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Simple strategy to reduce over commitment and slow down

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

Lately, I have been thinking more and more about over-committing myself. On one end are the day to day little things that I like to do – internet, books, TV, movies etc. On other end, there are bigger things such as long-range goals on sports, music, writing, business ventures etc. And then, there are things that I should do but never consciously plan for – spending more time with family, calling friends, relax, laugh out loud etc.

The desire to do “MORE” can sometimes be a chronic addiction.

Having said that, I genuinely wanted to slow down. In Praise of Slowness and ADULTITIS couple continue to inspire me to “escape adulthood” and find practical way to stop being stretched too thin.

My greatest inspiration though is closer to home: my little boy and my wife.

Unaware, he has been disciplining me to slow down. He won’t stop until I put down the phone or remote before we can play. If I have a book, he will ensure its put far away. And when he is playing, he is just playing. He makes me wish God had given a toggle switch somewhere in the head to stay focused.

I continue to admire my wife’s ability to get so much done at home and outside and yet find time for me, Rishi, her parents, chatting with friends, wishing birthdays, facebook and people.com! Not for a day had she complained that she didn’t have time to do her things, it’s really a question of if and how I am planning for and make our time together and family time.

I know many men struggle with this, so here are some steps that I am using to reduce my yeses…

1) Accept the problem exists and then sincerely commit to fixing it – if you don’t admit, then there is really no issue – at least as far as you are concerned.
2) Take an inventory of all your activities (time suckers!) that’s going on daily/weekly – don’t get worked up with GTD - just grab a piece of paper and dump it.
3) Just do the top 3 things – for next 1 month. Don’t do anything else. Your time and energy will be spent on whatever the top 3 things from your dump. Remember to share the top 3 with your family so they know you are cutting down.
4) If you are successful during the month – revisit the top 3 – change it – but stick to 3.
5) Trust that you will be happy – by doing less. Trust your soul will rest in peace no matter what.

Finally, don’t think too much. Don’t try to rationalize it. Any approach is better than no approach.

I still am struggling. The top 3 strategy is working but still takes up more of my available time. I have started somewhere, nevertheless.

What has worked in your experience?