In this post, you will discover the theory of essentialism and how I am applying it to create more time for projects that matter, like my book.
The Theory of Essentialism
I am an historian with many projects.
Several of the projects on my to-do list came about because I had an idea. Many others found their way onto my list because I had an unhealthy habit of saying “yes” to every great opportunity that came my way.
[simpleazon-image align="right" asin="0804137382" locale="us" height="500" src="http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/516TXpkm6%2BL.jpg" width="334"]Although I am capable of juggling many different projects, since the end of 2014 I have felt overwhelmed by my to-do list because many of the projects on it seemed to be keeping me from the one project I would really like to finish: My book.
This realization lead me to acquire and read Greg McKeown’s [simpleazon-link asin="0804137382" locale="us"]Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less[/simpleazon-link].
McKeown champions the benefits of “essentialism,” the idea that life isn’t about doing more in less time, but about doing more work that matters.
The key to essentialism lies in figuring out what you want to accomplish during your lifetime-- what do you want to be remembered for-- and only taking on work that aligns with your goals.
McKeown’s book prompted me to think about what it is I want to be remembered for and to look at whether the work on my plate would help me realize my life’s goal: I want to be remembered as a good person and historian.
For me, being a good historian means being a helpful colleague, improving society by making the past more relatable, and producing high-quality, original scholarship.
After I identified these larger goals, I looked at the projects on my to-do list and thought about whether they would help me fulfill my mission. I realized that at the moment only 2 projects matter: my podcast and book.
Since March, I have worked to clear all extraneous projects from my desk and I have said “no” to new opportunities because they don’t completely align with my goals.
My project list now consists of my book, podcast, and blog. However, I still need to make one more change to properly prioritize these projects.
I started Uncommonplace Book by producing one, quality post for Friday. I added a weekly digest of history-related events taking place in Boston on Mondays and rounded my posts off with a link roundup on Wednesdays.
This schedule has served me well. It gave me what I hoped it would: a healthy blogging habit. But after 2+ years of writing to this schedule, I need a change.
I need more freedom; freedom to post when I want as well as the freedom not to post when life gets too busy.
New Blogging Schedule
For now, I want to be free. I want to post without a rigid schedule.
Therefore, I am replacing my rigid blogging schedule with a more flexible one. I will now post on any day of the week I feel like and not post when I don’t have time. I am also discontinuing the event announcement post.
This more flexible blogging schedule does not mean that I will forsake Uncommonplace Book. I love sharing history and information and working out my ideas in this space.
I will still aim for at least one post per week, but by eliminating my rigid schedule and the time-consuming event announcement post, I feel like I will have a bit more time for my book as well as the flexibility not to post when I really don't have time. Conversely, I also feel like this flexible schedule gives me the freedom to post more often when I have ideas to work out or share. And, if I become too lax with my blogging, I can always impose another post schedule.
Thank you for your understanding and support.
How do you prioritize your projects? How do you approach and maintain your blogging habit?