Sunday, December 14, 2014

I choose to make it EASY

Approaching Passau, Germany from the river Danube.
Photo by Thurburn Barker

Don’t we all want life to be easy? We can actually choose to make it easy and consciously make it happen. Here’s what I mean by “making it EASY”:

For some reason, most of my life I've always found the hard way to do everything. Probably that has to do with jumping in without thinking something through first, without at least thinking of a good approach to try. I struggle through. One friend called what I am seeking, “Work smarter, not harder.” I had heard of that, but didn't understand what it meant.

In The Path of Least Resistance, Robert Fritz says, “Don’t ask ‘What am I good at?’ ask ‘What do I want in my life?’” At the moment I read that, it came to me clear as a bell that, “I want it to be EASY.”

How do you make it easy?

  • Find a mentor to show you the ropes, the tricks and best practices.
  • Practice, practice, practice until it becomes so easy you don’t have to think about it—like walking is easy.
  • Make it a habit, so you don’t have to think about it—like brushing your teeth is a habit.
  • Block out specific time for it—a no-brainer schedule (habit). (Think like a pro.)
  • Set up a system for certain things so they’re easier to remember.
  • Make it physically comfortable—set up your space so you’re not in pain, e.g. cushion on the chair, correct desk height, temperature not too hot or cold.
  • Make it physically easy—tools and supplies available and easy to reach and put away. Have a home for everything.
  • Create pleasant surroundings—neat and tidy workspace, color on the walls, inspirational pictures, lively music.
  • Make it fun—dance while you dust, sing while you slap paint on the canvas!

So, as you can see, making it easy doesn't mean that there is no work involved, or that one can be lazy. Far from it. Making it easy is about thoughtful (mindful) practice. Making it easy is about getting out of my own way, about not always doing things the hard way.

The other part of making it easy is the definition of “it”. “It” includes everything you can think of. Daily life. These days, I’m noticing ways to make things easy in all aspects of life, and noticing when I’m doing things the hard way.

One example is getting up early to meet my muse. At night, if I go to bed mindlessly without setting out my warm fleecy and slippers so I can dress easily in the dark, it's harder to get up early to work. Make it easy by setting out clothes for the morning.

Another example is making home-made soup. A pot of soup starts with a chopped onion. I hate chopping onions, it's hard, it makes my eyes burn. Guess what? You can buy onions already chopped in the produce section of the grocery store. Make it easy by buying onions already chopped.

A final example is the way I think about and remember time and money. For some reason I always want to “round” up or down. I wake up in the wee hours and look at the clock. It’s 3:40 a.m., so round it up to “twenty-to-four”. Now I've introduced the 4 o’clock hour into the mix. Later, when I try to remember what time I woke in the middle of the night, I can’t remember whether it was 3:40 or 4:40. I do the same thing with money. When making a mental note of the price of something—say $7.98—I automatically round it up to $8.00. As I continue shopping and want to compare prices, I can’t remember whether the price of that item I saw earlier was $7.98 or $8.98.

So, now I've created a system: to always remember the numbers for time or money as being within an hour or dollar frame. For example, any time that is within the six o’clock hour stays in that hour, no rounding up: 6:12, 6:25, 6:58 all belong in the six o’clock hour (not “two-to-seven”, or “almost-seven”). Same with money, if it’s $7.98, it’s $7.98, no rounding up. Now I can easily remember important and wonderful things:

At 6:40 a.m. on Saturday, November 22, we docked at Passau, Germany aboard the Viking Longboat Baldur. A lovely memory. No confusing the time; it’s easy to remember.

1 comment:

  1. I think patterns and plans help to make life a bit easier. I do the month's bookkeeping on the last day of the month every time. Its something that I know I'm going to do, I plan ahead and get it done. Or setting up a certain day to do a chore that you have to do often. Of course sometimes a schedule has to be shifted but for me it works to have a 'sort of' schedule. Probably part of my 'organization' gene *smile*.