Think about the last time you felt overwhelmed. Was it recent? How about the last time you just sat down because you needed a minute to think about everything you have to do? The last time that you stood in front of your closet saying to yourself, “what should I wear?” All of these situations usually result in the same overloaded feeling in our brains that result from thinking too much. That’s just it though. We think too much, and don’t do enough. Counting everything: hours of sleep, reps in the gym, calories, ingredients, money (income, prices, debt, etc), miles to work, days till the weekend, and so on. Thinking about everything, all the time. How many e-mails we have waiting for us, when our bills are due, what we are going to make for dinner, how much traffic there is going to be on our way to work. Tell me you haven’t thought about any of these in the past week, and I’d say you live in the middle of the woods with no outside contact. When you’re consumed by thoughts about these basic aspects of your life, there is very little room for spontaneity, creativity, and exploration. So let’s stop thinking about all of this. Of course easier said than done, but there are multiple ways of reducing this thought clutter to increase the amount you get done in a day while putting your mind at ease.
The time you waste thinking about what you should wear to work might set you back enough to get stuck in traffic; a very basic task can add ___ minutes to your travel time. You get to work and all you can think about is what you’re going to have for lunch and dinner. What if you already knew what you were having, what would you think about during that time? Maybe you’ll have a random thought that’ll change the world – that’s a bit of a drastic comment, I know – or maybe you’ll just get five more minutes of work done. What I’m getting at, is we’re wasting time thinking about things that are stopping us from thinking about more important, and exciting things. This is where the Leaving Room mentality comes into play.
Leaving room is a mentality I’ve adopted in an effort to facilitate my own creativity, and happiness. I’ve ‘automated’, or streamlined a lot of my daily thought processes to make my life easier, and I think we should all find ways to do so.
The Grey T-shirt
In a 2014 interview, Mark Zuckerberg explained why he wears the same shirt every day. He owns multiple versions of the same basic grey t-shirt that he wears on most days. Zuckerberg said that deciding what to eat for breakfast and what to wear are “silly” decisions he’d rather not waste time making, as he has too many other decisions to make. He’s not the only one. President Obama follows suit (pun intended). When asked about how he remains productive he responded with “You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits, I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.” I can confidently say that you and I are nowhere near as busy as these two men. I can also confidently say we waste too much time thinking about what to wear. My solution isn’t as drastic as wearing the same grey t-shirt every day, so it’s a little less scary.
I use time every night before I go to bed to remove the next day’s tedious tasks that waste critical thought. Tasks that are completed daily and need to be accomplished, but that have the ability to keep you thinking for 10-15 minutes while 5 minutes at the most the night before will solve this issue. What this comes down to is making simple decisions every night that will make the next day a thought-provoking one. Here are a few simple tasks to start trying this week:
- Lay out your gym clothes on the floor next to you
- Put your work clothes in a bag by the door, so that you do not forget them
- Place the frying pan that you will cook eggs in on the stove, along with PAM next to this
- Create a common spot to place your keys, wallet, and pocket items that always leave your apartment at your side
- Get an automatic coffee pot and set it to brew before you wake up
- Hang a shower towel next to your shower for the morning
These little tasks that can be completed in less than 15 minutes before you go to bed can remove repetitive tasks in order to free up time for that of what you want to do. These all help cut your morning preparation time down, allowing you to get that extra sleep you may want or read those 10 pages in a book before you leave for work or the gym. Try it out!
What’s next?? Eating More While Cooking Less! Check out Leaving Room for Yourself: Part 2 of 3 to learn how the seemingly daunting task of meal prepping will actually save you time, and save you room!