I’m back from a long/short/crazy trip of fun and work and I’m feeling the burn of overwhelm. Traveling, in general, is a great way to knock you entirely off your routine and make you spend days trying to claw back to the careful balance you had pre-departure. That said, I’m working on it. The inbox is diminishing, the massive suitcases are being unpacked, and my jet lag is starting to disappear.

During my trip, I got to spend one special day with some folks in California who are all focused on focus. Rather, the idea of winnowing in on the most important things you’re doing in your life, and maximizing those things to the healthy (yes!) detriment of all else. Some call this essentialism, and I’m one of the some.

For a primer, see this fantastic book by Greg McKeown: Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. Greg is pretty awesome-sauce, and he was fantastic in leading us through our third of four days (one each quarter) focused on, well, focus. (See the picture of our dinner in a cave.)

During one of the many great chats that day with a fellow wannabe essentialist, I had an incredible “Aha!” moment that has left me reeling. (In a good way.)

Here’s what happened:

I was chatting about an area in my life that I deeply want to maximize, but find myself having trouble doing so. We all have areas like this – whether in work or in our personal lives – where we long to see greater results but find ourselves stuck. For whatever reason, we’re not moving forward, and it’s bugging us to no end. More than that, we often don’t see a clear path to the light, and so revert to classic wall head-banging.

As we talked through my personal challenge, someone said something that pulled me out of my moaning and stopped me in my tracks. This incredibly smart and aware individual I will admire forever asked me the following question, “How much time a week would it take to see the transformation you’re talking about?”

And there it was.

The truth laid out for all to see.

Some quick calculations (math is fun!), and I decided it would take about three hours.


Mr. Smart and Aware then summed up the situation,”So you’re saying that in just three hours a week you can transform this area of your life?”

I responded, meekly, eyes averted. “Um…yes?”

It was a huge wake up call for me, and one I desperately needed. I love all things time management, productivity, and life maximizing, and it was fascinating to me to see how grossly I had ignored how little was really needed in terms of time to make a huge impact.


I have that, and you do too.

Can three hours transform a week of dedicated effort transform an area your life? I bet it just might. 


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