As 2016 comes to a close, many of us will think about setting goals and resolutions for the coming year. Traditional wisdom says that we need to do MORE to be successful and get ahead.
But what if the key to being more productive may actually lie in doing less?
Here are five things we can subtract from our lives that are actually proven to increase productivity.
1. Less Sitting
“Is sitting the new smoking?” asks the author of a recent Forbes article. A major research study of 2 million people concluded that the life expectancies of people who spend more than three hours a day sitting are two years shorter than than those who sit less than three hours daily.
People who spend six or more hours a day sitting have a 20 percent higher rate of early death.
A sedentary lifestyle can lead to heart disease, obesity and a host of health problems. So what can those of us who work at a computer do to offset the time spent sitting? Some strategies include:
- Get a standing desk, or a riser for your computer monitor and keyboard.
- Take a walk during your lunch break.
- Ride your bike to work.
- Work in microcycles. Set a timer and work for 25 minutes. Then, take a 5 minute break, get up and move.
2. Less Clutter
According to research conducted by a Boston marketing firm presented by Newsweek, The average American spends 55 minutes a day looking for things that they can’t find.
If we declutter and get organized so that we can find things, we could add nearly an hour of productive time to our days.
A clean, serene space is a gift we give ourselves. Without clutter to weigh us down or distract us, we are free to pursue projects with focus and clarity.
I once toured a hat manufacturing plant in Seoul, Korea. One of the interesting things this company did was to ring a bell every afternoon at 4:45 p.m. Everyone stopped what they were doing, and spent the next 15 minutes cleaning and clearing their work spaces.
Would you like to begin every day with a clean, clear place to work? Other strategies include reducing the amount of paper that flows in by eliminating junk mail, scanning documents instead of printing them, and giving an unused item away every day for a month….or as long as it takes to free up space.
3. Less Drama
Successful people tend to surround themselves with other successful people. How about us? Who do we spend our free time with? Are we engaging with people who challenge us to be better? Do our friends share our dreams, and encourage us? Are our comrades cheering for us to succeed?
On the flip side, have you ever been in a relationship that consistently sapped your energy? Ever known someone who liked you best when you were down? Ever had a “frenemy” who silently cheered when you failed? Have you ever been reluctant to share your good news with someone, because they never seemed happy if you experienced success?
Experts suggest that we ask ourselves a few questions:
- Does this relationship take more energy than it gives?
- Am I able to set and maintain appropriate boundaries?
- Do I dread or look forward to spending time together?
It might be time to let go of bad relationships, and seek out nourishing relationships and friends who are mutually supportive.
4. Less Bad Food
Scientists are increasingly finding a real link between what we eat and how it affects our long-term health. In fact, studies show that healthy eating, exercise and stress reduction can actually reverse some aspects of aging.
A healthy diet can keep the heart healthy, reduce diabetes and risk of some cancers, lower blood pressure, give us stronger bones, and help us live longer.
A good diet can keep our brains healthy, help us focus and concentrate, and reduce our risk of dementia and Alzheimers.
If we think of food as our fuel to help us be productive and successful, we can embrace vegetables and fruits, clean protein, whole grains, legumes, and healthy fats. Let’s let go of processed foods, sugar and saturated fats in 2017.
5. Less Debt
As of this year, the average American carries credit card debt of $16,061.
The Bible describes debt as a millstone hanging around one’s neck. If like me, you’ve ever had huge debt hanging over your head, you can relate. What if 2017 could be the year we completely eliminate unnecessary debt? Some strategies include:
- Stop nonessential spending. Go on a money diet.
- Set up a budget.
- Use the debt snowball method to pay off credit cards quickly and efficiently.
What does a life with no debt look like?
For most of us, it means freedom. Relief from huge monthly payments gives us peace of mind and more money for the things that really matter – funding a business, going on a vacation, giving to those in need.
How About You?
As 2016 winds down and we think about all the great things we want to accomplish in the year ahead, let’s also think about the things we might want to let go of to be more productive, successful and happy.
The new year is a fresh start for all of us. What could you let go of in 2017?
P.S. If you need help letting go of debt, you might enjoy taking part in the January Money Diet. It’s free and fun!