Part of getting things done is figuring out what you need to do and how to do it as easily as possible. There are tons of books on productivity and many of us have whiled away many hours reading them, hours that could have been more productively spent in productive activities.
The books’ strategies seem airtight until we try to apply them, and it gets complicated. Their generic ideas don’t fit our circumstances. Or their systems require half a day to maintain and it all falls apart the day we get up at 6:35 am instead of 6:30 am.
Not to worry, I’ve found two books which tackle productivity from a different angle. Essentialism and Effortless, both by Greg McKeown, gave me two big picture ideas which I want to pass onto you because they can so easily be applied to our favorite subject, decluttering.
1. What would make the cut?
In Essentialism, McKeown asks this question: if you started over, what would be important enough for you to add it back into your daily schedule and your life?
So often we buy something and end up not using it or loving it as much as we thought we would. Imagine your house is empty and you’re filling it back up item by item. Does this thing make it? Is it essential?
When decluttering, look at an item and really think. Would you choose to buy this again, to be given it again, to pick this thing off the curb again?
2. No less than…no more than
In Effortless McKeown uses a phrase which you can apply to anything you want to do. Let’s say you want to declutter.
We’ve all thrown ourselves into something and then overdone it. You might start decluttering for 20 minutes but then want to keep going when the timer rings. It feels foolish not to take advantage of the momentum but you burn out. More turns out not to be better over the long haul.
Slow and steady wins the race, but let’s give our inner five-year-old some leeway, some feeling of doing it our way.
Using McKeown’s phrase to structure it – No less than…no more than – you might tell yourself that you’ll declutter for no less than 20 minutes but no more than 30 minutes. If you’re keeping track of your progress, you don’t get to tick your box if you declutter for less than 20 minutes but you also forfeit the tick if you go for more than 30 minutes.
If you’re up against a deadline to get things decluttered, you could use this for breaks too. The sessions could be no less than 20 minutes, no more than 30 minutes. And the breaks could be no less than five minutes, no more than ten minutes.
You could also decide that you’ll do no fewer than three sessions decluttering today and no more than four sessions.
P.S. Use your timer
Using your timer to keep to whatever you decide is crucial. Time flies when you’re having fun, so breaks tend to get extended and work sessions shortened without a timer.
Need help deciding what’s essential? That’s what I’m here for.