Fundamentals of Less Doing is a series of articles detailing how we think about productivity from a conceptual level. If you are new to Less Doing, the Fundamentals series is a great place to start.
There is a hiccup that comes with this lifestyle. When you are constantly working on very specifically improving your life, tailoring everything to work for you and fit your schedule, and free yourself to do whatever you want, whenever you want...it's easy to lose sight of the people in your life that make all that time worthwhile. Granted, for many of you that's not necessarily an issue right now. If you are young and single, then focus on yourself and your own personal growth. When you decide you are ready to share this lifestyle with someone else, you'll be properly prepared. It's not enough to simply free up time for family and friends, that's way too passive. You must actively involve people in your life so that you can love, grow, and ultimately live life to it's fullest.
How Hard Can It Be?
The interpersonal relationship module of the Less Doing lifestyle represents the pinnacle of all other optimization techniques and resources. Once you have mastered all of the other aspects of your life, you can integrate everything to achieve true zen mastery of your journey. Covered in other areas of this chronicle, basics like choosing your workweek, email and call management, and going paperless all work together so that you can turn your attention to others, whether they be your siblings, spouses, or even charities.
I thought I was a very productive individual for a long time. Now that I am married to a woman who created her own successful career and business as a yoga instructor, all the while pushing me to do more and better than I ever had before, I realize that I had no idea what I was capable of before. My wife is responsible for me becoming a published author, competing in endurance sports, overcoming great physical disadvantages, and my most successful ventures. Obviously, you need to have the right people in your life in order to gain some tangible benefit but you also have to be open to receiving their input as well as have the brain capacity to process and act on that input.
How To Put It Into Practice
I recommend two very simple ways simple ways of keeping up to date with everyone and getting on the same page with others. As ridiculous as it may sound, social networking can be a complete waste of time or an absolutely incredible tool. Mindlessly posting updates about your trip from your bedroom to the kitchen is clearly not what I'm talking about. I also don't condone spending your day browsing Facebook. However, if you take ten minutes to check out the pages of your closest friends and family and actually read what they are writing about and click on the things they post, you'll get more insight into what's going on in their realm and what they are thinking about than you realize. You never know when a post about moving apartments gives you the perfect opportunity to lend a hand and spend some quality time with that person. Likewise, by putting up meaningful information about the goings-ons in your day you open that same door for others to integrate themselves into your life. At the very least you should never miss a birthday, especially if you use a tool like fbCal to have an up to date feed in your calendar of those special days. If you need help choosing a gift I recommend GiftGenius (I'll admit I've used it on myself a couple of times with great results).
If we are talking about someone you live with like a spouse or roommate, I personally utilize IdeaPaint. It lets you turn any surface into a dry erase board. My wife and I painted an entire wall of our kitchen and use it basically as a shared calendar. Of course you could accomplish that with Google Calendar but that's very impersonal. We write little notes to each other, events we are going to together, shopping lists (we love to shop for groceries together, one of the activities we choose not to outsource to something like FreshDirect). It's something so simple but works extremely well.
If You Only Walk Away With One Thing
We aren't saying that you need other people to be happy but if you want it, then there are some very good ways to integrate them into all of the other aspects of the Less Doing lifestyle. Utilize social networks intelligently to stay up to date and connect with people and get on the same page with people you cohabitate by using analog means.