Greetings, my people! I write you today before heading of to Louisville, which I have learned is a city that is properly pronounced by only using the letter ‘l’ and an optional ‘v’. The city should really be spelled Lllllllllllvlllll, which would make it much easier for strangers to fit in. It’s an economy of speech that I very much appreciate, since I myself decided long ago that ‘Jeff’ was a more efficient name than ‘Jeffrey.’ Plus the only memories I have of being called ‘Jeffrey’ involve me getting yelled at by my parents. Along those lines, I’m not even sure I would know what my middle name is if it weren’t for Mom and Dad using it on me when I’d done something wrong, but now I’m getting off track.
Anyway, I bring up Louisville’s absurd pronunciation because I also see no reason to expend extra energy unless it’s actually warranted. I only run toward pretty things or away from burning things, and I see no reason to brew my own beer when there are thousands of people who are happy to do it for me for a nominal fee. If I enjoyed running or brewing then my attitude might be different, but I don’t.
So in honor of August, the month where all of Europe goes on vacation, here are a few things you can do to streamline your life. I suppose you could always sleep in the clothes you plan on wearing tomorrow, but that would also require you to sleep on an ironing board and underneath an iron. So hopefully you’ll find these ideas a bit more actionable.
Answer Email One Time a Day
This is virtually impossible, but it’s definitely possible to pick specific times of the day to clean out your inbox. People rarely need immediate answers to the questions they ask you; but more importantly, all of us get trained to expect responses at different times by different people. You know which friends of yours are going to respond immediately to a text and which ones are going to wait a few hours (or days) to get back to you. If you teach your colleagues that you’re going to answer email once in the morning and once in the afternoon, they’ll eventually learn to expect that from you. And then maybe you’ll be able to concentrate on something for longer than 15 minutes without having to break your train of thought to answer another batch of emails.
Take As Many Breaks As Necessary
I am constantly amazed by how important this is and how bad we generally are at listening to ourselves. Professional athletes in virtually every sport take breaks to give their bodies a rest during the match, and our brains often need the same reprieve. I know you’ve sat at your desk at 2pm pretending to work or wasting inordinate amounts of time surfing the Internet, but that’s not really a break. A true break is when you give your mind the time to fully disconnect, to wander around aimlessly until it’s ready to go again. And sometimes – surprise! – that’s when your best ideas will come to you. The more often you take breaks when your mind or body are no longer operating effectively, the more productive you will be.
Learn to Delegate Well
If you’re new to the working world, then you might think you have to impress your superiors by loading up on every responsibility you can attach to yourself. But eventually you’ll notice that your bosses aren’t doing that. They’re pawning off as much work as possible onto others, and they’re doing that because it’s more efficient than trying to carry the world on your shoulders alone. Delegation is usually as simple as asking someone if they can do something. If they say yes, then great! And if not…well, there’s always another sucker around the corner.
The world doesn’t have to be as complicated as we sometimes make it, and I want you to enjoy your life. As for me, I’m going to head off to L-ville and see if I can bring some joy to the folks who have hired me. Hopefully that’s what’ll happen. But if I get done and they say, “Thanks, Jeffrey,” then I’ll just have to apologize.
Thanks a lot, Mom and Dad.