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Blog: Simplify Your Life
Traveling Light Through Life

As far as I'm concerned, there is nothing more freeing than heading out the door on a trip. I actually see travel as the perfect metaphor for simplifying -- the same guidelines you follow when hitting the road can help you "travel light" through everyday life as well.

Discovering That Less Is More

The first rule of thumb when you travel is to pack conservatively -- only take what you know you will need, not what you think you will need. I learned a neat trick early on in my travels. Pack your suitcase, walk away for a couple of hours, then come back and take out half of what you packed (and even then you will still probably have more than you need). Just remember that if you do forget something, you can usually pick it up when you reach your destination.

The same is true in daily life. We tend to hang onto a lot of stuff that we don't actually use -- because we might need it "someday." The problem is that "someday" may never come, and then you're stuck with a lot of clutter! If you were to go through every storage space in your home, I'll bet that you could eliminate about half of your "junk" by only keeping things that currently serve a purpose in your life. Ask yourself a few simple questions: When did I last use it? When will I need it again? What is the worst thing that would happen if I got rid of it? If the answers are "a long time ago," "I don't know," and "not much" -- it's probably okay to let it go.

Knowing Where You Are Going

Organized travel is all about preparation. You spend hours picking out your route and creating a list of sites to see -- and you would never leave home without your itinerary, maps, or hotel reservations. You've done your research. You are prepared for your journey. Unfortunately, many people spend more time planning their annual vacation than they do plotting their course through life. Most of us have no clue where we're going or what we hope to accomplish. When you drift along without clear goals or concrete steps to reach them, you find your time eaten up by inconsequential activities -- going 90 miles an hour, but getting nowhere. The only way to stop spinning your wheels is to figure out what you want and then commit to your true priorities in life.       

Learning Flexibility

One of the biggest mistakes people make when traveling is not expecting the unexpected. It would be lovely if every flight left on time, you never got stuck in traffic, and your luggage always made it to the right destination -- but real life doesn't work that way. Things are going to go wrong -- it's guaranteed! But you face a much smoother and more enjoyable trip if you leave a little room in your itinerary for delays -- that way, a minor frustration won't turn into a major pain in the neck.

Plotting out your daily schedule requires the same skills and the same flexibility. If you jam-pack your calendar full of activities, you stand a good chance of something unexpected throwing your entire day out of whack. Just tell yourself right from the beginning that it will take longer than you expect to run errands, your 3:00 meeting will start at 3:45, and you won't get everything on your to-do list finished today -- and that's okay. Then, when you do run into a few bumps along the way, you are prepared for them. And if everything goes smoothly, you will be pleasantly surprised!

It's All About The Experience

When I traveled to India for the first time, I had two goals -- to take as little with me as possible, and to be open to any experience that came my way. As it turned out, these ideas went hand in hand. I carried a single small backpack with me for 3 weeks worth of travel (and yes, you can survive with just 3 salwaar kameez if you wash your clothes in the sink each night -- God bless the dry climate!) When I compare my experience with the other folks in my group, packing light definitely paid off. While everyone else was wrangling with their oversized suitcases, I was enjoying the colorful Indian street life and taking pictures in the local village. I'm not sure that I had ever felt so unencumbered before.

What kind of baggage keeps you from fully experiencing your life? Are you so focused on your career that you have become disconnected from your other goals and desires? Do you have a hard time being in the present moment because of constant worries? Has the accumulation of money and "stuff" become more important than spending time with family and friends? What baggage could you leave behind, allowing yourself more freedom to really live each day to its fullest?

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posted on: 10/13/2009 11:30:00 AM by Ramona Creel
category: General Organizing Tips

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Simplify Your Life

by Ramona Creel

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About Ramona:

I have been a Professional Organizer for more than 10 years, I am a NAPO Golden Circle member, and I was the original founder of OnlineOrganizing. I have worked one-on-one with scores of clients and have trained dozens of newbie organizers as they got started in the industry. I provide both hands-on and virtual coaching to help clients improve their organizing skills and simplify their lives. I invite you to visit my website at http://www.RamonaCreel.com, and I challenge you to find one new idea that you can put into practice in your life, to help you become better organized, starting TODAY! I am passionate about coaching folks toward a more balanced, productive, and enjoyable life -- and I firmly believe that if I can do it, so can you!

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