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Four Laws of Simplicity

Need a simple method of simplifying? Try this simple method of Four Laws of Simplicity that you can use on any area of your life, and in fact on your life as a whole:

1. Collect everything in one place.

2. Choose the essential.

3. Eliminate the rest.

4. Organize the remaining stuff neatly.

To illustrate, let’s see how the 4-step method would be applied to our drawer:

1. Collect. Empty the entire drawer, and pile it all on a counter or a table. Take everything out, down to the last paper clip.

2. Choose. Sort through the pile, picking out the really essential stuff. Be very selective. Put the important stuff you pick out into a separate, smaller pile.

3. Eliminate. Toss the rest out. Don’t be sentimental with this step. Either throw everything into a big trash bag, donate it to charity, or give it to a friend who would love it.

4. Organize. Put back the essential things, neatly, grouping like things together and leaving space around the groups. Having space around things makes everything look neater and simpler.

That’s it. You now have a very nice, simplified junk drawer.

This simple method can be applied to every area of your life. Focus on one area at a time, apply the method, and then move to the next area.

Here are some examples of how to apply this method to other areas of your life:

Closets. Focus on one area of the closet at a time — a shelf at a time for instance. Take everything off the shelf and put it in a pile on the floor. Pick out only the really important stuff that you love and use. Put the rest in a box to donate. Put the important stuff back on the shelf, grouping like things together and leaving space around the groups. You could use containers for groups of things, using clear containers and labeling them. Or just leave the shelves fairly empty, and get rid of most of your stuff. Move on to the next area.

Your desk. Clear everything off the surface of your desk (excepting, perhaps, your computer and phone). Keep the surface clear by putting supplies in a drawer, and filing the papers. Then do the drawers of your desk the same way, one at a time, leaving space in each drawer. It’s so much more relaxing to work in a simplified environment.

Your work tasks. Have a long to-do list? Spend a little time adding every task or project you can think of to your lists, until it’s as complete as you can. Then choose only the tasks that you really want to do, or that will give you the absolute most long-term benefit, and put those on a separate, shorter list. The rest of the stuff? See if you can eliminate them, or delegate them. Then, focus on your short list, trying to choose the three most important things on the list to do each day.

Your commitments. Make a list of all your commitments in your life, from work to personal. Include hobbies, clubs, online groups, civic groups, your kids’ activities, sports, home stuff, etc. Now pick out the few of those that really give you value, enjoyment, long-term benefits. Start to remove yourself from the rest. This might take time, but will leave you with a life with only the commitments you really enjoy and want to do. Most important, leave space, instead of filling up your life.