- Scott H Young - https://www.scotthyoung.com/blog -

Do Less to Be More Productive

Note: This is a guest post by Leo Babauta, a fellow PBN [1] member, who blogs at Zen Habits [2] about setting goals, creating habits, productivity, GTD, motivation, exercise and more. If you enjoy this post, I recommend you head to his site for more inspirational writing.

Many articles on productivity will teach you how to do more and more in less time. Greater output = greater productivity, right?

I’m here to argue the opposite: by focusing on producing less, you can be much more productive.

Let’s take a simple example: Larry and Bob are both writers (or code-writers if you prefer) at a company, and both are very good. Larry spent all of March writing like crazy, producing the most number of articles (or programs if you wish) in the whole company. None of them were very important articles, but he did a ton of them.

Bob on the other hand only wrote one article. But it was extremely well researched, and it was a major hit. In fact, it’s a candidate for the Pulitzer prize (or whatever award works for you) and is getting the company some major attention. It got a lot of readers and a lot of advertising for the company. Although Bob only produced a small fraction of the output of Larry, his output was of a higher quality and was much more profitable. Bob was more productive.

And get this: he was less stressed out too.

The key is not in trying to do more, but in focusing on what will bring you the most return, and focusing on doing that well. In order to do that well, you must simplify. Cut back on the number of goals and tasks you have on your plate, so that you can focus on the most important ones.

Simplifying isn’t an easy process. It requires us to step back and take a larger perspective on our lives, and it requires us to let go of things or say no to many requests when we’re not used to doing that. But the payoff is great: you’ll be able to actually complete things, to actually concentrate on doing them well, and to see a huge return on your time investment instead of just exhausting yourself by spinning your wheels.

How can you simplify and focus yourself to become more productive? Here are some suggestions:

Read more posts by Leo Babauta at Zen Habits [2], including popular ones on keeping your inbox empty [3], clearing your desk [4], becoming an early riser [5], and the Top 20 Motivation Hacks [6].