“Yet do much less, so much less, Someone says,
(I know his name, no matter) — so much less!
Well, less is more, Lucrezia.”
~ Robert Browning, 1885
We all know the saying “less is more”, popularized by minimalist architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and first introduced in a poem by Robert Browning. It's a saying that means simple is better and more effective than the elaborate, and that quality is better than quantity.
I apply this theory to the work I do with my clients in transforming their lives from chaos to joy. A significant part of their pain, stress, or disconnect is due to the fact that they are, quite simply, doing too much. From automation, to delegation, to habit-building, to re-prioritization, I teach my clients a vast array of behaviors, tricks, and systems that impact the quality of their lives - almost immediately.
Here’s a half dozen tips for reducing stress, increasing energy, and improving mood so that you can start doing less and being more:
1. Remove all social media apps from your phone.
Are you aware that the average person spends well over two hours per day on social media? Now, just imagine how you could enjoy an extra six hundred hours per year! It’s time to make this energy-sucking habit obsolete so that we can get back to living in the present moment. Think of this exercise as the fast track to replacing a negative habit with a soul-filling one (let's be real: two hours! I could fit in a few ‘good-for-me’s in that time space: A 5km run, a half-hour meditation, some journaling, a power-nap!).
2. Unsubscribe, unsubscribe, unsubscribe.
Due to the various timing and frequency companies send out emails, this will be an ongoing task for a solid month. The payoff? A cleaner, more organized inbox to navigate through, and more time on your hands to tend to emails that demonstrate a higher ROI. Have a subscription that truly provides you with benefit? Instead of unsubscribing, you can set up auto filters so they skip the inbox and are saved in a folder for you to access only when you choose to allocate time for it. Be deliberate here - opting to set up an auto-filter instead of unsubscribing means you want to dedicate your time and attention to that newsletter or update. If it doesn't add measurable value, then Unsubscribe. And remember, you can always visit a company’s website or blog for updates that truly benefit your overall well being. Note: some security tech gurus recommend reporting any questionable, unsolicited emails as spam instead of hitting the Unsubscribe button, to avoid risking being a victim of phishing or internet fraud.
Recommendation: unroll.me (a one-stop shop for getting your subscriptions organized)
3. Setup auto-pay for all of your regular bills.
Taking the time to automate bills will reduce the inevitable stress and utter annoyance of paying bills on time. Another bonus? There’s no risk of accruing interest charges or late fees, so your credit score remains intact too. You’ve got better things to do than manually manage recurring payments every month. Go one step further by making sure your billing is paperless and you’ve set up auto-filters on the bill notices. This way, they will skip your email inbox and go straight to a tagged folder instead. We’re making room for creative action here, by automating a routine, time-sucking annoyance.
4. Meal prep for the week.
Spending a couple hours Sunday afternoon cooking for the week will not only give you more quality time to relax, connect, and delve into your hobbies throughout the work week, but it will also reduce your meal expenses, decrease stress (the last minute dashes to the grocery store, getting dinner on the table too late, grumpy kids - and husbands), and improve your nutritional intake. Not sure where to begin? Here’s a great resource to get you on your way.
5. Bookend your day with meditation.
Meditation improves focus and memory, has great recharging capacity, and is a fantastic stress relief tool that doesn’t cost you a dime. Establishing a mindfulness practice will help you become present and aware throughout your day, ultimately leading to more intentional action and gratitude. Headspace is a great place to start; Insight Timer is my personal go-to. Take 10 minutes in the morning and at bedtime to simply sit with yourself. Don’t “do” anything other than practice being present. This will have the natural domino effect of bringing awareness to unhealthy habits in your daily life that you may want to say goodbye to, as well as the aspects of your life that you’re truly grateful for.
6. Set your phone on Do Not Disturb mode, permanently.
You’ll be able to focus and be joyfully present during the zoom meeting, at breakfast with your kids, or during your walk catching up with an old friend. Without the distraction of your phone’s notifications, you will more readily achieve flow state. By making the conscious decision about when to tend to your phone, you will be able to devote your attention to the present moment and effectively see tasks through to completion that you can be proud of, instead of multi-tasking your way to mediocrity. Putting your phone on DND permanently is a simple way to improve the quality of your output, be it your work projects, or deep conversations with a loved one. Instead of allowing the sound of your device to control where and when your attention goes, you are in charge, you are focused, and guess what? Those you care about will appreciate your conscious choice, big time.
With less emails, interruptions, distractions, and unhealthy habits, you’ll gain clarity, space, and focus to consciously live your life.
No more drowning in the doing of it.
As you begin to make these simple, but courageous changes on your journey towards doing less, take note of what you have more of. Energy? Time? Connection? Love? Ride that wave of positive change and share the wisdom and love with your community.
Because we all benefit when we spend less time Doing, and a whole lot more time Being.