Accomplishing more by doing less – who wouldn’t want that!
To accomplish more by doing less involves a simple yet profound transformation: it’s a different way of being in the world. You may, in fact, be no less engaged, but you will be less scattered and distracted, and you may accomplish more of what matters to you, more of what aligns with your deepest purpose and intention, more of what brings you satisfaction and connection with others, more of what you believe really needs to get done.
Doing less and accomplishing more is about aligning your actions with your values and your particular passions. By becoming more at peace with yourself, with your self-worth and your ability to choose freely, you will spread that into the world, which will become that much more peaceful and sane as a result.
Here are five practices for doing less and accomplishing more:
1. Take the time to mentally and physically rest in between or outside of your usual activities, perhaps instituting a regular practice of meditation, retreat, breaks, and reflection. If time allows, consider a walking meditation during a lunch break. Meditation can be like a refreshing elixir that hits the reset button on your body and mind, allowing for greater and more leveraged engagement and activity.
2. Practice bringing greater awareness to each activity, and each conversation. Deliberately pause in the midst of activities. This can be as simple as noticing your resistance or lack thereof when engaging a task, or taking a moment to notice the breath in between reading or sending emails.
3. Work on identifying and reducing unnecessary activities. In this case, “unnecessary” means those things that are not in alignment with what you want to accomplish. This is the practice of clarity – doing more of what matters and less of what doesn’t matter.
4. Treat everything as important and take pleasure in it, no matter how mundane the activity. At bottom, whatever we are doing right now is what we are engaged in and it deserves our full attention and appreciation. You do less by the very quality of your doing. This is the practice of being completely present, without sacrificing or rushing, or striving to get to “more important” stuff.
5. Integrate effort with the practice of effortlessness. With practice, we all can find that sweet spot that combines engagement, creativity, and composure. Effort and effortlessness are states of mind, driven by our underlying approach and attitude. Doing what we choose, and doing what has meaning and/or has benefit to others, requires less effort than that which we haven’t fully owned and embraced.
I would propose that we always accomplish more when we approach each moment and task in an open, relaxed, and fully engaged manner – whether leading a meeting, answering emails, or taking our children to school. In this way, our sense of accomplishment depends more on the way we act (which we can control) than on the results (which may be out of our control). No matter the chaos of any particular day, this can become one of our most important and useful aspirations and measures of success.
Experiment by playing with and testing out effort and effortlessness. Notice when you are making just the right amount of effort. Choose any of these five practices and see how this impacts your stress level and your productivity.