What’s the point of productivity apps, to-do lists and organizational methods?

Why does an article about “10 quick productivity hacks” catch your attention so easily?

The answer is simple: freedom.

We’re all looking for more time and ways to work “smarter, not harder”…and we should be. But you may be missing the first step.

What’s the first step? Well, if you want more freedom in your life, first you must limit yourself…

Why Another Tool, App or Hack Isn’t the Answer

Increasing your productivity is awesome. Half of this blog is dedicated to doing exactly that, but it’s important to increase your productivity in the right areas.

You may be spending hours to make something more efficient, when in reality, it should just be eliminated.

Tools are great for working smarter and getting organized, but first, figure out what needs to go. Then you can start using the tools to make yourself more productive with what’s left.

What You Need in Your Life

What is truly important to you? Family? Relationships? Your business? Leaving an inheritance? A legacy?

That’s your starting place.

Are you working hard towards things that aren’t important? You may be. We’ve all been guilty of it.

Limiting yourself starts with limiting distractions.

So what are your distractions? Television? Video games? The internet? Facebook?

It’s true that being productive means accomplishing what you’ve set out to accomplish, thus, playing video games for a couple hours on a day you’ve set aside to play video games for a couple of hours is actually…productive. But that can’t be everyday.

Your Top 20 (Or Your Top 10, Rather)

Think of a quick, mental list of the top 20 most important things in your life. How important are the last 10 things? Are they even necessary?

In my list, I would include my relationship with Jesus, spending time with my family, my commitment to the Air Force, exercise and this blog in the top five. The next five may include some important things like reading and traveling, but I can assure you that the last 10 items would need to go.

How much can you cut out and how much more time would that give you to focus on your top 10?

What You Need [to cut out] in Your Life

Personally, I know that I could spend much less time scrolling my Facebook news feed and I have. I’ve trimmed my life down to the bare bones and I keep trimming away.

How do you decide what you should cut out? Simple, just ask yourself if it’s getting you closer to your goals on the top 10 items. If it is, keep doing it. If it’s not, cut it out.

Playing video games with my kids on a Saturday gets me closer to my family goals. Playing video games by myself for 15 or 20 hours a week gets me farther away from my family goals. Therefore, I don’t have time for the latter.

Here’s How Freedom Through Limitation Works

If you want freedom, you must limit yourself. Overindulgence is not the answer.

I could try to explain “freedom through limitation” and the importance of it all day, but instead, I’ll save your time and use an example to sum it all up. Here’s how this works:

Cheat days are a great example and they work for almost everything.

The most common use for cheat days is dieting, but it can also work for other things you typically overindulge in, like technology. Here’s how it works: give yourself one day each week to overdo it. Eat whatever you want, watch TV all day, play video games from morning until midnight, if you want.

But here’s the kicker: you have to stay disciplined for the rest of the week. A cheat day on a diet won’t be effective if you’re cheating throughout the week as well. Once you get this down, it’s extremely freeing. The food will taste better, the games will be more fun and you’ll still be working toward your goals.

The best part? You won’t feel guilty for doing it.

I remember the first cheat day I gave myself when I first started the Body for Life diet, that helped me lose 50 pounds of fat. It was a good day. I ate everything that I had wanted to eat all week. It felt great knowing that I was still climbing toward my weight loss goals, as I was eating half of a large deep dish pepperoni pizza.  And after an entire day of it, I was ready to not look at unhealthy foods for another week.

Set Limits and Give Yourself Freedom

So if you want to put this into action today, start with a cheat day in some area. See how freeing it is and then branch out into the rest of your life.  Adding discipline into your life will only give you more freedom.  Limits allow for freedom; the freedom to live your life to the fullest.

If you want true freedom in life, you must limit yourself. When we overindulge on a daily basis, we feel terrible (mentally and physically), we feel guilty and we often feel sorry for ourselves.  We don’t even enjoy the things that we continuously overindulge in.  Moderation and limitation brings the enjoyment back.

If you want to feel better and be happier, set some limitations.  You’ll thank yourself.

What are some areas you could limit to give yourself more freedom?  Share in the comments!