Simplifying Your Life with the “Top-Three” Method

As I look at my desk with its stacks of paper and scattered notes, I sometimes wonder if I’ll ever be able to dig my way out.  I’ll have success for a while, see the wood grain of my desk, thinking, “I did it.  I simplified my life”.  And feel so much better (for a while).  Then somehow, I seem to backtrack a bit.  Simplifying one’s life means having control over it (all the time, if possible).  And if your desk looks like mine, then you know it’s not just your desk that’s cluttered.  There are other parts of your life that are feeling the way my desk looks.

My approach to simplifying life is based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® —also known as the MBTI®.  (If you don’t know what your type is, take the free personality quiz at   Many people who have Judging in their personality type tend to take a structured approach to life.  With that structure comes lists, organization, schedules — all of which can help with decluttering.

However, Perceivers can also be good at decluttering.  It’s not the element of structure that gets them going.  It’s the process of decluttering they enjoy.  (In fact, sometimes I wonder if Perceivers with their process orientation, unconsciously mess things up just so they can tidy the place!)  The major problem with enjoying the process is you’re often content to never get the job done.  Why would you want to end the process you enjoy doing?

At the End of the Day

One very valuable exercise for simplifying your life is this: At the end of the day, take a few moments to think about how your day went, what good things happened that made you happy and satisfied.  In addition, think about what might not have been the best moment, but consider what you learned from it.

The next step should help make better use of your time and accomplish what you set out to do.  I call this the “Top Three Method”.  I want you to start doing this tonight.  As you lay in bed, think about what you want to get done tomorrow.  Make a list.  The big clincher here is that you can only include 3 things.  No more.  No less.  Select the most important and relevant things for this list.

What’s nice is that three things aren’t too daunting to complete.  And when you scratch those three things off the list, the feeling of accomplishment is akin to what it felt like when you got a gold star on an assignment you did in third grade.

Free Time

Okay, it’s now tomorrow and you’re working on your list.  At some point, you get all those three things done.  Congratulations!  You earned your gold star.

Because you put those things on the list, it means those were the things that you felt were important enough to work on today.  Once they’re done, consider the rest of the day “free time”.  What is it that you “want” to do rather than what you’d consider you “have” to do?  Go do it and enjoy yourself.

It’s a Matter of Balance

Just with this approach you will put more balance into your life.  All work and no play isn’t good for anyone’s health.  When you don’t create your “Top Three”, you’ll keep adding more and more things to do and never feel you’re finished for the day.  Talk about bringing on the stress.

Simplifying your life is a matter of being in control of it and eliminating the stress that affects your view of life.  Even good things that happen don’t look as good when you’re under stress.

Try it and let me know what you think!

While You’re Here Visiting:

Check out the book, “Is It Worth It? – Simplify Your Life with Personality Type”.  It may just be what you need to find the simpler life – uncluttered, in balance, at peace.

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