Eliminate All But The Essential Tasks: A Guide to De-Cluttering Your Life

If you have an endless list of tasks that need to be done, and most of us do, it can be overwhelming. The list just gets longer and longer each day because you can’t get today’s list completed, and more tasks just keep coming at you.

If you can pare your list of to-dos down the most important tasks, you can keep your planning and time management system simple. A simple list of the 3-5 most important things is all that nearly anyone needs to be very effective and successful.

Follow these steps to manage your time and make success your reality:

  1. Get rid of the extra stuff in your life. Unless you live like a monk, you have more stuff than you need or use. If it’s not important to your life, consider getting rid of it. You spend a lot of time and money on those things that provide minimal value. Eliminate the clutter in your life and you eliminate a lot of the clutter in your mind.
  2. Eliminate the trivial. Start by making a list of everything that you feel you need to get done. Cut the list in half, removing the things that aren’t absolutely necessary. Don’t worry; you can come back to those items later. Now go through the same process and cut the list in half again.
  3. Review your goals. What have goals got to do with eliminating all but the essential? Reviewing your goals allows you to see what tasks are most essential. Assuming that your goals are very important to you, they provide an excellent tool to evaluate which tasks are the most important to you.
  4. Be aware of what’s essential. The essential things are those that support your goals. Pay your bills on time, work toward your goals, and take care of yourself and your family. Life is short; spend it on the most important stuff.
  5. Evaluate your other commitments. Is the weekly poker game worth it? Golf every Wednesday? Clubs, charities, committees, and more all take time. Eliminate the extra activities that mean the least to you. This includes all the people in your life, too. Some people you’re stuck with, others are optional.
  6. Minimize your sources of information. We all spend too much time receiving information and too little time doing worthwhile tasks. Cut back on TV, newspapers, browsing the Internet, email, Twitter, and Facebook. It’s largely wasted time that could be better spent.
  7. Review your list regularly. Periodically, take a look at your list of things to do and go back through the elimination process. Don’t worry about the stuff that gets axed. If it’s important, it will come back around after the really important stuff gets done.

We have a tendency to do the things that are the easiest; what’s important is to do the critical few items each day. Simply ask yourself what the advantage is to getting an item done and what is the disadvantage to not getting it done. Don’t choose tasks based on what is the quickest or most enjoyable; that’s what average people do. Be exceptional and do the most important items. If you spend all day on important tasks, your life will be remarkable.

Life doesn’t have to be an endless list of obligations. The key is to recognize that only the most important tasks really matter. When you can see that, you feel free to start chopping obligations.

Most of us major in minor things. Focus on the most important stuff and feel comfortable letting the rest slide. You’ll have more free time and your life will change for the better.

Did any of these tips really “speak” to you regarding how to de-clutter your life?

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What is Success?

How do you define success? Would you consider yourself successful to be at a C-level position in a big organization or to be your own boss in a small business? To many, success is obvious. It’s a life that includes a nice car, a fine home, an impressive job, and an attractive spouse. Yet, people with all of these things aren’t any happier than those with less impressive lives. It’s because all of those achievements only serve to impress others. They do little to enhance the quality of your life.

Those with large homes still spend 80% of their time in just a couple of rooms. A $20,000 car provides just as reliable transportation as an $80,000 car. Even the most attractive people can become tiresome after a short period of time.

Success in the western world is too focused on showing off to your friends, family, and neighbors. It doesn’t focus on what will make you happy. You can’t find happiness by trying to impress others. You only show yourself that your own interests aren’t important.

Redefine success with your own definition:

  1. What is your passion? If you can determine the central focus of your life, everything else becomes much easier to determine. Do you want to write a great novel? Focus the next 25 years on creating and raising a family? Explore the world? Explore yourself?
  2. What do you like to do? Most people consider money first, but what would you like to spend eight hours per day doing for 40+ years? Of course, you’ll need to make enough money to pay your bills and pursue your passion.
    • Let’s assume that your passion is writing. Your career choice should support your interest in writing. That means your income is sufficient to be fully engaged in your writing activities. You might even consider a career related to writing, such as an editor.
  3. Your choice of living accommodations can also support your passion or be an obstacle. A home that is too big can require too much of your time to maintain or require too many financial resources relative to your income. You might also have to hire staff or housekeeping service to help. Managing those people is a drain on your time and focus.
    • Do you need to live in the city, country, or suburbs to support what you truly desire? How many bedrooms would be ideal?
  1. How much free time do you want to have? This isn’t just free time to pursue your passion, it’s also free time to enjoy other things in life, such as your family, friends, hobbies, or attending the ballet. A successful life would include enough free time to satisfy all of your interests. Your choice of career is a big part of this.
    • Limiting your non-essential activities is also necessary to create the free time you desire. Avoid joining clubs, committees, and other voluntary activities that don’t add sufficient quality to your life.
  1. Consider the end of your life. Imagine you only have a few months to live. What would you like to look back upon? Think about the kind of life you’d have to live to feel good at the end of it. Your time is limited, so make the most of it.

Truly, a successful life is one that allows you to accomplish or experience those things you consider to be most important. Those accomplishments won’t be the same for everyone. Avoid allowing society to determine the definition of success. Decide what is most important to you and then create a life that supports those things.

Pursuing society’s definition of success will result in confusion, resentment, and disenchantment. Be brave enough to find your own path.

How do you define success? Do you have any tips or ideas for learning how to redefine success in your own life?

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