Treading Lightly
Treading Lightly

Does it add value?

I have taken to asking myself “does this add value to my life?” over and over again during the day. It’s been a powerful tool for me to refocus, stop procrastinating, and make decisions.

Throughout the day I find myself with an absurd amount of tabs open all calling for my attention. Most of them are work related, but the ones that aren’t call louder than the others. I find myself opening news stories that sound interesting, diving deeper into obscure blogs, and clicking on every link in newsletters (I’m looking at you Ann Friedman). Before I give one of these things my undivided attention (and ultimately ignore everything else), I ask if reading this page will add value to my life or just take up minutes I could spend elsewhere. More often then not I close the tab and move on.


But this constant questioning goes further. It’s becoming an important part of how I decide if I will do just about anything. There are some things that seem so wonderful and attractive (like watching the Jimmy Fallon, Will Farrell, and Kevin Hart lip sync battle over and over again) that I immediately deem them worthy of my time. But when I really look at it, they don’t add value and aren’t helping me get where I want to be. They aren’t improving my life or providing anything substantial.

Value is a weird thing to pin down. What’s important to me one day seems useless the next. It’s different for everyone. Some things add value by inspiring me. Others are very strategic (like buying a new notebook for work or taking a class). Which isn’t to say that I don’t see value in relaxation, fun, or pure entertainment. Those definitely factor in heavily for me.

I was originally exposed to the idea when reading Everything That Remains (you can read more about The Minimalists’ take on value of objects, work and personal impact, and even relationships), but it took me a few months to really integrate it into my life and see the power in the exercise. Questioning my actions, decisions, and purchases has gone a long way to help me simplify my life, feel more in control of my time, and find direction.

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