Less, More and None (2019)

As promised, here are my (Less, More and None) priorities for 2019…

Less

  1. eating out
  2. being wasteful
  3. spending time on ‘urgent but unimportant’ tasks

More

  1. listening to others well
  2. running
  3. strengthening my core and gluteus muscles
  4. writing
  5. random acts of kindness
  6. buying/eating local foods
  7. reusing and recycling
  8. being selective about the projects/opportunities I say yes to
  9. improving/optimising my organisational systems1
  10. learning how to solve cryptic crosswords
  11. sitting/lying still and listening to albums from start to finish
  12. visiting galleries and museums

None

  1. looking at my mobile phone when people are talking to me
  2. spending money on unnecessary things
  3. finishing a workout or run and not stretching properly

  1. but, not to the detriment of ‘getting things done’.  ↩

Less, More and None (2018)

I can’t remember who originally drew my attention to the idea of Less, More, and None on educator Jacoby Young’s website, but the notion of prioritising your life around these three determiners appealed to me.

Unlike Jacoby, I did not publish my list publicly. However, I did write it down and I returned to it regularly to give some focus and attention to aspects of my life that I felt could be improved. I found it to be fruitful and rewarding. So much so, I have decided to share my 2018 list with a reflective commentary about how I got on.

Less

  1. social media (Twitter, Instagram)
  2. bringing work home
  3. procrastinating

I was very successful with number one. Twitter has been relegated to a liminal space that is fed updates from my blog. This happens automatically using IFTTT so I never have to actually visit Twitter or log in. I have also removed Tweetbot from my iPhone and MacBook. I narrowed my Instagram use to specific accounts related to running and fitness. I am not posting anything; it is simply an ‘inspiration’ tool when I feel I need it.

Items two and three were work related and I did well with both of them. I have not really brought work home at all this year and I have been far more productive at work. Doubling down on my use of OmniFocus was significant in ensuring that my daily routines and projects were well thought through and planned out. Moreover, the updated ‘Forecast’ view in OF3 had a huge impact on helping me manage my work. The updated perspective allows you to interleave your ‘tasks’ in with your ‘calendar’. This helped me plot out my day better and ensure that things got finished rather than half-done.

More

  1. fitness (gym/running)
  2. eating healthy food
  3. trying new foods and recipes
  4. spending time with my wife
  5. travel
  6. listening to others well

I also did well in relation to the things that I wanted to do more of. As I have written about a lot recently, I lost a significant amount of weight and also became addicted to running. I go to the gym three to four times per week and run on weekends. This was supported by an excellent weekly menu. Jennifer and I worked really hard to build more vegetarian meals into our diets, including lots of beans and pulses. We have tried a new recipe every week and it has been a wonderful culinary journey that we plan to continue next year. I now walk to work in the morning (yes, even in the cold and pouring rain) as well as home from work. Jennifer has been walking with me and then she runs home. We live in a pretty area so this has been lovely and it has also helped ensure that Jennifer and I get to spend as much time together as possible.

In terms of item five, I will give myself a bye. Jennifer and I have been reviewing our priorities and travel got pushed down the list a bit. That said, we did visit Copenhagen again (our eighth trip to Denmark in four years) in the summer. 👫❤️🇩🇰

In terms of item six, I’ll give myself a C grade. I have done better, particularly when my phone was not in my hand… see item one in my ‘none’ list. However, I could still be much better at this and will add it into my ‘more’ list for 2019.

None

  1. looking at my mobile phone when people are talking to me

I did not do well with this. I am going to carry this over to next year’s ‘none’ list and really try hard to put my phone away when people start speaking to me.

Overall, I really valued the impact this had on my life over the course of 2018. By making some intentional decisions about what I wanted to do ‘less, more and none’ of at the start of the year, I focussed more on the things that matter and also achieved a level of personal growth that has been missing over the previous few years.

One of the unforeseen benefits, particularly in terms of items 2 and 3 in my ‘less’ list, was that I had a much better year in terms of reading for pleasure. Also, I completed The Guardian crossword everyday… the Quick crossword on weekdays and Saturdays; the Speedy crossword on Sundays.

I have already noted down some ideas for 2019:

  • Re-engaging with my blog since August has been very satisfying therefore a goal to write more regularly seems appropriate.
  • At work, I want to spend less time on ‘urgent but unimportant’ tasks.
  • And, I want to get even more out of my running – finding opportunities to run in interesting places and over longer distances.

Once I have a complete list I will post it here on my blog.

Meaningful work? Learn to say no.

#slack variety pack

I’m really enjoying The Slack Variety Pack podcast. In a recent episode they spoke with Tom Rath who offered some excellent advice about the importance of health and the value of saying no to ensure that you are doing meaningful work. Listen from 21:37 to 27:42.

Face-To-Face

My secret hardware weapon sits on the corner of my desk. It’s a phone. Plugged into the wall and everything. You can do amazing shit with it. For example, I’ve found that you can consolidate a 24 volley e-mail thread with a client down to five minutes if you call them on the phone. And, unlike e-mail, you can read people’s tone and awkward pauses. Not to mention you can actually hear them “LOL”.

~ Mike Monteiro in The Setup

I do not share Mike’s love of the phone itself. But the principal that underpins his point, that of talking to someone directly, being more productive and useful than email, rings true.

My version of this is the face-to-face conversation. At my current place of employment, email is treated almost as if it is the lifeblood that keeps the place alive. To my mind however, email, like blood, is prone to clotting, and can cause a project or idea to go into cardiac arrest. To avoid this, I like to get up from my desk and sit down with a colleague (or colleagues) face-to-face. Which, ironically, is better for my circulation, having spent so much time sat at a desk – staring at a computer screen.

The face-to-face conversation, like Mike’s phone call, is far more powerful and productive than an email, which can invariably turn into an elongated quagmire, diminishing your capacity to move forwards. I get to see what people really think from their reactions (facial expression / tone of voice) and walk away with decisions made, actions decided upon. Moreover, I think it demonstrates how valuable the topic, idea or project is to you – and that you want others to share in that.

So, while I am a proponent of the ‘paperless movement’, I am no fan of the ‘lets do it all by email’ movement either. There are better ways than email… and you don’t have to be constrained by time or by geographical location, either!