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Why I Do Less to Achieve More

Making the case for getting off the busy-ness wheel

The Confession

I am a recovering workaholic. There, I said it out loud.

My professional life, and in many ways my personal life, used to be governed by the principle that I needed to be busy all the time. If my calendar wasn't full, I was...(horrified gasp!)...lazy/unproductive/inefficient/[fill in the pejorative adjective of your choice].

I was raised as a people pleaser. Praise was plentiful when I considered others' needs ahead of my own. I became the gap filler, the one who picked up tasks that fell through the cracks, thought about and planned for the whatifs, made the people around me feel that they could relax because, well, I've got this.

As you're reading, you probably know where those thoughts led me. I was a stressed-out mess, cool and in control on the outside, miserably feeling like a failure on the inside. I became obsessed with all the stuff that wasn't getting done instead of seeing all that I'd accomplished. And the wheel of busy-ness was getting me nowhere in terms of what I thought I wanted to achieve.

Then life forced me to stop.

A New Life

For the past several months, I've deliberately slowed down. I've become more thoughtful about how I spend my time. And I have released myself from the obligation to get everything done NOW. I set more realistic goals and deadlines for myself and modify frequently as the work progresses.

In the process, I have become more focused. I can now define exactly what I'm trying to accomplish rather than defining my goals based on what I think others want or need at the moment. I can tie what I'm doing to the desired benefit to come.

An interesting set of events unfolded. First, I'm healthier. I sleep more soundly, eat more mindfully, exercise more thoughtfully. I've also found that I have more time for activities that I enjoy, such as digging into a huge jigsaw puzzle, lunching with a friend, cooking healthy meals. Most importantly, I've actually become MORE productive. The amount of time I have to spend on a given work activity has actually decreased as my focus and clarity has increased. Amazing!

If you saw yourself in the description above, running nonstop on that busy-ness wheel, I encourage you to think about how you can focus on what really matters and toss the rest. You may find that you end up accomplishing more of what you truly want by doing less.

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