Do you take notes when you read? Most of the books I read are from the public library so I take notes (if you want to know how I take notes, here is a post that explains how I read a book) My goal each week is to take one idea, one takeaway, from the books I read and apply that concept in my life and business. The number of concepts I gather from each book varies but there is always at least one. Some are just interesting quotes or passages but a few are actionable ideas.
Today I am going to discuss a takeaway idea from the book The Power of Less by Leo Babauta. For those who have not heard of Leo Babauta, he has a small website called ZenHabits.net that has about a gazillion visitors and subscribers. I was introduced to Zen Habits about a year ago and read it often. Leo has some great ideas for living a simpler life.
Takeaway #1 from The Power of Less
This takeaway is from page 5,
By setting limitations, we must choose the essential. So in everything you do, learn to set limitations.
Picture yourself sitting down in front of the TV after a long day at work. You have eaten supper and now it is time to relax. Picking up the remote control, you decided to watch a show that you don’t particularly like, but it is the best of what is one. Getting tired of that one, you channel surf to the next. And the next…and the next. You yawn, looking at the clock. Three hours have evaporated. Where did the time go? You had so much to do… so many plans.
Limits as tools
Limitations can be an important tool. Often, we are unable to avoid them. Some are self-imposed while others are natural. Life is full of limitations and trade-offs. Those three hours you spent sitting in front of the TV, accomplishing nothing, has limited your time to get anything else done that day. The amount of money you have in the bank limits (or should limit) what you spend. Limits are everywhere, so why not use them to our benefit.
The proper use of limitations can focus you life and supercharge your time. When setting limits, we are often forced to become very efficient. It the limit is time, we are are typically more focused on the goal at hand when there is only so much time in which to accomplish the task. Have the urge to surf the web? You can’t; there is not enough time. You only have 45 more minutes to get the work done. If the work is on your own business, you will never be finished so there is no time to waste. No time to check email. No time to send that text message to your buddy about fishing. No time for anything else but work. Once that time is gone, it’s gone. The work can be delayed, but often, it must be done.
Takeaway Action – Choose a limit
The next time you have a task to do, decide on a limit before you begin. If you need to go grocery shopping, decide first that you will only spend 30 minutes in the store. If you are writing a new post, dedicate only 1 hour. Focus on those activities completely for the allotted time. These limits, even the self-imposed ones, will force you to work smarter. You won’t endlessly compare the different cereals. You won’t surf the web for hours looking for that one great idea. You don’t have the time to waste. Comparing two to three boxes of cereal is plenty; pick one. Decide that you will spend 5 minutes looking for a post idea then go with the best one you have. The important thing is action. There is rarely action without limits
If you haven’t read it yet, The Power of Less by Leo Babauta is a great book and I highly suggest that you put it on your reading list. Remember, just one idea can change your life.
What one idea can you apply to make your life better?