What do you do when you have too many ideas and not enough time? Or similarly, what about when you have too many tasks and not enough energy?
As an entrepreneur, I feel like I’ve been battling this issue for a while.
There is always another opportunity to chase or a new product idea that sounds exciting.
For a long time, I felt guilty about ignoring good ideas that came my way, so I kept adding more to my to-do list.
However, during a recent conversation with Travis Dommert, I learned about a new strategy for dealing with the issue of having too many ideas and projects.
It all comes down to treating your life like a rose bush. Let me explain what Travis taught me:
1. Ideas are like rosebuds
As a rose bush grows, it creates more buds than it can sustain. If you talk to an experienced gardener, he or she will tell you that rose bushes need to be pruned to bring out the best in both their appearance and their performance.
You see, a rose bush isn’t like a tree; it can’t grow wider and taller each year. That means, if you never trim away some of the buds, the bush will eventually exhaust itself and die.
There are only so many resources to go around. And, if you really want a rose bush to flourish, it needs to be trimmed down not just once, but each year.
Ideas are like rose bushes; they need to be consistently pruned and trimmed down.
And just like a rose bush, pruning away ideas — even if they have potential — allows the remaining ideas to fully blossom.
We face constraints in our lives. We have a limited amount of energy and willpower to apply each day.
It’s natural for new ideas and projects to come into our lives, just like it’s natural for a rose bush to add new buds, but we have to prune things away before we exhaust ourselves.
In other words, new growth is natural, and it’s normal for tasks and ideas to creep into your life, but full growth and optimal living requires pruning.
2. We All Need To Cut Good Branches
I like the rose bush analogy because it brings up something that is often lost in conversation about productivity and simplicity.
If you want to reach your full potential, cut out ideas and tasks that are good, but not great.
From my experience, this is really hard to do.
If you’re building a business, maybe you have three product lines that are profitable. Your business might grow by five times if you focus on all three, but which product line will grow by 500 times if you put all of your energy into it?
If you’re training in the gym, there are all sorts of exercises that could make you stronger. But which two or three exercises will build a foundation of strength better than anything else?
If you’re thinking about the relationships in your life, there are dozens of people you are connected to in some way. But, which people bring energy into your life and which ones suck energy out of it?
Most rosebuds could grow if they are given the chance. In other words, most buds are like a good idea; they have potential, but in order for the entire bush to flourish and live a healthy life, you have to choose the buds with the most potential and cut the rest.
3. The Bottom Line
Gardener and writer Elizabeth Roth says, “Roses that are left unpruned can become a tangled mess of old and new canes all competing for air and light.”
We can say the same thing about our lives. A life left unpruned can become a twisted knot of ideas, tasks and projects competing for your limited time and resources.
If you don’t prune some of the branches from your life, the important ones will never flourish.
James Clear writes at JamesClear.com, where he shares science-based ideas for living a better life and building habits that stick. To get strategies for boosting your mental and physical performance by 10x, join his free newsletter.