The Quick Report

How to Accomplish More by Doing Less

Doing more appears to be the way to accomplish more, but research shows that the opposite is true. Becoming overwhelmed makes people less creative and productive. Here’s advice for getting more done with less effort.


Doing More Does Not Produce Better Results

We live in a world that’s obsessed with overachievement. Bigger. Harder. Faster. No pain, no gain. More, more, more. However, lots of research shows that doing more does not necessarily produce better results. The opposite is often true.

Take, for example, the Pareto Principle, also commonly called the 80/20 rule. This principle can be applied to a wide variety of situations in life, including business, economics, computing, health, and more. In business, you might hear “80% of sales come from 20% of clients.” Or “20% of your efforts yield 80% of your results.”

Doing Less Improves Your Mindset and Creativity

Creativity is defined as the use of the imagination or the development of original ideas. However, creativity is largely dependent on memory. Therefore, to come up with new ideas, creativity can be enhanced by learning new things.

When we overwork, we don’t allow ourselves time to take a break. Without breaks, we aren’t likely to have the time to engage in activities that fuel creativity.

Further, overwork even interferes with our physical and mental health.

“Taking breaks can improve your mood, boost your performance, and increase your ability to concentrate and pay attention,” according to research done by the Cleveland Clinic.

What Fuels Creativity?

David Ogilvy is considered one of the greatest and most creative minds in the field of advertising. He’s convinced that creativity is fueled by downtime. He wrote in his book Confessions of an Advertising Man that he would require his creative staff to take breaks and leave the office regularly to attend cultural and art events, as well as get exercise and spend time in nature.


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According to research, the following activities can improve creativity:

  • Doodling
  • Listening to music
  • Learning a new skill
  • Changing your routine
  • Meditation and mindfulness
  • Engaging in new experiences
  • Opening yourself up to new ideas
  • Exercise or simply taking a walk
  • Reading and absorbing new information
  • Reimagining someone else’s work (repainting, rewriting, re-composing, etc.)

How to Begin Doing Less to Accomplish More

Start by developing a new mindset toward how you approach your goals. The following will help you stop futile overworking and develop a plan for accomplishing more by doing less.

Read More: Struggling with Motivation? Try Activation

Separate Productivity from Busyness 

Productivity is all about outcome. Many of us spend too much time engaged in busy work that is not necessarily relevant, helpful, or meaningful in terms of accomplishing important goals. Focus only on tasks that advance your goals. If necessary, delegate busy work to others.

Stop Multitasking

Humans are terrible at multitasking. It results in substandard outcomes. Further, it stresses the brain more. Focus on and complete one task at a time. This improves efficiency. Take on the most important tasks first. Ones that advance your goals.

Read More: Why You Procrastinate and What to Do About It

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Working smarter is a product of taking a planned approach. It is centered on achieving an objective. It also focuses on producing quality results. That means working well, not hard. A well-planned strategy combines intelligence and diligence. Break large and difficult tasks down into a series of organized steps. Prioritize tasks.

Read More: Tech to the Rescue: 4 Ways to Conquer Work Stress and Get More Done

Create a To-Do List

Part of a smart strategy involves having a script that will keep you on task. List the most important tasks, by rank of importance, each day. 

Allocate Time for Breaks

Limit unnecessary tasks where you can, and allocate a maximum time for them so they don’t overtake more important tasks. If they are not accomplished, move them to another day and time.

Delegate Tasks

Delegate tasks to others that you don’t need to be involved in. These are likely things that distract your time away from more important things you need to be hands-on with. Also, consider hiring people who possess skills that you lack to help you achieve your goals.

Learn to Say “No”

The inability to say no to other people, as well as ourselves, is a major reason we take on too much and work too hard.

Prioritize what’s important and don’t say “yes” to anything that would distract you from your goals or cause you to miss your deadlines.

Also, say no to anything that would add to your stress or overthinking.