You can too if you’re willing to think differently

I like simplicity.

I always have. But, there have been a lot of times in my life when I have found myself in the midst of a storm of complexity.

I also enjoy getting things done. Even before productivity became the buzzword that it is now, I liked accomplishing things. I was happy when I could check things off my list. It was an innocent pleasure, something that warmed my heart. I wasn’t a crazy person about it; I just liked it.

But then, things changed. I stopped getting things done. I stopped being productive and wound up spending my day spinning my wheels without ever moving forward.

I had the same number of things to do in a day, but I couldn’t seem to get them done. I worked and worked and still at the end of the day I could barely check anything off my list.

This state of living bothered me, and instead of feeling delighted at the easiness of my days, I became sullenly frustrated. I spent more time in a day whining about life than actually living.

That was no way to live.

Here’s what I did.

I started a time diary. I wrote down everything I did in a day and put down the amount of time I spent doing it. Pretty simple. I just wrote this in a notebook; no app needed. At the end of the week, I went through my pages to see what was going on.

What a revelation. Seriously.

The first thing I saw was that I had spent 30 minutes in the grocery store buying five items. “That can’t be right,” I thought.

But it was.

On my list were catsup, milk, toilet paper, potato chips, and lettuce. These were everyday staple goods, nothing more.

As I sat staring at my time diary, it dawned on me how irritating it had been to buy those items in the grocery store.

I had gone first to get the toilet paper and had been faced with enough choices to make my head swim. All I wanted was to buy a package of double rolls. That’s what my wife and I like. I remembered there were at least 40 packages of toilet paper — not just different brands, but two roll, four roll, eight roll, and 16 roll packages. There were at least four choices of eight rolls equals 24 rolls packages.

I don’t remember the rest, which is good because I need my brain cells for things that matter. I finally found a four pack of double rolls of the brand we like on the bottom shelf toward the left-hand side of the display.

I remembered how exhausted I had been after that series of toilet paper decisions. But I still needed the rest of the items on my list.

After going through the same scenario with the catsup — small,medium, large sizes in 8 brands and a multitude of customizations — catsup with sweet relish, catsup with dill relish, catsup with mustard, hot catsup, extra sweet catsup, and who know what else; I finally managed to find what I wanted. A bottle of catsup; and I put that in my cart.

Then I had to get the milk, potato chips, and lettuce. Each of those items had endless amounts of choices.

When I studied my time diary and thought about the trip to the grocery store, I realized that my days were full of time sinks when I had to make meaningless choices.

Almost everything I did in a day involved enormous amounts of customizations. And each of those customizations involved me needing to spend time figuring out what would be the best for me.

What a waste of time.

I don’t have FOMO.

I know I think differently than lots of other people. I’m upfront with that. I don’t need endless amounts of customizations to make me feel important; I already like who I am. I know many people have this whole FOMO thing going on, but I don’t.

I am OK with making a mistake and correcting it next time around. I don’t need an epic catsup experience or lettuce that has a date stamp on it for when it was picked. I like regular catsup, and I can tell if the lettuce is fresh or not.

So I decided to stop evaluating choices for regular everyday things. Having endless amounts of customizations and options is popular, but I don’t need them.

Not surprisingly, when I stopped feeling the pressure of trying to figure out which container of olives was a better price per ounce, which email service offered me the most add-ons, which registrar to buy my domains from and a hundred other everyday choices, I had more room in my day to do the things that mattered.

My life became simple again.

I now spend much less time on regular everyday transactions and interactions. If I have to read to the bottom of a webpage to figure out why something is better than its competition, I stop reading and make a different choice.

The week after I made this a conscious decision-making point in my life, I reread my time diary.

I had finished twice the number of important things as the week before.

I was no longer frustrated. I wasn’t worried about missing out on anything. My entire life was more productive. Best of all, I was back to enjoying my life again.

I know there are things I have to evaluate before I make a decision, but frankly, I reserve that effort for the important things in life.

Catsup is not one of them.

Michael Shook is known as the Internet’s Most Positive Blogger. Together with his wife, Susan, they have created ALifeOfLight.com with a simple idea in mind. They help people feel better by offering positive writing, ideas, programs, images, videos, and anything else they can think of or find online that will help you live the life of your dreams. And they do this without espousing any particular religious or spiritual tradition. Click on over to their site and try out their inspiring daily messages bringing a bit of awesome positivity into your life each day. Visit Michael at ALifeOfLight.
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Michael Shook is known as the Internet’s Most Positive Blogger. Together with his wife, Susan, they have created ALifeOfLight.com with a simple idea in mind. They help people feel better by offering positive writing, ideas, programs, images, videos, and anything else they can think of or find online that will help you live the life of your dreams. And they do this without espousing any particular religious or spiritual tradition. Click on over to their site and try out their inspiring daily messages bringing a bit of awesome positivity into your life each day. Visit Michael at ALifeOfLight.

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