do less

Today we ask you to do less.

Do less.

The time in which you live is in many ways defined by constant activity. 

Not long ago, work in an office ended when you stepped out the door.  People had evenings and weekends truly away from work.  Now work is continuous, because people are constantly accessible via electronic devices.  And expectations are higher than ever.

So people today do more and more and more, and still never get enough done.  Lives are spent in a constant flurry of hectic activity, multitasking, overscheduling.  Caffeine and other stimulants are imbibed in order to keep up with the relentless pace.  Naturally, people are so overstimulated during the day that they cannot get to sleep at night, so drugs are required to help people go to sleep.

And yet for all this doing, are people really getting more done?  Are they more productive?

Or is there a lot of wasted energy?  A lot of storm and fury, signifying nothing.  People sitting at desks, texting and playing games, pretending that they are very busy.  Or busy people who are so exhausted that they cannot think straight or remember things.  

Consider that it will take an exhausted, distracted person at least twice as long to accomplish a task as it would a clear-headed, well-rested, focused person.  Can you see the problem?

So: if you feel like you don’t do enough, even though you’re exhausting yourself trying — and you still want to do more — the answer is simple:

Do less.

If you want to do more, start by doing less.

That is why meditation is a useful tool.  Meditation is an act of “doing nothing.”  You sit and stare at a wall.  You listen to your breathing, and observe your thoughts.  

And yet anyone who engages in the practice can tell you that a lot happens in the midst of all this sitting about, doing nothing.

Reducing activity and stimuli is a form of mental decluttering.

Think about a cluttered work space.  It takes you at least twice as long to find anything in the mess.  And the mess is so daunting that you tend to avoid it — procrastinating just to get away from the wretched pile of things to do.  

But a clean work space is inviting.  It’s no problem to find anything you might look for or need.  Good ideas come easily in an uncluttered space, because there is room for them.

So: if you want to do more, do less.

That doesn’t mean go completely slack in life and turn into a vegetative person who watches TV all day.

It just means, slow down.  Declutter.  Give yourself more space, more room to breathe, to look around and see the sky and trees.

It means, all this constant activity isn’t getting you want you really want.  Multitasking just means you are paying a little bit of attention to a lot of things.  Imagine how far you might go if you gave all your attention to one thing for an hour.

That is why if you want to do more, you must start by doing less.

Many people are afraid to do this because they think it will look bad.  They are afraid they will be judged for not appearing to be busy enough.  So they must keep up the appearance of being constantly busy.  If you ask them how they are, they will always tell you how exhausted and overworked they are.  Then you cannot judge them.

This leads to a very crazy “Alice in Wonderland” reality, in which people are pretending to be very busy in order to maintain an appropriate image, while in reality they are just checking their electronic devices.   

In truth, if you become a more focused and effective person, an attentive and deliberate person, don’t you think people will be attracted to that?  They might wonder what your secret is.  

Your secret is that you do less.  You do more by doing less.  You might even sit staring at a wall for twenty minutes, appearing to be doing nothing at all.

Life gets much easier, when you stop worrying about what other people think of you.  Just because everyone else is constantly crazed and exhausted doesn’t mean you have to be like that, too.  Everyone used to smoke cigarettes.  Humans are notorious for doing things that are unhealthy and counterproductive.

You happen to live in the age of constant activity and stimuli.  It is not healthy.

Quit it, as you would any unhealthy habit.  

Do less, and you will accomplish more.