How Doing Less Can Actually Make You More Productive
Do we really have to do more to be more? Here's why I think people can do less and get more out of life.
In a few months, it’s going to be the new year. Which means it’s time for new beginnings.
Time to start going to the gym. Time to start working harder. Time to go after brand new goals.
But what if we don’t?
There’s a widespread belief that the more you do the more you get. Or the better you become. But have you ever found yourself slogging away and still feeling like you’re ten steps behind everyone else?
Maybe the problem isn’t that you’re not going enough. The problem could be that you’re constantly occupied with a range of tasks that has your personal life bleeding into your professional one and the other way around.
In this post, I’m going to argue that doing less is better. In fact, it’ll make you more productive. Let’s take a look at just how that’s the case.
Make room for creativity
Your best work comes when you engage your creativity. Many problems at work don’t need you to just do more or ‘push’.
Rather, finding a creative solution for bringing more customers to your business or developing an easier workflow will help you do more and do it better.
However, if you want to find a creative way to improve your work and home life, then you need to make room for creativity.
Moments of quiet and stillness help you explore your thinking in greater depth. As a result, you’ll come up with new insights and ways to do work better than if you just kept plugging at it.
Focus on what really matters
When you have a long list of things to do constantly, you’re likely giving low-priority and high-priority tasks the same focus and attention.
This simply isn’t a smart way to work since the jobs that do matter don’t get enough attention. And the jobs that are trivial use up your energy and time.
Doing less does not mean that you’re procrastinating. Rather, you’re putting your energy where it’s needed: on projects and people who give you the best results and experiences.
As a result, work that matters gets done. And you can either let go of what doesn’t serve you or delegate work to your teammates or even hire a virtual assistant.
Quality over quantity
When it comes to creating impact in your personal life and work, quality always trumps quantity. If you want to develop a new skill, it isn’t just enough to practice for 10,000 hours. You also need to focus on challenging yourself as soon as you get comfortable with the level you’re in. You need to improve the quality of your practice and work to become truly talented in your hobby.
In business, it’s well known that keeping your current customers happy brings you more money than chasing hundreds or thousands of customers just to get one purchase from them. It’s about the quality of your relationship with your customers that keeps them coming back and bringing you more income.
When you do less, you can focus on the quality of your effort and work. And as a result, your performance, your products, and your relationships become better. The outcomes are many times more rewarding than if you focused on quantity where your energy and attention were scattered.
How to do less
So, we’ve just looked at a few powerful arguments for why you should do less. But what does that mean in practical terms? How exactly can you do less without life falling apart? Here are some tips:
- Read David Allen’s book Getting Things Done. You’ll learn how to prioritize your task and finish small jobs that clutter your mind first. You can then arrange other tasks and goals based on location and timeline so that you approach them in an organized way. You’ll soon find yourself doing less but still being productive
- Learn to delegate tasks. Real freedom lies in having time to do the things you love. When you’re bogged down with a laundry list of trivial tasks, you’ll end up too exhausted to follow your passions. It’s worthwhile to find someone else to take over small tasks. Use errand apps and services that handle some chores. The freed-up time will be well worth the money you spend
- Let go. Face it - there are tasks and goals you just need to stop working on. Maybe your house doesn’t always have to look perfect. And maybe it’s time to drop that toxic friendship you’ve been clinging to because of sunk cost fallacy. Look at the jobs you have lined up that aren’t essential. Drop them and create more time and energy to do what really matters
Trying to do too much does not mean that you'll end up with the most productive days. You’re more likely to feel stressed, feel burned out, and stop enjoying life right now.
Doing less requires a mental shift. We’re so enamored with the idea that we have to be ‘on the go’ all the time, that we’re missing out on truly living.
Not to mention, our best work and creativity don’t appear from rushing. They require imagination, experimentation, and playfulness - something you have time for when you do less.
Look for ways you can practically do less in your life. Focus on quality over quantity and watch how life improves for you.