Even with that knowledge, our lives are designed with increasingly more distractions and reasons to dart from one task to another, never fully investing our attention in any one of them. Whether it’s texts, emails, internet, phone, or someone stopping by your desk, all of these keep you from doing your best, both at home and at work.
Practice the “Tough Love” of Essentialism
The solution, according to best-selling author, Greg McKeown, is to embrace essentialism, a handy term for making the conscious decision to unclutter your brain and life, and reap the benefits of increased personal effectiveness and productivity. Here are the basics of living with essentialism:
- The way of the essentialist isn’t about pruning your in box or mastering some new strategy in time management. It is about pausing constantly to as, “Am I investing in the right activities?”
- Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done. It doesn’t mean just doing less for the sake of less either. It’s about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy.
- Living by Essentialism is the decision to live life by design, not by default. Instead of making choices reactively, the Essentialist deliberately distinguishes the vital few from the trivial many, eliminates the nonessentials, and then removes obstacles so the essential things have clear, smooth passage.
Imagine if you decided to pull back on the ancillary projects that have been languishing, but are always on your mind and to-do list, and instead concentrate solely on the activities that will bring the most impact to your workplace and even your life. Imagine the dramatic change in the way you think, work, and live!
Weed out the Main Culprits
Entrepreneur and business leader, Derek Sivers put this scenario very succinctly when he said, “When you say no to most things, you leave room in your life to really throw yourself completely into that rare thing that makes you say ‘HELL YEAH!’
We're all busy. We've all taken on too much. Saying yes to less is the way out.
Make Brutal Trade-offs
Many, indeed most of the things you do are certainly good, solid goals and projects. They may be activities you are currently obligated to do at work, or feel strongly about participating in, for your kids or community. But don’t be fooled. Just because something is good, doesn’t mean you should lend energy and time to it. Remember, if you can’t say “Hell Yeah!” then just say no.
The impactful professional and leaders in every field carefully curate their activities and make the tough trade-offs to make the impact that others don’t -because they are too busy making very little headway in multiple directions.
Integrate Your Essentialist Habits!
You can get started with the master essentialist practices right away. By the end of this week you could be free of many commitments that you thought you had to bear, just by making the tough choices, understanding the increased effectiveness that lies on the other side of making strategic trade-offs.
Now start to use the same essentialist tactics in a granular setting, such as how you complete your projects at work. Is it essential to check email every 15 (or maybe 10, 5, or 2) minutes? No, probably not. Free your life and your ability to bring your highest contribution to everything you do.