I was so inspired by Tim Ferriss’s post on choices that I felt I had to write my own. Reading over his post, I couldn’t help but recognize instances where I find myself deliberating over decisions.
I began to ask myself how I could not only limit the choices I have to choose from, but also how I could simplify and eliminate regret from past decisions. Upon reflection, I realized that much of my overwhelm when it comes to decision making comes because I have too many inputs constantly open.
For example, while sitting at my computer, I usually have anywhere from 10 to 20 tabs open on Chrome, some chat application open, as well as my email client and whatever else I’m doing. To me, this creates a gaping welcome to an infinite possibility of distractions and decisions to make. And even though I’ve done this practically all my life and am now used to multitasking with my computer, I’ve noticed that it’s contributed to my lack of focus making me seemingly ADD at times.
In a hyper productive culture, it’s easy to think that doing five things at the same time will make you able to accomplish more. And up to this point, this is still a thought pattern that I find myself engaging in all the time. However, the opposite is true. The more productive people are the people that have strong structures based on what they want to accomplish and laser sharp focus to achieve what they’ve set out to do.
While trying to simplify and apply the choice-minimal lifestyle that Tim talks about, I’ve identified two main principles.
- Focus is a function of being single minded, which means limiting the number of inputs while you’re trying to output.
- Focus manifests most consistently within a structure built on your passion and drive, as well as practical and actionable steps.
I’ve been learning to divide my activities into two types that should not be intermingled: input activities and output activities.
Input activities are the activities where you’re absorbing information, whether it be reading a blog, checking email, reading a book, listening to a podcast, etc. The point of absorbing information is not to be overwhelmed or merely entertained, but to give you substance to chew on before you apply it to an output activity. In times of input, be careful to not deliberate extensively on things that are not worth your time.
Output activities are the opposite, where you’re working on something such as writing a blog post, cooking a meal, exercising, etc. These activities are the ones that require more focus, and should be given 100% of your attention to achieve your best.
Of course, not everything is black and white, especially in teamwork situations where you must communicate while you work. These situations can be a little more challenging to focus, but there’s a balance to be structured in order to maximize efficiency.
Here are a couple ways to implement greater focus and division between input and output activities (I will be experimenting with these).
- Turn off your cell phone for a day once a week to focus deeply on something you’re working on.
- Limit the number of windows and tabs you have open on your computer.
- Turn off push notifications on your mobile device.
- Limit reading emails to once or twice a day.
- Limit frequency of visits to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
- Set a time of day to read news, blogs, etc.
Have any other tips or thoughts? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.