Over the years I’ve looked at a lot of ways to establish meaningful goals, quit bad habits and just live better. My book shelves are bursting with volumes that have a lot of great information that I’ve found inspiring. Some of it may be far out, or not my cup of tea but then again, I’ve always learned something from each one.
The difficult part for me is that I’m impatient, and that 278-page book wears thin after a few days until it becomes difficult to pick up. Sure, my collection is filled with great books, but many of them have a book mark at around page 89… and there they sit (sound familiar?). It’s sort of like having a conversation with someone who’s already made their point but continues to go on with just why they have that opinion and where that idea generated from and how they’ve applied the idea and who has benefited from it and what will be their next application of the idea (you’re getting tired of it already). You look for a way out while, at the same time, trying to be polite.
You see, I think that just about every great message can fit in a pamphlet! One of my favorite documents (it’s really too small to be called a book) is only 31 pages. In spite of its spindly size it was packed with information and I got just what I needed from it. I can refer to it when I need to and since there are only 31 pages it’s easy to find what I want.
A lot of books you find on project management, changing habits, or organizing work projects have the down side of too much work to get through. You might thumb through them to get the “hidden jewels” or put it down half way through, promising yourself that you’ll finish it “one day”.
With that in mind I’d like to introduce a concept I use called “Commit to one”. And since I made it up I can apply it any way I want. The idea is to commit to one simple change in your habits. Here’s an easy example. After I turned 60 I looked down to notice a bit of a belly starting to form. I wasn’t into any drastic measures or having to study on what to do so I decided keep it simple. I still went to my favorite places but “committed” to not finishing everything. That might mean: 2/3 of the burger, half the fries and no re-fills on the soda. Simple. The restaurant and menu would change but the commitment was the same: eat less. Inside of a month I got the results I was looking for. A few months later I gave up my favorite junk-food eateries for healthier alternatives but it was easy; I had already broken the habit with a simple change (Ok, I might go back to one of these places every five or six weeks just for ol’ time sake).
Ok, how about a business application? I have several projects I work on during the first part of the day. Sometimes I’ll use up all the time on a single project and never get to the others. What I found was I’d “dabble” with some of it just because it was interesting but it wasn’t necessary to complete the project. For this I committed to a simple schedule. It’s so simple that it’s written on a sticky note. The note has time slots for each project and when the time ends I stop – regardless of where I am in the project. It does two things: it keeps me moving because I know my time is limited and I get something done on each project.
Here’s one more… And it’s EASY! Commit to leaving social media alone until after 5:00 pm. Not only is it easy to waste time posting to your friends and watching videos of people you don’t know fall off their roof or slip into their pool but there’s also the time you spend hovering around your computer or picking up your phone to see how many “number bubbles” (notifications) you have.
When you consider that your most meaningful work takes up about an hour and a half of your working day, that 15 or 30 minutes can make a big difference in what you accomplish for the day. But keep this a secret. You still want your competition wasting their day chatting to their friends!
One last thing: the best changes you make in your life are from things you do not from things you read. That is, in order to apply the lessons in a book you have to “Get through it to do it” and that’s not always easy. Another way is to keep it simple. Commit to One.