How to Cut the Irrelevant Stuff Out of Your Life: 3 Helpful Questions

by Henrik Edberg


Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/aussiegall/ / CC BY 2.0



“Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.”
Anthony Robbins

“The one who asks questions doesn’t lose his way”
African Proverb

Consistently asking yourself helpful questions is a great way to keep yourself on track in day to day life. Cutting out and letting go of irrelevant stuff can help you to simplify and relaxify your life. It can help you to find more time for the things that are fun and really important to you.

So combining these two things can be very helpful. Here are three quick questions that can help you to cut irrelevant stuff out of your life.

As you use the questions more and more they tend to start to pop up almost automatically at useful points in your everyday life.

1. Who cares?

A very simple but a very powerful question. Whenever you feel like delving into some nitpicking or some pettiness ask yourself this question. Or whenever you feel an overwhelming need to be right in some discussion.

Yes, nitpicking or having to be right can give you sort of high. You feel good. But it’s a dirty high. It never lasts for long. And you just create a lot of negativity within yourself and outside of yourself in the long run.

Asking yourself “who cares?” is a way to lighten up, to not take every little thing so seriously. It’s way be more open and relaxed with yourself and the people around you. It’s simply a way to be cool about stuff.

2. What is the most important thing I can do right now?

If you are lost in what to do next in your day, week or life, ask yourself this question. The answer might not always be what you want to hear because the most important thing is often one of the harder things you want to do too. But it can help you to check your priorities and stop you from getting lost in busy work – or Facebook or checking some inboxes/blog statistics etc. over and over during the day – and instead start tackling the big stuff.

3. Will this matter in 5 years?

This one can really puts things into perspective. It can make just about any difficulty that you are having right now seem a bit trivial and not as important and heavy as you had imagined the last few days, weeks and months. You may discover that you had expanded a problem and made it a lot more terrifying than it actually is. And you may discover that you can actually solve it more easily than you thought while you were in a somewhat panicked state of mind.

It’s a bit similar to the first question, so try them both when faced with a appropriate situation and find out what works best for you.

If you found this article helpful, please share it on Facebook, Twitter and Stumbleupon. Thank you very much! =)




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{ 17 comments }

Kathleen Krucoff December 3, 2010 at 7:48 pm

Posts like this are one of the reasons why I enjoy following and reading your blog. Great info, easy to implement. Thanks!

Sandra Lee December 3, 2010 at 7:56 pm

Hello Henrik,
Questions #2 and #3 are really helpful and profound. Another version of #3 for me is “Will this matter when I die?”

I also like the focus of Question #1 on not being petty and picky. Lighten up is right! Thanks for these 3 powerful questions. I’m glad you kept the number to a smaller, focused one.

David Smith December 3, 2010 at 9:54 pm

Who cares? What a great question. I have found myself caught up in some of the busy-work you mention and it can take me a long time to recognize it as a waste of time. If I don’t care myself, why should anyone else. I’ll have to ask myself this more often.

Guru Talks December 3, 2010 at 11:32 pm

tHUMBED UP :)

Michael Lerma December 4, 2010 at 5:52 am

I think this piece of advice is great. Working in the corporate world, I find that asking questions is not only a daily thing but almost something you have to do every meeting.

I know that the content of this post is more towards the personal side of things but you must continually ask questions on the business side of things, evaluate if you’re going in the right direction and really get clarification on what direction you’re going to march in before you actually do it.

Great tip. This blog has been an inspiration to read.

Ananga December 4, 2010 at 11:31 am

Great questions I like how number two focuses on productive action and number three puts things in perspective so your head is freed up to take that action. Thank you for sharing this.

Kristin December 4, 2010 at 6:30 pm

So right! And I find myself asking the question when I do something which is time consuming: Is this really important? I then have to force myself to stop and get myself do something that is important.
I enjoy that word: relaxify that you used at the beginning of this post. This is how new words come up and trends are made.

Mara December 4, 2010 at 6:49 pm

What is most important for me to do right now? When there is one task that I dislike to do and leave it on my table, I again and again think of it. As soon as it’s done, I breathe deeply and feel better. To put things off is a negative habit that can play havoc on your well being.

YourFriendsToo December 5, 2010 at 6:50 am

Hey Henrik… loved this article.. I also wrote one with a very similar topic, I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to read it, but the title is: Would you rather be RIGHT or HAPPY? it is very interesting, hopefully you enjoy it and let me know what you think. Will mean a lot ;-) it will be under FOOD FOR THE SOUL
http://www.yourfriendstoo.wordpress.com

Chris Ginsburg December 6, 2010 at 12:12 am

Good suggestions. I think the difficult part is putting these suggestions into motion in every day life. For me, I work with kids who have been dealt a cruel hand in life. I am constantly being reminded that my problems are petty in comparison to theirs. Gaining good perspective is key to eliminating the irrelevant stuff.

Ahmed December 6, 2010 at 8:04 am

Great Quote:
“Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.”
Anthony Robbins

Thanks for this!

EFT for Cancer December 7, 2010 at 2:36 am

I sometimes caught myself overwhelmed by anxiety. But now, following your posts made me realize that I can handle things pretty well. I learned to prioritize things. Thanks for the wonderful insights.

arina nikitina December 7, 2010 at 3:49 pm

It’s always a joy to get my thoughts poked every now and then. This one did it. Not just a good read or another piece of wisdom. Henrik, you remind me that life is about doing what you truly live for and desire. We measure how well we’ve done by setting goals, then having them prioritized for realistic actions needed. The idea to leave out trivialities must be discussed more often as distractions are as forceful as they are negative. Cheers, Henrik!

Henrik Edberg December 7, 2010 at 4:09 pm

Thank you all for your great comments and for sharing your own insights! :)

David December 8, 2010 at 2:03 pm

I like this a lot. One thing I heard recently is simply:

Is what you’re doing right now helping you towards your goal?

Milk Thistle December 10, 2010 at 12:50 am

I enjoyed this post exploring some ways people can cut out the irrelevant stuff in their lives. I think many people could leave healthier lives by considering these three questions.

Robert December 12, 2010 at 3:06 pm

I love how positivity breeds positivity. Every comment about these positive points I read was positive. How often do you see that online?

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