SLT055: 7 Habits for Highly Effective Simplicity

If you’ve ever ready Steve Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (one of our all time favorite books), then you know that by doing just seven things, you can be well on your way to becoming more effective at what you do. Now, if you’re ready to simplify your life a bit and really need a jumpstart, there are 7 habits you can develop to bring some serious simplicity into your life.

Now, there are tons of things you can do to simplify, but we wanted to hit what we think are the top 7 things that have worked for us, and we want share them with you! So let’s get started! Read more…


Topic: 7 Habits You Can Develop to Simplify Your Life

We want you to be able to take just these 7 habits…seven things you can start doing today, to have a better tomorrow, a better year, and a much better chance of achieving the lifestyle that you want for yourself and your family.

So here goes…

Habit 1: Begin with the End in Mind

  • This one comes straight from our military planning background and also Stephen Covey’s 2nd habit in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
  • We call it “Desired End State” which we developed through our Life Plan process
  • Establish Priorities…we call them our Pillars (F⁵)
  • Once we have Priorities, we can begin working toward our goals
  • Vanessa really hit on working toward your goals pretty hard back in the “Tips for Successful Resolutions” in Episode 008
  • Keep you actions aligned with your goals and priorities to stay on target: 
    • The target is your desired endstate, or the end in mind
      • My rear sight is my priority or my pillar
      • But the front sight is what I need to have in focus.
    • When you fire a weapon, you have to keep four fundamentals in mind: sight picture(SP), sight alignment(SA), breath control and trigger squeeze.
    • Let’s focus on just SA and SP
      • Sight Alignment is Front & Rear Sights
        • Rear sight = Priority
        • Front Sight = Goal
      • Sight picture is Front/Rear Sights and Target
        • Target = End State
        • Front & Rear sights aligned with each other
        • Front & Rear sights aligned with your target
    • For instance, we may have an end state in mind, and we may have a priority, but if the actions we take aren’t aligned as we pursue our goals, we’ll never hit the target. It’s the same thing I talked before about back in Episode 32…it’s All About the Choices We Make

Habit 2: Strive to Simplify versus Organize.

  • Our take is: Clutter is the disease, organizing steps are the cure, but simplicity is prevention!
  • Yeah, organizing is…well…kind of reactive.
  • We saw this when we gave our presentation at Organize and Energize a little over a week ago…and how different our message was from the different organizers who presented.
  • Much of the talk was about how to “maximize your space” to fit more in your cabinets and closets…which is all great stuff, too…but focused more about “editing your space” to give yourself some room and margin.
  • Now, Vanessa will be the first to tell you that organizing is still very near and dear to her heart, and is a wonderful tool to help maintain simplicity in your life.But, it’s very eye-opening when you clarify the difference between the two.
  • Vanessa advocates decluttering and simplifying your life first then organizing what’s left. And, she’s starting to think of herself more and more as a “Simplifier” than a “professional organizer”….hmmmm.

Habit 3: Embrace the idea of “less is more.”

  • Sounds so cliche, but the more you simplify, the more this is reinforced.
  • One of our earliest episodes….Episode 004 titled “Benefits of Organizing and Having Less” addressed this very idea. It addresses the some of the benefits of having less.
  • Hundreds of people have (and still are) experiencing this very concept with our Edit and Forget It Challenge.
  • Opt for “reductivity” over productivity. Get rid of tasks instead of juggling them!
  • What it all boils down to, is that by embracing the idea that less truly is more, you will in turn become more mindful of the what you allow into your life. It will allow you to be more content and grateful for what your have and learn to appreciate living in the moment.

Habit 4: Learn to Value Margin in Your Life

  • We define “margin” as uncommitted Time and Space.
  • For this habit, we’re going to focus on the “Time” aspect of margin.
  • We talked about limits in last week’s show, Episode 54In that we mentioned that boundaries allow you to respect your time and for others to respect your time too.
  • Learn to say NO (Episode 009 The Power of Saying No). “No” allows you to have margin to breathe, relax, contemplate or be spontaneous.
  • It also allows helps you to say “no” to unproductive and unmeaningful obligations…and “yes” to valuable and more meaningful experiences?

Habit 5: Value Experiences over Things

  • With most of our treasured “things”, their value is in the experience they provide, not the item itself. Examples for us include our teardrop camper, our bikes, etc. Alone they aren’t so meaningful…but when used in line with our life goals and priorities (like our love of the outdoors and being with family) then they can help create those experiences.
  • Advertisers sell “experiences” in commercials and ads and not “things”. They know you want happiness. Experiences bring that, not stuff.
  • Take advertisements with a grain of salt. Remember,  you MUST be absolutely sure you are intentional about your purchase (and will use it), and not just getting sucked into another “gateway gadget” like Dan talked about back in Episode 14.
  • Try to live in the moment with your experiences, and value them.

