Do you ever find yourself thinking that you – or someone else – are making things more difficult than they need to be in a certain situation? Maybe you’re over-thinking some changes you want to make in your life or you’re trying to find the “right” way to work through a situation. Do you ever wish it could just be easier?

We paint ourselves into a corner sometimes by making things more complicated than they really are. It may be time to simplify your life or your work by changing behaviors that aren’t working for you any longer. When I think simple, I think of breaking things down to their smallest components and making sure they are all necessary. Letting go of things that we no longer need sounds rather easy on the surface, but isn’t so easy to put into practice. We are, after all, creatures of habit, and we tend to do what we’ve always done.

So how do we simplify? There are a few ways that most of us make things harder than they need to be, and the first one that comes to mind is procrastination. Why not put things off until there is no choice? Well, usually because when we’ve put them off that long, the problem has become bigger and more expensive (think car repairs) or we’re forced into decisions that we didn’t want to have to make (change in vacation plans because the good deal is no longer available). Why do we put things off? Because we almost always believe they will resolve themselves or be easier at some later date. Neither of which has ever turned out to be true.

Another great way to simplify is to do less. If you’re like me, you commit yourself to doing to many things in not enough time. I have learned again and again that I cause myself so much less grief by cutting my own expectations in half. And sometimes even that is too much. I stress myself out by thinking I can do so much more than I actually can do. I’m slowly learning to take a “less is more” approach to life – in all things.

Finishing what you start is a great way to simplify because if you don’t intend to finish it, you might decide not to start in the first place. Have you ever started a project out of boredom and then found something more interesting to do with your time and left it half finished? It sits there taking up space and mental energy that you could be using anywhere else. So maybe decide that if you aren’t going to finish it, unload it. Throw it out, donate it, give it to someone else to complete, or take it apart and scavenge it for parts. All those unfinished projects in our lives take up too much mental and physical space.

One of the best ways I’ve found of making life easier on myself is to be prepared or have a reserve. That means having an idea of how things can go wrong and being prepared to deal with them. Giving myself a little extra time to get to my destination is invaluable. Additionally, remembering that house remodels and car repairs, among other things, are only estimates, and often cost more than expected, one can be prepared for the sticker shock and have a good reserve for that inevitability, bringing down stress levels and simplifying your life.

Examine your own life and see where you can make simple your new habit!