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laws of subtraction

Taking breaks makes you more productive, less overwhelmed

overwhelmed businessman at his messy desk

No one can stay productive at a desk like this without regular breaks

How often do you feel overwhelmed with things?

How often do you feel quiet – no tweets, emails or status updates firing at, no phone calls or client/boss requests, no attempts at reducing a to do list?

As I mentioned a few days ago, I heard a webinar in which Matthew May spoke about his book,  The Laws of Subtraction (6 simple rules for winning in the age of excess everything).

I intend reading this book, and will review it in this blog, as I am very conscious of how much stuff business people have to deal with. We’ve always had to deal with multiple roles (accounts, marketing, sales, staffing, production, etc) but now we have digital presence and technical changes to keep up with as well.

I am also thinking of reading one of his other books, The Shibumi Strategy (A Powerful Way to Create Meaningful Change). It sounds interesting and apparently is written as a story rather than in typical business book mode.

 Taking and making breaks

Matthew’s fifth law is ‘break is the important part of breakthrough’ and I think that will be a very interesting chapter. I think breakthroughs can change lives – whether it is a breakthrough new product that changes the world or a simpler breakthrough on a better way to deal with a difficult client or finding a new tool that will save you time.

Any break from routine/habit/patterns can make us look around, take notice and see the things we take for granted most of the time. Then we can be more creative and find solutions or new ideas.

I like the idea of regularly getting away from my desk – and by regularly I mean once an hour or so – but I admit I often get caught up in things and stay working for longer than I probably should.

So I want to ask how you fit breaks into your working day/week. Is it something you plan or do you ‘go with the flow’?

What do you do in your breaks?

Limiting information engages imgaination

 Today I heard a webinar based on the book The Laws of Subtraction (6 simple rules for winning in the age of excess everything). Matthew E May, author of the book was interviewed by Suzi Dafnis of ABN.

 His third law hits a similar theme to what I often write so I wanted to share it.

Beach at Ricketts Point, Victoria, in black and white

Limiting colour can engage and stimulate imagination and thought

Law #3: Limiting information engages the imagination

This law is commonly stated as the cliché ‘less is more’ and writers are often told to ‘show not tell’ for more powerful writing.

Giving all the facts leads to overload and disinterests people so I suggest writing as little as possible to suit the message.

But I like Matthew’s twist – I believe it is true that too much information stifles imagination. Giving enough information to set a foundation is enough.

What information can you limit to get people’s imagination working in your favour?

Matthew gave the example of Steve Jobs launching the first iPhone – he showed one, explained some of what it could do and then said no more until it launched a few months later. And something like 20 million people signed up to buy one before it was on sale. That’s a lot of people acting on limited information, isn’t it? 

* Image from Word Constructions