30-Day Challenge: Simplify Your Day
Leo Babauta from zenhabits challenged his readers to a 30-day challenge to make their day simpler, focused and relaxed. I’m going to join in starting from June 1 to say “No” to one thing every day. Here are some of the things Leo lists that you can say “no” to;
1. Appointments and meetings that aren’t absolutely essential
First, cancel all the meetings that you don’t absolutely have to attend. Meetings should not be events where everybody finally gets down to works and digs into the matter at hand.
Meetings are for making decisions so that everybody is up to speed and there will be no misunderstandings later.
Ask everybody come to the meeting prepared. It’s a total waste of other people’s time when somebody uses the meeting to do the work that should have been done separately. You are basically waiting for them to work.
Ask for the agenda. What decisions need to be made and what are the main points of disagreement? If there are none, then you can decide via email.
People who enjoy meetings should not be in charge of anything. – Thomas Sowell
2. Commitments you can let go
Most of us get ourselves entangled in things that we don’t want to do. If you have commitments that you want to get out of, do it now. Sooner is always better than later. We only have 24 hours every day and those hours should be spent on something that moves you forward. Tell the other person that you can’t make it and give them the real reason.
Take a look at your to-do list and find commitments that you can remove. Knowing what you now know, what are the things you shouldn’t have said yes to? Meetings, phone calls, social occasions where you don’t really have to be.
3. Non-essential to-do items
What do you have on your to-do list that you can remove without any real consequences? Maybe there are some tasks that you can delegate to another team member? Find a way to outsource your non-essential tasks to a virtual assistant. If possible hire a personal assistant and then delegate everything that you can.
Delete or delegate all the tasks that somebody else can do for you. Take a look at your to-do list and daily routine and find something to leave out every day.
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. –Leonardo da Vinci
Simply say no to multi-tasking. Focus on one thing and do it until finished. If the task you have to do takes longer than you can spend right now. Split the task into smaller units that you can do in a certain amount of time. Good durations for this start from 25 minutes and the maximum should be around 2 hours. Then commit to a single task and do it until completed.
Decide that for the next 30 days you work only on tasks you have decided to work on. You will not multitask to other items before the current task is finished.
You can’t focus on your 2-hour task if your phone keeps buzzing every few minutes. When you are working on your tasks, set your phone to silent and turn of all the notifications on your desktop computer. If you do not do this, then you won’t be single-tasking.
When you work, work on one thing at the time. When meeting for work, catching up with friends or spending time with your family. Be present! Put the phone away, don’t watch the TV with one eye. Turn of all notifications for the next 30 days.
6. Moving quickly
Do everything now. Do not contemplate and postpone your actions. Decide and then make the first step. When you have a task that takes just a few minutes, do it immediately. Usually, there’s a 2-minute rule. If the task takes less than 2 minutes, then do it now. I use this rule quite freely up to 10 and 15 minutes. The rule helps to declutter your to-do list, and you have less mental load and things to track. Simplify everything.
If the task takes less than a few minutes, do it immediately. If it takes more than that write down the next small step, you need to take to get to your goal.
Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler. — Albert Einstein
7. Avoid doing smaller tasks instead of important tasks
Do not procrastinate and focus on what’s important. Avoid doing smaller tasks instead of important larger tasks. During the 30-day challenge set aside one hour every morning when you focus on the most important thing at hand. The most important task will give you a feeling of accomplishment.
Then take another hour to clean up your clutter. Move quickly through the tasks that you can complete in a few minutes. As mentioned above delete unnecessary tasks, delegate everything you can, and complete the things you can do in less than 15 minutes.
Create a place to collect your small tasks and then do those tasks once a day or every two days. Batch smaller tasks together and complete them in one sitting.
After you make your day simpler the you could take on another 30-day challenge to improve your life in other areas. For example, I completed a 30-day writing challenge that made me a better writer and clearer thinker.
Image: Piedras de primavera, spring stones by Vicente Villamón