[blockquote source=”Dalai Lama”]If one’s life is simple, contentment has to come. Simplicity is extremely important for happiness.[/blockquote]
Trying to do everything at once
As the year comes to an end, more and more tasks are dropped onto our plates. People are doing last-minute holiday shopping. Employers are trying to meet their quotas. Students are asking for last-minute opportunities to bump their grades or cramming for their finals. Friends are in a rush to find the perfect presents for their loved ones. Relatives are setting up end-of-the-year dinners. Different events and errands are filling up our calendars.
It’s not that all these tasks aren’t important, but in a storm of trying to get everything done, we lose sight of what really matters.
Many times you hear people respond to the question, ‘where do your priorities lie,’ with a list of four or five different priorities. The problem with this lies within the question itself. When the word, priority, first came into the English language in the 1400s, the word was singular. It wasn’t until the 1900s that word was being used in a plural context. Priority means the something that is of the most importance. When we have a list of several priorities, nothing is really ever prioritized. Thus, to focus on the essential, this original definition of priority must be used.
To avoid going inches deep and miles wide, and start acting on your priority, here’s what needs to be done.
1. Ask yourself: what is my primary goal?
When you look back on your life, decades from now, would you be satisfied? To have a meaningful life, having a purpose is absolutely necessary. What contribution to the world do you want to make? What gives you happiness? By not letting these questions guide your decisions, you’re driving with a blindfold, and are bound to crash at any given moment.
2. Explore your options
It is not wise to immediately say yes to every task or chore that is presented before you. Agreeing to do everything is setting yourself up for inevitable failure and regret. Instead of rushing, pause to understand the options that lie in front of you.
3. Assess your options
Evaluate each item, by asking yourself disciplined questions. Will this allow me to make the highest possible contribution towards my goals? Do I absolutely love this? You want to organize your activities in a manner that shows what you truly have to get done.
4. Start cutting down
Once you’ve narrowed down your tasks or activities to the least essential towards your purpose, you need to make the decision to say no to them. Many times we leave certain tasks that we may have a certain attachment towards or feeling of ownership in a state of limbo. We are unsure of whether to completely get rid of them or not. Such tasks or events clutter our minds, distracting us from our goal even more. Thus, you need to go deeper with yourself and possibly ask: if you could do one thing with your life, what would it be? Remove the obstacles that are hindering your performance.
5. Take action and execute
You know what needs to be done to get you from point A to point B. You have learned to say no to the irrelevant tasks. You have agreed to the activities that will create the most impact. This is when massive action needs to be taken to get where you want to be. Give your undivided attention on these tasks to truly give it your all. Note: Allow yourself some space and time in case the unexpected happens.
Remember less is better. To produce more efficiently, you need to remove more, rather than doing more. In essence, being busy doesn’t mean being productive. We are all bombarded with several items every day that distract us from our end-goal. Don’t give up your ability to choose what you should or shouldn’t do. When you don’t choose, someone else will choose for you. Someone else’s priority will become your priority.
If you’d like to read more about how to focus on what really matters and reach your goals, I’d suggest reading the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.
I want to know what you do to reduce the clutter in your life. Comment below.