Why Less Is More

When we slow down, we get things done more quickly. Seems counter-intuitive? Read on to find out how it makes sense.

Many people feel like they have too much to do and not enough time to do it. When you wake up each morning to a seemingly endless list of tasks, it’s natural to want to speed up: we get tight inside and want to get everything done so we can relax. What happens is, we speed up. We try to complete our list of tasks faster and faster. The trouble is, the list of jobs will never be empty. As quickly as you complete outstanding tasks, new ones will appear. In fact, the quicker you complete outstanding tasks, the quicker new ones appear.

I am as susceptible to this as anyone else and that’s because our bodies react to a seemingly over-long job-list as if it were a threat: we release adrenaline and get stressed. Then we stay sped up because we’re stressed. And our stress makes us stressed. No wonder we’re stressed! I need to remind myself frequently of a single, simple statement:

The purpose of life is the tasks, not to finish the tasks

To put it another way, what are you going to do once there’s nothing left to do? Life is a journey, not a destination. When you slow down, you give yourself the opportunity to think about things more carefully and you will probably work more efficiently because you’re noticing more. You’ll find yourself thinking more deeply about the challenges you face and you’ll come up with solutions that work better than if you’d just thrown yourself at your problems in a state of anxiety.

Most importantly, when you consciously slow yourself down, you break the cycle of anxiety. By your slower actions, you non-verbally communicate to your body that it’s OK to relax. Then you feel less pressure to get everything done yesterday. So your thoughts get clearer and your body relaxes more and your adrenaline levels drop and life becomes more enjoyable.

Nevertheless, the real problem is not that we have too much to do, it’s in reminding ourselves that we think we have too much to do. By the simple act of consciously reminding ourselves to slow down, we can feel happier, more balanced, more in control, less stressed and more able to solve our problems. I need to remind myself of this frequently.