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Do Less, Be Awesome: Why Saying "No" Can Be Your Superpower

Just as I was about to push PUBLISH on a new project—after weeks of building the infrastructure—I had a radical thought:

What if I didn't do it?

What if, instead of continuously pushing, trying, and doing I just...didn't?

What if I didn't do that next thing, try to be better at that one thing, or jump on the latest business trend?

So instead of pushing the button, I asked myself, "What's the worst that could happen if I didn't do Y, but instead really focused on X, which I've already put a lot of time and energy into?" Answer: I still might not find success, but I'll have written more books and had less stress because I wouldn't constantly feel as though my time belonged to everyone else but myself. Then I asked myself, "What's the best that could happen?" Answer: I could write that book, the one that sets my world on fire. I would read more, be more available to my family, have less stress, more happiness and experience more contentment.

I spoke with David, and decided to not push play—at least not yet. All the things will still be there in a week, or a month, or a year should I decide to go that route.

As a person who loves to be busy and feels a sort of importance in being the person who does all the things, choosing to do less feels downright scandalous. But behind and beneath all the bluster, I know the truth:

Sometimes, the most productive thing you can do is nothing.

Think about that for a sec. Have you ever crammed your schedule so tight you end up staring blankly at your computer screen, accomplishing precisely nothing (except maybe achieving a new level of existential dread)? Yeah, been there, done that, got the existential T-shirt (it's surprisingly comfy, but that's a story for another day).

Doing less isn't about laziness, it's about strategic rest and prioritizing what truly matters.  At least, that's what I tell my clients, so why don't I live what I preach? I suppose I'd have to talk to a therapist for the answer to that loaded question.

We are glorious humans and not productivity robots.

We need downtime, we need space to breathe, and sometimes, we just need to chase butterflies—literally or figuratively. I mean, you do you. (Personally, I'd be down for some butterfly watching if not chasing!)

This is what I've learned, what I know to be true. Doing less allows you to:

  • Focus on quality over quantity. By tackling fewer tasks, you can dedicate more energy and attention to each one, resulting in better work (and maybe even a little more fun in the process).

  • Unleash your inner zen master.  Less stress means a calmer, happier you. And a happy you is a more creative, productive you (think of it as a happiness multiplier!).

  • Rediscover the joy of "no."  Learning to politely decline requests that drain your time and energy is a superpower. You'll have more space for the things that truly light you up.

But how do you embrace the magic of doing less?  Here are a few tips:

  • Be honest with yourself (and others) about your capacity.  It's okay to say no to extra commitments if your plate is overflowing.

  • Schedule time for rest and relaxation.  Treat downtime with the same respect you would an important meeting.

  • Learn to delegate or eliminate tasks.  Not everything needs to be done by you.

  • Focus on your most important priorities.  What truly matters to you? Focus your energy there.

Doing less isn't about achieving mediocrity, it's about achieving more of what matters. It's about creating a life filled with purpose, joy, and maybe even a little bit of time for those butterflies.


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