An article I ran across had a title I couldn’t pass up: Simple Productivity: 10 Ways to Do More by Focusing on the Essentials – lifehack.org.
Essentials. Such a concept. Get the essentials right and the rest is window dressing. While the article itself strayed from the promise of the title, there is an essential nugget of wisdom in it: “Focus on only the essential, eliminate the rest”.
The question then becomes, how do we know what the essentials are?
Essentials are the core of what you are doing. Figuring out the core will allow you to eliminate those items which are not fundamental to what you are doing. If you are working on a problem, the question translates to “what am I trying to solve?” If you have a system, the question becomes “what am I trying to automate or simplify?” If you have a process, the question is “what am I trying to accomplish?” Knowing what you are trying to achieve gives you a standard to judge your activities by.
When I am tasked with creating a new report, I need to know what the information will be used for, and then I can figure out how to get it. More often than not, if left to the end users, the design becomes one of useless columns that convey no real meaning. I apply that sort of thinking to other areas in my life so that I can weed out what doesn’t need to be there.
Don’t get me wrong…I’m not very good at this, and frankly, if there is a possibility of being sidetracked, it is my nature to go there. However, I do manage more often now to keep on track simply by asking myself what the essentials of what I am trying to accomplish are.
Articles in this Series:
- Essentials to Productivity
- Top Essential Tools #1: Written Routines
- Top Essential Tools #2: Timers
- Top Essential Tools #3: Distraction Blockers