I rely on a journal prompt called “More/Less” quite a bit these days. I use this tool when I feel like my energy is not focused in the right place. When I feel like I’ve been wasting time on unimportant tasks while essential tasks – especially the ones that energize me – are being set by the wayside.
It’s very simple. This exercise is similar to the Working/Not Working exercise, but I find the results more visceral and complete. The information you glean is an end in itself, not a means to an end.
Make Your Lists
Start by drawing a line down the middle of your journal page and label one column “More” and the other column “Less.” If you’re doing this on the computer, just type the names of the two lists and leave space under each.
It’s a good idea to give yourself some structure when doing this, to help you focus and stay on track. Try coming up with 10 items for each list (or 20, or 50…). Or set a timer for ten minutes and don’t stop writing until time is up. The idea is to dig deep.
Now start brainstorming. Write whatever comes to mind – no matter how silly, selfish, implausible, or embarrassing it seems.
The items at the top of the list may be the most urgent. But occasionally, if you let yourself become absorbed in the flow of brainstorming, you might pull a real zinger out at the 11th hour. You may surprise yourself – “I didn’t see that coming!”
When you’re done, you may end up with some easily actionable items. Across from one another on my lists are “More music” and “Less news.” I’ve been listening to NPR a lot. I got an iTunes gift card for Christmas. Problem solved: turn off the radio and download a few new albums to listen to at home.
Some items may require creative thinking. For example, my More list has “living space” on it. My apartment is small and my lease long; there’s not much I can do about that.
But if I think creatively, I realize I could use my bedroom for more than just sleeping. I take a look at what I can rearrange to create a tiny corner that’s mine. Sometimes our needs can be fulfilled in unexpected ways. It’s what my parents called “Yankee Ingenuity.”
Even if you feel like there’s nothing you can do about the items on your lists, just making your needs known and putting them in print can mobilize the forces. The Universe shifts when you toss out your intentions. I call this “synchronicity” – a magical state I first experienced when doing the Artist’s Way.
You might write “More drawing” but get stuck on the fact that you don’t have money to register for a class and you wouldn’t know how to find one anyway. Then the next day you get a course catalog in the mail for a local art studio offering beginning drawing classes for $15.
Bringing your desires into sharp focus means you’re in a state of receptivity when the solution comes along. In my experience, it really does work.
Give it a shot and see if it works for you, too.