Hack Away at the Unessential

It's not the daily increase, but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential. - Bruce Lee

A few years ago I shared a video from Joe Rogan where he discussed the concept of striving to become the hero of your own movie. Rogan’s original message was powerful and quickly went viral. It’s one of those videos that never gets old and always provides a quick boost of energy. There’s a good chance that many of you reading this entry have heard it before. If not, you can listen to an abbreviated version below.

Yet, even if you’ve heard it before, I encourage you to listen again. One of the most important pieces of advice that Rogan offers isn’t about what you need to do, but rather what you need to stop doing. In some ways, you could say that Rogan’s advice is similar to Bruce Lee’s classic message about hacking away at the unessential.

Be the Hero of Your Own Movie

When listening to the video, I urge you to pay particular attention to what’s said at approximately the 37 second mark.

As stated within:

“Write down things that you’ve done in the past that you never want to see yourself do again.”

So often, we think of a hero as a person or figure of action. After all, no one becomes a hero without heroic acts. The hero is the doer. They go out and do things. They are defined by their actions.

Yet, while the hero may be defined by action, such actions may never happen if the individual doesn’t first hack away at the unessential. Therefore, when considering what the hero would do in your movie, it’s useful to first identify what the hero would not do.

Beyond Your To-Do List

Most people who wish to elicit change in their life focus on what they need to do. I’d bet money that almost everyone reading this entry has at one time created and followed a to-do list. Unfortunately, creating a to-do list doesn’t guarantee that you will get everything done. One of the biggest barriers to change is wasted time. Ultimately, there’s only so many items you can knock off your to-do list if you waste all day engaged in activities that don’t contribute towards your betterment.

With that in mind, the to-do list is really no more important than the “no longer do” list. If you truly wish to change (improve), you need to hack away at the time wasters that eat up your day. For example, how much time to you spend watching television and browsing social media? How often do you check your email? Are there any other mindless activities that you can cut back on?

Take a moment to honestly audit your day in search of time wasters. I’m sure we can all hack away at a few items that do nothing but waste time.

Have a Plan

Cutting back on time wasters is certainly a great start, but you also need a plan to move forward. You should wake up each day with a clear list of actions and priorities. Don’t waste the first half of your day trying to figure out what the hell you need to do. Figure it out the night before so you can wake up and get started.

I spend a few minutes each night jotting down exactly what I would like to accomplish the next day. I don’t use any fancy apps or programs. I just jot a few things down in a notebook that is always close by. The few minutes that it takes each night gets me eager to attack the next day before it has started. In other words, the momentum that starts in the evening carries over each day.

It’s a continuous cycle that has certainly helped me to accomplish more in days that never seem long enough to get everything done.

Final Thoughts

As I said before, I’m sure many of you have already heard Joe Rogan’s speech about becoming your own hero. He certainly delivers a powerful message that will get your blood flowing. Just be sure that your excitement to move forward is coupled with an assessment of existing time wasters that must be abandoned. Doing more often requires that you do less.

Always remember that ambitious people don’t have the luxury of living longer days. We are all limited to 24 hours. Thus, the people who do get ahead in this world don’t just do more than everyone else. In some respects, they also do less. They waste less time with mindless activities that do not contribute towards their goals.

In summary, seek to hack away at the unessential and focus more on the actions that will help you to become a better version of yourself.


“One thing you can’t recycle is wasted time.”


  1. Thanks for posting this Ross. A good book on this theme is “the 4 disciplines of execution”. Helps prioritise 1 or 2 things and have a clear focus.
    The problem with “to do ” lists, is that everyhting becomes a priority!

  2. Thanks for posting this Ross. A good book on this theme is “the 4 disciplines of execution”. Helps prioritise 1 or 2 things and have a clear focus.
    The problem with “to do ” lists, is that everything becomes a priority!

  3. Hi Ross, awesome post! The biggest thing on my “no longer do” list is to not spend hours and hours on Facebook. I’ve just completely gone cold turkey and have freed up so much time for me to achieve my personal and professional goals.

  4. Awesome post Ross!

    One thing I always ask myself as I am going about my daily routine/tasks is ‘is what I’m doing right now making me better or worse?’

    Each time the answer has been the latter, I know I’m doing something wrong. I’ve found this has been really good at stopping me from procrastinating and getting more life out of the days.

    Also, I completely agree about writing stuff down. It’s almost like everything begins to unfold as soon as you have written down clearly defined tasks/goals.

    Since buying a diary, I’ve been the most productive I’ve ever been in years!

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