It’s about the time of year when we start making big plans for what we’re going to accomplish for the rest of the year. Those big plans often reference only what we want to do, but there’s a critical element that needs to be considered just as much – namely, what you need to do less of.
Time, energy, and attention are finite and it’s quite hard to try to find more of them, yet we forget this when we’re planning to do more. A common result of forgetting this fact is that we plan to do the same amount that we weren’t able to finish in the past while adding the new stuff we want to do to the list. The honest question that goes unasked is what changed that makes us able to finish this increased workload now when we formerly unable to finish the lighter workload.
One Goes Out, Another Comes In
If you’re really serious about being more effective now and in the future, you’ll need to find the activities that need to be dropped or phased out and switching them with the ones you want to do.
About 8 years ago, Angela decided that she had so many shoes. (Read carefully – she decided it; a wise married man knows what to bring up and what to selectively ignore.) After we jointly culled the shoes that needed to go, we created a rule: any time she wanted to bring a new pair of shoes in the house, one pair of shoes had to leave the house. The process stuck.
Setting limits like this on tangible things is much easier to do than the intangible overages we carry, but the principle is much the same. Each activity that we plan to do in a given day, week, or month takes up a certain amount of finite space, and there comes a point in which we need to let go of those activities we brought on that are no generating the value that we thought the would.
Ready to Do Some Pruning?
Before you get to the pruning process, I’d like you to begin by thinking of some of the value-added activities that you want to do or do more of. Take a second to write them down. It’s important to remember what you stand the gain – the reason you’re doing less of this other stuff is so that you can do more of something more meaningful and valuable to you.
Now, here are some activities to review to see if you can either eliminate them or pare them down to a level that meets your needs without going into excess:
- Meetings, teleclasses, and commitments
- Job responsibilities that were for your old position or role rather than your new one
- Activities that were valid for getting you here but won’t take you there.
- Social Media (including YouTube and blogs)
- Video Games
For now, just pick the one that is the biggest drain on your time, energy, and attention and focus on paring it down. Remember to replace it with one of the activities you listed above rather than just filling it back up with stuff that doesn’t matter as much to you.
However you got here is okay and you can’t change it anyway. You can change where you’re going – focus on that instead.
Christine Livingston says
Super timely post for me, Charlie. I’ve been posting to my blog 3 times a week for the last months. But as I move to take my blog business to the next level I’m figuring that’s not the best way for me to spend my finite time. I’m figuring I need to pare this down to 2 posts a week, using the space I gain for doing more guest posts and product development.
Exactly what I needed this morning. I’ve been working on making sure that every day I’m doing something that adds to creation (my new podcast, a really good post, a new product), and to giving my coaching clients the very best I can. This has meant I’ve also had to be very careful about the time I’m spending amid non-creation (eg, email). I’ve finally (yay!) given over some administrative and editing roles to another person, which was scary-but-awesome to do. Thanks for helping me stay on target!
At this stage of life, I need to do less of watching TV & worrying about almost everything. Watching TV is a total waste of time while being worried all the time makes me a very moody person.
Jean Sarauer says
I’ll be spending a lot less time online. My work is online, so that’s tricky, but I’m committed to unplugging on weekends and really living and experiencing life. Maybe not when there’s a pile of snow outside though. I might be online more then 🙂
I’m fairly new to your blog and subscribed recently and this was an important post for me. It’s interesting that we always think of what we want to add without balancing that with what we need to eliminate. I’m aiming to add more creativity and personally rewarding work to my life and I’ve decided to eliminate working for other people (not all at once, but piece by piece). If I’m honest with myself I can see that there is more I can eliminate (like TV) and that I need to be a little more selective.
I’m committing to a short to-do list (instead of the usual lengthy one). This way, it’s totally achievable. Then I will fill in the blanks as I go throughout the day.
I have no doubt what I need to cull from the daily routine. I need to do less reading of the latest “how-to’s” relating to living and business, and do a lot more of the doing part.
It’s kind of interesting that I noticed that it can be a little difficult in changing a routine, even if it is a one for one deal. It might relate to the power of habits. I find that even if my level of effort or work doesn’t change, but rather the “what” changes, it’s a bit unsettling for a while.
Lisa Wood says
I like that list, Charlie. Helps to get the ideas flowing. One thing that jumped out at me, though, that isn’t on the list, is to pare down on doing things for others.
Now that might sound harsh, but seriously – if you spend so much time doing for others that you don’t get your own stuff done, it’s very relevant.
So that’s on my list.
Just read Ken Robert’s post about giving up smoking, and then this one about giving something up to be able to get what you really want into your day … and of that list, ‘Social Media’ really stuck out at me. I thought – ‘Perhaps I should just delete my Facebook account? Then I wouldn’t have to battle with myself to stop checking my News Feed throughout the day’. Thought immediately following it was “But I just like to do it! Why should I give up something that I like?!” …
And immediately following that …
“Oh yeah … that was my main reason for not giving up smoking for so many years – ‘I just like it'”.
So will I delete my Facebook account? Not sure 🙂 Will have to at least find some way to stop myself running to it when I get bored or emotional …