[Warning: If you are interested in a calm, comfortable life, this blog will be counterproductive for you.]

Monday, October 8, 2012

How Doing Less Can Help You Do More

I haven't posted much here lately. It wasn't because I decided to do less blogging. It's because I forgot a crucial principle for productivity.

I didn't pay attention to my stop doing list. See, for every new activity and goal you choose to pursue, you have to stop doing something else. And if you don't deliberately manage that, it's possible for really important things to accidentally end up with less time and energy. My life got overfilled and something I care about, but has no immediate consequences, spilled out.

In my case, I got a new phone last week. And not just a new phone, but I switched to a new smart phone with a totally different platform. I "had" to spend a lot of time loading apps and setting my greeting and picking a cool background. Where did I get all that extra time? I did less blogging.

Like most people, I don't sit around for hours a day looking for something to do. My days are full of tasks and people and entertainment. So all that phone setup time came from somewhere. Oh, and the week before that I spent my blogging time working on editing the rough draft of my new book.

Every new idea for something to do has to be evaluated not just by how good it is by itself. But you need to think about what you'll have to stop doing in order to make time for this idea.

Do you have dreams and goals for your future, but they never seem to move closer? Want to write a book? Or run a marathon? Or start a company? Maybe your key next step is not to come up with a new idea on moving forward. Maybe what you need to do first is clear up some energy and time by stopping doing something.

What could you do less of in your life to make room for more valuable activities? What could you outright stop?

Here are some of what I stopped doing to make room for actions I value more:

I stopped watching or reading the news. If it's crucial, others will tell me about it. Or I can go look up that particular issue. (Google News Alerts are awesome for this.) Otherwise, 95% of the news is learning about things I can't do anything about.

I stopped watching TV shows live (I only watch them on DVD or via instant streaming). No waiting for commercials or having to sit down at an exact time. I don't even have to finish the show if I'm tired or have other things to do. Watch as much as I want and then pause and come back to it. (Netflix and DVR technology make this option super easy to do and not very expensive.)

I stopped listening to music on the way to work. I have hundreds and hundreds of CDs (and have them all loaded digitally on the cloud, too). But I wanted to read more and discovered audiobooks. So, I made the choice to "read" on the way to and from work instead of listen to music. (Audible.com offers "memberships" that allow you to purchase book credits for $9ish rather than the $20ish listed.)

IMPORTANT--I'm not saying everyone needs to stop these things. Given my particular list of options, they were good choices for me. I don't miss the things I stopped hardly at all. I and certainly love what I'm doing instead. But you don't have to make the same choices I did. You have a different set of dreams and options. I list these examples only because they are assumptions that many people hold on to--you have to do these things.

What "of course I do this" could you stop doing? What would it allow you to start doing?


  1. Good stuff Woz! Thanks for the thought provoking blog.

    1. My pleasure! Glad I could offer something helpful--or at least interesting. :)