10 Things You Can Ignore

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Actually, 10 things is a conservative number–there is a world full of things you’d be better off ignoring. But of all the ignore-worthy things, these are common time drains that don’t deserve your energy.

1. Re-thinking your decisions

If you put adequate thought into it the first time around, it’s unlikely you need to rethink it anytime soon. The tendency to second-guess yourself will trap you in a loop of uncertainty and doubt. If you’re going to do it, do it. It helps me to pretend I’m doing it for someone else–such as a boss–only I’m the boss.

2. Useless confrontation

Sometimes things need to be dealt with, but social media makes it easy for us to engage in pointless arguments and dead end discussion. Is someone hassling you on social media? Are you getting hateful responses to your posts? Is someone blasting you via email? Don’t bother. If it’s an important client, ignore the attitude and respond only to the actionable feedback. If it’s Jane Doe with her big opinions, keep walking. Emotional responses to emotional responses are notoriously regrettable. This isn’t a battle you need to win.

3. The urge to interrupt

When someone talks, listen. I know your brain is busy thinking up responses, but it’s important to control the urge to jump in and one-up the speaker. If you bother engaging in conversation at all, practice being attentive and thoughtful to those around you. It will make your responses more valuable, and it’s a great way to win friends.

4. Random volunteer opportunities

No, volunteering isn’t wrong, but neither is it good by default. Too often, I’ve caved to requests to volunteer for one thing or another, only to realize I was a poor fit for their needs and really didn’t want to give the time they wanted. If you are skilled and successful, everyone will want a slice of your time. Charities, non-profits, churches, friends. Be strategically generous. Choose your charities carefully and invest passionately. Refuse to be the volunteer whore who’s done everything at one time or another. I do volunteer, but I pass on far more than I accept.

5. Unnecessary change

If it ain’t broke, get your darn hands off it. You don’t need a new TV if the old one works fine, and you don’t need to redesign your blog again just because you’re tired of looking at it. Let the things that work, work. Invest your time into high value changes when you have a clear reason to do so. One less decision means more mental energy for the hard stuff.

6. The urge to buy more stuff

When it comes to spending, experience trumps stuff every time. Millions of people in the world wish they could travel overseas, and they could if they hadn’t bought a bunch of unnecessary crap over the course of their lives. Marketing tells us we need a new iPhone, electric razor, and customized coffee mug, but research shows that these things provide a very short-term burst of satisfaction, while meaningful memories will be with you for a lifetime. So, if you really must have the latest iPhone, camp outside the store waiting for its release–make it an experience.

7. The news

Unless you’re training to become a paranoid doomsayer when you retire, you can skip most of the top headlines. The news sensationalizes everything, and usually not in a good way. Much of what’s reported on the news is negative–war-related, crime-related, political conflict, social unrest. Almost none of it is something you will actively participate in. Almost none of it is necessary information for the decisions you will make today. What if you spent that time doing something useful in your community instead of tongue-clucking about the state of the world? Better yet, read a book. Be a participant, not an observer.

8. Self-talk

By self-talk, I mean that voice in your head constantly telling you today is a bad hair day, the guy over there doesn’t like you, you’re not smart enough to get that job, no one cares that you want to write a book…although it can be helpful to analyze things, self-talk is often pointless fear-related excuses for not living life in high gear. Self-talk provides you a false excuse to calm down, second guess, and give up. Nope. I like to remind myself that no one cares how I look or act as much as I do, and they won’t even notice most of my mistakes because they’re focused on their own insecurities.

9. Regrets

We’ve all made mistakes, but regrets are unnecessary. Look back on your mistakes with grace, cut yourself some slack, and waste no time worrying about what might have been. There are a lot of choices you can make to affect your future, none which will affect your past. Focus on what you can change.

10. Push notifications

Deny your devices the right to spam you with new game update info or the latest Kardashian tweet. Allot time to look at things which are important, and keep push notifications to a minimum. I only allow push notification for messages and reminders, no Facebook, no games, not even email.

By ignoring lesser things, you create more time to pursue greater things, and we need you to do greater things.

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