What would you think if someone told you that by doing less, you might actually be able to accomplish more?
That is precisely what Greg McKeown does in his book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less and why I strongly recommend it. Essentialists live a life where everything is “less but better.” They deliberately choose how to spend their energy and time content that they can’t have or do it all.
The way of the Essentialist isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s about getting only the right things done. It is not a time management strategy, or a productivity technique. It is a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution towards the things that really matter. Greg McKeown
I don’t know about you, but just reading that description begins to loosen one of the knots in my shoulder.
Key lessons for us
Where do you need to focus?
Are you investing your time and resources on the activities that will help you to feel your core desired feelings? What is getting in the way?
Look with the eyes of a journalist.
Train yourself to be like a journalist and look for “the lead” in a situation to see what really matters. Instead of focusing on the details and facts (who, what, where and why), try to discern what is essential (big picture, trends).
Create routines to make doing the essential as easy as possible.
Examples of this include doing the most difficult or most important thing first. Another example is to assign a theme to each day of the week. Perhaps you could have a day focused on a specific core desired feeling?
Escape to focus.
If Bill Gates could run Microsoft while taking two week-long “Think Weeks” off to read each year, surely we can get a few hours every day to focus.
You can multi-task, but you CANNOT multi-focus.
There are some tasks that you can combine together. Often it is physical task with a mental task. (I’m writing this post from a treadmill desk.) But you cannot concentrate on two mental tasks at the same time. For example, it’s impossible to have a meaningful conversation while constantly getting distracted by your phone or email.