I’d suggest taking a two prong approach. 1) Go through every closet and drawer as though you’re moving across country. If you had to pay to move something would you keep it? Clean out your stuff with the thought that everything you keep is going to cost you money. 2) 4 months after doing that deep cleaning, start it again but this time clean out as though you’re expecting to die soon. Do you truly need to keep some of that stuff knowing that a friend or loved one will have to get rid of it next week? Does it truly have value? Can it be given to someone now?

  260. Great post! Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed! Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I think I need to be reminded of these simple Tips for my day-to-day tasks in life.

    Thanks again!

  261. Get up early, go to bed early… That one doesn’t work for me, unless I get up VERY early, which means 4:30. I am most productive at night, or in the very early morning. I CAN work, and do, at regular business hours — but to be creative, or for everything where I need to get into a certain flow, night time is my time.
    I completely agree to your advice concerning TV. I don’t have a TV set for about 6 years now, and I honestly don’t miss it. The aim of TV is to create a customer flow, which means the program is designed so the viewer watches the next too, and the next… It enforces passivity, that’s what I most dislike about TV. I cba to watch through commercial breaks if I just want a movie. I want to be able to re-watch a certain scene, and skip others. My time is my own to spend, and TV feels like a waste of my most precious resource.
    I really enjoyed your article!


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  266. I absolutely love this. There is nothing more rewarding that acting as a minimalist in some areas of your life and practicing discipline. Many of these pieces of advice are quite simple and hold much of the common sense that we often forget to exercise in our daily lives (i.e. breakfast and sleep). I appreciate that encouragement to simplify my focus and increase my personal and professional creativity through small steps that can be executed simply.

    Thanks again,


  267. Thanks so much for this list! I’ve really been needing a life change and I’ve been trying to follow the things you listed on here and they really do work! I’m much happier and I’m so glad to have come across your blog! 🙂

  268. nice and to the point post. but you missed the important thing. the most important thing to simplify life , stop being judgmental to others. as we waste most of our time in thinking about what others are doing. 90% of our energy is wasted in thinking what others are doing and others are thinking about us. so most important to way to simplify the life is stop being judgmental.
    good stuff and nice writing.

  269. Pingback: What I learned this week, October 21, 2011 | Bill Chance

  270. Totally agree about EverNote, no TV and turning technology off. You advice is good because it is all do-able and practical. That interruption point was the thing which got me last week. This week I am going to have to go in with an agenda for ME and try not to get hijacked. Some people are very good at interrupting !

  271. Great tips! Thanks for sharing!

    May I throw in five more? 🙂
    1. Set a maximum time per day for social media, don’t allow it to “eat” your already busy time.You have other important things to do.
    2. Be prepared: have always a notebook and pen handy, so you can jot down your new ideas or info that interests you. They can show up when you expect less.
    3. Make an inventory of your environment, including friends. “Clean” whatever drains your energy. You need all your energy to focus on your purpose. This could inspire them to focus on their purpose too.
    4. Become more aware: are you spending or investing your time? Spending it provides short term results, investing it will give long term results.
    5. Delegate! Controlling everything doesn’t take you far. 🙂


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  273. These are indeed cool, true things that I know in myself am NOT doing.

    Well.. I’m not really a busy guy, I’m mostly free and do nothing, but I would want to be productive even for a 17-year old.

  274. I agree that one ought not answer every phone. Plug in an answering machine.

    As for tv, one might want to check tv listings so they can avoid tv more often. Sure beats surfing endlessly. Be more selective: Forget mediocre shows. It will make the less tv you watch better, to boot.

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  276. Hello! I do recommend you a book ”simplify your life”, written by Werner Tiki Küstenmacher & Lothar J. Seiwert. I am not sure if there is a version in english, because as I am from Brazil, I read it in Portuguese. Few days ago I wrote in my blog something just like you did. I do care too about efficiency and stuff like that.

  277. Great article. I agree with you. We are overwhelmed with the rush that todays electronics have provided. We need to stop and take a moment, sometimes a whole day and unplug and do nothiing.

  278. Cleaning out your closets seems like an odd way to simplify and be more productive, but I think I understand what you mean. Less clutter, less stuff to think about, less distraction. Even if you shut the door, you know the mess is in there. Better to just take out the mess entirely.
    De-clutter in any way, and productivity will come.

  279. I like this post. You seem like someone who may have read Michael Masterson’s The Pledge; It’s filled with great ways to organize your life and become a more productive businessman/woman. It’s good to know people actually take some of these concepts and apply them to their lives instead of just writing about them.

  280. very effective advises i think, but my problem is my self-discipline (:
    but now school starts again, holidays ended. i’ll give it a try !

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