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How to Do Less When You Have Way Too Much to Do

This summer my “Do Less” philosophy has been biting me in the ass. If I were to give this summer a title it would be “The Summer of More.”

I didn’t intend to have a summer that was bursting at the seams, but that’s what happened.

We kicked off by launching Origin™ with the most moving parts of any launch we’d ever done. (The results were awesome! Get on the waitlist to know when the doors are open again.)

Just as the launch was starting we made an offer on a house and flew to NYC for an amazing book release.

We paused for a minute after the launch (because creation without the pause leads to burnout) and then the summer took off at warp speed.

West Virginia, London, family visiting, webinars, fundraising for P’s little school, moving, a bunch of day trips, going to Boston for P’s skin treatments, Ellicottville, NY, a beautiful baby shower in CT, and 10 hours in the car for a 36-hour trip, and then a team retreat…plus the usual flow of podcasts, blogs, and Origin™ content creation.

Despite intending this year to be the year of “Do Less” I found myself smack dab in the middle of the summer of more.

Here’s the thing: I have a big appetite. When left untethered, I will veer towards more. Always.

I will say yes to the lunch and the coffee date and the joint venture and the interview and the guest post. Because it all sounds fun! And profitable! And exciting!

I know my appetite for life isn’t going to decrease. I love my enthusiasm and I don’t want it to dwindle.

But I also know that I need to watch my tendency toward gluttony when it comes to my schedule. Because when I try to do all the things, I end up feeling bloated and cranky. And I forget to savor each item individually.

I could feel the wave of too much coming at the beginning of the summer. But each time I looked at what we had planned, there wasn’t anything I wanted to take off the schedule. All of it was a “Hell Yes!”

People I loved. Places I deeply wanted to go. Things I felt super called to create.

But it didn’t feel like I was doing less.

I stood in my kitchen in the morning one day panicking as I watched the summer fly by in a flurry of getting from one activity to the next. I knew that’s not how I want to live my life, so I took a moment to think about how I could approach The Summer of More with the “Do Less” philosophy.

And what I came up with are the 3 D’s of Doing Less Despite Having Too Much to Do.

Here they are:

1. Decide

This is my first nugget for you. When you have a ton of things to do and you sense yourself getting overwhelmed and cranky, take a step back and remember: we have a choice over a lot of what ends up in our schedule. There are things you said yes to. And that’s why you’re doing them. Even things that feel like you “have to” do them are rarely things that you actually have to do. For example, you may find yourself super stressed out about weeding your vegetables and keeping your garden going despite an incredibly busy work schedule. This would be a good time to remember that you not only decided to plant a vegetable garden, you also decided to be in the career that you’re currently in. Yes, there may be parts of that career that you didn’t choose, but overall, you made a series of decisions that led you to where you are in this moment. I find remembering that I decided to have the things in my life that are in my life incredibly freeing because if I decided in the first place, I can also un-decide.

2. Digest

When your tummy is full, you need to digest. When your life is full, you need to digest. I learned about digesting life from my friend Regena Thomashauer at the Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts. One of my favorite methods of digestion are sharing your Favorite Frames, or snapshot moments, with someone else or in a journal. For example, a Favorite Frame of my day today was walking into my kitchen and seeing the president of our company, Licia, standing on a stool to get a really great photo of the doughnut platter she’d put together for our team. Watching her take a moment to savor the display and capture it made me smile. Another one is gratitude. Sharing or writing down what I’m grateful for immediately makes me feel like I have room for more. (And thus, I feel less overwhelmed!)

3. Discern

I have said repeatedly to myself, Mike, and others that I want to have more space next summer. I’m savoring all of the goodness of this summer and intending to be more discerning moving forward at the same time. I have to constantly strengthen my discernment muscles because I will always be a knee-jerk yes person. I love this about myself. And it’s also one of my biggest flaws. While an occasional Summer of More is super fun and I have no regrets about this summer, I don’t want every summer to be this full. Next summer I’m going for spaciousness. Part of my discernment is that I’ve already told our team that I’m going to take most of the summer off next year. So we have a year to prepare for that. And I have a group of people holding me accountable. If you’re also a knee-jerk yes person, who can you get on board to hold you accountable to being more discerning about what you put on your calendar?

Our quality of life is directly related to our level of discernment. 

This summer has been magical. We’re in a new home (still living amongst a lot of boxes), we’ve travelled to beautiful places, and spent time with so many people we love. It’s been full and fabulous. And with my 3 D’s it’s felt like The Summer of More instead of The Summer of Too Much.

So much of our experience of life has to do with our perception of what’s happening, not what’s actually happening. Don’t you think?

Next time you’re feeling like you have too much to do, like you’re overscheduled, or like your life is too full, remember:

Decide

Digest

Discern

With these tools you can create more space in your life anytime, even when–and especially when–it all feels like too much.

OVER TO YOU:

Which one of the 3 D’s feels the most helpful to you? How do you find ways to do less despite having way too much to do? Tell me in the comments!

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