Take some cars off the road.

There’s only one sure-fire way to improve efficiency: do less.

I deleted all of my Facebook friends. Turns out, doing so has returned to my life a fair amount of free time and mental availability. Watch out, Twitter. You’re next.

I’m reading a lot these days about ways to improve efficiency, how to make the most of limited free time, and how to get more done. Try this app. Make this list. Wake up at this time of day.

Making order out of the chaos of our over-programmed lives is critical, and being intentional about how we spend our time can keep us from feeling overwhelmed. Strategies abound, and none are guaranteed to be effective. Save one.

The best way to improve efficiency is also the simplest: do less.

Consider the ways to overcome traffic congestion. On a congested road, there are only so many ways to improve the flow of traffic. One impulse might be to add another lane of traffic, and doing so (at great cost, mind you, and with considerable inconvenience) might temporarily ease traffic… but traffic always expands to fill the space available to it. Always. Eventually, the roads will be congested once more.

The only way to relieve traffic congestion is to take cars off the road.

This thinking applies to those of trying of us to decrease congestion in our own lives. What cars can we take off the road?

In my own life, I’ve tried a few experiments to this end:

  1. I deleted my Facebook friends. All of them. Even my wife. Doing so means that I really have no reason to be on Facebook any more, which is part of a broader effort to spend less time online.
  2. I sold my iPad, and trimmed the number of devices I need to keep up-to-date. Most of what I was doing on my iPad I can do just as effectively on my laptop, or my iPhone. Eliminating my iPad means I have one less thing to manage.
  3. I attempted to remove email from my life. Entirely. I failed at this experiment — ultimately, my business is dependent on my being available via email — but I was able to drastically reduce the number of incoming emails, and I have significantly decreased the amount of time I spend responding to email.
  4. I cancelled cable, and removed the temptation to watch mindless TV. I still watch shows with my wife, mind you, but it’s deliberate time that we spend watching on-demand programming that we enjoy. We spend less time “surfing”, and more time intentionally enjoying the activity.

I also say “no” more often. This isn’t really about removing cars, but preventing new ones from entering the fray. Which is just as important.


What about you? How can you take some cars off the road? I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions.

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