I love shopping at the local warehouse club store. Where else can you buy a 1,000-count bottle of aspirin, a box of 50 hot dogs, and snow tires all at the same time? On a recent visit to the superstore, I navigated my oversized cart through the aisles. My eyes darted between my shopping list, my fistful of coupons, and the floor-to-ceiling overstocked shelves. I made light work of my list, and I loaded several boxes of goodies into the trunk of my car.
When I returned home, I began putting away the spoils. I grabbed a 3-pack of toothpaste and made my way to the bathroom closet. Yikes! I was confronted with a disorganized hodge podge of towels, cough and cold medicine, lightbulbs and – for some reason – a sole children’s house slipper.
I began organizing the closet to create a sensible space for the toothpaste. That’s when I uncovered 6 tubes of Crest still in their shrink wrapped packaging. There had been so much extra stuff in the way, I didn’t know what I already had!
I shouldn’t be surprised. I find that the same thing can happen to my to-do list, my calendar, and even my goals and long-term plans if I let it happen. With busy professional lives and busy home lives, I find that as Work|Life Warriors, we’re particularly vulnerable to cluttered living. We convince ourselves that we can do it all simply by pushing harder. This works right up until it doesn’t.
Here’s a 3-step plan you can use to keep yourself focused on proper execution:
- Know what matters most. We pride ourselves on being incredibly busy all the time. We are quick to sign up for more, but each additional thing takes us further away from our most pressing goals and objectives. We have to be crystal clear about which life areas, values, and goals are most important to us.
- Remove the clutter. Remember the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule. In productivity terms, 80% of the value we produce comes from 20% of the things we’re doing. Start by identifying extraneous activities. What are you doing that you can stop doing? Every little bit extra is just an extra distraction. Move on to patterns of thinking that you can do without. Finally, tackle emotional responses that aren’t serving you well. If it doesn’t help you grow, it’s got to go.
- Become a “Defensive Driver”. I’m not referring to the automotive sense of that phrase here. Instead, I’m talking about the combination of vigilantly preventing distractions while continuing to drive the results that matter. Both are essential. Both are equal parts of the Warrior’s mindset.
Like most people, you probably struggle to stay on the path to successful living. By following the 3-step plan above, you can increase your chances of proper execution as you charge toward your most important and closely held goals.
Incidents like my triple-buy toothpaste fiasco serve as a sort of canary in a coal mine – a clear warning signal that I need to get back to basics. On the plus side, it gave me an opportunity to call timeout and regroup. I suppose I can also take comfort in knowing that I’m well equipped in the battle against gingivitis.
(Featured image by Unsplash.com)
What techniques do you use to simplify your life? Share your thoughts and experiences in the Comments section below.