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Five ways to simplify your life

Emma Grey

Even if you don’t suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, sometimes the change to cooler weather can get you down. 

If the prospect of grey mornings and cold weather are getting you down, here are a few ways to simplify your life and feel more in control.


Playing the martyr, people pleasing, thinking ‘nobody does it as well as I do’ … we complicate our lives when we insist on doing it all on our own, our way. The buck doesn’t always stop with us. Contrary to how we sometimes see it, the place won’t fall down in our absence.

“I’m an independent person!” we’ll cry. “I don’t want to inconvenience people. I can handle it.” It’s not about becoming lazy or needy or selfish and having everyone run around ‘doing life’ for you. It’s about recognising the part we each play in a complex ecosystem where help is mutually offered and accepted. It’s about divorcing help from pride and embracing the strength and friendship that springs from 
true vulnerability.


Whether it’s from fear of failure or Impostor Syndrome (the sense that you’re not as competent as people think you are and you’ll shortly be found out), we waste a lot of time in perfectionism because we’re afraid we’re not ‘enough’. We can get stuck making marginal improvements
that aren’t worth the energy or time invested. ‘Improvements’ that steal time from our progress in crucial areas.


It’s tempting to gaze longingly at the lives of others, wishing we knew their secrets. Tempting, and dangerous.
We don’t know the reality of the lives that exists behind closed doors and glossy social media profiles. While we’re busy wondering ‘how’ she does it, she’s probably wondering ‘why’, and wishing things were different.


It’s a trap to believe we must always sort out our priorities before taking action. That’s Step B when you’re deep in overwhelm. Step A is doing something. Anything. It’s about reaching out in the dark and extracting one brick from the imposing wall in front of you — any brick — and letting some light in.

Circumstances are often messy. Some things will inevitably drop to the foot of the list and be neglected. It’s the ‘duck lining-uppery’ and the endless waiting for the perfect time that we need to ditch if we want to make inroads into the mountain of to-dos that looms above us. Start anywhere, with what you have, where you are.


Take your most important things, whatever they are, and move them into the inner circle of your life. Every time we allow something that matters less to invade that circle, we’re chipping away at the value we placed on those precious people and personal dreams.

At the end of 2017, as we glance back and survey how we spent our time,
 the goal is to admire the view. It’s to have traversed somewhere different, even if that’s somewhere hard, and to have learnt and grown and done so travelling with people whose company we genuinely adore.

This article originally appeared in Magazine: Back to Basics for Autumn 2017, available for free while stocks last. Find out more about Magazine here.



Emma Grey

Emma Grey is the Canberra-based author of ‘Wits’ End Before Breakfast! Confessions of a Working Mum’ and ‘Unrequited: Girl Meets Boy Band’. She’s director of the life-balance consultancy, WorkLifeBliss and co-founder of a fresh approach to time-management, My 15 Minutes. She lives just over the ACT border with her two teen daughters and young son. More about the Author

  • Leanne Pugh

    I stop by ‘Her Canberra’ early every morning and read a sprinkling of articles, but I always read all of yours. They are well written, concise (unlike this comment) and apply to women of any age. Thank you for giving us your time in one of the most challenging times of your life…as a Canberran woman, also ‘just across the border’, it is much appreciated.

    • Emma Grey

      Leanne – thank you so much for this comment. I’m so glad you enjoy the articles and find them useful. I think sharing at this time in my life is, in part, just as therapeutic for me as I hope it can be for readers.

      (Just over the border here, too.) 🙂