Do Less, Accomplish More

This post was written by Nihara of Doing Too Much.

Does it seem like the more you race around trying to get things done, the less you actually accomplish? Do you feel like you’re constantly tending to little things without making much progress on your bigger, more important goals? Do you often leave behind a trail of half-done tasks as you make your way through each day?

Getting things done—especially meaningful things—is tremendously satisfying. The sense of accomplishment, closure, and a job well-done brings a terrific psychic boost. And if your to-do list stretches for miles, checking something off your list makes you feel a tiny bit lighter and freer.

The converse is also true. When your days are a blur of tasks that are begun but not finished, you can start to feel like you’re drowning in an ocean of things you have to do. You can’t relax or reach your potential when you are completely underwater at work or at home.

There is a solution to the problem of feeling overwhelmed all of the time: do less, and you will accomplish more without even trying. Sometimes, the best time management strategy is also the simplest.

Give your mind less to think about, and you’ll get more done. You’ll make fewer mistakes, you’ll come up with better ideas, and you’ll be able to actually relax during your down time—so you can recharge your batteries and be more productive tomorrow.

If you’re wondering how you could possibly do less or go at a slower pace, here are some ideas to get you thinking.

1. Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow

Not everything needs to be done right now. When you have too much on your plate, it is perfectly okay to postpone the not-so-important tasks to tomorrow (or next week or next month).

2. Lower your standards

Perfection is for magazines and mannequins. Real people don’t have to do everything perfectly all of the time. Doing a so-so job on tasks that are not important is a powerful time management strategy, because you’ll have far more time and energy left over to devote to the projects and goals that matter most to you.

3. Get someone else to do it for you

You are only one person! Even if you never sleep, you simply can’t be everywhere or do everything yourself.

Think of ways to unload some of the tasks on your plate to someone else. If you are drowning at work, can you hand off some of your lowest priority projects to someone junior to you? If you are overwhelmed at home, can you get your spouse or your children to pitch in? Can you create more time in your life by leaning on your network of family and friends, or hiring some help to handle the chores you like the least?

Remember: the less time you spend on tasks someone else could be doing for you, the more time you will have available to focus on things that you (and only you) can do.

For more insights and ideas on how to do less (but accomplish more), read the simplicity posts on Zen Habits—a blog dedicated to finding simplicity in the daily chaos of our lives.

How can you do less—and accomplish more—today?

Nihara is (slowly) figuring out how to make the most of her time and her life—and you can too. Read Nihara’s thoughts on how to live a better, saner life at Doing Too Much.

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  1. Hi Nihara,

    Perfect tips to do less and get more done! It is true that there is no point in pulling yourself so hard to get everything done by yourself and right now.

    I recently wrote a post on how procrastinating certain things can be good to your productivity and this idea is something in line with yours. And as you say, when something can be done tomorrow it is totally wrong to try to get it done today, unless there are no incomplete tasks for today.

    Great thoughts.


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