How less can help you have more of what matters


"Clarity about important issues provides clarity about what is not happening." ~ Cal Newport

Our culture celebrates the image of being able to do it all. Having it all. Weighing work and life while being a huge success in both. With the big house, the bright new car, the husband or the husband, our children and pets await us with big smiles at the end of the day. Always happy. Feeling of continuous fulfillment. Living a life full of sunshine, light and adventure at all times.

It's a nice picture. It is very intoxicating. It is also a great myth. A myth that can lead us to a dangerous course. In response to the message we can they have it all, many of us are trying do it all.

We are trying to do too many things at the same time. Chasing multiple goals at once. Multiple tasks, mental juggling, spin spinning, and generally the hunted tail follows soon. As is the case, we begin to live in a situation of constant distraction, away from achieving anything of real value.

Starting is much easier than finishing, so we're getting even more involved, even if we're already overloaded. We run out of ourselves. We begin to feel flat. We know there must be a better way, but we have lost the sense of what might look like the road. We are lost with employability.

A Different Way – Narrow Focus

What if we try to go in a different direction? Instead of chasing more, we could choose to deliberately focus on fewer.

We could commit ourselves to focusing on things more closely. Stop the noise and discard the distractions as best we can. We could concentrate on one thing at a time, get it done and then start with everything else. Replace the multi-task feature with just one task. Stop chasing the bright and new and pursuing variety, for the sake of distraction, as it re-connects with the ability to focus deeply.

The narrow and deep approach is becoming more and more rare in a world so attractive to distract. Many of us lose contact with our ability to sit and really focus on one thing at a time. Instead of an inch-long approach, depth of miles, we go in the opposite direction. We spread ourselves wide but rarely deep.

We are dealing with an overwhelming amount of information every day. Simply turning on our smartphone opens the world – literally. Alerts and pings tell us that another incoming message is here, and we feel a mini-endorphic rush with each. We know friends for lunch, but we can not resist the urge to test our tiny screens every five minutes. We rush out of this commitment to the next, we never really feel that we are really over things or the present.

We are busy, no doubt, but what exactly do we do?

The truth is that these distractions are here to stay. If anything, they are likely to grow. We must capitalize on our ability to focus deeply, despite distractions. We have to take control and appreciate the power of positive constraints.

My story: Hitting the wall and turning back

I appreciate the inherent power of limiting our focus because for a long part of my life I have lived another way.

I worked for many days. I kept a list of obligations that got more and more. I have covered the workload of team members, whether very lazy or unable to do their job, and I certainly started earlier and stayed later.

I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about the next deadline. I have lived in an emergency, a steady state of reaction. Caffeine contributed to the burning of this condition. Like a 100 meter sprinter waiting for the gun to go, he would wait and wait for the next stroke. And then, as you may have guessed, I suffered from burning!

I was exhausted, both physically and mentally. Not only tired but spent. Outside, I saw a sense of calm and control, but from below I was too hard for a long time. I have to get back. I was on a path that definitely did not look like my path.

I knew there had to be a better way. I knew this was my life, but it could not have been my life. I wanted something different. More than that, I needed something different to thrive. So I took action.

What followed was a concession period. A commitment to simplifying my life and my approach to my work.

I cut my catalogs into pieces. Instead of trying to get everything right, we focused purely on one or two main tasks a day. As soon as I did these things, I gave myself permission to move on. I completed repeated jobs (phone calls, meetings, email, etc.), but refused to be jailed by the inbox. I really started thinking about my days. I'm concentrating on less, but ironically I got more done.

I was so dedicated and determined to do this new path and the related changes, to stick to the fact that I did everything. Usually the changing habit, experts recommend that small changes be made over time to leave new habits to curb. While this is a good tip on the surface, I knew I needed a more immediate change. I had tried the other way and led me here. Here (then) I did not want to be. I did not want to live my life constantly burning and stuck in reactionary mode.

Therefore, I continued the race of the rabbit to simplify my commitments.

I learned and I used the power of "no." We trained, guided and supported the team members, but we stopped doing their work and thinking about them. I learned that doing the right things (and sometimes the hard stuff) ahead can mean that other tasks no longer have to do at all. I realized that someone else is urgent does not always make it my urgency.

I embraced the power of 80/20 thinking and realized I did not have to do everything. This means I focused on who and what most important to me-the 20 percent of my life that provides 80 percent of the value-and leave other demands in my time to go.

I took the free space back in my days and I no longer felt the need to pour it into it. I have time back, I took energy back, I took my life back.

And a funny thing happened cross-legged. More than ever, other people began to notice that I was someone who did the things. Words such as "organized," "focused," and "takes seriously his responsibilities" appear regularly in feedback.

I became known for meeting the deadlines with minimal disruption, someone who was confident to give priority to my own workload and the workload of others.

I became known as someone who could navigate through complex projects and environments, focusing the effort on what is most important.

Enhanced, I began to double my approach. I did self-employment and started using these skills to help organizations achieve their goals. I liked my work more and my rewards for this work increased. My freedom and flexibility in my work increased. Now I had a lot more words about how I worked, my time and my work is no longer at the mercy of others.

My health, mindset and prospects have improved. I got 'back'.

That was about ten years ago. If I can, I'm sure you can do it. Your trip will be yours, of course, but if you hit the point where your commitments are filled and your time no longer feels yours hour, it's time to stop and get back.

The words will not justify how difficult this process is, depending on your circumstances. However, I promise you something, the effort will be worth it. If you do this, you will never want to look back.

Let go of having everything and chasing it all

Limiting our focus means that we have to pay attention to a few selected areas of our lives at the expense of others.

We recognize the handful of things that matter most to us (relationships with our loved ones, our health, our work, self-improvement, contribution) and we give them priority. We let some of the other things go, or set very clear limits.

In our workplace, we identify the areas in which we can offer our best point of reference and try our best to concentrate on these areas. Perhaps this means less time in our inbox and less time in meetings (if this is an option) so we have more time to design, strategy or create. Maybe it means something else.

In our lives, it means that we have time for those who are most concerned about us. We do this quality time and we really get in and invest fully. We hear, share, love, contribute. We also have time for passion work and hobbies. We invest in our physical, mental and spiritual well-being. We challenge ourselves, but we are also kind to ourselves.

Choosing to Chase Less

We can all use the power of positive constraints to hunt less, but to focus more.

Take fewer, but do more.

We can all take small steps to try to plan our days for success.

The result may be that we get more behind what we thought was possible. Personally and professionally, we can approach a point of our highest contribution. We can see that doing less, but doing it better, gives us the freedom to be the best of ourselves.


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