Friday, February 27, 2009

Do Less for More

Does it never seem like you have enough time to get stuff done? Are you one of those people who need lists just to keep track of your lists? Do you ever describe yourself as a “Jack of All Trades, Master of None”?

Spreading ourselves too thin is a chronic illness that often starts from childhood. We either have trouble saying no, or we get into that mode of thinking where “if I don’t do it, it won’t get done.” Or we’re still chasing after our dreams, with no real idea where we’re going, so keep gambling, thinking that the “next thing” is gonna be IT.

The solution is not in doing one thing more… and you not going to get more time, no matter how much you wish for. What is going to get you MORE out of life, is actually in doing LESS.

To get the most benefit out of this, you’ll need either a notepad or a lot of paper to write on…

Taking Inventory

First thing to do before going on your Time Diet is to take inventory. Write down the THINGS you do. That’s stuff like “Work” or “Family.” You know, the big ticket items. Put them across the top of the page, since they’re your categories.

Next, under that write down your ACTIVITIES associated with those THINGS. Use as much paper as you need to. This is an inventory, after all. And no particular order, just however they come to mind… “soccer practice” … “write that report” … “feed the dog.” In fact, the activities might remind you of some other THINGS that didn’t come up before.

When you’ve done that, label it “Inventory” and set it aside.

Assessing your current situation

On your next set of pages, write down each of the THINGS one at a time, with two columns below that. One column is labeled “BENEFITS” and the other “COST.” Then really take you time with each one and think, “what do I get out of doing this?” (e.g. education, health, personal satisfaction) That’s your BENEFIT. “What do I have to give in order to have this?” (e.g. money, time, blood pressure) is your COST.

Looking forward

Do the same as your current situation, but instead do it for the things you would like to do. “Write a novel,” “learn to fly,” “spend more time with my family;” whatever it is. Just write those THINGS done and their BENEFITS and COSTS.

The Five R’s

Rate ‘em

Next set of pages, write down the list of THINGS as a list. Rate them with one of the following letters:

A- Must have in my life; brings me the most rewards

B- Must have in my life; but costs too much

C- Don’t need in my life.

At this phase just rate them. You don’t need to have so many A’s and so many C’s. Just rate them.

After that though, it’s time to number them, by order of importance to you. You cannot have ties. It’s A1, A2, A3… B1, B2… C1, C2, C3, etc. Each letter starts off with “1”

Remove ‘em

Here’s the quickest way to trim your life and get more time. Say goodbye to the C’s. If you needed them in your life, they wouldn’t have been rated a “C.” So you can just stop all the C’s at once, cold turkey… or if that seems too drastic for you, start at the lowest C (i.e. C10) and work your way up til you reach C1.

Reduce ‘em

Next look at the B list. You said it cost too much. Time to look at the BENEFITS of those B items and brainstorm ideas. Put these ideas on pages labeled “BRAINSTORMING”

Ask yourself “how can I get the same benefit for less cost?” Consider the local park as an alternative to the movies as a way to spend time with your family. The cost is definitely less, and the time will be more rewarding. Remember that you’re brainstorming, no idea is silly. You’re trying to find way to get the same benefits for less time and money and whatever else it costs you.

Things to note:

• You can rate each activity as well, not just the categories

• You can always reevaluate the A list at any time to see if they really are A’s

Recommit ‘em

You’re getting rid of C’s and B’s because of how important A’s are to you. Now is the time to recommit yourself to those A’s. The best way to prevent yourself from taking on more C’s is to spend most of your time doing A’s.

Replace ‘em

If you’ve cut out the C list and reduced the B list, you’re going to discover a big shift in your life. Not only will you will have more time for the A items, but you’ll also have time to do the things on your wish list. The only rule here is that you can only choose one of the A wish list items at a time. Bring it into your life, and go through this whole process of the five R’s again before doing even more.

The key is in doing less STUFF, and more of the things that enrich your life.

Rate, Remove, Reduce, Recommit and Replace, and you will be able to Regain your life.

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