I often feel pushed to be all things to all people. I’ve worked in institutions, organizations, and teams where we felt a need to affirm and operationalize our commitment to everything. However, if everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority. How can we practice more essentialism?
Essentialism by Greg McKeown is the book I recommend most. I think about and try to practice essentialism every day. A powerful and easy read. Setting priorities is one of the primary solutions that both individuals and organizations identify to move them forward. If you feel busy once in a while, it is likely situational. However, if you feel busy all the time, then it is likely because you have an inability to prioritize your own life. And when you don’t prioritize your own life, everyone else will. (more lessons on Essentialism)
I was in a leadership workshop where another participant described setting priorities as weeding the garden. He wanted to eliminate the things that he didn’t value so that the things that he did could grow. I love the metaphor and often think of it when I am feeling overwhelmed. Weed the garden.
A colleague at work once shared with me that a wise member of an external review committee had once encouraged her organization to find a way to do less, so that they can be more. I use this reframe often with my staff. I also think of it when I find myself losing my way as a leader, parent, partner, adviser, etc. Do less, so you can be more.
Leo Babauta introduced me to the 80/20 rule in his book Power of Less. The rule argues that 80% of the things that you do bring only 20% of the results. So what if you focused on the 20% that contributed to 80% of the results. The key is picking and focusing on the powerful 20% and letting the rest go. What if you spent 80% of your time on that powerful 20%?