Do You Really Need To?

14th Apr 2020

If you’re anything like me, the last few weeks have been pretty adrenaline-filled. In trying to adapt to our new, emerging context, I’ve been flat out talking with clients, writing new programmes, delivering webinars and establishing new routines for work and home. While I’m not a fan of it, the word ‘pivot’ would be apt here.

In talking with friends and clients, I’ve noticed that many people, including me, are getting tired. We’re missing emails. We’re making more typos. We’re forgetting to call people. And at the end of last week, as we headed into the Easter weekend, I heard plenty of stories of people who were planning to work over the weekend.

Hmmm. Do you really need to?

Personally, I forced myself not to work over the weekend. I could have worked, for sure. There’s so much I could have been doing. Planning for. Getting ahead of the game. As a circuit breaker, I got a lovely, unexpected text from a colleague of mine, Alex Smith, late on Friday afternoon: “It’s the weekend. Time to chill, brother.”

As I wrote about last week, the game we’re in is a marathon, not a sprint. And the week before that, I suggested that energy management is a way more powerful lever than time management. In other words, maybe it’s a good idea now to slow down, get some perspective and practice some Essentialism.

Essentialism is an idea, and a book, from Greg McKeown. The subtitle says it all: ‘The disciplined pursuit of less.’ When we decide what’s most important, and set up systems to enable us to focus solely on that, we become way more effective. We can be less rushed, and more deliberate. Essentialism is one of six really worthwhile books I read over the summer, and it continues to hold true now.

How could you practice a little bit of Essentialism in the coming weeks? Here’s what seems to be working for me:

  1. Remember to breathe. Stop right now. Count to 10 while focusing on your breath.
  2. Ask yourself “Do I really need to be doing what I’m doing, right now?”
  3. If your answer is “yes”, sure, go ahead and get it done. 
  4. If your answer is “no”, ask yourself “What would be the best use of my time right now?” Think about this in light of the long game you’re playing.
  5. Go do that instead.

Now is a time to be kind to yourself, and to be kind to others. To give permission to breathe. To drop what’s not essential now, and focus on the important things.

Go do that.


Photo: Unsplash by Max van den Oetelaar

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