In mathematics, we’re taught to follow a particular “order of operations” when it comes to calculations – multiplication and division, then addition and subtraction – in that order. The mathematician works from left to right noting that anything found inside of parentheses or including exponents must be completed first. But, bottom line, subtraction, from a hierarchical perspective is the lowest of the low! It’s the thing that gets done last.
So, is it any wonder that we, as human beings, following the highest order of language – mathematics – tend to subtract things from our lives last? Probably not. We seek abundance. We seek more. We are constantly trying to amass more in our lives – it has become overwhelming.
I heard a podcast recently during which the host and his guest talked about subtraction. The point of this segment of the show was about simplification. The guest talked about eliminating extraneous items, efforts, initiatives, work, etc. from his life in order to achieve a higher level of satisfaction. What if we all practiced the thoughtful art of subtraction?
Wondering what you might cut out or subtract from your life? Try these on for size:
- Cluttered Office or Home. If you can’t see the physical top of your desk because it is buried in piles upon piles of papers, books, tzatchkies, and various and sundry office supplies, it’s probably time to tidy up! Don’t just straighten up… get rid of the “stuff” you don’t need. You can recycle no-longer-relevant papers, donate gently used equipment you no longer use, and trash the rest. Now, doesn’t that feel better?
- Wall of Meetings. Go on… take a look at your calendar for next week. Do you have any openings? Have you carved out any time to do the actual work of your work? If the answer to one or both of these questions is “no,” then you probably need to rethink the way you allocate your workday. Ask yourself whether you really need to attend all of those meetings – in fact, do they all even need to take place with or without you? Can you delegate some of the responsibility or, better yet, correspond by email, text or any other medium you see fit to work through an issue rather than meet?
- Too Many Evening Activities. While ensuring you are regularly engaging in networking for personal and professional satisfaction, do you find yourself saying “yes” to every after-hours meeting, dinner, drinks, event, etc.? Are you getting enough time with family? Are you able to unwind at the end of the day? Do you have any time to process the issues you have contended with over the past nine hours? You need that time, so maybe it is time to start being a bit more selective about your evening commitments. Yes, get out there and build relationships, but be judicious when it comes to trying to accommodate all people, organizations and activities at your own peril.
So, practice some subtraction. Chances are that by eliminating certain “things,” you will actually be adding to the joy of your life.