You know that I’m a big proponent of working hard, which sometimes translates to work more, never stop learning & continue to accomplish more in life. However life is not all about racking up lists of accomplishments & goals. If this is your one & only way of validating self worth- you might get discouraged & burn out very quickly. The tail will end up wagging the dog. The time passes by in a speed of light, as we jump from one item in our list to the next. The common philosophy is that if you don’t move forward, you stand still or move backwards. Instead of swallowing one project after another and keep extending your to do list, reverse your process once in a while and find a shortcut of how to do less. More is, well, not always more. I’ve read somewhere that overachieving is the enemy of productivity & happiness. What if getting more done isn’t by addition, but subtraction?
We all need breaks. Walk away from your work, your to-do list & your calendar. Leave this time for absolutely nothing. Allow yourself to waste time & just hang out. Go for a walk or run & literally only walk or run. With no music in your ears. Don’t think about anything. Don’t even be mindful (that’s more thinking). Let your mind just wonder off & see where it takes you. Do you need a break from seeing people? Go for it! Time alone will clear your head. Ditch unnecessary meetings. Delegate some of your workload if you absolutely must but always check on progress & don’t lose the pulse. Slow down & make more time for yourself. Use your time more meaningfully & productively so you have time for things that give you joy. Celebrate by doing less that day. It’s not about doing less physically, but working differently. Consider what else you might stop doing. Remove unnecessary busy work in lieu of doing what really matters. Have habits & routines in your life. When you have a “system”, doing things efficiently is never a question. It also eliminates meaningless decisions & will make you more productive.
To conclude, I’d like to share an exercise that I came across once. First, identify a specific goal or an area of your work that you’d like to improve. Then, take a piece of paper and divide it in half. On the left-hand side, make a list of all of your daily tasks, and on the right-hand side, make a list of your biggest “wins” — the work milestones you’re most proud of. Draw a line connecting each of your wins to related daily tasks, and circle those tasks. Finally, step back and look at what’s left uncircled on your list. These are the tasks that you should either stop doing, significantly minimize, or delegate to others. Abandoning work that isn’t helping you meet your goals will give you more time to focus on the work that is. I hope this helps you do more by doing less.
“Improved productivity means less human sweat, not more” – Henry Ford