Practice the Law of Subtraction
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My wife and I recently watched the documentary, "Get Back," on the Beatles. We thoroughly enjoyed the production, the music, and the live dialogue between John, Paul, George, and Ringo and their entourage of supporters and technicians. The documentary follows the Beatles making and recording several iconic hits and readying for a planned live performance in January of 1969 (which would be their last live performance as the Beatles).
The documentary is in three parts and runs for about eight total hours. The film was put together from hours and hours of footage recorded over a 21+ day period. Editing the material down to the best footage created the magic that ultimately became the documentary. The series reminded me of the importance of the critical skill of EDITING and how essential it is in creating a life of meaning, progress, and, ultimately, success.
Editing is about removing, subtracting, and eliminating the good (and not so good) to get to the great ... to get to the best ... and to maximize the time you spend on the truly essential things in your life.
How well are you consistently editing out the nonessential things in your work life and personal life?
What things can you eliminate?
What things can you do less of?
What things should you do less of or not all?
What activities can you delegate to others?
What are you holding onto that might have been essential in the past but no longer?
What habits can you drop that no longer align with your goals and values?
What "ways of thinking" are no longer useful or relevant to you?
Some examples of things I’ve “edited out” of my life include the following:
Little to no social media surfing — None during the week and very small slices of time on the weekend
Not accepting phone calls from numbers I don’t recognize; allowing them to roll into voicemail (allows me to maintain focus on what I’m working on)
No scheduled meetings on Monday mornings (very rare exceptions to this). I use this time for administrative work and deliverable preparation (I call this my “buffer time” and I vigorously protect that time on my calendar)
I no longer hang around with toxic or negative people (one of the best “edits” I’ve ever made)
No client calls or meetings after 5 pm on weekdays
No back-to-back meetings; I now maintain a minimum of 30 minutes between meetings
No agenda, no meeting — Defer or reschedule if possible
No broadcast news on the TV or radio (ever)
No more than one board position at a time — I prefer to go “all in” with one community organization at a time
I invite you to stop and take two or three minutes, after you read this article, to identify at least ONE THING you will fully commit to editing out of your life beginning today ... something that no longer serves or aligns with who you are or whom you want to become or anything that is clearly wasted or unproductive time.
What will it be for you?
What else comes to mind?
What do you know you need to make MORE TIME for?
What ELSE can you edit to make that happen?
P.S. - If you’re a Beatles fan, I highly recommend this documentary. I’ve since been playing Beatles music on Spotify — in my car, in my office, and while cycling — to relive some of the memorable songs from the film.
Andy Robinson, Executive Coach
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