Learning To Do More Through Doing Less

Part of my 101 list this go around focuses on a need I’ve identified in my life:
Finding balance
Finding balance really is an overused term, but I can’t think of a better way to describe what I know I lack in my life. Here’s what I need:
  • More time with family – The Boy, our extended families, our friends-that-are-like-family
  • More time with God
  • More time with fellow believers
  • More time doing things that give me pleasure – pursuing my passions and interests
  • More time doing the type of work that I love to do
Those things are all grouped under the idea of balance.
Getting more of those things requires doing less of other things:
  • Fewer external commitments
  • Fewer evenings away from home
  • Fewer things that cause me stress
  • Fewer pieces of emotional baggage
To force myself to deal with my needs (something that a lot of women neglect to do, I’ve noticed), I added several balance-related items to my 101 List this time.
One of those items was to read The Power of Less by Leo Babuta. I’ve read Babuta’s blog, ZenHabits, for over year. Perhaps his blogging about finding balance inspired, at some level, my desire to do the same.
I bought the book and forced myself to read it slowly. Very very slowly – no skipping chapters, speed reading or skimming for the highlights.
I worked through the six principles. I thought deeply about the challenge to create new habits. And I pushed myself to put the book into practice in my own life.
The six principles are simple – on the surface:
  1. Set limitations.
  2. Choose the essential.
  3. Simplify.
  4. Focus.
  5. Create habits.
  6. Start small.
The first principle I’ve worked on for nearly a year and it’s far harder than it appears. When you are a people-pleaser like me, saying no (an essential part of setting limitations) is incredibly difficult.
And even more difficult than saying no to others is saying no to yourself. Bottom line: No one really wants to admit that they can’t do everything.
Principles two, three, five and six are similarly challenging.

But principle four – that darn principle four – is nearly impossible for me.

I’ve learned that my mind is like a pinball machine. Thoughts rattle here there and everywhere, seemingly without purpose or planning. That impacts my behavior and my habits.
Learning to be single focused, even for a short period of time, takes an immense amount of energy.
But what I’ve found interesting is that when I am able to single focus, I truly am much more productive and relaxed.
I suppose there’s something to this whole less-is-more approach.
One thing is for sure – it will likely take me nearly as long to break my old bad mental habits as it did to form them. I think it’s worth it, so I’ll continue working on it.
Oh – and I highly recommend that you read the book. It’s worth the time to read it. Slowly. Thoughtfully. Intentionally.

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