We are usually taught to work harder when we are under pressure. But this procedure most of the time leads to fatigue and exhaustion of mind and body. In the book we are reviewing today, McKeown offers recommendations to make the process of doing things easier.
You may have heard the saying of picking available apples; It means to do a list of tasks, always start from the easiest, just like a farmer starts picking the fruits of a tree from the bottom.
We have already reviewed a book by Leo Babauta called “The Power of Less“, about reducing the number of tasks and doing only the essentials. Of course, McKeown himself has a book in this regard called “Essentialism”.
But what if we had a problem even doing the essentials?
This is where McKeown’s advice in the book “Effortless” comes into play. Let’s see what he says.
Greg McKeown (born 1977 in London, England) is an author, public speaker, leadership and business strategist. He is the founder and CEO of McKeown, Inc., a leadership and strategy design agency based in California. All of his books have become New York Times bestsellers. He is also a blogger for the Harvard Business Review and LinkedIn’s Influencers Group.
A concept called Effortless State
In short, the effortless state is the state in which you are operating in optimal mental, emotional, and physical conditions. In this state, you are calm, light, open-minded, energetic and focused, nothing bothers you and your mind is not occupied with many thoughts, you have excellent performance and you can do your most important tasks with minimal effort.
Our brain is a unique supercomputer and has a huge computing ability, with the difference that this is a biological computer, it works with the energy of cells, so its processing speed becomes slower and slower due to excessive use. This is a very important issue that we usually forget.
When you are tired or distracted or your mind is busy analyzing multiple concerns, you cannot perform optimally and everything seems harder and requires more effort. But after a meal and a good night’s rest, you feel refreshed and everything becomes easier.
Think on the contrary, which way is the easiest?
When something seems difficult and impossible, look for an easier way to achieve the same result. Don’t overcomplicate things and don’t overwhelm yourself with difficult tasks for no reason.
We have believed that anything worthwhile requires effort and anything that comes without effort is bad. But this thinking is not correct. In fact, our brains are designed to choose the path of least effort, and we naturally resist tasks that seem difficult. The more you think about something, the harder it becomes and the more you put it off.
Change the way you look at the problem. Challenge the way you’ve been working. Ask yourself if the opposite is true. Instead of thinking, “This is too hard,” ask yourself, “Is there an easier way to do this?” or “What is the easiest way to achieve this result?”
Make things pleasant
The more you enjoy something, the more consistently you do it or crave it. On the other hand, if you fear something, you will find an excuse to put it off. So ask yourself, How can I make this more interesting/enjoyable?
One way would be to combine the essential tasks with the most enjoyable activities. For example, if you avoid exercise, combine it with music or dance.
Another way is to pair or combine essential activities with immediate rewards or favorite work. No one in the McKeown family liked to clean the table after dinner, but when they added Disney cartoon tunes to it, it became a pleasant task.
Now that the review of this book has reached this point, we will also give you this quote from the wise Confucius, which can be a guide in your professional life:
If you choose your favorite job, you will never work a day in your life
Put down your mental load
You have to let go of the mental and emotional burdens that drain your energy and close your eyes to opportunities.
We often unconsciously carry emotional baggage such as old grudges and regrets or outdated goals and principles. These things occupy the emotional space of the brain and drain our energy.
When you face failure or tragedy, regretting or blaming others will not help you. Release yourself by accepting what happened, forgiving yourself and others, and letting go of pain and resentment.
Focus on what you have, not what you don’t have. The more you complain about your circumstances and think about your shortcomings, the more tired you become and get stuck in a negative cycle. The more you focus on what you have and be grateful, the more you see new opportunities and fall into a positive cycle.
If you live consciously instead of living by habit, over time you will notice your grievances, you will constantly revise your views, and perhaps even before the thought or sentence of complaint is finished, you will recognize it and put it aside.
Consciously transform negativity into gratitude.
Every time you were careless and complained about something, say a word of gratitude. For example, if you say, “The traffic was terrible”, add “Thank God I made it there safe”.
Take rest seriously
Use your body’s natural rhythms and cycles by creating intervals of effort and rest.
