The amount of mental energy you have to expend each day is finite. Sure, you can train your brain and develop more willpower, but that’s something you do slowly, over time.
You can slowly increase your mental energy, ability to focus, and decision-making skills, but you’ll still have only a finite amount for each day.
Put less of your mental energy into unimportant things and more of it into important things.
Spend more of your capacity on the awesome stuff and much, much less on the trivial stuff.
Being Awesome comes from doing the things that matter to you prolifically and well. I don’t like the quantity vs quality approach. I think it’s a false dilemma. You can have quality and quantity if you don’t waste yourself on the things that don’t matter.
What doesn’t matter?
- your wardrobe
- your breakfast
- which gym you join
- 95% of your emails
- the news
- 98% of what’s on your social media feed
- probably 75% of the relationships in your life
When you spend your mental energy on that stuff, the detritus, the details, you don’t have much mental energy left to spend on the good stuff. So you get either a) less awesome or b) lower quality of awesome.
No thanks. I’d rather have less of the minutiae and more of the awesome.
Here are a few ways to reduce your mental expenditure, or rather, to spend it better:
1: Reduce Decisions.
Wear the same outfit everyday, or if you can’t quite handle that, come up with your own minimalist wardrobe. Cultivate routines and let them automate the repetitious chunks of your life. Find your favorites and stick with them. Eat the same breakfast every day. Eat the same lunch for a week or a month, then switch to a new lunch when you get bored. Be boring and predictable in the trivia of life.
Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work. -Gustave Flaubert
2: Limit Your Options.
If you need to save money, then pull out a little cash and leave your cards locked up in your house or car. No debit or credit, no need to agonize over whether you’ll save money (like you should) or treat yourself to a nice lunch (like you said you wouldn’t).
Why do you have 50 personal care products in your bathroom? Find 1 brand you really like, spend a little more money on it, and get rid of the rest. Same concept with snacks, shoes, social activities, weekend plans, hobbies, books, and friends. More of the best, less of the rest.
3: Make the Crap Unavailable.
Tired of wasting time on social media? Take the apps of your phone and install StayFocusd or a similar service on your computer. Or just delete your accounts altogether. What will happen? Nothing bad. The world will not end. You’ll get more work done and probably be happier.
Get rid of the clothes that make you feel ugly, the junk food you can’t resist, the photos of yourself that you hate, the books you don’t really want to read, the gifts that you wish you’d never received.
What’s your hangup? What is the detail thing that eats up your time? If you really want to spend more of your energy and time on what you care about, then take that tiny detail distraction and get it out of your life.
If you can’t quite handle that, then get it out of your life temporarily. Set a time limit: in three weeks or six months, I will let myself have more of XYZ thing.
I bet that if you spend three weeks or six months without it, and focus on the stuff that is awesome-making, you won’t need it back.
Try it. Let me know. I’m always interested in other people being awesome.
Photo Credit: adossphoto