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The six guiding principles of the Power of Less are ideas which will help you enhance your productivity by simplifying your life. By reducing the number of tasks you’re attempting to do and instead focusing on what’s essential, you reduce the clutter in your life. That alone will lower your stress levels and make you more productive. Simplicity is an extremely powerful tool when applied intelligently using these principles:
Principle 1Set practical limits
Contrary to first impressions, limits are great. They force you to become stronger because limits demand that you make choices and decisions. You know you can’t do everything and therefore you need to make sure you do the right things.
When you work to a limit, you ultimately end up enhancing your strengths because of the conscious decisions you are required to make. Limits also:
■ Help make your life and career less stressful.
■ Stop you from getting spread too thin to make a difference.
■ Demonstrate to others your time is important.
You should set limits in every area of your life or career you’d like to improve. The process for learning how to set limits is:
One of the good things about limits is they force you to prioritize. You will have to focus on only the essentials in order to be under your self-imposed limits. Rather than being restrictive, this is actually a very beneficial discipline. Limits force you to reduce everything to their essential components and then to focus on those individual components. That’s good.
Get into the habit of setting limits in every area of your life or career you want to simplify. Start with one area, identify what the best limit is for that area and then move on to the next. This is best done sequentially rather than all at once. Start with whatever part of your life which currently seems to take up too much time, or which seems overloaded. Some possible places to start would include:
■ How you handle your e-mail.
■ The number of daily tasks you attempt.
■ The amount of time you commonly spend on the phone.
■ The number of projects you have underway at any one time.
■ The number of blogs or magazines you subscribe to.
Pick one of these areas to get started. Work to figure out what your limit should be in that area. Then expand your efforts into another area of your life and so on. Focus on making one change at a time until it becomes a solid part of your routine and you’re comfortable with your limits.
Principle 2Choose what is most essential
The key to simplifying is to choose what’s essential. The very act of choosing is good because it can reduce:
■ The number of projects you are attempting to juggle.
■ The number of tasks you try and rush through each day.
■ The amount of information you attempt to take in each day.
■ The number of commitments you give.
■ The amount of clutter in your life.
Traditional productivity thinking puts the cart before the horse. It works on the concept if you become skilled in getting more done, then it stands to reason you will end up doing more of what counts. The downside is you also end up doing more of what’s not at all productive or worthwhile. A much better approach is to identify what’s essential and then focus on accomplishing that.
So how exactly do you identify what’s essential? There are nine questions you need to ask yourself:
1. What are your values? – What are the underlying principles you want to live your life by? Only you can answer this but make a deliberate decision.
2. What are your goals? – What exactly do you aspire to accomplish in the next month, year or during your lifetime?
3. What are you passionate about?