Once in a while someone asks me how it is that I accomplish so much. (I'm not convinced that I accomplish more than most people, but perhaps my accomplishments are more public.) In large measure I think it's not because of what I do, but because of what I don't do.

Here are some of the things I don't do much of: watch television, closely follow the latest news, hang out on Facebook and other social networking sites, randomly surf the Internet, engage in chitchat with my co-workers, eat out for lunch or dinner, or go shopping. Don't get me wrong, some of these activities are enjoyable and distracting, but I work to avoid them as much as possible.

What I've found is that eliminating these less productive activities frees up a great deal of time for the more productive activities in my life. By avoiding social networking sites and not watching television and not going out to dinner in the evenings, I have time to work on my music, read real literature, do some stretches, and write (I aim to do each of those things daily). By not going out to lunch or chatting with my colleagues or checking the news throughout the day, I have time to complete more high-value tasks at the office. And so on.

Recently on a finance discussion list I frequent, a participant raised a similar point about investing: don't spend a lot of time trying to find a portfolio of perfect companies, but instead formulate a list of strong possibilities and then eliminate the losers (or at least the companies that are less likely to succeed over the long term).

We all have a "portfolio" of activities we could engage in, but, just as in investing, time and money are preciously limited. The approach most people seem to take is to add more and more items to their to-do list. By contrast, I'm thinking that it's more effective to add things to my to-don't list; as a natural byproduct, I will focus more on what really matters and less on what's nonessential.





Speak your mind

4 Comments so far

  1. Andre Wallin on August 22, 2012 11:37 am

    What about more time spent at the grocery store and making meals or entertaining your wife who’s making your meals? fast casual take out is probably the most efficient.

  2. steve on August 22, 2012 12:21 pm

    Some of the greatest lessons I ever got.

    There is nice to know and then there is need to know. Watching O’Reilly, Hannity et al. may be nice to know but hardly need to know.

    Look at your day this way. beginning every day you are given one tank of energy. that is it. Now how you use that energy is up to you. You cannot refill the tank and at the end of the day you cannot carry it over. You will be given a new tank of energy tomorrow.

    Hire people who are experts in fields that you need. Accountants, book keepers, bankers, executive secretaries, personal assistants, trainers, life coaches, Delegate those responsibilities to those who are qualified.

    Start your day 15 minutes earlier than necessary and end it 15 minutes later. George Allen used to do 5% more exercise than he budgeted for. For example if he planned on doing 50 push ups he would end with 52 or 53 100 sit ups he did 105

    Do what you have to do so someday you can do what you want to do.

    Focus on “One day at a time” If you take care of today’s matters, tomorrow will take care of itself.

    Work as if everything depended on you. Pray as if everything depended on God.

  3. Duncan on August 23, 2012 8:16 am

    I agree, among my recent cuts, no dairy in my morning coffee and not reading or posting rebuttals to Krugman articles as is pointless. The adds: more outdside exericse and week day excursions with my children.

  4. RipmacKenzie on August 25, 2012 5:37 pm

    A perfect example of vicnied’s “we are all speculators” or traders, and the critical necessity to accurately evaluate every trade - tangible or intangible. Thx 4 t reminder.


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