5 Simple Ways To Do Less

I have to tell you about the book I’m reading right now. It’s called Do Less by Kate Northrup.

It’s so amazing how books have a way of finding you right when you need to hear their message most. That’s exactly what Do Less has been for me.

It’s a book about everything that’s been on my mind so far this year:

  • About listening more to internally, to me, than externally,

  • About doing things when I feel motivated to do them, rather than just pushing through,

  • About letting my own personal energy levels drive how much I do and take on,

  • About resting being a part of the process,

  • And of course it’s a little woo woo so I am ALL IN.

But I have so much to do

When I first started thinking about how to actually do less, I had questions.

I’m a mom of 3 small children. I work a full-time job. I have coaching clients and content deadlines. I have a house that always needs something. I have meals to plan, laundry to wash, bills to pay, appointments to schedule, and kids to play with.

How on earth do I do less when I have so many obligations?

Maybe you’re asking some of the same questions. Questions like,

  • What would I have to give up in terms of my schedule or my to-do list?

  • Do I have to be a full-blown MINIMALIST to do less?

  • What does it really look like? Give me an example.

One of the points that Northrup makes that I absolutely love, is that it’s not necessarily about giving up on everything you have to do. But that it’s about doing projects or tasks or meetings when your results are going to be the most optimal.

I’m sure you would agree that when you do something you’re motivated to do, that task is easier and goes much faster. When you’re rested, hydrated, in the right environment or space of mind, you don’t have the resistance or slow-downs that you would have otherwise.

You actually get more done in less time.

That’s part of doing less.

The other part is what you would guess… It’s doing less.

It’s saying no. It’s taking things off your responsibility list. It’s letting go of expectations. It’s not caring what others think or what you think you should do.

doing less, in action

Still need something more concrete?

Here’s a list of examples from my own life over the last 6 months as I’ve been experimenting with all of this. Maybe one of these will be relevant for your life.

1. Meal planning

As much as I would love to not do this, my family has to eat and the only way I’ve found to avoid eating out every single night, is to meal plan and grocery shop in advance. I’ve been experimenting with meal planning for the entire month instead of weekly. Meal planning is not something I enjoy doing. It takes a lot of decision-making power. So reducing the number of times I have to harness that brain power and get into the right frame of mind to plan, makes sense. Planning for the entire month means I only have to do it 12 times a year as opposed to 52! Talk about doing less! I pull ideas from an already created list of our favorite meals and try to keep things on an every-other week (or more) rotation. I still shop weekly. That part I don’t mind as much. But I’m doing less when it comes to the planning.

2. three to five Tasks each day

When it comes to work, I’ve found that I am much more productive when I narrow down everything I have to do to just 3-5 things for that particular day. On a good day, I get more than that done. But at the very least I am doing the things that HAVE to get done and I am leaving work feeling like I accomplished something - my to-do list. I’m doing less, more effectively.

3. Evenings are for rest

I used to try to tackle some sort of project - home or business - in the evenings after the kids went to bed. Having a newborn has really forced me to change my evening priorities. I know that sleep is important and I also know that I never truly do my best work at night. So I stopped. And it wasn’t as hard as I thought, once I got over the initial feeling that I should be doing something more. Now, I clean up from dinner, pack my lunch, and maybe fold a load of laundry in front of the tv. But other than that, I’m either resting on the couch with a book, or I’m going to bed. THAT’s the best use of my time.

4. Limiting “adventures”

I admit that sometimes it can be easier to manage your kids when you get them out of the house. But planning adventures and activities for the kids each weekend can also be exhausting. I much prefer weekends around the house where our “adventures” are going for a neighborhood walk, taking care of our plants, or having lunch outside on a blanket. We’re still doing things, having fun, and staying entertained, we’re just doing it in a more laid back way. And our adventures are more meaningful when they are purposeful and not as frequent. This practice of doing less has brought us closer as a family and helped me feel so much more rested come Monday.

5. Fewer text messages and emails

I admit, I can be easily influenced by others. Sometimes that is to my advantage, but it can also be exhausting. On days when I am low-energy, or already feeling overwhelmed, I make a point to limit the number of text messages and emails I send or respond to. It’s my way of doing less, of turning in, and of honoring what I need.

A slow and deliberate process

I know that simplicity and minimalism and having/doing less are buzz words right now. I am excited by that. I think there is so much to be gained by simplifying what you own and what you do. And I love this idea of being proud to DO LESS.

But I also know that this is a slow and deliberate process. It’s not something that you can change overnight because so much of it comes from changing the way you think about your world.

Maybe Kate Northrup’s book will be your first step. Maybe taking an idea from the list above will be. Or maybe just saying no to something this week will be enough to make you think about what else you can do less of.

Let me know what your first step is going to be. Send me a note to katelyn@themothernurture.com or tag me on Instagram (@lovemothernurture). Be proud to do less.