There’s a lot of writing on the internet—some of it mine—about how overcommitted most of us are. Productivity bloggers urge us to narrow our focus to our most important work and cut out much of the rest. Do less, better.

The problem with this otherwise sound advice is that most of us struggle to put it into practice. Voluntarily backing away from commitments is easier said than done, and I’m currently exploring an alternative approach—committing to additional important work and letting it force out the trivial.

This week, I started my PhD at the University of Missouri. Frankly, I don’t know where I’ll find the daily time to do the work for this degree without neglecting my family, my job, my health, etc. But I know I’ll find it, and that time will have to come from somewhere. With careful daily and weekly planning, I believe I can use this additional important commitment to organically reduce less-important commitments and time-wasting behaviors. I’m betting that, just like becoming a father did, this degree will force me to use my time more efficiently.

This is an experiment, and it may fail. I may have to simply cut other important commitments from my life in order to make time for PhD work. But I’m eager to use myself as a case study to see whether this approach has any merit!