Do better by doing less! PART 2

In last week’s blog I began a review of Greg McKeown’s book Essentialism which explores the importance of getting your priorities straight and eliminating the unimportant things from your life so that you can be truly productive and fulfilled through essentialism. 

This week I share with you how McKeown suggests you get onto this path of essentialism so that you improve both your productivity and quality of life. 

Here are the top 12 strategies as I identified and interpreted them: 

1. THINK. Give yourself space and time everyday to escape and think. Creating a space in your schedule just to think about your life and what options, problems or challenges you’re facing will allow you an intentional opportunity to distinguish between the vital and trivial tasks at hand. 

See what time of day works best for you but I find starting your day in this way is most effective as it then allows you to also set up each day in alignment with your essential priorities. 

When will you carve out your think time? 

2. FOCUS. Remain focused on the big picture. People often get so lost in the small, day-to-day tasks that they lose track of the reason they are doing those things in the first place. Use this ‘think’ time to not just distinguish the vital tasks from the rest but to ensure that you remain focused on the big picture. 

What is your big picture? 

3. PLAY.  Unfortunately, as adults we tend to consider play as something that is unproductive, a waste of time and won’t advance our goals. The essentialist, however, recognizes that play is a critical for inspiration and discovering what’s vital in your life because it allows you to free your mind so that you can approach things from different, more creative and right brain perspectives.

How do you play? 

4. SLEEP. Non-essentialists view sleep the same way they do play – as a luxury and a waste of potentially productive hours. This approach is totally backwards as sleep increases your ability to think clearly, connect ideas and maximize your productivity during your waking hours. “One hour of sleep actually results in several more hours of higher productivity the following day!” 

How much quality sleep do you consistently get? 

5. BE RUTHLESS.  Cut out everything that isn’t essential in your life. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that all your tasks and responsibilities are vital in one-way or another.  How can you avoid this trap? Decide, “If it isn’t a clear yes, then it’s a clear no.” And remember that failing to say no to the things that aren’t vital can lead you to miss out on the opportunities that truly are. 

What do you need to immediately cut from your life? 

6. PLAN. Once you’ve said no to what’s not in your best interest, focus on planning the vital tasks that are left over. Organize your life and calendar and know what is not scheduled will most likely not get done. 

What do you need to schedule into your calendar? 

7. BE INTENTIONAL. Have a clear intention. McKeown says to “be clear about your goals by having an essential intent: one main objective that is both inspirational and concrete”.  Losing weight to be healthier and have more energy and therefore be more productive is inspirational but it is not concrete.  Losing 20 pounds is inspirational and concrete. 

What are your intentions? How clear are they? 

8. QUIT. Have you ever ended up doing something that you knew was a waste of effort simply because you committed to it? Well stop!  If something is no longer working for you – quit!  Admit your mistakes, learn from them, let go and move on. , Stop doing it and don’t see it as a failure but an opportunity to learn and move forward faster.  

What do you need quit right now? 

9. PULL THE PLUG. Identify and eliminate what is slowing you down and instead of finding ways to accommodate it, eliminate it. How?  Delegate and reassign.  

What do you need to eliminate? 

10. PREPARE.  Greg McKeown is very clear on this.  He says that one of the biggest mistakes is assuming that your plans will go as expected. Essentialists, however, don’t think that way. They assume that things might go wrong and thus make the right preparations, including always allowing extra time for everything. 

How can you be more prepared? 

11. TAKE ONE STEP AT A TIME. Creating success is all about putting one foot in front of the other, going step by step.  Small wins not only build confidence but also allow you the time to make sure you are heading in the right direction – in the direction of that big picture. This is how essentialists get it done. 

What is your one next step? 

12. DEVELOP ROUTINES. Routines create a habit and good habits make difficult things become easier over time. Make sure your habits align with your big picture goals. 

What habits do you need to implement? 

I believe that the greatest message for you to take away from these two posts is that despite how it may seem, there are really only a very few things that are vital to achieving your goals in life. So be disciplined. Focus on these few things and master them so that you can be better and do better!  Look at what you can cut out of your life instead of looking for things to add because the more of the trivial and unimportant things you can eliminate from your thinking and your routines, the better you will be at what’s left which will be what matters most! 

And make sure you answer and journal on all the questions I have asked above? Action and engagement in life is what will get results!

Finally, for even more information on getting the things that matter done, I highly recommend you read the book and also watch my free training videos (particularly the second video) and review some previous blogs I have written on this topic. 

Until next week – embrace your inner truth, live your purpose and make your contribution in the world. 

With gratitude and appreciation,

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