Several years ago, early on my de-stress quest, I read the book Essentialism, the disciplined pursuit of less by Greg McKeown. Two quotes stuck with me.

What if “we stopped doing things we detest, to buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like?” 

And, “You cannot overestimate the unimportance of practically everything.”

Think about that.  What if most of our daily activities are unimportant? 

I believe it was John Wooden, head basketball coach at the University of California, who said “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” 


What if we kept the main thing, the main thing?  What if we only do the things that we deemed ahead of time as supremely important?  How different our lives might be!

Sure, we may want to keep the main thing the main thing, but how do we determine what the main thing is?  How do we define what is supremely important to us? 

Clarifying how you spend your time and where you choose to focus your attention throughout the day is the single most precious thing you can do for yourself and your family. How we spend our time is a reflection of our values and priorities, and whether we like it or not our schedule does not lie. 

Time to meet the time bandits – the time wasters that wreak havoc with the day, sucking energy and robbing us of our dreams and future.

These sneaky little buggers are everywhere.  What can be done to get these thieves under control?

Try a time journal. Track how you actually spend your time over the course of one ‘typical’ day. Set a timer for every 15 minutes. From the time you wake, to the time you go to bed, every time the timer chirps, simply write down what you are doing in one or two words – eating breakfast, commuting to work, board meeting, walking to cafeteria, kid’s soccer game etc. Keep it short and simple.  Don’t judge. This is important – DONT JUDGE – just observe and document – you are just gathering the data. 

Please do this.  If you simply write down what you believe you were doing, or what you were supposed to be doing, not actually doing, you will miss them.  These are sneaky bandits.

When you get a few minutes (preferably when you are not exhausted), review and reflect on how you spent your 16 waking hours that day.

Ask “Is this activity meaningful?”  “Does it create connection?”  “Is it important?”  If yes, yes and yes…. BINGO – keep it, chances are it is supremely important to you.  You have identified a Hell-yes activity.  If no, no and no…. scrap it.  You have identified an energy sucking, dream destroying time bandit.

Intentionally choose what you will keep, what you can delegate, and what you can delete.  Intentionally choose those activities that align with your values and move you closer toward your goals.  

In Essentialism, McKeown suggests we identify 4, at most 5 supreme priorities.  He challenges us to live, work and play in a manner that is true to ourselves, by doing the right things, not more things.    Start to live with intention.  If it isn’t a “HELL YES,” then it is a calm “No, but thanks for asking.”  Though unique to everyone, my supreme priorities are, in no particular order:  connection with family and friends, to be forever learning and sharing, optimal brain health (mental health) and physical health (fitness), and financial freedom. 

What are yours?

Buff it up, my friends
Dr Karen

Are you ready to Buff Up Your Brain? Ready to, lose weight, increase your mental clarity and polish up your thoughts? Let’s chat.