The Simplification Filter
It was with great sadness that I learned of the recent passing of a good friend. She was vibrant and full of life. Only 48 years old and she died suddenly and without any warning. This, among other things, got me thinking about ‘time’ and how I use it.
I am a fifty-five year old male and despite a lot of life experience and some limited wisdom, I have no way of knowing how much time I have left on this earth. God willing this time is expressed in the decades rather than the weeks or months … but I just don’t know.
This made me really conscious of how I use my time in the precious moments that remain. I have therefore decided that forthwith there are two overriding considerations. The first is that “there are no more ordinary moments” – every moment is a precious gift that should not be wasted. The second is that “I am not going to be ‘busy’ – this means that I will not be rushing around, hurrying anywhere or doing so much that it cannot possibly fit into the allotted time available.
Given these two rather monumental determinations, I then began to think about how I was going to use my time as effectively as I could. This doesn’t mean that I am now going to try and cram everything I ever wanted to do into a short time frame, i.e. create a ‘bucket list’. More important, I thought, to simplify what I do, i.e. rid myself of ‘stuff’ that is not important, does not serve me well, or takes me away (rather than towards) my goals.
An example of this was when Camilla (my partner) asked me the other day whether I would like to go to lunch with some friends. I thought about this and then said ‘no thanks’ (you enjoy yourself) but I want to stay and have some quality time with the kids (which is really important to me).
Consequently, I’ve now completed an exercise for my personal life that has helped me get clear on the things that are really important to me. It goes something like this …
The list comprises of four columns. The first is a list of ‘tasks’ (all of the ‘stuff that has to be done in my personal life, e.g. doing the gardening. The second column is headed with a ‘P’ (for passion). Do I really like doing this task? Does it light my fire? For the record, I put an ‘X’ in the column for gardening. The third column is headed with a ‘V’ (for value). Does this task add value to my life? Is it important? Do I make money from it? For the gardening, I put another ‘X’. The fourth column is headed by a ‘D’ (for delegate). Meaning that the job can be outsourced or done by someone else.
Having two ‘X’s’ means that I’ve now got a very nice man who comes and weeds, cuts and prunes and I’ve got a spare few hours each weekend to do the things I like, such as spending time with my partner and our children.
Just so you know, I also did the same exercise with ‘the ironing’ and without surprise it got two crosses for “P” and ‘V’ … but how to outsource such a task? I’m not going to give it to Camilla to do … that’s not how it works.
So, ahah, if I can’t delegate the task, I have to change the way I think about it. Okay, so now I put on some nice music, enjoy a glass of white and do the ironing … it’s actually like a kind of meditation. I’ve now changed a chore into (almost) fun.
I then put ‘writing’ (book #4) in the task column of the table. Now this really ‘lights my fire’ … it got two ticks in ‘P’ and ‘V’ and now I’m doing a lot more of what I love doing.
This whole process has allowed me to get really clear on what’s important to me, to do more of what I love and less of what takes me away from my goals. Oh, and by the way, I also did the same exercise for my business. It works just as well in there.
Let’s therefore ‘simplify’ things, rather than constantly filling our time with ‘stuff’ that’s not important and can be easily done by someone else (just like my gardener).