couple underneath the tree

We are in our own way.  That’s right; one of the biggest impediments in our path to success in business is ourselves.

You say, “No way!  I’m working as hard as I can.  There is just too much to do.”

There.  You just figured it out.

Doing More By Doing Less

Steph and I recently read the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less and have been reassessing EVERYTHING in our business.

We’re both big believers in the 80/20 Rule or Pareto principle which says…

80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

It’s true of pretty much everything.  So 80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients or 20% of the pea pods in your garden contain 80% of the peas.

We thought we had this nailed, but the truth is, we didn’t.  We were still overwhelmed and overworked.  Essentialism took us to the next level.

Sometimes the reason why we decided to be business owners gets lost in shuffle.  We are so busy “doing” that we lose our way, create unnecessary stress and sometimes sabotage our success.

We’ve become human doings instead of human beings.

Just Say No

Most of the concepts in Essentialism are pretty simple.  Instead of trying to do 20 projects and making only a tiny bit of progress on each one, you choose the most essential ONE and take it to the limit.  It forces you to make tough choices.

One of the most important is knowing when to say no. Just getting your head around this can have a huge impact.

We are trained from birth to say YES to others’ requests on our time.  

You don’t need to become a selfish asshole, but you do need a basic filter for deciding what you say yes to.  We give up so much of ourselves to tasks that don’t really move the needle in our lives.

We’re like hamsters on a wheel, trying to do more, be more productive, get the latest tools to make us more efficient.

We buy into the myth that we can do it all…or die trying.

What is the opportunity cost of taking on yet another task?

We can’t do it all, so when we say YES to one thing we are also saying NO to another.  

Maybe we are unintentionally saying no to actions that would have been a breakthrough for us because we’re so busy being the hero who “does it all.”  We miss that opportunity.

Steph and I have created basic criteria before we start any new project. It’s a series of questions that are scored to make the final decision.

Once we did this, we noticed that some requests that we would have automatically accepted before (out of guilt, fear, commitment and consistency) no longer make the cut.  

The feeling is quite liberating and it’s opened up time for more impactful things.  Things that are in the 20% that make 80% of the growth in our business.

This is just one example of what you can do with this simple philosophy that’s having a huge impact on our lives.

The Takeaway

Do yourself a favor and consider this in your life:

Are you taking on tasks that don’t get you the results you want?

Are you getting in your own way doing things because you think you’re supposed to do, while not having enough time for the things that bring you real joy and purpose?

Maybe it’s time to put Essentialism on your to do list.

What do you think?