Being busy is usually the stigma of you being a successful person. I mean, if you’re busy out of your mind, you MUST be successful, right?
I had to ask these questions:
- Do you have fifty projects going at once?
- Do you have overwhelming demands for your attention?
- Do you fill every single minute with SOMETHING?
- Do you feel guilty if you have downtime?
- Do you feel pressured to say yes when someone asks you to do something?
This is totally me. I say yes to everything believing that everything is of equal value. I feel the pressure from other people on what I “should” be doing. I like having every single minute filled with something, and I always love having a bunch of projects going at once. I usually get a little bit done on each project and it ends up taking five years to complete something. 🤔
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All of this scattered focus ends up making me stressed, inefficient, and ineffective.
I was getting so frustrated with the way I was doing life. So I decided to do a little reading. There were plenty of books that ended up on my reading list that have impacted the way I do life now. But the book Essentialism by Greg Mckeown sums it all up pretty well.
What is Essentialism
To summarize it in Greg Mckeown’s words, Essentialism is “less but better.”
I love that definition. Less but better. Let that sink in a minute.
Sometimes MORE is not the answer. (Of course, you all know I talk about this with practical minimalism. “More” does not equal happiness.)
Essentialism takes the focus off of trying to do more and more. It says that just because you can do something doesn’t mean that it’s vital.
It explores the idea that what is essential to one person’s life is not essential to another’s and we have to learn what is the absolute most important for ourselves.
Quotes from the book:
“The ability to choose cannot be taken or even given away- it can only be forgotten.”
How often do we feel like we have no option? You know, that pressure when someone asks you to do something. If you replace the words “I have to” with “I choose to” you begin to recognize the power of the decisions you make.
“We can try to avoid the reality of trade-offs but we can’t escape them.”
When you try to do everything at once, whether it’s in business or your personal life, you have a trade-off. You sacrifice focus, you sacrifice quality. The trade-off is that the jobs might not be done to satisfaction or you might not be able to complete it all in time. Another trade-off of trying to do too many things is the amount of stress and frustration you add to your own life. Recognize that there is a trade-off to every choice you make!
“When there is a lack of clarity, people waste time and energy on the trivial many.”
Define your personal goals. Define your business goals. Keep them simple. Then pursue those goals. Everything else can be viewed as non-essential. When you can focus all your energy towards a specific goal you have clarity and will achieve more than if you spread out your focus on trivial things.
“An essentialist produces more- brings forth more- by removing more instead of doing more.”
This is so countercultural it’s almost painful to learn. Seriously. I have always loved being busy. I thought that it was the signature of a successful, hard-working person. If you didn’t have every minute filled, that meant you were lazy, right?
Or maybe I was wasting time on pointless stuff that wasn’t actually accomplishing anything. The essentialist view is that by removing more stuff from your life you are actually able to accomplish more. When you remove the EXTRA, you can focus on the ESSENTIAL.
“Essentialists focus on the present.”
This one got me. I’m a planner. I love to plan. I love to plan for the future. But I tend to go overboard and focus so much on the future that I’m not dwelling in the present. By dwelling in the present you practice contentment and are able to focus on what is important at the moment.