Prune The Chaff From Your Life Ruthlessly
I was sitting down in the office of one of my associates yesterday and the most striking as well as annoying thing was all the clutter. His desk was full of paperwork, his tables were full of magazines and his shelves were full of awards that he had amassed over the years. I couldn’t think straight and I damn sure could not perform at my best, I felt like I was wading through a mental quagmire that had no end in sight. It was not until I finally fled (yes, I fled) his office into the open air that I reiterated one fundamental truth.
WE DO NOT NEED IT ALL.
Human needs are incredibly limited and relatively easy to satisfy. We NEED food, shelter, clothing, and association. Anything outside of that is a want which can be cut out of our lives with no real consequences. All of those things that you bought and don’t use are affecting you more that you realize.
HOW TO EFFECTIVELY PRUNE THE CHAFF FROM YOUR LIFE
I am not saying you should live like a spartan because I don’t. I have a computer, phone, and MP3 player that I use for entertainment. I have a TV but I won’t turn it on until my partner comes over. I have a few luxury items that I actually use.
I practice a very low information diet which I refer to as selective ignorance. I used to suck up information like a sponge from hundreds of different sources. The problem with that is the amount of useless or paraphrased information that will repeat itself over and over again. It does not contribute to helping you do anything, really it just paralyzes you with information overload.
In my experience, there is very little original information available and if you want to get it in the purest and most concise form then go to the source.
START PRUNING OBJECTS IMMEDIATELY AND DONT STOP
Whenever someone comes to my home for the first time, I will usually get a comment like “I didn’t take you for a minimalist” or “it’s so easy to think here” there are a number if reasons for that, I have little furniture except for what I use on a daily basis and what I can use to comfortably entertain a few guests.
Action steps: take an assessment of the things that you absolutely cannot live without. Eg clothes, cooking utensils, and anything that is directly tied to your source of income. Place all these things in one category “essentials” and place EVERYTHING else in another category “useless”. This may be hard to do objectively but ask yourself, If a fire started and I had to grab 20 things, would this make the list?The rest can be considered chaff and pruned accordingly
That’s a good starting point to identify the essentials. The grill that you barely ever use needs to go, your library that you don’t use needs to go (buy an ebook), the clothes you are keeping and never wear need to be donated to charity, and those big ticket luxury items need to be sold and the money used for something productive. Scan all your important files and put them on Dropbox or Evernote. These programs are far more effective and secure than your home or laptop.
RECLAIM YOUR TIME
The myth of being busy equals being productive. This is far from the truth and it is very easy to engage in activities that do not equate to meaningful work. For instance, you are worked on a PowerPoint or a proposal that took two hours. During that two hours, you checked your social media accounts (Facebook, google + twitter etc.) five times and You checked your email six times. Let me ask you, were you being productive or just busy?
Parkinson’s law States that the time it takes to complete a task multiplies to fill the time allotted to it. Put simply if we give something a longer deadline then it will take a longer amount of time to complete. Here are a few steps that will make sure you become more productive immediately.
1. Funnel all correspondence through email.
Instead of taking so much of your precious time up with phone calls, funnel it through email. It is simple to train people to stop wasting your time on the phone, here is a quick script you can use (tweak it to your particular situation)
Me: hello, this is Daniel, how can I help you?
Caller: hey Daniel, how you doing?
Me: I’m fine, I’m in the middle of something, is there anything I can help you with?
Caller: oh, I can call you back when you are free
Me: no, I’m already on the phone, what’s the issue? ( I’m creating urgency by letting them know I am already busy but at the same time, I prevent them from rescheduling and wasting my time in the future)
Caller: explains issue
Me: ok, I’ll look into it send me a reminder email and I’ll reply with my take.
Caller: thank you
Me: your welcome, bye.
2. Batch check email.
Email can be the most distracting thing imaginable. In recent studies, it was discovered that individuals are 33% less productive when they check email first thing in the morning. I check my email once a day and it is usually the last thing I do. When you first start out, check your email around 12 0’clock and do it only after you have completed major tasks. Check it again at four o clock before leaving the office for the day.
3. Schedule the amount of time each task will take you.
This is back to Parkinsons Law. Schedule reasonable amounts of time each of your activities should take you and set a timer. As long as the time you set was reasonable, you will complete the task on time every time. I use my phone for this but there are programs online that can help you such as http://e.ggtimer.com which is a countdown timer and http://www.proginosko.com/leechblock.html which blocks certain sites completely as long as you want.
4. Kick the social media bug.
Have you ever said “I just want to jump online for a minute” (the biggest lie know to man) and looked up two hours later wondering where all the time went? I’m sure social media is a large part of the problem and there are a number of ways to combat it.
1. Schedule your social media time.
15 min for Facebook
15 min for twitter ever other day or every third day. Social media will not break if you do not get in it.
2. If you use it for business, you may want to look into scheduling posts for up to a week in advance. Buffer, Hootsuite, and social oomph, are inexpensive and often free ways to do this. If you need a company that will manage everything for you then you can check out SerpDen
3. I blog and it is important that new posts are delivered to the various social media platforms in an quick and effective manner. Welcome to the world of virtual assistants. I am not usually the one that posts to social media accounts, it’s too time consuming. You can use websites such as Fiverr to get some really cheap ones but make sure to pay attention to the reviews. Your man in India has cheap virtual assistants and I use them for business as well as personal tasks. Brickwork is also a great place to turn but they only handle business work.
Cut chaff from your personal life
We all have them, those people that are in our lives but instead of contributing to it are detracting from it. They call you in any type of emergency feasible and make unreasonable demands on your time and energy. They thrive off your pity and you fall for it every time. I believe these people should be cut off cleanly and ruthlessly but if you are too kind hearted for that, I have two options for you.
1. Tell them up front and give them a chance to change
Here is a one size fits all script that you can use to gauge their reaction.
Hey ____, I am making some changes in my life to become more productive. In order to do that, I am going to have to cut back on the time we spend together. I hope you can understand. If they take it well then give them the opportunity to change with you. If they take it badly then cut them for your life like the chaff they are.
2. Practice the slow burn.
Don’t tell them anything, just quickly and effectively spend less and less time with them.
If the call to hang out, tell them you are busy.
If they call with a problem, herd them to your email
If they show up at your doorstep, you are on your way out (or you can chase them away with a broom. Whichever you prefer).
People are smarter than we give them credit for, if you do this a few times, they will get the message.
There is no way for us to become the best versions of ourselves if we do not prune the chaff, objects, and interactions from our life immediately and effectively. Following the simple advice in this article will set you up to reap the benefits of that elusive goal lifestyle design. Doing what you want, when you want, how you want it. The road to that goal is much shorter than you think and much more rewarding than you can imagine.