In an era of crazy abundance, it’s Essentialism that saves our sanity.
It’s the soul, the spirit. The core. It’s at the heart of everything. Take the essence away and all you’re left with is the husk. A hollow shell. Existence, but meaningless.
Everything non-essential is a distraction. Leading you away from your True Purpose, your Calling, your very Reason for Being.
To recognize the essential, see it in every matter, to carve it away from the clutter clinging to it, is the True Master Skill.
Imagine if you were able to do that. Seeing the Essential in everything you come across.
Imagine walking into a meeting that’s making no progress. And within moments you identify the core of the issue being discussed. You see what it is that needs to be addressed that which’s eluding all. You zero on to it with laser precision and shine light on it for everyone to see. After this, discussions are meaningful and purposeful. Even though one may not reach a resolution, yet there is progress.
Now suppose the reverse scenario takes place. What if no-one is able to see the Essential. Hours would be spent on a single meeting. All that would result in is you’d have pointless discussions resulting in a lot of noise and bruised egos.
Let’s take another example. Imagine how you would spend your day if you focused on the Essential. When you begin the day, you know and define the couple of things you need to get done that day. With those things completed your day would be just smashing. You have clarity. You have purpose. And you actually get to move forward on those. Imagine how charged-up you would be.
Now take the opposite scenario. Suppose you have no idea of the Essentials… everything seems equally important, or relevant. How would your day go? It’s not that you would laze around. You would be busy. You would be replying to the latest emails. Answering the phone. Attending meetings. And sure, taking breaks browsing Facebook and replying to Whatsapp.
And, when it comes to the end of the day, you’d be beat. Tired. Exhausted. And even though you worked hard the whole day, you have the fatigue to prove it, you would feel empty inside. As if nothing got done.
Essentialism is not just a productivity tool. It’s the means of connecting with what’s truly Meaningful.
Be it at your work, with your family or with every aspect of your life.
Clearing the path for you to lead a life of True Purpose.
Nothing new here. You know this already. But the question remains, why do we give in to the Mundane? Why do we get lost in the superfluous? We have days that we spend doing meaningless tasks over and over again. Why?
I believe it’s because we lose Focus on two things:
When I say Purpose, I don’t mean The Purpose of Your Soul and it’s existence on this Planet (though that’s important too).
But just the Purpose of daily, perhaps mundane, things that you do.
For example it could be Email. What’s the purpose of the next difficult email you’re drafting? Take a pause. Ask that question. What would a good successful email look like? What do you want it to achieve? Answering that will give you clarity and what are the essentials to focus on.
Similarly – What is the Purpose of the next meeting you’re attending? What would a successful meeting look like? Is it to get updates? Is it to get options for a particular challenge? Get clarity on that. Each time the meeting is getting derailed, remind yourself and the team, “Hey, what are we trying to achieve here, again? Oh yeah it’s that, okay so let’s focus on that again.”
It could be as mundane as what is the Purpose of your Office Desk? My desk is there for me to have a clear space to engage in Creative output. Well, is it aligned to that very purpose? Not with all the files & stuff lying on top of it. So what do I need to get rid of so that it’s supporting me in my Purpose?
While higher-level Purpose statements (for your life, job, family) are valuable to align yourself . Asking “What’s the purpose of this?” and “What would this successfully executed look like?” for everyday matters will clarify the Essential and charge you yo to move forward on stuff that you’ve been procrastinating on.
So. Get clearer on Purpose. And remind yourself of it often!
Ofcourse, some of these questions are easier to answer than others. But as long as you are on that path of discovery, you will identify the Essential and align your actions to it.
2. Resources at Hand
The other reason why one loses sight of the Essential is that one loses sight of the Resources at hand.
So keep asking yourself, what are the resources available. That can look like:
– What is your budget?
– How much space do you have?
– How much time do you have?
– How much time do you have till your next meeting?
– How much time do you have till end of the day?
When you realise that you have just one hour left, as you go over your to-do list, you would know exactly what to spend that time on. The answer will be different if you had most of the day.
Creating limits for yourself, even if they’re artificial is a GREAT life-hack to discover what is truly important. What is Essential.
Keeping your eye on your Purpose, while being keenly aware of your resources (time, money, space), will instinctively align you to that which is most meaningful.
If you don’t have this in place, you can’t help but deal with the superfluous. Why wouldn’t you? You would instinctively run towards the latest thing shining in front of you or the loudest noise that you hear. You don’t have your purpose clarified and you don’t know how much time you have left so how could you do anything different?
Keep asking yourself:
- What’s the purpose?
- How much time/money/space do I have?
Challenging to do? Well, you have been doing it. You’ve already had the experience of dealing with just the Essential. And you’ve felt truly “ON”. You know, when you’ve had that happen? It’s just before you go on a vacation. The few days before your vacation, you are hyper-productive!
Why? It’s because you want to get to that vacation with as many things handed off as possible (ie. you have a clear PURPOSE).
And you are know your time is limited (you’re aware of the constraint on Resources).
So you’re a Doing Machine. You Plan, you Delegate, you shoot off one email after the other.
So that you can kick your boots off, put your feet up that hammock, and relax!
So instead of saving that for your yearly tour. Do these Essential Principles regularly and always be on a vacation.