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9 Reasons Doing Less Gets You More

Over the summer a girlfriend texted me and asked me if I could teach her how to do less. I chuckled to myself as I read her message because I too am the product of a culture that’s taught me that my worth is associated with how much I do. The concept of doing less is so foreign to us that we need someone to teach us how to stop all the busyness. We’re so caught up that we can’t stop ourselves.

Over the summer a girlfriend texted me and asked me if I could teach her how to do less. I chuckled to myself as I read her message because I too am the product of a culture that’s taught me that my worth is associated with how much I do. The concept of doing less is so foreign to us that we need someone to teach us how to stop all the busyness. We’re so caught up that we can’t stop ourselves.

January can be particularly noisy with messages about the importance of the hustle, the grind, putting in more hours, more effort, and more and more work. There’s a lot of talk about more.

If you’ve ever found yourself saying, “Why did I say yes to this?” or “I’ll have more time for myself when…..” then this message is for you.

Click below to watch.

Last year when I ran the Do Less Experiment for the first time, I heard about a community who thought I’d lost my mind. They simply did not understand how doing less could be a worthy goal that would lead to anything other than their lives and businesses falling apart.

And I so get that. There are parts of me that feel that way still. But there’s a wiser, deeper part that keeps at her low whisper, lovingly urging me to steer my ship towards less.

I had a boyfriend in high school who wrote me a poem that started with the line:

Child of Atlas…

And went on to basically say that I could take the world off my shoulders now. That he promised it would keep spinning without me holding it up. (Much more poetically, but that was the general gist.)

Whether you were raised in a family where you had to grow up faster than you wanted to, you take on more than your fair share of the responsibilities at home and at work, or you feel like the wellbeing of those around you and the world at large are your job to take care of, I see you and I get you because I have also experienced all of those things.

But here’s the deal:

Trying to do it all will eventually be your undoing. 

Trying to do it all will eventually be your undoing.

A little over a year ago I called my husband Mike from my multi-night trip away from our 13-month-old daughter and told him that my new direction in business was finally emerging. I told him about all of my entrepreneurial mom friends who were drowning with the weight of the world on their shoulders. I told him that my new message (for me and for them) was to do less.

He told me that was perfect because, completely independent of this conversation that we had not yet had, he had just ordered new vanity plates for our new car that said “DoLess.”

You can’t make this stuff up.

If you doubt that doing less is even possible or that it could possibly have a positive impact on your life, here’s what I want you to know:

When you do less, you have more energy, time, and enthusiasm for the things that matter the most to you. And focusing in on those catapults your results in ways that feel miraculous but turn out to be a logical result of giving what matters your attention.

When you do less, you’re more present and you actually notice the richness of your life and you automatically feel more satisfied.

When you do less, it doesn’t mean you do nothing. You simply do less – but more of what matters.

When you do less, you breathe deeper because your central nervous system isn’t all jacked up 24/7. And when you breathe deeper your parasympathetic nervous system is activated, which switches your body from stress to relaxation. Relaxed people generally feel happier than stressed-out people.

When you do less, you have more space to respond to situations in your life rather than reacting to them and saying things or doing things that you wish you hadn’t said or done. Relationships get better. You’re prouder of the kind of mother/wife/sister/co-worker/boss/friend/human that you’re being.

When you do less, your intuition gets louder and you’re able to steer the ship of your life based on a deeper wisdom than when you make decisions from the anxiety and immediacy of doing too much.

When you do less, you do the things you consciously choose to do better. 

When you do less, you do the things you consciously choose to do better.

When you do less, the things you choose to do get done faster and more effectively.

When you do less, you have more space to be.

Since adopting doing less as a life philosophy, my insomnia has evaporated, I’m a way better mom, I feel way more connected to my husband, issues that I’ve needed to address for years but have been too busy to attend to have risen to be healed, and for the first time I’m taking my work in the world seriously, and I trust my voice more deeply than ever.

Quantifiable results-wise, we had our first 7-figure year as a company the very same year we made doing less our guiding philosophy, I wrote a second book in 2.5 months (and it was joyful, not grueling), we grew our team to 9 amazing people I’m super proud to work with, and we’re routinely two weeks to one month ahead of our workflow after spending years scrambling and doing things at the 11th hour.

I’m still rewiring my addiction to rushing and the constant pursuit of more, but I’m making progress – and it’s working.

Interested in experiencing the myriad benefits of doing less in your own life? Join me for the second annual Do Less Experience starting January 14th. This free, two-week event serves up bite-sized ways to do less every day so that you can practice it and see what your life is like when you do less.

