Sunday, May 17, 2009
During the early nineties, when I was embarking on my planned departure from the corporate jungle & entering the Corridor to pursue my small entrepreneurial interests, one book immediately caught my personal attention.
At that time, I was told that "information doubled once every eighteen months".
Alvin Toffler, John Naisbitt, & Richard Saul Wurman, were already riding high on the information anxiety phenomenon, even though each of them has had his own perspectives.
The book I am referring to is 'Breathing Space' by Jeff Davidson.
I am gratified to note that this book is still available, now with the third edition. Although some stuff may be dated as it was written during the pre-internet era, a lot of the strategies & tools advocated by the author are still applicable in today's context.
First, the author defined 'breathing space' beautifully as:
"You know it when you have it. It is the feeling of having time & space, of being in control, or content or relaxed. It is the room to be, to explore or to do nothing."
Let me outline here the major parts of his work:
1. The root causes of the pressure you feel;
2. Hand tools;
3. Power tools;
4. Cerebral tools;
5. Metaphysical tools;
Back in the early nineties, the book fueled me with a lot of valuable fresh insights, which empowered me to live & work at a comfortable relaxed pace in a 24-hour society:
- information only becomes knowledge when it's applied;
- choose to acquire knowledge that supports or interests you;
- about 80% of papers retained in office environments are never used;
- periodically, the sweetest choice is choosing from what you already have, choosing to actually have what you've already chosen;
- whenever you catch yourself making a low-level decision, consider: Does this really make a difference? Get in the habit of making only a few decisions a day - the ones that count;
- consider the value of any product, service or plan as two fold: (1) the intended benefit & (2) the ease with which you can understand, receive & enjoy those benefits. If it doesn't, don't buy it;
- Rules of Thumb: any item that saves you one hour per week for a minimum of one year & costs US$1,000 or less is an excellent buy; never mind if you purchased the latest or fastest model; there will always be later & faster models;
- any activity consuming 30 minutes of your day consumes two solid years of your life; - to get to know someone better, ask him what his life priorities are;
- if you don't know what you have & you can't find it, it is of no use to you;
- just because it is interesting or expensive doesn't mean you have to keep it;
- being neat & being organised are not the same thing;
- a powerful way to gain breathing space, perpetually, is by seeking completions;
- preserve your weekends for recreational activites. You're worth it!;
- if you're serious about having more breathing space, give up fast food forever!
- you can increase the likelihood of experiencing time warp effect by removing yourself from the time measured environment - by hiding the clock;
- one hour of uncluttered thought can yield more benefits than days of common desk work;
- jump starting often enables you to capture your first & sometimes best thoughts;
- use the day units as a convenient measure for charting progress in pursuit of your goals;
- living in the moment does not mean living for the moment or living to get to the next moment. It means total, unconditional acknowledgement that what is now, is your life; that now is the only moment there is;
- the relentless quest to move on to what's next keeps you from fully enjoying what's here;
- longing more strongly for what you no longer have, rather than reveling in what you do have, is a guarantee that you will miss the present & all the magic it holds. Revel in what you have;
- how you elect to feel is always your choice. the act of choosing is a simple but powerful technique that will further aid you in attaining breathing space;
- when people make decisions based on instinct, they end up happier than those who make decisions based on careful analysis;
- choosing to feel at home frees you to experience the present moment, wit its surrrounding scenery, to the fullest;
- when you are off course, re-direct your energies. Ask: "What do I want right now?"
- go for a walk if you are stymied; - most decisions you could make are of little consequence. Not choosing can be restful! - some people remain poor is that they accommodate poverty...as difficult as it is for them to live in abject poverty, they are not willing to accept the difficulty of making a better life for themselves (according to Prof Kenneth Galbraith);
- get ruthless, drop what doesn't support you;
- constantly read your priorities & goals list;
- clear all your files of deadwood;
- count twice; look for all the ways to re-apply the work you have already done;
Even up to today, the insights from the book still work for me! Many thanks, Jeff, for a wonderful exposition!
To conclude my review, let me say this: Read this book & see how much more you can accomplish in a day & how much more you can enjoy it!
[By the way, the author has a personal weblog, where you can access more up-to-date information. Here's the link.]