One of the challenges of living in this blessed age of technology on steroids is that we can accomplish SO MUCH MORE! We can read more, watch more videos, have more Facebook friends, send/receive more emails, send/receive more instant messages, make/receive more phone calls and voice mails on multiple phone lines that are all connected together, attend virtual and on-site conferences (at which we can still handle our daily work with our tablet or smart phone), and we can interface instantly with our work colleagues around the clock through multiple and ever-increasing media portals.
Add to that the endless “homework assignments” that get handed to us (simply because we are so efficient), the vacation days that somehow go unused, the family events that get attended through Skype or texted videos (quality vs quantity time?), the working breakfasts/lunches/dinners,…………………………………………………….
Why is it that so many efficiency tools make for less and less efficiency? The clutter seems overwhelming. And, in fact, it is. All this clutter conspires to make us less effective and less self-actualized in some of the most important things in our lives.
So, what’s a 21st century human to do?
Balance has always been a challenge. That is nothing new. Achieving balance is especially difficult for those of us who fit the “driven” category.
There’s an old saying that goes something like this: “If you focus on everything then you focus on nothing.”
To unclutter requires the discipline and courage to step back and stand down in order to make some significant choices (yep, there’s that word again). Here’s a nice recipe:
1) Decide this: How Will You MeasureYour Life? Determine a few (not a lot) of things that you value deeply and that move you intellectually/spiritually/physically. These will be the things the folks who eventually stand around your grave will be thinking in relation to your accomplishments. (Don't think of these as metrics, but rather as standards).
2) Once you have that SHORT list determined, write it down. Codify it somehow; have it tattooed backward on your chest, write it on the bathroom mirror, use it as a screen saver, or employ some other convention to get that menu of must-dos in front of your eyes daily. Yes, they are important, but they will get swallowed up by clutter if you don’t keep them constantly in front of your eyes, heart, ears, and mind.
3) Let go, lovingly and kindly, of the tasks, requests, homework assignments, etc. that do not point you and move you in the direction of those standards. In some cases this means saying “no” to some jobs/tasks/assignments/requests that come your way and in some cases it means simply choosing to make a “C” on those assignments instead of an “A.”
4) Share this list of “the things that matter most to me” with others in some way. It will help both you and those that know you understand and accept the ways that you are no longer willing to spend your time.
This process is hard. But we can do it, and we should do it.
Our lives will be measured by it.