2010 resolution: Slow down for success

I’ve never been big on New Year’s resolutions, but a year ago, 15 minutes before 2009, I resolved to friend–a Charlie Rose fan–at a party in D.C.: “I’m going to DVR Charlie Rose every night.”

Three weeks later, I found myself sitting next to the TV interviewer at a dinner in New York. I told Rose about my New Year’s resolution. “So, are you doing it?” he asked.

“Uh, no, I haven’t,” I answered, suddenly realizing that I’d been caught. After the dinner, I went home, set my DVR to “record this series,” and never looked back…except to watch Charlie Rose, recorded, and delete most of the shows as soon as he says “Welcome to the broadcast!” and reveals his guests.

Lesson learned: Instead of resolving to do more this year, I’m aiming to do less. To slow down.

Not to slack off at work, mind you. (Andy Serwer and Fortune colleagues, take note!) This mindset–to fight information overload and to focus–is quite prevalent right now. Among the holiday cards and packages I received at my office–many from people whom I’d never heard of–came my favorite, from Blake Mycoskie. He’s the founder of a little company called TOMS Shoes. For every pair of canvas shoes that TOMS sells–in Nordstrom and Whole Foods and 24 countries around the world–the company gives one pair to a needy child.

Mycoskie (whom you may have seen in an AT&T commercial that spotlights TOMS’ do-goodism) has a good message for 2010: He sent a framed photo of a rusted green sign that reads “Reduzca Velocidad” and a “Dear Friends” letter that explains the words, which mean “Slow Down.”

After a year of hectic travel and corporate expansion, he says in the letter, this sign that he spotted on a dirt road in Patagonia, reminds him “to spend a few minutes every day smelling the roses, seeing the forest through the trees…” He has the photo on his desk. Now, so do I.

So far, I am slowing down. Fighting a cold, I canceled plans to go back to D.C. for a New Year’s Eve party. While I missed my relatives and friends  there, I caught up on rest, reading, and friends in New York. As for friends who say, “You can sleep when you’re dead”–I’m not as close as I used to be.

Over the holidays, I was riveted by the drama of Urban Meyer, the University of Florida football coach who said on a Saturday that he would resign–citing “self-destructive” work habits such as neglecting his family and emailing recruits in church. On Sunday, barely 24 hours later, Meyer retracted and said he would leave coaching temporarily, to deal with health issues and those other matters. Tim Tebow, the Florida quarterback whom Meyer called “my son” in a December Sports Illustrated story, told the
New York Times
: “He has to delegate more and put more responsibilities on other people.”

Can you relate?

Now, I’m back at work, and a Fortune colleague tells me that she’s gone on a “technology diet.” Meaning: She’s denying herself computer and BlackBerry access from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. each day. On sleepless nights, instead of watching The Office on Hulu at 4 a.m., she reads books (on her Kindle, which is allowed) and plays the piano on her Yamaha keyboard. This reformed behavior helps her digest her information overload, she says. “It’s the difference between snacking on information and sitting down to a meal.”

I’m not committing to a “technology diet.” But I am pledging to “Reduzca Velocidad.” Before I went to bed last night, I emailed Arianna Huffington (at whose home in Los Angeles I first met TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie) and asked her: How much sleep do you get on an average night?

“I can’t believe you are asking me this question!” Arianna emailed back, telling me that at midnight she and Cindi Leive, the editor in chief of Glamour, were launching “Sleep Challenge 2010.” You can read about it on the Huffington Post.

Arianna, who is deceptively well-rested given her globe-spanning productivity, resolves to up her sleep to eight hours nightly. I do too. And in the spirit of helping us all, one more resolution: Instead of writing on Postcards every day, I’m going to write only when I have something to say. That is, when the news or my Fortune reporting or random encounters with interesting people merits my sharing with you. Postcards is, at heart, about how prominent people in business and beyond succeed–or fail. Lots to say, but well worth choosing what really matters. Thank you for reading. Now, go do what really matters to you.

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