The Adventure

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Why Doing Less is the Key to Accomplishing More

This past week I found myself to be very busy.  At the end of the week I noticed there was much I set out to do that didn’t get touched – like write a couple posts for The Adventure.  There were also trivial things off my radar that consumed mass quantities of time.

I was perpetually working on something, but not accomplishing anything.

It brought back to mind what one of my mentors calls The Law of Limited Focus.

In today’s world, what you don’t do is as important as what you do.  There are so many distractions competing for your time – from keeping up with life, work, blogs, and twitter to having an ever-increasing backlog of reading material.  For some reason, we feel pressured to keep up, which is impossible and maybe even a little neurotic.  The truth is “catching up” keeps us from creating.  We have limited focus, we must be selective and intentional.  If you struggle with this, here are a couple of helpful resources:

Stop Catching Up, Start Checking In by Thom Chambers (time investment – 1 minute).
Beating the Anxiety of Online Reading by  Leo Babauta (time investment – 3 minutes).

Since every activity or opportunity competes for your time and energy, how do you choose what to do?

1.  Have a crystal clear life vision (if you need help with this, get Michael Hyatt’s free e-book Creating Your Personal Life Plan).   Why is this the first step?  I’ll answer that with a few quotes:

  • “Without a life vision, one cannot tell the difference between opportunity and distraction.” – Dr. Patrick Gentempo
  • “Without a vision, the people perish.” – Proverbs 28:18
  • “People don’t know what to do because they don’t know where they want to end up.” – Jon Butcher

2.  Make a Stop Doing list.  Determine what things are a time suck for you, or the things that are urgent but unimportant, and stop doing them!  Write them down, look at them daily, and then be intentional about doing the work you were meant to do.  Begin building something rather than responding to everything.

Will you allow yourself to focus more on the important things, and spend less of your time on meaningless distractions?  Leave your answers in the comments below.


About Cole Bradburn

I'm a writer and doctor in lifelong pursuit of health, happiness, and adventure. I currently live in Raleigh, NC with the love of my life and our amazing boys.

  • These are such important points about being focused and productive. Personally I have used my purpose of helping others become better people and leaders to stay focused on the most important areas in my life.

    I also really  statement,  “The truth is “catching up” keeps us from creating.” What a powerful reminder. Great post Cole.

  • Love the concept of a “stop doing” list. This has to be one of my biggest vices when it comes to productivity and creativity. Great post, Cole.

    • Thanks Todd, glad it helps.  

      The stop doing list was difficult at first, but as it became a habit it has really helped me prioritize.

  • I love the phrase “Law of Limited Focus.” I suffer from constantly being busy, but not necessarily moving forward. Doing less would help solve that!

    I refer to this as “too many irons in the fire, none of them are getting hot fast enough, and you’re sweating.”

    • Well said Paula.  It is easier to take on too many things than to say “No” and do the things that you set out to accomplish.  

      Thanks for commenting!

  • Chris Miles

    Great message! I’ve actually heard Patrick say that quote. I also heard Garrett Gunderson say something similar – “Without clarity of purpose, you’ll never know the difference between an opportunity and a distraction.”

    • Thanks Chris! I think Garrett got that from Patrick too.