Many people find that they become more productive and purposeful if they remove the things that conflict with their decisions or that make their decisions difficult. Life can be made easier if we delete whatever is unnecessary from our environment. Otherwise, our environment creates friction for us – by using up decision making energy in the very small aspects of each day.
For example, I am much more productive in my reading, writing and development of new materials when I close the emails tab on my computer. I am much more able to be present to my wife and children when I don’t have my phone with me. This is subtraction for productivity.
Elimination is often the fastest way to progress and gain forward momentum. Many people find that ‘less is more’. So, what things can you edit out from your environment?
ELIMINATE STUFF – clean out your wardrobe and your car, delete unused phone apps, clear out the pantry and fridge. The less stuff you have to clutter up your life, the fewer decisions you need to make each day.
ELIMINATE DISTRACTIONS – Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the brain that is associated with pleasure. It's intended to help us make correct choices, but these days many of us are out of whack – checking email and social media, mindlessly surfing the web, eating something sugary and sweet – all of these activities release dopamine. Removing the distractions that give us these guilty pleasures allows us to concentrate on what is really important – whether that is being more productive at work or spending quality time with our family.
ELIMINATE OPTIONS – Having more options is not necessarily a good thing. It can lead to indecision and half-committed choices, and we are left unsatisfied and wondering if we made the right choice. Sometimes, options serve as nothing more than distractions, so if we can eliminate some of those options it can help us remove some of the internal conflict from our life. The fewer choices we have to make, the more powerful our choices will be.
ELIMINATE PEOPLE – Whilst having friends and colleagues is important, it is also important to choose your friends. Sometimes we need to actively cultivate our friendship groups so that we spend more time with those whose lifestyle and habits are most like our own (or like the habits we would like to have). As Dan Sullivan said, “Surround yourself with people who remind you more of your future than your past.”
ELIMINATE BRAIN CLUTTER – Our brains are wired so that they remember the important things – not every minor detail of our lives. Our head is built for having ideas, not for holding them. When you get a flash of insight or some new idea, immediately record it. Get it down on paper or record it in audio. Outsource your thinking to your environment to free your working memory space – e.g. get a journal, use a calendar you can write on, use quick voice on your phone, have a post-it note pad beside your bed.
Editing out and eliminating is a genuine path forward to a slightly more purposeful and simple life. I suggest you try just one of these strategies this week. If it makes a difference to your wellbeing, stick with it.