Less is more: How to boost productivity by figuring out what not to do | The Optimist Daily
Today’s Solutions: July 12, 2024

While it may sound completely counterintuitive, evidence supports the idea that if we want to ramp up our productivity and happiness, we should be doing less. As it turns out, when you stop doing the things that make you feel busy but aren’t getting results (and are draining you of energy), then you end up with more than enough time for what matters and a sense of peace and spaciousness that constant activity has kept outside your reach.

So, how do we apply this wisdom of doing less in our own lives without jeopardizing results?

According to entrepreneur Kate Northrup, we need to identify what not to do. This determination can’t be random though. It must be methodical and evidence-based, which is why Northrup developed a surprisingly simple exercise to help individuals decide what activities on their to-do list bring them the most value, and which they can stop doing. Here’s how Northrup’s exercise works.

Step 1: Draw a line down the middle of a piece of paper, lengthwise.

Step 2: Decide on an area of your life or work where you’d like to have better results and less stress. For example, perhaps you want to expand your thought leadership.

Step 3: On the left-hand side, list the tasks or activities you do in that area of your work or life. As an aspiring thought leader, you might list attending conferences, pitching organizations for speaking opportunities, writing new articles, reading and researching, and so on.

Step 4: On the right-hand side, make a list of your biggest “wins” in that area, like a speaking gig, a presentation you nailed at work, or a pitch that was accepted by a major publication. This can often be a difficult step for some people. We have not been culturally conditioned to celebrate ourselves, so often, folks will draw a blank when listing their “wins.” Any result you’ve gotten (either one time or repeatedly) that was positive can go on this list. Don’t get caught up in listing the “right” things. Just list what comes to you.

Step 5: Draw a line connecting each of your biggest wins to the activity or task that was most responsible for that result. Reading and researching, for instance, were essential to getting your pitch accepted for publication, so connect these two.

Step 6: Circle all the activities and tasks on the left side of your paper that have been responsible for your big wins. Look at what’s left. Whatever isn’t circled is something that you need to either stop doing completely, significantly minimize or delegate if it absolutely must be done. For instance, if you discover that traveling for conferences once a month isn’t directly contributing to any wins, it’s time to set that aside or at least cut back.

Repeat this exercise for as many areas of your life that you’d like to enhance through subtraction. Be ruthless. And don’t forget to consider what brings you joy. Not only does happiness make you at least 12 percent more productive, but it’s also what makes life worth living in the first place.

Solutions News Source Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

Florida carpenter ants: nature’s teeny tiny surgeons and wound care exp...

BY THE OPTIMIST DAILY EDITORIAL TEAM From building intricate nests to performing life-saving surgeries, Florida carpenter ants (Camponotus floridanus) are pushing the boundaries of ...

Read More

How to stop ‘stresslaxing’ and actually relax

BY THE OPTIMIST DAILY EDITORIAL TEAM Have you ever tried to relax but then wound up feeling more stressed? You are not alone. This ...

Read More

9 home interior design tips for longevity

The lives and habits of those who live in Blue Zones, otherwise known as the regions where the longest-living people on the planet live, ...

Read More

A new understanding of an old story—part IV of True American, a mini series

"Only by learning to live in harmony with your contradictions can you keep it all afloat." - Audre Lorde Over the course of the ...

Read More