Getting Ahead by Doing Less


If technology makes you feel you have to be on call 24 hours a day, and your to do list keeps expanding no matter how much you accomplish, you may need to learn the lesson of being less productive. The harder you work to get ahead, the more you may fall behind. Then, your stress can intensify. In response, you can start to panic and work harder when what you most need to do is slow down and consider the bigger picture. Getting ahead by doing less is a possibility you might not have thought about.

Even if you feel you are multitasking well and getting a lot done, reducing your activities for a while can be the best way to make you more productive. Take a break so you can reconnect to your feelings and spend time being contemplative. Just sitting or walking alone in a natural area, observing all that is around you, can help you remember universal truths that are easy to forget in the hustle and bustle every day:

Things go in cycles, and there are times for activity and times for rest.
• While we tend to focus on what is dying or being lost, something new is always being born or coming in.
Nothing in nature works in isolation. Different plants and animals support each other, working together collaboratively.

As you consider the truths in nature, you might start to discover ways you can do less. Maybe you can let some tasks go and ask people to help you complete projects you are having trouble finishing on your own.

What activities can you say good-bye to? You might start reducing your to do list by letting go of whatever you find draining rather than energizing. Watch the flow of a river and consider the flow of your life. Observe the changing light at sunset and connect with your feelings about no longer engaging in a familiar activity that has become a burdensome obligation. Let nature relieve your stress by helping you see the role you play in creating an overly ambitious agenda for yourself. Then, you will find ways to reduce the number of stressful activities that are holding you back from doing what you most desire.

What are you ready to let go of as a season of your life comes to a close? What are you ready to begin as a new day dawns? What seeds might you plant if you rid yourself of the weeds that are taking up space in the garden of your life?

Technology might help you to do more, but does that in turn make you take on more obligations? What if you were to simplify your life by not trying to get so much done, or by asking others to help you?

Activities you find energizing may keep you running here to there, from sunrise to well past sunset. But if you are remaining busy to avoid considering what you most want to do, your internal pressure to be productive is problematic. Slow down, become still, and you can start to recognize whether you need to change what is on your to do list. You can consciously choose to set new intentions for what you will achieve. You can start a new course, one that involves greater happiness and contentment.


About Author

Carl Greer, PhD, PsyD is a practicing clinical psychologist, Jungian analyst and shamanic practitioner. He teaches at the C.G. Jung Institute of Chicago and is on staff at the Replogle Center for Counseling and Well-Being. Learn more at

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