Sign up for the Do Less Experiment here.

I can’t promise that it’s going to revolutionize your life, but it’s pretty darn likely.

Let’s source our worth from who we are in 2018 instead of what we do. You with me? Sign up here.

OVER TO YOU:

How do you feel about doing less? Is this something you already practice in your life? If so, how? If not, what are the biggest fears that come up around trying it? Tell me in the comments!

  • Ivy says:

    I fear doing less will mean I will not succeed in my dreams, I will lose my passion and will live an ordinary rather than an extraordinary life. I fear in missing out and being a failure.

    • Kate Northrup says:

      Thank you for the courage it takes to name these fears. I think as you do the experiment you’ll find that the truth of doing less is the exact opposite of what you fear and then you can prove your fears wrong!

  • Kelly G Contello says:

    Thank you!

  • Nikki Voelzke says:

    Oh, I need this. I find myself running around, flying from project to project without the focus I need to do the deep work. I’m just busy. Not productive. I’m an intrapreneur in my company (Kate, you actually helped me realize that during the incubator work you and Mike offered during the 2017 B-School period) who wants to start a side business (thanks to my work with you guys and B-School) so the idea of doing less ignites some fear but if I can actually be more intentional and focused, I’m in! Looking forward to joining the experiment.

    • Kate Northrup says:

      I think you’re going to find the experiment so helpful for you as you navigate being an intrapreneur and starting your side gig!

  • Ana María Chajma Izquierdo says:

    I do this sometimes, when I start my work after some holidays and it is great. I feel better thank ever. But I start again, because I think never is enough. I feel good when I acomplish a lot of things, powerful. And then I feel overwhelmed, I do not respect my límite.

  • Ina says:

    My doing less includes no comparing anything to anyone. My life, my way that is perfect for me and my family!!!

    Also no social media of any sort on Sun, no phone except to call family and friends.

    And no automatic email or message alerts on the phone. Rather setting aside 2 windows per day. Hard at times, but more productive and peaceful:)

    • Kate Northrup says:

      I love your no social media rule – that’s so bold and awesome! And yes to no notifications on your phone. I’m a HUGE proponent of that!

  • Jennifer says:

    As I’m preparing my 2018 plan, seeing how many projects there are to develop and create and how much time and resources that will take, and how that contrasts to how I want to live my life…..and deciding what to do about it…

    This post and experiment (love that it’s called an experiment and not a challenge) arrived in my inbox at the perfect time-

    My focus for 2018 is Simple Radiance and this is in perfect alignment with my theme~

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart~
    xo

    • Kate Northrup says:

      I’m so glad this came at the perfect time for you and yes, I definitely wanted to call it an experiment instead of a challenge because life is challenging enough without us adding more!

  • My business is getting bigger and busier, I am attracting more and more clients and I have all these ideas I want to implement but seemingly no time.

    I had the epiphany yesterday that I need to raise my rates so I can work less. I am working myself into the ground and I have very little spare time and when I do have time off I am so exhausted I don’t do anything at all!

    It’s a cycle which is not very fulfilling. I do have fear about raising my prices though and about how I am going to achieve my goals.
    I am all for learning how to do less and make real headway while enjoying the process!
    Thank you!

  • Melanie says:

    My word of the year is FOCUS and I have spent the first 10 days slowing down, feel like it has been s moment of reflection and connection. This idea fits perfectly with my word of the year because focusing has a lot to do with getting rid of the clutter and craziness and focusing and what is most important. Thanks for adding value, may it be returned to you 10x. God bless.❤️

  • Laura says:

    I have practiced this for a long time now; however, since being a single mother with no family in the area, no ex to help and no mommy friends for play dates, I truly don’t know what I can give up. I’d love to date, find a less stressful job, or do something fun but I don’t know what I can release to make the room for it.

  • Lisa says:

    This is so timely as my 2018 intention is to do less and invite more ease into my life. Thanks for offering this!

  • marytoo says:

    This interests me, but I’m a little puzzled. It’s about doing less, but it’s starting on January 14th. Isn’t that a Sunday? Shouldn’t Sunday be a day off?

  • Nadege Pairain says:

    Hello Kate,
    I signed for the challenge and I found it very interesting. I have some friends who are intersted to do it but they don’t understand english/american so I am going to do a private facebook group to translate all your wonderfull exercises. I hope you don’t mind ? I have a question too : is it a challenge which can be applied to women who are not entrepreneur ? Women without kids ?

    Hope you will take some time to reply. Thank you very much for what you are doing.

    Nadege

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