I came across the concept of “simplification by elimination” while reading The 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris. Actually I should say RE-reading the book because I read it about 3 or 4 years ago. I remember it really impacted me at that time and I implemented a few concepts from it. But the funny thing is that upon reading it this time, I was struck by something completely different! They say that you will get what you need when you are ready for it….and what I hadn’t realized until I read this the other night was that I had added too many things into my life. I was interested in all of them..but there were getting to be so many things that they were starting to slowly bury me. So I took a deep breath in, and started to decide how I would implement the concept of simplification by elimination.
In the book there is a great quote from the immortal Bruce Lee: “One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity.”
Today I will share with you one small thing I did which has really helped simplify my life utilizing the concept of simplification by elimination.
The very first thing I did was reflect on how my phone seemed to be ruling my life of late. I was at it’s beck and call. I started thinking back to a time when there were no such things as “smart?” phones. How the heck did we ever survive? Pretty nicely actually! When I was doing something…I was there 100%. I didn’t have to shift my attention the moment I heard a bing or a ding. I mean of late it is the last thing I look at before I go to bed, the first thing I look at when I wake up, I look at it when I am walking the dog, I pull over when I am riding my bike to make sure I am not missing anything “critical”. And many of these important things I get to just in the nick of time are things like Best Buy telling me they have a special sale in 3 weeks, or Facebook telling me I have very important updates waiting for me, or my favorite…learning that some poor soul in a 3rd world country just needs my help to get 40 million dollars out of their country and because I am such a trusted soul they will give me 10 million just to give them my bank account number and passwords.
I have even begun priding myself on the fact that I will return an email, text or BBM within seconds, 24-7.
But why? Does it really matter? Does it really make a difference? Nope.
Tim says to eliminate all the things that are not critical, or at least delegate them to someone else.
So I asked myself, what was the core reason for me to have my smartphone? The answer was that I want to be available to my family in the case they needed me. This is critical to me.
So I have all my emails directed to my smartphone, and also texts and BBMs. Well the rest of my family all have iPhones…so I decided I could afford not to worry about BBMs.
What I ended up doing was adjust the settings on the phone so that it was on silent. Then I was able to set a distinctive sound JUST for my family members (they need to be entered in your phone as contacts). Oh my gosh…I was so happy…and when I tested it out it actually worked. Any texts, emails or calls that are from anyone other than those people I consider critical will just be silent. And any of them from my family “ding”! What it allows me to do is to just have my phone put away, or turned upside down on my desk and not worry that I am missing something very important! I can’t even tell you what a difference that has made for me in the last couple of days. Today for example in a meeting, I just set it by m side and totally ignored it…it allowed me to focus on the meeting so much more! Simplification by elimination. Thanks Tim.
The other big thing I did was take Facebook off my smartphone. This was actually my daughters suggestion. Another big hassle eliminated. I found that if I had commented “oh so cute” on a baby picture, any time anyone then commented on it it would let me know on my smartphone by lighting up and binging. If there is anything less critical than that … I don’t know what it would be lol!
I am a big fan of Tim Ferris…he is always exploring and experimenting . I find it very inspiring. You can check out his 4 Hour Work week blog (tim.blog) .
Try some simplification by elimination for yourself! Feel free to share your results with our other readers by commenting below.