13 tricks to lead a simpler, happier life

Last year, Business Insider published a list of easy ways to simplify your life, featuring comments posted on the Quora thread, “How can I make my life simpler?

Since then, the thread has ballooned to nearly 700 answers, with users from all over the world weighing in on how to eliminate physical and mental clutter, increase productivity, and ultimately be a happier person.

We picked out 13 recent responses that offer creative strategies for streamlining. Read on to find out what you can do to make your daily life a little bit easier.

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1. Make time for 'meta-work.'

Advance planning is key to simplicity because it helps prevent the panicky feeling that you're not focusing on what's most important.

'Organising your to-do list or clearing out your desk don't seem like productive things to do,' writes Haider Al-Mosawi. 'I call them 'meta-work.' They don't substitute for actual work (you want to do the tasks on your to-do list), but they do help cultivate mental clarity and allow you to become more productive when you are working.'

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4. Be early for appointments.

'This will help you to make your time of travel a time of rest and relaxation instead of stressful,' says Olivia Skumps.

And simplifying your life is all about eliminating unnecessary stress.

If you're having a hard time being punctual, let alone early, you can try some simple but effective tricks like overestimating how long it will take to get ready and planning for worst-case scenarios.

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5. Use the 10-year test.

The fact that you turned in your project proposal 30 seconds late might seem devastating right when it happens. But a decade later, you're unlikely to even remember it.

Here's Nelson Wang's tip: 'Ask yourself, will this matter in one year, five years, or 10 years? If it won't, you need to stop stressing out about it. Move forward.'

7. Automate most of your day.

'If you want to make your life more simple,' writes Mike LaVere, 'automate as much of your day and routine as possible. '

LaVere cites a phenomenon known as decision fatigue, explaining that willpower is a finite resource and the more you use it, the less you have left.

That's why you should eliminate as many choices as you can, from what you eat for breakfast to what you wear to work.

In fact, Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerberg say they wear the same outfit every day because they have to focus their energy on making other, more important decisions.

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9. Focus on what you can control.

So you're running late for work because of a traffic jam ahead. Getting angry is natural -- but not especially productive. You'd be better off taking a breath and using that time to mentally prep for a meeting later that day.

Writes Gary Wu:

'Your days are filled with random events that are out of your control. Getting emotionally and mentally worked up over them is a waste of energy. … You may not be able to control what happens to you, but you can control how you react. That itself can often be the deciding factor between outcomes.'

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