If you constantly push yourself to work longer and harder, you will eventually become less efficient and perhaps even harm your health. Top performers have daily, weekly, and monthly rest periods.
One of the solutions is to use the body’s natural 90-minute cycles.
For example, dedicate your morning to the most important work. Divide each morning into three 90-minute segments and take a 10-15 minute break between each segment. If you are already busy with a difficult task, it is counterproductive to push yourself further. Always take a short break to recharge and start performing at your best.
In addition to resting during waking hours, adequate and quality sleep is also very important. Lack of sleep has a negative effect on your creativity, alertness and social interactions. Therefore, by having enough sleep, give your body time to fully recover.
Train your mind to eliminate distractions so that you are fully aware of the details and information around you.
We are usually so distracted by the noise around us that we cannot recognize the really important things. In effortless state, you operate with utmost alertness and can recognize complex details/information quickly, focus on important issues, and process information in an efficient manner.
When you interact with others with full awareness, you can help others gain a clear understanding of the situation. Listen, ask clarifying questions and think about what you hear. Don’t say everything that comes to your mind quickly, don’t jump in the middle of other people’s speech with hasty opinions and judgments, because the other person might become defensive or lose their ability to observe and think clearly.
Before doing anything, visualize it in your mind from beginning to end. See the goal clearly. Many unfinished works are not finished just because their ending seems uncertain and scary.
Computer engineers have a good way to understand the nature of any task, the flowchart. You can also crystal clear the process of doing things for yourself by any method you know.
We often procrastinate because we don’t know what to do. When you have a clear idea of what your finish line features, you’ll be motivated to take action.
Take the first step
The first step in anything is the hardest step. This refers to the defensive nature of the human mind, which always wants to maintain a safe point and avoid changes.
To make the first step easy, break it down into very small pieces. Determine the “minimum work required” and take the first small step. Now that you know what needs to be done, do 10 minutes of focused activity on it.
For example, if you need to finish an essay, the obvious first step is to pick up a pen/paper or turn on your computer. Then, spend 10 minutes drafting the outline. This small intensive activity will give you energy, motivation and confidence to take the next steps.
Go on step by step
Don’t try to perfect everything from the beginning. Start your planning with an ugly draft; so you can quickly learn, improve, and move beyond that stage.
Most people are caught in a boom and bust cycle. They run as fast as they can toward an important goal, then stop when they run out of energy. After a while, they feel guilty and start moving again. This process of repeated starting and stopping depletes their power and wears them out.
In 1911, two groups of climbers made their way to the South Pole. One group traveled 15 miles per day in all weather conditions, and the other group accelerated in good weather and stopped in bad weather. Eventually, the group with constant momentum succeeded and the second group fell apart.
The key is to set an ideal range for yourself. For example, read between 10-40 pages of a book or walk 400-7000 steps every day.
The bottom line should be high enough to motivate you, but low enough that you can do it even when the unexpected comes up. The ceiling should be high enough to challenge you, but not so high that you become exhausted.
Our brain has a limited capacity and when we are tired and upset, the possibility of mistakes increases. So never rely on your memory to do important things.
To perform the most important and complex tasks, you need to systematize. That is, design a system in which nothing goes out of its frame. Create checklists to minimize the risk of overtaxing your brain or making avoidable mistakes. Once you’ve created your own checklist or cheat sheet, you can use them over and over again.
Also, automate repetitive decisions or processes. For example, automate bill payments, annual health check-ups, or setting raw material low alarms.
Build relationships based on trust
Trust makes interactions and relationships smooth and at the same time strong.
You work quickly and effortlessly with people you trust, and you can easily exchange information, discuss issues, delegate tasks, and focus on getting things done rather than guessing their intentions and playing politics.
Fill your environment with trustworthy people who will give you the desired results without constant supervision.
From the very beginning, invest the time and effort into hiring the right people. Wrong hires can be very costly, and these people may perform poorly, do unethical things, and adversely affect future hires and company cultural norms.
Create a trust-filled structure by setting clear goals and expectations, defining each person’s specific tasks, and designing appropriate rewards and incentives that align people’s actions with the team/organization’s goals.