I was on Twitter this morning chatting with friends, just like I do every morning, when someone commented about how it is so difficult just to feed her four boys breakfast in the morning. She said she made an offer of waffles or cereal, nothing else, and her boys acted like they were dying!
This really got me to thinking about how having too many choices can contribute or even cause the chaos in our lives. I’m sure that I am not the only one who has had to deal with chaos. I will admit it has gotten much better, but that’s only because I have limited or reduced a lot of the options in my life. That may sound negative, but it’s not. Let me show you how I have narrowed my focus:
Consider our lives as if we were standing in front of the cereal aisle at the store trying to decide what we wanted that day. It is overwhelming just to think about it. Hundreds of brands and types of cereals and commercials playing over and over in our heads. It’s enough to make one freeze in panic and anxiety, and maybe run and hide in the bathroom.
Now, shift your thinking to this scenario. You know you like a healthy bran flake, with maybe some add-ins. You bypass all the other sugary, chocolatey, neon-colored boxes to find your Great Grains with pecans. And you leave that aisle accomplishing your goal because you were focused on a specific thing. Basically, you narrowed your focus.
What other ways could narrowing your focus help you simplify your life?
1. Reduce the amount of clothes your children have to choose from on a daily basis. Even better? Figure out a way to have most everything mix and match. Keep “dressier” clothes out of reach.
2. Have three daily choices for breakfast, lunch and snacks. Choose things they like, that are semi-healthy and are easy to keep on hand. Save special things for special days. One thing my daughter–who has six children ages 3 to 11–does is have a shelf of foods that are available at snack time. They have their choice of only those foods, not the entire kitchen.
3. Pick three networks that your children can choose from during their TV time. With today’s cable and satellite it can take the length of an entire show just to flip through everything.
4. Limit the number of screens you have open when working on your computer. I am very bad about this one, using the pages open as a type of “To-Do” or reading list. Seeing all of them open can tend to make me feel a little overwhelmed, so I work hard at not doing this.
5. Limit the things you say yes to. For instance, I have had a longstanding rule that I do not attend Tupperware, Pampered Chef, Mary Kay or any of those kind of parties. I just don’t do them. Period.
6. Shut down everything else on your computer when you are supposed to be writing or working. Having a window open with Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, your email and other social networks IS distracting. Close them down and FOCUS. If you must research something, only do that one thing.
7. Change your grocery shopping habits. I go to a small store (Aldi) to get a bulk of my groceries. It is about the size of a large convenience store nowadays. I love it as my options are limited and I can be in and out with my necessities in about 20 minutes as opposed to an hour or more in large stores.
8. Make a list of activities your children can do to keep them occupied. When they are looking for something to do, offer a choice of Legos or Hot Wheels, coloring or play-doh. They also get overwhelmed with all they have at their fingertips, so help them learn to narrow down and focus.
Do you see how narrowing your choices can make life easier? How will you put this to use?