1.Know What’s Important . - Deepstash

1.Know What’s Important .

The simple version of simplifying is “Identify what’s important, and eliminate the rest.” So take time to identify the most important things in your life (4-5 things), and then see what activities, tasks, projects, meeting and commitments fit in with that list. Also take time each day to identify 1-3 Most Important Tasks (MITs), at the beginning of your day. Or the night before, for the next day.

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MORE IDEAS FROM 9 Rules for a Simpler Day - zen habits

We rush through our days, almost in a single frenetic anxiety-filled non-stop movement. Instead, slow down. Life won’t collapse if you aren’t rushing from task to task, email to email. You can pause, take a moment to reflect, smile, enjoy the current task before moving on.

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When are you going to do your most important work? Schedule it with a block of time (1 hour, 2 hours, 4 hours, whatever works for you). Make this your most sacred appointment. Become incommunicado. Close the Internet, all notifications, hold all calls. Just do the most important task, then the next one if you have time.

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Our days fill up so fast, and are so rushed and filled with distractions, that they seem to be bursting.

It’s a huge source of stress for most people, and stress is perhaps the most important factor determining whether we’re healthy or sick.

So how can we simplify our days? It’s not incredibly hard, but I’ve found it’s best done in steps.

These are the steps I followed, though of course calling them “rules” means we should test them and break them as needed. No rules should be followed blindly. I’ve found these to work really well, though.

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We cram our tasks and meetings together, and leave no spaces between them. The space between things is just as important as the things themselves. Leave a little space between meetings, even tasks. Take a break to stretch, walk around, get a glass of water, perhaps do some simple breathing meditation for a minute or two. Enjoy the space.

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Stop multi-tasking. One task at a time, with full focus on that task. Practice mindfulness as you do the task — it’s a form of meditation. Watch your thoughts wander to what you need to do later, but then return to the task at hand. Your day will be much simpler, and much more enjoyable, when you practice being present with your current task.

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This is not so much because this “perfect day” will come true, as it is to understand what a simple day means to you. It’s different for each person — for me, it might mean some meditation and writing and spending time with my wife and kids. For others, it’s yoga and painting and a hot bath. For others, it’s time to focus on the important work, but still get other things done later in the day. Take a minute to visualize what it means to you.

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Email, paperwork, little things at the bottom of your task list (create a “small tasks” section at the bottom), minor phone calls, etc. … these shouldn’t get in the way of your important tasks. But they still need to be done sometime (unless you can let them go, which is best whenever possible). If you need to do them, batch them and do them in one go. It’s best to do these later in the day, when your energy is lower and you’ve done the important tasks for the day. Don’t let the small tasks get in the way of the big ones.

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Now that you’ve identified what’s important, along with the “perfect day”, you need to start saying “No” to things that aren’t on your important list, and that are standing in the way of the perfect day. The biggest thing you can say No to is a commitment — membership on a committee, involvement in a project, coaching or participating in a team, going to an event, being a partner in a business, etc. List and evaluate your commitments (professional, civic and personal), and say No to at least one. It just takes a call or email.

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Each morning, list your 1-3 most important tasks. List other tasks you’d like to do. Say no to some of them. See if you can limit your list to 5-7 tasks per day (not counting little things, which you’ll batch). Limiting your tasks helps you focus, and acknowledges you’re not going to get everything done in one day.

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RELATED IDEA

  • The habit of putting off starting, because it’s uncomfortable.
  • Maybe you get started, but then constantly switch to other tasks.
  • You put off starting (or finishing) because conditions aren’t perfect, or the work isn’t perfect.
  • Rely too much on other people and not taking responsibility.
  • You get pulled away by constant distractions and interruptions. 
  • Fear, uncertainty, feeling overwhelmed & self-doubt and tiredness.

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Eliminate

See if you can cut your tasks and projects lists in half. Then try to cut them even further a few days later.

See which tasks aren't necessary anymore and find the ones that can be delegated.

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Moving Away From Pseudo-Work

Pseudo-work is when one works just for the sake of work, and is productive on paper but hasn’t really achieved anything substantial, or contributed to one’s core objective.

We all have a certain idea of what we want to attain for ourselves. In order to achieve it, we need to move towards essential, meaningful and productive work.

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