How to Stop Overcomplicating Things in 10 Simple Steps

Girl standing at the top of a mountain.

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We're all guilty of making things inevitably more complicated than they need to be from time to time. Stress starts to compound, whether from work, your personal life or both, and it feels as though everything is closing in on you. It's in those moments that we can blow things way out of proportion and make small problems feel like our own personal Everest. It may seem impossible to relax a little bit in moments of extreme stress, but you can learn how to stop overcomplicating things. You just need to take a step back, let go of your frustration, and focus on what you can control. These 10 easy steps will help you learn how to simplify your life. Now take a big sigh of relief.

Approach Challenges Head On

When we're stressed and overworked, it's easy to avoid or reject a new task. Avoidance can lead to more stress, so rather than run away from a new responsibility, face it head-on. Approach it with an objective and calm mind and consider the fastest, most measured way to complete it.

Write Down Your Core Values

Pressure mounts when we do things that go against what we stand for. Take a moment to consider your core values, examples of which include faith, love, honesty, respect, and trust. Life feels more complicated when we stray from that list.

Ask for More Information

Before you reach a tough decision, make sure you've got all the facts, as unnecessary complications arise when we make assumptions. There are a few additional ways to help make the decision-making process either. Make sure to consider the situation in detail and gather as much information as needed. Then, come up with some good alternatives, explore all options, select the best solution for the situation, communicate your decision, and act on it.

Under-Promise and Over-Deliver

If you work with the goal of being realistic with what you promise others, you'll exceed expectations. Be objective about what you can accomplish in a day, whether it be at the office or at home. Don't try to do everything and be everything to everyone. Be honest with yourself and others about what will get done in a day, that way, if you don't accomplish more, you won't be letting anyone (or yourself) down.

Let Go

Yes, it's easier said than done, but life can feel more chaotic when we hold onto frustration and resentment. Practice mindful meditation to focus on staying present and leave past pressures behind.

Learn to Delegate

You don't have to do it all! Write down your to-do list and look at it objectively. Are there jobs you could share with others to reduce your load? Start by establishing a priority list of things you want/need to get done yourself. Any additional tasks that don't require your expertise can be delegated out to those around you based on their skillsets and strengths.

When delegating tasks, make sure to always include instructions and follow up to verify that the person was able to handle the job at hand.

Focus on What You Can Control

One of the most damaging character traits is feeling like the world owes you something. Shake a sense of entitlement by flipping your mindset and focusing on what you could do for people you care about.

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

"It’s normal to wonder how we measure up to other people," says social psychology Juliana Breines. "According to social comparison theory, this drive is part of our basic desire to understand ourselves and our place in the social world." However, dwelling too much on comparisons can be detrimental. Valuing yourself based on those around you can make you feel unsatisfied. Rather than looking for validation from friends, family, and co-workers, look inward. Take the time to reflect on how you handled a particularly difficult situation. Were you happy with how it went? Is there a way you could improve for next time?

Move Past Perfectionism

Some personalities are more prone to perfectionism than others, but it's a trait that could cause you trouble. A great way to overcome it is to start numbering your to-do list. Reorder your tasks from most important to least important so you can visually see which top-level jobs require scrutiny and which don't.

Respond with Positivity

So much of our life is controlled by the way we think. When a difficult task presents, make a concerted effort to consider why it might be positive. Learning to reframe a situation is a powerful tool to make life seem less complicated.

Article Sources
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  1. Festinger L. A theory of social comparison processesHuman Relations. 1954;7(2):117-140. doi:10.1177/001872675400700202

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