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Hack away the unessential


As 2019 rolls in, I’ve been taking stock of what’s important to me and clearing away the clutter. I am not someone who enjoys being content with the status quo, but for me to stay sharp and focused on my goals, I need to take Bruce Lee’s advice and hack away the unessential.

One of the areas that I want to improve my mastery in is ‘mental real estate’, a phrase stolen from coach Bryan Krahn. In today’s world where we are constantly bombarded by screens and information, it’s important to acknowledge the impact that everything we consume has on our state of mind, our actions and our decisions. We are a product of what we willfully or mindlessly consume. And just like with food, a lack of deliberation can lead us to unwanted and potentially poor results.

So what can we do? Control the obvious:

  1. Which Instagram profiles do you follow? How do they make you feel? How much time do you spend on the app? Can you reduce the time, or better curate the profiles you follow to ensure that you are exposed to only content that inspires, educates or has some genuine value to you? Instagram has an ‘activity tab that allows you to see how much time you are spending per day on the app. The number might shock and astound you.

  2. Are you randomly watching YouTube videos, justifying it to yourself as ‘education’ or ‘learning’? Don’t get me wrong, there are some incredible YouTube channels that offer incredible value and a high quality of information. But consider your return on investment. As YouTube videos get longer and longer, 2-3 videos can take up to an hour of your time. Consider the value of this time, what it means to you in your life and whether your returns are in proportion to the time you are investing in it.

  3. How often do you check your messaging apps every day? Yes, I understand it’s crucial. You are a parent and want to ensure your child is safe. You run a business and want to ensure there are no fires that need taking care of. But consider how you feel when you are checking your messages. Is there a sense of dread? Is there a sense of loneliness, or anxiety? If this is the case, it might be a good idea to give yourself some time at least once a day, even if it’s just a minute where you don’t check your phone for messages.

  4. Download an app like Stay Focused or RescueTime. Both great apps that allow you to monitor and control your cell phone or device activity. It can give you some great insights into how you are currently working and can help you stay accountable to yourself.

Do not underestimate the impact that controlling your mental real estate can have on your health, fitness and fat loss goals. More clarity of thought and less clutter in your head will make it easier for you to refuse your colleague’s birthday cake, or to remind yourself to eat your vegetables or to drink 10 glasses of water today.

What is the one habit you would like to develop or eliminate to control your mental real estate?

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