When in my workshop I claim that “productivity is doing less, but better”, I see around me many sceptical noses.
Let’s clarify this concept.
We live in technological times, with capability of instant communication and availability of endless information in our pockets.
As a consequence, we reach and we can be reached anytime with new questions and requests. Our tasks and errands fill never-ending to-do lists on hundreds loose-leaf or in corners of our brain.
We ended up to think that if we do more in less time, we could finally relax.
We start to multitask and juggling with every aspect of our lives, mental loading us, hoping to reach a point in which we can finally cross that last item off.
Well, this is not productivity, this is madness.
Human brain is not made for multitasking; if we think we are doing that, in fact we are jumping from one task to the other very fast, so fast that we never reach the level of concentration to actually perform.
The way to break this vicious circle is to change the narrative from the “I have to” into “I choose to”. And choose wisely. Indeed, we need to sacrifice something in order to get space to grow for what is important for us.
Ogni scelta implica, di per sé, l’abbandono di tutte le alternative. Se non fossimo costretti a scegliere, saremmo immortali.
— Paolo Maurensig, La variante di Lüneburg
Every choice automatically implies the abandonment of alternatives. We’d be immortal if we weren’t forced to make choices.
— Paolo Maurensig, The Lüneburg Variation
Don’t get me wrong, choosing, and choosing to say no, is not easy. If it were so, we wouldn’t be talking about it.
So here some steps to follow:
Write down all the items which are running in your mind, begging you for your attention. Dedicate about 20 minutes to this exercise.
Then choose what is staying and what has to go.
You can use the KonMari method: if it is not sparking joy, get rid of it (although I feel free to not follow her advices about books, sorry Marie: my books are all glowing joy, even the many ones waiting to be read).
Clearly there are not so joyful but vital tasks that need to stay, for them refer to the following step.
Don’t give a f*ck
In an awesome TED talk, Sarah Knight explains us how to say no.
The concept is as simple as brilliant: it basically consists in considering “a f*ck” as a currency trade, each f*ck being a portion of our energy, time, or money. You see, we have just a limited number of f*cks, so we should dispense them in the wisest possible way.
Do we really need to follow that umpteenth meeting? Should we really answer that message/mail just now or at all? Will our significant others turn their backs on us if we take some time for ourselves, doing a bit less household? Are we really so excited about that new series we were waiting for so long, to binge-watch it all night?
There are not wrong decisions about how we choose to spend our f*cks. But nevertheless, choices need to be made. And then, we can start to work on them. One-Thing-At-A-Time
Do less, but better.