Clients tell me all the time that their schedules are bursting at the seams, and they feel completely overwhelmed by the constant decision-making of daily life. A surplus of information and options is stressing us out, and for most of us our health becomes the collateral damage of a complicated life.
I recently gave a presentation and was unhappy with my performance. I felt like I had jumped from one thing to another, rambling on with too much content. There’s nothing like public speaking to expose what’s not working for you in life!
I was chatting to a trusted mentor of mine about what went wrong. As usual, he provided me with the best advice.
He “simply” said to me “Keep it Simple Stupid”.
This advice is etched in my mind for the next public speaking opportunity, but why can’t we apply this strategy to our lives in general?
It’s been proven that wasting decision making skills on the small stuff depletes your willpower budget (more on this in this post). Over complicating things also provides the perfect environment for procrastination to flourish. It’s hard to just get started when you don’t know where to begin.
After this chat, I realised that in the areas where I KISS, I’m seeing results. Here’s how keeping things simple has made a big impact with my discipline, health and productivity at work.
1. I always eat the same breakfast, lunch and snacks
I’m completely on autopilot when it comes to what I eat. This has taken time, but in general I’m down to a pretty good routine and know exactly what I will be eating for the majority of my daily meals and snacks. Preparation and having healthy options at hand is one of the biggest diet challenges for most of us. I find that having a pretty strict routine helps overcome this.
I try to always pack my lunch the night before too, as I’ve learnt that waiting until your ravenous at lunchtime is the worst possible time to decide what you’re going to eat. How many of us come unstuck on this one? My lunch is really, really simple. It contains two cans of tuna, baby spinach, tomatoes and a roasted sweet potato. I tip it into a bowl and pop it in the l microwave (much to my teammates’ disgust).
2. I always wear the same outfit to work
Yes, I wear a uniform, so this one’s pretty obvious for me. It is a weight off my shoulders to know that, most days of the week, I don’t have to make any decisions about what I wear. This leaves my decision-making power free to agonise over more important things.
What’s stopping you from implementing a uniform of sorts to your daily wardrobe? Think of Steve Jobs and Obama: simplicity in everyday choices like what we wear is an important part of keeping that willpower muscle strong well into the day.
3. Plan your day the night before
Rolling into work knowing the plan for the day is very reassuring, and I find I am far more productive even during periods of urgent interruptions when I’ve taken that five minutes the night before to nut out a prioritised to-do list. I’ve written about this here.
4. Exercise at the same time everyday
I have blocked an hour out of my diary everyday at 2pm for my own exercise. Yes, I work in a gym, so it’s easier for me to train than most, but I still have the same time pressures and commitments of everyone else. If I don’t book in a time, exercise can get squished out in a busy day.
If I could, I would always train first thing (5:30am) to ensure I start my day off with the number one activity that improves willpower: exercise! Clients tell me that one of the best ways that they have committed to exercise is to make recurring bookings for their PT sessions – same day, same time, same place.