“Sometimes what you don’t do is just as important as what you do.”– Buffett & Clark as quoted in Essentialism
When I read this statement, I thought of all of the choices that come our way each day. I thought of the ads & other junk mail that fill our mailboxes & then create our paper piles on the table. I thought of the daily barrage of emails that ask for attention as our inbox count continues to rise. And I thought about the amount of time that we are able to allot to ALL of the tasks that we have hopes of doing each day.
Often, the time needed for the amount of tasks & activities on your list is just not there. And when you realize that is THE TRUTH, then it’s time to make a change.
This is when recognizing the power of choice in your life really becomes a game changer. When you truly embrace that YOU get to decide what to spend time on & what you can let go of, then big shifts can happen.
Here are some tips on how to begin choosing what is important & necessary vs. the things that you can decide not to do?
Start by practicing this skill in an area that feels safe (fairly risk-free) or in an area of your life that has been nagging at you to make a change. Often your gut knows what is important & what really feels like a waste of time to you.
First take a step back. Pull back from the immediacy of things & take a look at the overall picture. Make a short list of the things that are non-negotiable (you need or want to do these things). When it comes to mail, the short list might include bills, personal letters, & medical benefits papers (this list is different for everyone). Those are the things you will make sure you do.
Now look at your usual patterns with curiosity. Ask yourself if you are doing things out of habit or because you have always done it that way & haven’t considered another option. When it come to mail, you could ask yourself if you need to keep the subscription to the magazine that never gets read? Or think about how much energy you might save if you immediately recycle the ads & junk mail.
Then create a statement that becomes your “new normal.” These are the words you can tell yourself every time you are tempted to do more than is necessary or essential. Use this statement or create one that feels true for you:
Deciding NOT TO open all the extra ad emails, the coupon flier, and the junk mail is a choice that can open time & alleviate stress. When you choose NOT TO spend time on these things, you can hit delete, recycle or shred without the guilt. You have made a decision not to allow your time to be taken up in this way.
And remember that you can choose not to do something for a temporary amount of time. If Paper or emails are overwhelming you RIGHT NOW then your choice to limit yourself in this area could be what you need for now. Once you feel like your inbox is more manageable or your piles have decreased, then you might CHOOSE TO spend 5 mins looking at ads on a Sunday night.
As Greg McKeown says in Essentialism, “our options may be things, but a choice – a choice is an action. It is not just something we have, but something we do.” So grant yourself the freedom to NOT Do a few more things & instead spend that time on the stuff that really matters to you.