“To me, ‘busy’ implies that the person is out of control of their life.” — Derek Sivers
“We are kept from our goal, not by obstacles, but by a clear path to a lesser goal.”— Robert Brault
In psychology, decision fatigue occurs when your mind is overwhelmed by options.
You’re caught in paralysis-by-analysis.
It’s the exact opposite of how highly successful think.
Don’t believe me? Check out this quote from Michael Jordan: “Once I made a decision, I never thought about it again.”
Another important quote is attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” It appears the true origin of this quote likely comes from the novelist, Clare Boothe Luce, who said, “The height of sophistication is simplicity.”
Regardless of who said it, there are a few important ideas here, which if you get, will make your life 10-times easier while also producing 10-times better results.
Here are the bullets of the main ideas, then I’ll lay out for you the most simple and friction-free solution to extreme productivity.
- Perfection = when you’ve stripped something down to its most essential. As Michelangelo said of his work in creating the famed David statue, “The sculpture is already complete within the marble block before I start my work. It is already there, I just have to chisel away the superfluous material.”
- Busyness = a life that is out of control and uncommitted on a specific future result.
- The reason people don’t succeed = people fail in life, not because they’re incapable, but because they dedicate the majority of their life to “clear paths to lesser goals.”
- Decision fatigue = you haven’t made a decision; you’re caught in paralysis-by-analysis.
- Decision = you’ve cut-away alternative options to what you’ve committed yourself to. Making a decision is how you end the paralysis of decision fatigue.
- Simplicity = required for success at whatever you do. In order to be simple, you must remove everything that is non-essential.
- Productivity = doing the few “right things,” very very well. This is rare in a world of distracted and uncommitted people.
Now that we’ve got those epic truths out of the way, here’s how you do it. I suggest you apply this concept for the “weekly” and “monthly” basis to start. You could, however, apply this principle for the year, decade, and even your entire life.
Let’s start with monthly. In the case of this writing, it is August of 2022. All I need to do is ask myself: What absolutely MUST get done in August?
Not, what would be nice?
Not, what do I have scheduled?
What ABSOLUTELY must get done in August?
What are the critical few things that truly matter in August?
What things, if they don’t get done, will create significant challenges to my Future Self?
What are the few things I’ll regret not doing?
Chances are, if you’re thinking about your own August of 2022, there are a lot of items on your mental to-do list, or even on your schedule. But how much of that stuff TRULY must get done?
How much of it is “fluff”?
Let me give myself as an example here. I write books professionally and am currently writing a book titled 10X IS EASIER THAN 2X. This book is set to be published in May of 2023. I need to have a full first draft of this book completed by the end of this month, or the pub date will be pushed back, again.
I also have a high-level coaching program that requires four 90-minute group coaching sessions from me per month. I can’t get out of those without creating significant problems in my business.
Finally, I have a lower-tier version of that coaching program that requires me to create four 10-minute training videos per month.
If I were to strip down everything to its utter core, of what I need to accomplish in August, it’s this:
- The full first draft of 10X IS EASIER THAN 2X, and really, it’s got to be refining itself a lot by the end of August.
- Four 90-minute group coaching calls for PLATINUM.
- Four 10-minute epic training videos for GOLD.
That’s the stripped-down version.
When I look at it that way, it’s very doable. I have more than enough time.
The problem is: When I think about my August, it feels like I have tons to do. A reason for that may be appointments or meetings on my schedule.
It could be other goals I have, like creating YouTube videos.
The 80/20 rule says that 80% of your results come from 20% of what you do.
Also, if you want to create a 10X bigger future, only the critical “20%” of your life will scale to 10X. 80% of your current mindsets, skills, activities, and even relationships won’t scale to 10X where you’re currently at.
What got you here won’t get you there.
Are you willing to commit?
If you want to be productive, you need to be focused. If you want flow, you need clear goals. Flow doesn’t operate very well without constraints.
If you want to be happy, you need less, not more.
Feeling stressed and feeling like you have a thousand things to do will kill your productivity. It will kill your flow. It will kill your results.
Success at anything requires clarity, commitment, and courage. It requires courage because in order to actually achieve something significant, you’ve got to block almost everything else out.
There are VERY few things that deserve your time and attention. There are very few activities and relationships that are actually moving the needle for you.
To be productive, you must do less. The few things you actually do prioritize, you must get VERY good at. You’ve got to do what Cal Newport calls “DEEP WORK.”
You cannot do deep work if you’re trying to do 10 things at once.
You’ve got to strip everything down to the bare essential.
What is the critical 20% that will scale to your 10X bigger and better Future Self?
Who do you really want to be?
What actually matters?
What TRULY must get done?
If you get better at achieving what MUST get done — the “important” first, and then absolutely required “urgent” — then progressively your life will become more successful.
You’ll have more focus.
You’ll have a clearer mind.
You’ll have more flow.
You’ll have less distraction and decision fatigue.
You’ll be living your life, not someone else’s.
Strip everything down to the essentials.
Clearly define what MUST get done. Then, to the extent you’re committed and courageous, eliminate as much as possible from your schedule and life that doesn’t fit.
Only get done what MUST get done for your Future Self. Then, add the few other “important” things that are important, but not 100% critical. They are nice and they fit the filter, but distinguish those from the MUSTS.