This article first appeared in Alpha Efficiency Magazine: Issue 5: Eliminating, subscribe and buy here
My tendencies of undertaking a large number of projects can leave devastating negative consequences for my well being. I am the “Yes Man”, somebody who always pushes into new and more. This is a result of being excited by novelty and my overzealous optimism. Between me and Darren, I am the force pushing for the new book, new podcast, new video series and other projects.
Darren is the one who pulls me back into reality, reminding me how much actual time we have at our disposal, curbing my over-optimism with completely justified rationale. But in that struggle, when I am very confident with an idea, passion prevails and that is how we created the Magazine you’re reading right now.
We remember the time when we were mainly focused on producing blog content; We were scattered all over the place, free-styling. When we created focus, our work became so much more meaningful and has created far better impact. We were practicing principles of eliminating right from the start and holding them in high regard. The consequence of this elimination has been the massive slow down of content production in other areas of our online presence. A sacrifice we consciously made and accepted the consequences that came with it.
Eliminating in Personal Life
When it comes down to personal life I don’t have that outside voice telling me to tone down. My personal successes in past 9 months have exploded, but sometimes at the expense of my pleasure and enjoyment in life. Saying yes to too many things made me chase the dragons and forget to stop for a second and enjoy my accomplishments.
When I started my professional career with a sudden shift, I used to work incredibly long hours. It was intoxicating to my body. From the moment I woke up to the moment I fell asleep, I would be glued to my computer. This rooted overwork state comes from a desire to move faster, further and making leaps into goals at the price of our health, life, and optimal activity levels.
In these scenarios our willpower loses its grasp, we become unhappy and fed up with this prison-like experience. We become prisoners of our own desire to succeed faster, taking shortcuts and paying the price of losing the precious moments we are in, for the promise of a better future where we will work less and be satisfied with what we made in the past.
We become prisoners of our own desire to succeed faster, taking shortcuts and paying the price of losing the precious moments we are in.
We never stop desiring more. Even when we reach that level of income we’ve been dreaming off, we always crave for more. It is an uphill battle, and as you make more, you desire more. In this race for more, we stop seeing the forest for the trees. As we are chasing more, we lose sight of the things that might be easier; we become short-sighted and don’t leverage our strengths.
We are taught and wired to stress ourselves to the utmost limits, not remembering that the rest and recharge is the big component of obtaining goals. Constantly stressing means constantly overlooking the obvious. Mind imprisoned in the pattern is dangerous, as your life can rush through you like fast forward button rushes a movie.
This became very obvious when I moved to the USA. First, it was a race to obtain a job, then when I obtained the job it became a race to obtain a raise and move faster than I should be moving. I didn’t give up on my goals of improving my body either and every day started to look the same. I would be working the whole day and then hit the gym. Not to mention that I was working out on weekends as well. My weeks started to look like endless commutes filled with work and gym. Weekends would become preparations for the upcoming week and everything seemed so repetitive that I had to change the cycle somehow.
The Slowdown and Actions That Lead Me to It
It became very obvious to me that I was doing quite alright where I was and I decided to slow down. My outlook on life became much better and I managed to regroup. As soon as I slowed I regained my ground and created time to do my own thinking. It was time to stop for a moment and celebrate. At first, I didn’t know what to do with my extra free time. I literally forgot how to enjoy myself and life and perhaps somewhere along the way I also forgot the value of my own business; I lost sight of my main and true goal.
I eliminated the self-imposed pressure of feeling rushed. I decided not to work out every day, giving my body a break. This free time gave me the freedom to do my own thinking and be even more at ease with myself.
Thinking Lets You See The Wasted Activity
When you have that luxurious time to relax and think for yourself you tend to find inefficiencies in your day to day activities. When you review your actions you tend to notice the things that you shouldn’t have been doing in the first place. It is your personal insight; no other person beside you can realize it. Optimizing these inefficiencies leads to a more balanced life.
It’s all about small steps of mindfulness that give you great actionable insights; Monitoring my performance and giving it an honest appraisal let me get the best results throughout the day, for less effort invested.
Becoming mindful of your activity can’t happen in an environment where you are in a state of constant activity. Mindfulness comes through relaxation; When we are active, our minds are preoccupied with being busy and mindfulness is impossible to achieve.
Finding The Optimal Level Of Activity
We are living in a paradigm where being busy is worn like a badge of honor. It is almost embarrassing to say that you aren’t busy. I see it in my office environment, and I often hear I’m Busy… as a standard response to How Are You? even from people who have nothing to do.
This kind of water cooler conversation is frequent and puts people in the frame of mind where being busy is a desirable state of mind. This is a fallacy; “Busy” is actually a destructive force that kills your creative capacity.
The way to quit this unhealthy cycle of perpetual action is by learning to cherish inaction, by embracing the fact that we deserve to give ourselves a break.
The way to quit this unhealthy cycle of perpetual action is by learning to cherish inaction, by embracing the fact that we deserve to give ourselves a break. The fact that you are paid doesn’t mean that you can’t have a 10-minute break and take a walk; giving your body physical activity that it needs and deserves. You are not paid to be busy, you are paid to deliver results. If you don’t take ACTIVE breaks, you are bound to lose sight of the results. It’s important to realize that watching cat videos on YouTube does not qualify as a break; you need to remove yourself from your desk, leave the office and do something that disengages you.
Beside my lunch break, during the day I go to the massage chair, we have in our company. These 10-minute disengaging periods help me nurture ideas and grow my intellectual capacity in an environment where I am not bombarded with calls to action. The value of this break is much more important than the activity itself. My brain assimilates data, compiling it into my brain and liberating my subconscious to come up with solutions that might not have been obvious at first sight.
These breaks ultimately create value for my employer, but unfortunately, I don’t see more people utilizing these chairs. This mindset is a throwback to the industrial era, where management began to measure productivity in terms of activity. This is a completely failed concept, as you can be very “efficient” at things that don’t create any value for your employer, your business or yourself.
Why do we seem to think that working hard is the answer? It used to be that way. But today, you can’t work harder and expect to get more. Today you actually need to let yourself work LESS, so you can let your brain come up with ways to create more value. You need to eliminate this busy work, so you can devote your time and energy to things that make a true difference.
Getting Prepared For the New Era
We are quickly moving to an era where we will be paid for the results of our actions, not for our presence or effort. This shift is very familiar to freelancers getting paid by volume or value. The digital era is enabling us to make these numbers very obvious, tangible and measurable. This era forces us to move past the “think outside the box” mentality towards a “there is no box” mentality.
Embracing this change is a proactive way of thinking. Don’t wait for this to become the norm; Be proactive and take full advantage. Eliminate mindlessness and do your own thinking. It will pay far greater dividends than trying to keep pace with a continually shifting corporate ideal of “performance.”