Month: August 2021

Keep it simple!

It goes without saying: life can be hard. But we also tend to make it harder than it needs to be. On top of those difficulties that we don’t have any control over (pandemics, job losses), we pile on extra difficulties (packed schedules, non-stop goal-chasing, endless doom-scrolling) until we’re crushed by the overwhelm.

So why would we want to make our lives harder? It’s not necessarily a conscious decision – it has just become our default setting. ‘The modern world complicates things for us,’ says Dr Tara Swart, neuroscientist and author of The Source. ‘Over time, the amount of overload we’ve had to deal with has increased, and we’ve defaulted to meet that demand.’

With the onslaught of social media and the glorification of being busy, it’s unsurprising. And even though life has been pared back during the pandemic, we’re so accustomed to that ‘more, more, more’ setting, that it can be hard to switch it off. ‘Whatever you have to do expands to fill the time available,’ says Swart. ‘Many of us gained hours in the day we would’ve spent commuting, but this ended up blurring into a longer work day. It’s partly our perception that life is busy and complicated, and we often feel overwhelmed whether we actually have more to do or not.’

‘Overwhelm and over-complication leave us feeling ill and tired,’ says Swart. ‘Your mental, emotional and physical health is all connected. Simplifying your life can result in more energy, less fatigue, increased resilience and improved immunity.’

So, as we emerge back into some semblance of ‘normality’, how can we streamline our days and live in a way that feels easy and effortless? It’s all about finding small ways to reduce unnecessary clogs in our brains.



We spend way too much time procrastinating over tasks that could be done pretty quickly. Enter the much raved-about Pomodoro Technique, which can be used for anything from work projects, to clearing out the garage. Here’s how it works:

– Choose a task, minimise distractions and place a blank piece of paper or a notebook nearby.

– Set a timer for 25 minutes. It’s just 25 minutes, right? Focus solely on your task until the timer runs out. No interruptions or distractions allowed. If you suddenly realise you have something else you need to do, write it down.

– Make a check on the paper, and take a break. Give yourself 5 minutes to stretch or check your phone. If the 25 minutes got you in your zone, you may be tempted to power through. Resist! Your brain needs to regroup.

– Repeat until you’ve made three or four checks, then take a longer break for 20 or 30 minutes. Repeat until you’ve finished the task.

TOP TIP: ‘Before you go to bed, write down the thing you’re dreading most about the next day, then do that as soon as you wake up,’ says Tara Swart. ‘Getting the thing that is draining you out of the way is really good tactic for reducing stress.’


Mindfulness doesn’t need to mean sitting in the lotus position for an hour – Swart says you can find little pieces of mindfulness throughout the day. ‘You can try mindful eating at mealtimes, which means pausing before each mouthful, and tuning in to the taste of food, without distractions like phones or TV. Or, when you’re talking to a relative, giving them your full attention and eye contact. You can focus on your breath at any time of the day, even if walking around, speaking, or working at your laptop.’ Why? ‘Mindfulness helps you regulate your emotions, and simplifies things for your brain, by narrowing your focus,’ says Swart.