5 Ways to Do Less, Get More

We’ve all been sold on the ‘more is better’ myth — you know, work more so you can live an enjoyable life ‘some day’, buy more stuff so you can be happier, do more so you can be a well rounded, responsible person, have more friends so you can be happier…you know how it goes.

I used to be just as guilty of this as anyone. As the former Queen of Busy, my life was filled with projects, appointments, meetings, and email, email, and more email! But everything changed when I realised this one simple, but totally counterintuitive principle:

More isn’t the answer. Less is!

There’s no point in spending your days like a hamster on a wheel in hopes of happiness ‘some day’, there are no prizes for doing your own dishes, and your stuff can become a straightjacket before you know it. If you want to live a truly extraordinary life, you need to do less so that you can get more.

Start by…

Decluttering, mentally and physically.

All that stuff in your office or home is stressful — you need space to be creative, so go through your living and working spaces and get rid of anything you’re not actively using or that you don’t really love. The same goes for your beliefs: what beliefs do you have that are holding you back? For instance, I used to have the (deeply hidden) belief that you can’t make money being creative. Once I figured out that it was there and eliminated it, I rewrote 70% of a book in just a few weeks!

Clear out your schedule.

Your time is an incredibly precious asset, so don’t waste it on things you don’t really want or need to do. Instead, use your time doing things that you love or that are in your area of genius, and ditch or delegate the rest. You’ll accomplish more, and you’ll feel so much better.

Work less, but more intensely.

I’ve written before about the 80/20 rule — 80% of your results come from 20% of your effort. Use this to your advantage with your work, and spend less time working overall, but work more intensely during that time. A great way to do this is to batch projects. So instead of, say, writing a blog post every week, write all of your blog posts for three months on one day. You’ll get into the flow of writing so it will go much more quickly, and you don’t have that constant deadline hanging over you.

Curate your relationships.

The 80/20 rule also applies to your relationships: 80% of your joy will come from 20% of your relationships. Now I’m not saying that you should go around cutting out almost everyone from your life. But be really careful with who you spend your time with, and focus on those in the 20%.

Learn how to say no often and easily. 

This one can be especially hard for women, since we’re often expected to say yes and can feel really guilty for rocking the boat or feeling like we’re letting someone down. But life is way to short to overcommit yourself to a bunch of things you don’t want to do anyway — and you need time to focus on your own goals and dreams. Here’s a quick and easy way to determine whether a request is a yes or no:

Say yes if:

it needs to be done

it’s worth doing

you want to

Say no if:

its purpose is unclear

it’s not going to benefit either of you in the long run

someone else could do it equally well or better