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.