After a long day of work I sometimes had this feeling that I had done a lot of things but nothing really important. I had made all these little decisions that take a fair amount of time and I felt exhausted. But my business didn’t move forward during that day. What was the problem?
A truly fascinating thing I have found to help me focus more on important tasks is killing some variables in my life.
Variables are usually recurring tasks that are not important but take a lot of attention because you have to make decisions. The more decisions you make the more you feel exhausted even when you actually didn’t do something important.
To keep my mind focused on my important goals, here are three things have worked well for me over the last years:
Grocery-shopping normally takes hours and is a pretty redundant activity. I have a list of 5-10 items with exact quantities that I order online every week, for the last 6 to 7 years. A lot of whole-grain food, high-protein, low-fat, lots of vegetables and fruits as I am a little (or big) fitness-addict. It gets shipped to my door every monday. I open the door, put the food in the kitchen and that’s it. Total time this takes: 5 minutes with 0 decisions. Additional benefits: No lines, no waiting, no carrying, no impulse-buying.
Another thing that takes your focus off of important tasks is not defining specific times for certain recurring tasks.
If you do e.g. sports on a regular basis I have found it to be inefficient to just “fit it in somewhere” during the day. This will move your attention away from what you are working on to thinking about when to do your activity for multiple times a day.
Schedule a time and stick to it. No need to waste important mind-power on this every day.
The guys from Buffer, Joel Gascoigne and Leo Widrich, have a really cool concept of “minimalized clothes selection“. They each own only a handful of T-Shirts and jeans (one in fact!). This makes choosing clothes for the day easy so they can focus on their important tasks right from the beginning of the day. It is described in one of their videos here.
To me the concept of killing variables in your life looked like a creativity killer in the first place. It turned out to be the exact opposite, enabling creativity by leaving more room in your head (less decisions) and in your life (less time) to focus on your most important tasks.
Do you use similiar concepts to boost your productivity? What variables do you think take a lot of your attention away from your most important goals? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!