This year when the clock struck midnight on January 1st, I wasn’t very inspired to make any resolutions. I guess efforts I had in the past only lasted for a short while and I would eventually fall back into the same old pattern. But I had an epiphany a few weeks ago. I realized that my priorities needed to be rearranged. Through that investigation I’ve discovered something. At first, it sounded basic and elementary. But after I chewed on it for while the light bulbs started lighting up.
The epiphany was simple yet powerful and can be summarized in three easy to remember phrases: Do less. Focus more. & Accomplish much. Those 3 phrases rung in my head like church bells on a Sunday morning that day, and instantly I knew there was more meaning behind them than first met the eye. This post is my attempt to communicate and to journal my thoughts of this epiphany and how it has already started bringing about evidence of real change for the better in my life. And ultimately I hope to offer you some insight that you can discover in your own journey.
To simplify my life and make it less stressful
Become more strategic and remove the “inactive” action items from my life. Then I will have less on my plate, with some left in the casserole dish for when I’ve finished and get hungry again.
How will I “DO LESS” in 2015?
- Be more direct in my speech and in written word
There’s a saying that my Pawpaw said to me when I was a child that stuck with me all these years. He would say, “Listen more and say less” and he’d back it up by rarely saying much, but when he did, it was like the classic EF Hutton commercials, everybody listens when EF Hutton speaks. Pawpaw’s words were few and they affected many back then and even still do today. Yet people today are more comfortable with constant communication through talk, email, text, tweet and post and it just seems like very little is actually being said. One of the most popular social media sites today is Twitter.com. And I’ll tell you why I think Twitter is so popular. Because it removes the fluff and leaves room for little interpretation. In 140 characters you have to say what you’re to say. Twitter feeds you a spoonful of soup at a time instead of letting you feed yourself out of your own bowl. This was an intentional and actually rather brilliant move made by the four founders of Twitter.com.
- Divide & Conquer
When I talk or write I like to use lists. I think it comes from that feeling of accomplishment when you cross out one from the list. We were all taught growing up, “Finish your plate.” or “Always finish what you start” so when we don’t finish something, we automatically revert back to those child-like feelings of inadequacy and insecurity. At the same time, when you finish something you feel a sense of accomplishment and pride.I don’t like having all of my to-dos, projects, goals/wishes on one big list. I’ve found that if I divide them up, I actually get more accomplished. We all know that the key in managing anything is having the right tool. No reason to look any further, Asana is the best free online project/list management tool that does everything I need it to do. Whether you’re a project/list management freak like me or maybe you’ve not used lists at all, you’ll still find Asana extremely helpful in organizing your thoughts, projects, to-do’s, etc.I divide up my lists up into three types of lists:
- Active projects
Using Asana I can keep my projects categorized and in different views, set individual due dates on the overall project and the tasks of each project. I collaborate on my projects with others on a regular basis using Asana. There are several ways to filter your lists, View by due date, View by Project name, View Completed Tasks, etc..
- Wish lists/Goals
This list is for things I wish for and my goals. This list is more for reflection and brainstorming which usually leads to an active project or to-do list. I manage this list in Asana as well with the thought that if a wish becomes an active project, I can just switch it with a click of a button.
- Daily To Do’s
A typical to-do list has tasks that you can resolve fairly quickly in a short time frame. “Wash the car” – “Make my deposit” – “Feed the dog”. When you finish a task you just cross it out and it leaves your list. Actually, it never leaves your list in Asana it just goes to a different view.
- Active projects
You may think that all this list making and using Asana is just too much to do. After all, we are talking about “doing less” aren’t we? Yes, we are. But you do understand that everything worth having comes with a price.
The words “focus more” are the 2nd part of the phrase for a reason. It’s really impossible to “focus more” without first “doing less”. If you focused more and did less you would just be fully aware of what needed to be done. But if you do less (by strategically removing the clutter), you’ll become more focused on what really needs to be done, and out of that focus you’ll naturally accomplish more.
It’s okay to put energy into the things we have control over; what time you get up in the morning, what time we leave for work. But to put any of your energy into things you don’t have any control over; such as “the bad weather is causing a huge traffic jam”. Neither one of those issues allow you to have any control over them. I must confess, being stuck in traffic is my all time least favorite and most unproductive things in the world that I am forced to deal with living in the massive DFW metroplex. For some reason I go through my ranting and raving for a while before I finally settle down and focus. I might say out loud to myself something like, “Traffic is not going to make me get to work any quicker, so I’ll get there when I get there.” Then I’ll choose to check my email or texts and before you know it everything’s cleared up and I’m moving again.
It’s a proven fact that by deliberately focusing on yourself and calming down, you might even imagine your heart beating slower and becoming more steady. That exercise will lower your stress levels, blood pressure and regulate your breathing faster than any other exercise you can do. Did you know that breathing deeply can increase your life span?
How do I plan to “FOCUS MORE” in 2015?
- Be strategic with actions and words
I’m in love with the word strategy. It’s pure definition is awesome and it implies being vigorous in the pursuit of your goal. Picking the right words in every situation or scenario will the difference in a victory or a defeat. I intend on focusing more energy on becoming more strategic in what I say and do. Having strategy is essential in the journey of life.
- Remove the clutter
Occasionally from working in a high-tech fast paced job, I get things coming at me right and left. So I have to focus more in 2015 by removing clutter from my life. Even if for a season. I like to go to a different city from where I live and escape from my routine. And every time I come back from one of my “escapes” I feel more invigorated and passionate about my trade again. Schedule your own escape and put it on your To-do list right now! (Get it?)
Remember earlier when I said that you should follow the principles in the order they are listed in: DO LESS, FOCUS MORE and ACCOMPLISH MUCH. When you do that you will naturally make headway and progress in areas of your life.
I’m thinking that if I really tried to carry out the concepts behind my epiphany: DO LESS, FOCUS MORE & ACCOMPLISH MUCH, that I’ll be at the next New Year’s Eve party and instead of mentally making a check list of what I want to do or not do in my life, I’ll be thinking about all the ways I can help someone else in the coming year for a change. I’ll pay it forward for a change of pace. Wouldn’t that be a cool tradition to start at the turn of every New Year?
To close up this post I must plagiarise another popular and familiar saying that we can all quote – “It’s better to give than to receive.” If I rememered as a human being who always gave to other human beings, that would be my legacy. What I leave behind. I’m ready to live beyond the way I’ve lived in the past.
I’m not happy with the results I’m getting today doing things the way I always have. Are you?