Over the weekend I completed a two-day course in stand-up comedy, culminating in a graduation show on the Sunday night. The lessons I learnt on the course are many but the thing that stood out for me the most was the importance of eliminating the unnecessary.

This concept was introduced as we were taught to edit the five-minute sets we had been asked to write. Step one was to identify the punch line in the joke and then circle it. Step two was to identify and circle each piece of relevant information required to set up the punch line and step 3 was to remove any remaining information that was unnecessary or irrelevant. I cut a lot out of my script. The effect of removing the unnecessary information was significant and in nearly all cases gave the punch line far more impact.

I’ve spent the last few days mulling over the concept of eliminating the unnecessary, not just in writing but in all areas of my life. I’m moving house next weekend and then the week after that is Christmas so I have a lot on my plate. Focusing only on the necessary and relevant things on my to do list helps prevent me from feeling overwhelmed and enables me to focus on what is important.

In eliminating the unnecessary today, I removed the pressure to get my post out before midday, I removed the effort required to find a photo to accompany the post and I’m removing the need to write 1000+ words. None of those things are necessary to get this message across and in eliminating the unnecessary I’m hoping that the message is all the clearer.

What unnecessary or irrelevant activities, thoughts or feelings could you eliminate from your life today in order to make the most of your time? 

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