Practising the Art of Intelligent Neglect
By Tope Popoola
All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any… All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. 1Corinthians 10:12/23 (KJV)
Not everything or everyone that demands your attention deserves to get it. Yes you heard me right. A life of significance is a life of priorities. We fail not so much because of the things we pursue but because of the things we refuse to neglect. Our lives are swamped by so many things that lay claim to deserving of a significant chunk of our time. The technology gizmos that come out of production lines these days all want to squeeze out a portion of the 24 hours that we have daily. It is interesting that the only claim that these gadgets make is that they were designed to make our lives easier. However, you and I know that the only significant thing they have done for the most part is to further complicate our hitherto simple lives!
Ipods, ipads, galaxy, mp3 players, tablet computers etc., have become more of a source of pain than gain. Cable TV now provides us over 200 channels of entertainment to choose from. How on earth did we survive without mobile phones? That contraption has become such a sometimes nauseating aspect of our contemporary reality that we do not even know when we should shut it down. Even important meetings – including private moments between couples – are routinely interrupted by nondescript phone calls.
How about the computer? The internet and other related gadgets have conspired to do more damage to our personalities than the ease they promise. For one, it has literally killed the attention span of our youth. Even in church services and classrooms, it is not unusual to see young people texting or updating their Facebook profile while the Pastor is totally engaged in the preaching of a life-transforming message or the teacher is busy making some vital points. We now relate through machines and gadgets. Our reasoning, even if not consciously, is that afterall, if we can communicate by sms, email, Blackberry and Twitter, why do we need personal relationships?
Chronic sleep disorders are on the increase because people stay awake all night making night calls or chatting online. Consequently, they spend their daytime moments acting grumpy and generally uncoordinated. According to the results of a survey, 42% of boys and 40% of girls involved in nocturnal technology gadget-related activity had chronic sleep disorders that impaired their concentration in school.
Considering all these, it would be an understatement that the attendant level of massive distraction can only be imagined.
Even if you had 36 hours to your day, you would still not be able to accomplish all you need to daily. In the light of this understanding, prioritised living is the answer. You must, like Paul the apostle, be able to distinguish between priorities and urgencies. You will be misunderstood and, called names when you start drawing the lines. But that is a small price to pay for your life to make progress.
Time is the number one capital you have to make an eternal impact. So learn to use it well and appropriately. The key to this is to master the art of intelligent neglect. All successful people do it. Brian Tracy calls it creative procrastination. According to him, in order to effectively set priorities, you must also set “posteriorities”. Priority has to do with something that you need to do more of and sooner while “posteriorities” are those things that can wait or not get done at all without any disservice to your destination.
Beam the searchlight on your life. Are there things you are presently doing less of but which are absolutely necessary in attaining your life goals? Focus more time attention on those. They are priority. Conversely, are there things you are doing now – not necessarily evil! – that do not significantly lead in the direction of your life destination? Learn to deliberately neglect, procrastinate on or completely avoid them. Cut down significantly on TV, films, and the obsession with technological gizmo and give the time saved to more productive activity.
Champions are not only known by what they are willing to deliberately pursue but also by what they deliberately forsake!