Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Power of Less - Chapter 2 – The Art of Setting Limits

I think I finally realize why I never feel caught up… I sat down today and made a “task list”, just trying to list all the things that I either want, or need, to accomplish (for either work, home, or myself)… I came up with THIRTY-FIVE tasks!!! Babauta noted that around 20 is average, but too many… ::gulp:: I guess that means that I REALLY need to learn and apply this book… good thing I’m trying! :-D Hope it helps ya’ll too! Now, on to chapter 2!

“Most of us lead lives filled with too much stuff, too much information, too many papers, too much to do, too much clutter. Unfortunately, our time and space is limited, and having too much of everything is like trying to cram a library into a single box: It can’t be done, it’s hard to enjoy the books, and sooner or later the box will break” (pg. 11).

What’s the problem? Living without limits!

I remember when I was younger (less than 10 yrs-old), when it was my birthday and I had birthday money (since all my family lived hrs away, I got that instead of presents), mom and dad would always require that $50 of it be used for new clothes, but after that was taken out, I was free to spend it on whatever I wanted.

I would almost always ask to go to the mall in Huntington, WV (lived in Paintsville, KY at the time) and would, in a few hours spend about $120… and usually end up coming home with a lot of stuff that I didn’t REALLY WANT, but I wanted to spend the money! No limitations = a bunch of stuff I didn’t need, nor did I really care about.

“Too much” dilutes our power and effectiveness. “Limitless is the pitcher who pitches nine innings every three days, throwing as many pitches as he can, as hard as he can. Soon he’s too tired to pitch very hard, if at all. The real power is when that same pitcher comes in for one inning every three days and can mow down the batters every time” (pg. 12).


• It simplifies things.

• It focuses you.
• It focuses on what’s important.
• It help you achieve.
• It shows others that your time is important. [When we try to take on everything that comes our way, the people around us get the message that their time is more important than ours, that we’ll say yes to whatever requests they have.]

• It makes you more effective. [Less busy work, more important work = Less spinning wheels & more impact!]


Every area in your life where you feel overwhelmed or that you’d like to improve. [Warning: Don’t attempt to revamp your life all at once! This is a recipe for disaster.]

Where should you start? Ideas for things to limit: emails, blogs you read (all of them except this one ;-P), time spent reading stuff, watching videos, looking at pictures, et. al. on the internet, playing games on the computer [spider solitaire anybody???], reading books, and the list continues on. [remember, only ONE LIMIT AT A TIME! “Focus on one limit at a time until it become routine, and you’re comfortable with the limit” (14).]


“When you first set a limit on something, it’ll be a fairly arbitrary number, as it will take some time to see what works for you.... Base your limitation on your experience with that type of activity and based on what you think your ideal is.... Let’s say you normally check email ten to fifteen times a day… [but] you’re spending most of your day in email… you might choose from a range of 1 to 5” (pg. 15) For instance, twice, once in the morning and once in the evening.

Use the first week as a test. After the first week only decrease it if it hurting your necessary communication with others in some appreciable way. But if you think you can increase it, then try doing so.

After this becomes a habit, you can proceed to the next area.

“Setting limits for anything else will work the same way: (1) Analyze your current usage levels and pick a lower limit based on your ideal. (2) Test the limit for a week, and then analyze if its working. (3) Adjust as necessary and test that for about a week. (4) Continue to adjust until you find the right level and until you make it a habit” (pg. 16).

After learning to set limits, you can maximize your utilization of those limits by choosing the essential and then simplifying [More on this tomorrow].

From what I mentioned at the beginning, I obviously need to work on limitations… so I hope you and I both are successful as we seek to limit things in our lives that cause us to be less effective! God Bless! - Aaron

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