Habit 6: Establish Habits, Routines and Rituals

  • We’ve talked about this many times and at length in Episode 30 “Buying Time” (which focused on habits routines and rituals) as well as Episodes 02 and 15: “How Routines Can Simplify Your Life” and “Creating Your Morning Routine”
  • So…we won’t foot stomp that so hard here. Just know that if you take a hard look at the things that DO work for you in life right now, then it’s probably because it’s a habit, a routine, or it’s become a ritual. Just model that behavior.

Finally, Habit 7 is Understand that You are Different and that’s OK.

  • In Episode 13 we talked about the Crabs in a Bucket story and Frogs in pot of Boiling Water adage… you may want to go back and listen to those.
  • Just know, that there are lots of forces in your life that will try to keep you from changing…to keep things the way they are.
  • It’s going to take some effort to fight that gravity. And that gravity may be in the form of family or friends.

So there you go…7 habits you can start developing today, to help you have a better tomorrow, a better year, and a much better chance of achieving the lifestyle that you want for yourself and your family. A life more…simple!


So, we know these aren’t the only  7 habits you can use…so tell us what we missed! What are some habits you’ve developed or are working on to simplify your life? Let us know! Be sure to leave a comment and share at

THING Segment:

Dan: Choosing Tenkara, a more minimalist/simplicity-style traditional Japanese fly fishing, over western style fly fishing. Dan’s goals are to avoid a “gateway gadget” situation and concentrate more on the experience of fishing…not the gear. Dan says, “The more you know, the less you need.” 

Vanessa:  Andy Stanley’s podcast is called Your Move.  Now, it is a faith based podcast but it’s NOT heavy on the spiritual content.  It’s much, much more!  Vanessa finds it more of a motivational, thought-provoking, leadership-driven, and inspirational podcast. And it’s funny!  Now…specifically, he has a series called Recovery Road that is directly line with everything that we talk about here on Simple Life Together.


  • Special thanks to all of you who’ve left reviews for us on iTunes. It really does help people find the show.

So here’s a shout out to Nicki425…thanks so much for your review of the show!

  • James Kinson from the Cash Car Convert podcast had us on his show this week and it was a pleasure to talk with him. For many of us, our car is our biggest ticket item next to our home, and James is a thought leader who advocates buying your cars without buying into debt. Check out James’s show and listen in as he interviews us at

Finally, sign up for the Edit & Forget It Challenge! If you’re already on our Edit & Forget It Challenge email list, that’s great. If not, you can sign up here.


You can download a PDF of our show prep, too.

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10 thoughts on “SLT055: 7 Habits for Highly Effective Simplicity

  1. I love listening to your podcast. You bring wisdom to what could be a superficial topic. I just want to comment on #13. I was interested in simplicity as many as 50 years ago. I learned I wasn’t along as I made connect with the commune craze that grew out of the 60’s and later I read books on simple living. I made simple living choices as I went along raising my kids and living my life. It effected how i stored food, recycling long before it was popular, reusing stuff, buying second hand. What I always wished was to be part of a group of people who had the same beliefs I have (without living in a commune). Without such a community, I needed the message of #13…it is okay to be different. Thank you for your work. It connects those of us who believe in simple living. In addition, your gentle, non-judgmental approach is very inviting.

    • Thank you so much, Judy! Such kind words…and we, like you, feel like we are part of a community of people who understand that simplicity is for us. We try not to push too much, because although we think simplicity could benefit everyone, not everyone is ready for it at the same time. We believe that people like you setting the example is the best way for the message to spread. BTW, I really enjoy your blog, too!

  2. Guys, another great episode. Really good tips. I appreciated you sharing the past episodes for a deeper dive into the topics!

    Next, I think Andy Stanley is awesome. I listen to both his Your Move and Northpoint Church podcasts. They both are so relevant to everyday living.

    Lastly, thank you guys so much for the shout out! You guys are too gracious.

    Take care!

    • Our pleasure James! Glad you enjoyed the show, too. Yes, we’ve been having some good Andy Stanley time lately…

  3. Oh my!
    U just said it so I could look @ it & have the words go into my brain & make a connection to THE “Soulution”!
    Cluttering is the problem, just as drinking was the problem or eating or smoking or whatever it has been that has caused me angst & so separate f/God.
    THE 12 Steps are the Answer in dealing with this new Arm of Addiction which takes me away f/LIVING.
    Having all this stuff around causes me to be tired & angry & b4 I know it I’m dipping into H.A.L.T.
    Do you know that I can be out & about doing things & have a world of energy, but the closer I get to my home the more tired I get!
    The problem is clutter. The solution is working the steps.
    Again, as b4, it is so Simple, but not easy.
    The Lord told me the other day that nothing that is worth doing is easy.
    & I know that to be true as by His Grace I’ve been able through sheer work not turn back to several things that have caused me to separate f/what’s important in life – time w/HIM & Family & Friends. Anyway, stuff just makes for that much more “homework” vs. enjoyment~!

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