Newsweek magazine called me the other day about my thoughts on simplifying your life. They wanted to know tricks my clients had adapted to make their life easierÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â³you know, like listening to books on tape during your commute, or changing reporting structures, or hiring an errand person instead of going to the cleaners yourself.
The Newsweek reporter assumed you are harried. LetÃƒÆ’Ã‚Âs decide you are. You are frantic. You are tired. You are out of time, resources, energy. There just isnÃƒÆ’Ã‚Ât enough of you to go around. You cry, with the other millions of people in Silicon Valley and elsewhere in the world: ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¬I want to simplify my life!ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â®
The answer is getting more of what you want in life. It is not a move to Napa. I have frantic Napa clients as well. Simplifying is a brain job. De-cluttering your life takes de-cluttering your head. Attitude makes or breaks CEOs, surgeons, congressmen, or you. If you are satisfied in some area of your job, if something turns you on, you could cope with the other details of your life. Now, I know, some of you are horribly ill-organized, and others of you are distracted and become disoriented, and we all do need focus and structure and the ability shuffle a paper only once. I am talking about a much more serious remedy for simplifying your life.
DonÃƒÆ’Ã‚Ât just make your life work. Make your life fun! The stoic soldier who feels guilty when he horses around will never have enough time for everything. Getting what you want restores you, feeds your endorphins, gives you the energy for the nuisance and the mundane. I have a busy life. I am on boards, run a major company, wrote a book in the last few weeks, have 7 grandchildren, do key-notes regularly, and still have time for new ventures. Here is my secret: I leave the office and play bridge on a Friday afternoon, all afternoon, at least once a month. The minute I get a cancellation, I call someone to go to lunch or dinner with me. I reward myself with a movie if I diligently work for four hours in a stretch. I swim, go to the Y, but mostly just spontaneously go for tea or a drink or to Santa Cruz whenever I feel too burdened. I love to laugh, dance, be silly, spill crumbs, and create provocative new programs for employees.
So here are my simplification hints.
Decide which tasks you love to do on your job, and do more of them. DonÃƒÆ’Ã‚Ât let anyone else do those tasks if you love them.
Decide what activities feed you. What makes you smile. What makes you excited. What tasks feel good in your day. Put those activities on your calendar. Plaster them in there every third day. If you have to cancel one, you know there will be more opportunities in a few days.
Ignore the judgmental voice inside that nags you into doing more work per hour. Enough already! Give yourself a break.
Give yourself permission for fun, relaxation, rewards.
DonÃƒÆ’Ã‚Ât feel you have to always do good work to get some fun. ItÃƒÆ’Ã‚Âs an emotional bank account. ItÃƒÆ’Ã‚Âs O.K. to get an over-draft sometimes, if you know you can pay it back later. ItÃƒÆ’Ã‚Âs not two hours of work in; two hours of fun out.
Sometimes you need a build-up of satisfying activities in order to do the hard tasks. Restoration provides for creation . Trees and flowers take a restoration period. Then they grow and blossom again. Look aroundÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬"
Watch your perfectionismÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â³80% is sometimes good enough.
If you donÃƒÆ’Ã‚Ât know what you like to do, of course you are harried, hassled, Type A, workaholic and miserable. Look back on your life and write down the good times, even if they were in junior high school.
Look again at some of your work tasks. Some folks love working with numbers, even if you are the CEO. Do what you love, for restoration, not because the company needs it. You need it.
Engineers, go back on the bench if it feels good. Do more of it if it satisfies you. Engineers on the bench, if it doesnÃƒÆ’Ã‚Ât feel good, restore with other activities, even if it doesnÃƒÆ’Ã‚Ât happen at work.
Be around friends who like, admire, tease, treat, and respect you.
If you donÃƒÆ’Ã‚Ât have any of those friends, start being one to someone.
Plan on back-up encouragement after the hard meetings.
DonÃƒÆ’Ã‚Ât forget music, painting, biking, sunning, beach walks, eating honey do melons and talking with friends in front of the fireplace.
DonÃƒÆ’Ã‚Ât forget impromptu breakfasts, happy lunches.
DonÃƒÆ’Ã‚Ât forget dancingÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â³unless it feels like work to you.
DonÃƒÆ’Ã‚Ât forget cleaning your house or washing the carÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â³if it feel s satisfying to you.
If it doesnÃƒÆ’Ã‚Ât, and you have to do it, donÃƒÆ’Ã‚Ât forget the rewards afterÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬"movies, talking, reading, staying in bed all morning, sitting in the sun.
DonÃƒÆ’Ã‚Ât forget that you are not a machine. You are a human being, with some fuzzy mush balls inside, and a soul and heart and a dear little ego which needs nurishment some of the time.