FYI | Day 13 – The Power of Less

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For Your Inspiration! (FYI!) Month 2011 – This article was part of an exciting and challenging month dedicated to discovering passions, setting goals, learning success strategies, and sharing thoughts to ponder throughout the day!  If you’d like to find out what this month was all about, check out FYI Month 2011 for more information!

FYI: For-Your-Inspiration Month!

We’ve all heard the phrase ‘less is more’.  Well, today we are going to validate this truth as well as explain how this can be applied to every area of your life (except for maybe money, children, and brownies Winking smile).

The subject The Power of Less (or minimalism) has really grown in popularity since the release of Leo Babauta’s book, The Power of Less, and I highly recommend it.

The Concept

The concept behind the power of less, is simple: we can only handled so much ‘stuff’ in our lives and by limiting our ‘stuff’ to the essentials, we can optimize our lives.   Using the principles we’ll discuss, we can de-clutter and optimize our schedules, relationships, workplaces, and living areas as well as improve our relationships, productivity, and focus! This is a life-style choice that deserves exploring!

Here is the idea behind it:

  • When you do more things, you tend to do more unimportant things.  This increases your load, adds stress, and takes away your valuable time.  We tend to overwork ourselves by taking on too much.
  • Sometimes when you increase volume, you do so in by decreasing quality.  What can you do that has the biggest punch (greatest quality, greatest results) while doing less?
  • When you have too many ‘to-dos’ you end up struggling with and juggling all of them and getting little done.
  • Multitasking is a myth: by single-tasking you control the focus of your mind and improve your efficiency and speed. Our mind can only focus on one thing at a time and multi-tasking is only switching focus as quickly as possible.  Every time our focus shifts, it takes our mind awhile to catch up and reload what it needs to operate.
  • We tend to buy things we think we need only to find out a week later we don’t use it that much at all.  When we accumulate all these items, we are bogged down by them and only use them at their least potential instead of focusing on one and gathering the most gain from it.

Here’s an applicable example of the power of less in the online world: Blogging.

Some people focus on producing as many posts as humanly possible,  1- 10 posts per day!  Then others will focus on the quality of content, do research, create stories and analogies, dig deep and post only once per week! Who’s articles would you prefer reading?  Hopefully you would read the one with valuable content.

Additionally, maybe that one article will touch thousands of lives, inspire others, and/or score him a job somewhere.

That’s the power of less.

The Priceless Principles

Here is some valuable advice on the power of less… I planned on bolding my favorite ones, but the whole list ended up bold and it hurt my eyes.  So imagine they carry the same weight as being worthy of bolding and read on!

  1. Simplicity means identifying what’s essential, then eliminating the rest.
  2. Installing positive habits is easiest when starting small, then build on your earlier successes.  (read about Kaizen)
  3. Focusing on the essential produces the most results for the least effort.
  4. Focus on only one thing at a time
  5. You must set limits; they don’t set themselves.
  6. Limit your active goals and projects to no more than 3-4 at a time.
  7. Batch similar tasks together to preserve your focus
  8. Establish 3 Most Important Tasks (MITs) every day, and do these before working on anything else.
  9. Consciously minimize your active commitments, and learn how to say ‘no’ to new ones.
  10. Slow down, pay attention, and enjoy the process.

Your Task

The power of less does not pressure you into having less, it simple pushes for getting MORE from LESS… and by definition, we tend to acquire less ‘stuff’ in our lives by using this technique. When we do this, we realize what is important to us in the world and start taking advantage of it!

Spend time today thinking about different areas of your life and how you can achieve Less (you never thought someone would say that to you huh?):

  • Work: How many active projects do you have?  Are they interfering with the quality of each individual project?  How many commitments do you have?  How many meetings, etc?  Are you spreading yourself too thin and not proud of your work? Select the most important ones and see if you can minimize the rest.
  • Relationships: The problem with Facebook and other social websites is that we have access to way too many relationships and this can be stressful.  Do you hold on to relationships that don’t benefit you as a person?  Shed these.  Focus on the relationships that mean the most to you – you are not a bad person for ending relationships.
  • Things: Are you a packrat?  Do you always think you need more?  Need the latest and greatest?  When we get in the habit of wanting more… we always want more! It’s never ending.  Look around your office, room, etc., and clear out the items that have been sitting idly for a long time.  Sell it or give it away, doesn’t matter, just clear it out!
  • Strengths:  Do you have so many hobbies and interests you can’t get great at any of them?  Maybe it’s time to narrow your focus and improve one strength at a time.
  • Productivity: How many projects do you work on at a time? How many browser windows are you usually open on your computer? How often do you check your email, texts, Twitter, or Facebook?  By constantly switching tasks, you lose a lot of productivity and focus.  Be conscious of this as you work… and close those browser windows!
  • Family:  Decluttering your life and improving your efficiency and productivity in other areas, also gives you more time to spend with the people that matter most!

There is so much more to glean from the Power of Less than this short post can fill.  If you want a good kick-start, go check out the book, or visit Leo Babauta’s website Zen Habits.net (and admire how simple and minimalized it is!)

This post was written by

Greg has written 69 articles on Student of Me.

Greg is the creator and primary writer for Student of Me. He probably spends way too much time on the computer writing, researching, programming, and working on his photography. He loves escaping from screen-time to travel, ride his motorcycle, experience the outdoors and spend time with loved ones. You can contact him at greg (at) studentofme.com!

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