Canadian Lawyer

September 2020

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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46 www.canadianlawyermag.com FEATURE PRODUCTIVITY Reason: Explain why you're speaking now — why should they pay attention? Information: Offer two to three key nuggets of information you want to share. What are the bullet points of the conversation? End: Decide on what note you want to leave the conversation. Follow-up: Consider the questions you might receive. Schedule rigorously. Self-edit ruthlessly. When you can, use pictures and video instead of text — people respond better to visuals. Time is our greatest luxury. Wasting it is bad manners. Throw others (and yourself ) a lifeline by getting to the point. Less choice Bran flakes . . . cornflakes . . . frosties . . . "When did we start needing so much cereal?" I mutter to myself as my eyes glaze over in the supermarket aisle. Recently, I've started buying organic, low-sugar options only. Yes, this helps with my fitness regime, but really I'm deliberately limiting my own choice. Clearly, choice matters, particularly when it comes to big things that impact on our beliefs and autonomy. But most of the time, the choices we face have very little meaning. It's been 16 years since Barry Schwartz wrote The Paradox of Choice. Instead of increasing our sense of well-being, he said, an abundance of choice is increasing our levels of anxiety and depression. Whether you're deliberating between chocolate bars, TV shows, energy companies or profiles on Tinder, more choice equals being more overwhelmed. We waste hours dithering, changing our minds and going in circles. My advice? Set criteria for any areas of your life that sap your energy. This can also be a chance to release your inner do-gooder. Less is more — eliminate the non-essentials and limit your choices. Devise a weekly meal plan. Commit to buying secondhand clothes only. Shop locally. Constraints illuminate and simplify. And when life feels manic, repetition and routine provide a much-needed sanctuary of calm and familiarity. Less busy-ness We associate people's worth with how busy they are: how many hours they work, how little they sleep, how off the charts their stress levels are. Because being "busy" means we're productive, in demand and great at our jobs. We're moving forward. We're not wasting our time. It's better to be doing something, anything, rather than nothing at all . . . right? Keeping on top of things is good — unless we miss crucial details because we're rushing or waste hours on a simple task because we're exhausted or burn bridges because we're stressed and miserable. The busiest people are often the most oblivious. Slowing down gives you time to appreciate the context. Letting your brain switch off and repair its synapses will lead to greater focus and fresh ideas. Switch off and wait. Less unnecessary effort In The 4-Hour Body, Tim Ferriss popularized the concept of the "minimum effective dose." He uses boiling water to illustrate his point: "To boil water, the minimum effective dose is 212° Fahrenheit (100° Celsius) at standard air pressure. Boiled is boiled. Higher temper- atures will not make it 'more boiled.' Higher temperatures just consume more resources that could be used for something else more productive." It's a simple idea that applies to many areas of our lives. At some point, the extra work we put in is unlikely to result in more rewards. Returns begin to diminish fast. In other words, it's no longer worth it. Pareto's principle states that 80% of your results come from 20% of your effort. Trying to pinpoint just one task or area where you can reduce your energy by half (and still get your desired outcome) can be an eye-opener. Then spend the time you save on something that recharges you. It takes courage to live with less. But I think it can make all the difference. It all boils down to a simple principle: Eliminate before you add. And it can be applied to anything. Don't take money you don't need (we've built JotForm without a single dime of outside funding). Don't buy a green shirt if you already have one (or, in my case, don't buy one at all). This ensures you don't end up overcrowding your life with anything that doesn't add value. Limitations create space. Space gives way to greater movement. Movement pushes you forward. Take a red pen to your life and see what happens. At some point, the extra work we put in is unlikely to result in more rewards. Returns begin to diminish fast. In other words, it's no longer worth it. Aytekin Tank is the founder and CEO of JotForm, an online form creation software with millions of users worldwide and more than 100 employees. A developer by trade but writer by heart, Tank shares stories about how he exponentially grew his company without receiving any outside funding.

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