Monday, October 1, 2018

The 4 x 4 Method of How to Live a Simple Life

Have you dreamed of a simple life that is free from the stress of non-stop emails, meetings, workouts, social events? 

Would it be even better if we can live a simple life successfully without giving up our careers or home responsibilities? 

If you are looking to find ways to live simpler, here’s the 4x4 Method for you to kick start and develop habits that will contribute to your simple life. 

The 4x4 Method is extremely simple and easy to start with. 

First, find out 4 areas in your life that you would like to simplify. Group them into 4 categories. 

Second, under each of the 4 categories, list 4 ways that you could make things simpler. 

I have listed my own 4x4 table below. Remember this is for your reference only. I have my personal ideas in the table, but I also did an internet search on “how to simplify life”, and grouped similar ideas together. 

To make the simplification process easier, those on top of each list are easy tasks. If you want to do it, you can do it right a way. Down the list are tasks that might take a little more effort or a little more time to accomplish. 

Until you master all the simplification skills that you’ve written for yourself, you can expand your categories and add items to the list under each category. Possible categories may include simple hobbies, simple meals, simple finance, simple parenthood, simple gardening or simple holiday.

The 4 x 4 Method of How to Live a Simple Life 

Work / Life

Social / Media Health / Fitness Diet / Weight Loss
Establish routines Practice internet fasting Exercise/Walk often Eat foods from nature
Automate your bill payments TV fasting Meditate, slow down, relax Eat/Cook at home
Practice single tasking Spend less time on social media Practice doing nothing exquisitely Appreciate our foods
Let go of the past Use a basic cell phone Practice positive thinking Practice intermittent fasting



1.1. Establish routines. Set a simple, yet realistic daily or weekly action plan will certainly help to simplify your day. Some good examples, could include: Monday AM - Vacuum the living room and have a couple of breaks so that you can pace yourself. Monday PM - Prepare food for evening meal. Tuesday AM - Go swimming, meet friends for a coffee/tea - practice relaxation after going home. Tuesday PM - Write and prepare an activity plan for the next day. 

1.2. Automate your bill payments. This is simple and straight forward. If you haven’t done it yet, do it today. 

1.3. Practice single tasking. I’m in the hiring business, the ability of multi-tasking is on almost all employers’ requirement list. Sounds good but may not be perfect. If we practice single tasking, our work will be more productive. For example, when meeting one client, don’t answer phone call from another client; when eating, simply eat; when walking, simply walk. Living a simple life doesn’t mean to do as many things as possible in the shortest time. Simply say ‘No’ to things that you don’t really need to do. Focus on one thing at a time will let you find life simple and pleasurable. 

1.4. Let go of the past, and live in the present. You should live in the present, not in the past. Whether your past was brilliant or sad, they cannot be changed. So don’t look back, look to the present, the moment you are in now. Always admire and value what you have now. 


Nowadays there are way too many social media available. People are talking on mobile phones while walking, checking email while eating. It seems life is impossible if without the internet. Hence internet fasting and social media fasting is really important for us to live a simple life. I’ve written an article called Media Fasting. Please read this article to see my further thoughts on how media fasting could help simplify and improve our lives. 


3.1. Exercise/ Walk Often.  We all know that we need to exercise often for health and fitness reason. Walking is the simplest exercise that we can do. If you normally walk 5,000 steps a day, then add some extra steps to make it 8,000 or even 10,000 per day. We can park a little further from home or office, walk the dog for an extra 10-15 minutes every day, walk to any destination if possible. 

3.2. Meditate daily; Slow down; Relax. Not everyone can meditate, but slowing down and relax is by all means possible. Practice belly breathing is an easy way to start with. There is an app called MyCalmBeat which can be downloaded from any smart phone free of charge. It will guide you through slow belly breathing of 6 breaths a minute which is recommended by medical professionals as the ideal breath rate. Listen to some relaxation music after that. Try this simple way to release some of the stress in your life. (1 breath = 1 in + 1 out) 

3.3. Practice doing nothing exquisitely; Spend time in solitude; Create space for silence. When I visited London, I found people standing in the middle of a high street that I was not able to tell whether they are statues or real persons. After all, I found that they were real persons. If someone can stand in the middle of a busy street and pretend a statue, why can’t we practice sitting down at home doing nothing? Try to spend time in solitude from time to time, if possible, go to lunch/dinner or coffee break alone. Give yourself a few minutes’ silence to refresh your mind. 

3.4. Practice positive thinking. This is important but not easy. However if we start practicing it, we’ll soon be there. An example of positive thinking is ‘turning crisis to chances’. It is quite normal for people to associate crisis with negative things. But for positive thinking people, they will try to develop chances from crisis. I have recently seen a TV show documenting some entrepreneurs who made low-cost investments when everything were cheap at time of the financial crisis in 2008 and achieved huge return afterwards. Practice positive thinking by appreciating every little thing in life could be a good start. 


4.1. Eat simple foods from nature. Fresh, raw fruits and vegetables are full of the “life-force” of nature. Hence, juice from a fresh orange is better than bottled orange juice. Fresh pork is better than luncheon meat. Avoid highly processed foods. 

4.2. Eat at home. Try to cook and eat at home as much as possible. Eating at home is best for eating slowing, relaxingly and healthily. Don’t forget to apply simple cooking methods such as grilling, steaming, boiling, poaching, etc. 

4.3. Appreciate our foods. Food is not only to feed and sustain our bodies, but it should be a source of deeper nourishment and what we should appreciate. Take time to appreciate where the foods we consume came from, or be more conscious of the individual ingredients of our meals. 

4.4. Practice intermittent fasting. In terms of weight loss, intermittent fasting is the priority choice that I recommend. I like its simplicity, no food is off limit. We simply re-arrange the time that we eat. However this will take a little time and effort to practice. Reading through this blog, you will find lots of tips of how to practice intermittent fasting.

Start to simplify your life today!

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