From October 2014

10 Ways to Do Less

When I think about doing less, sometimes my first thoughts drift to Paul Rudd and Jason Segel in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. “The less you do, the more you do.” I think he’s on to something. ;-)

I came across the quote below last week and it has just stuck with me!! These ideas are mostly personal to me and my own life, but I wanted to share them regardless in case they motivate you, too! Here are 10 ways to help you “do less, so you do more.” ;-)

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1. Don’t fill up your social calendar. Try not to make any plans, actually. Just live your life day by day, and see what feels good at any given moment. If you are at all introverted like I am, sometimes making certain plans for a future date might feel like a great idea in the moment. But then when it’s time to go make those plans happen, it might be one of those days where you would rather just curl up at home in your pajamas with a good book.

2. Re-evaluate your career. Certain career paths take a lot more doing than others. Academia was one of those for me. After I had my first son, I realized that all I wanted to do was be the best mama I could be, but my current career trajectory to earn my PhD and live a “publish or perish” lifestyle just wasn’t for me anymore. Academia, especially for PhD’s teaching at the college level, usually tends to require you to surrender quite a bit of your soul life. If you’re finding yourself being far too consumed with endless to-do lists for a career that is only marginally fulfilling and is taking time and energy away from other interests/passions/family/friends that you would rather focus on, either consider a career change or just see if there is a way to scale back your workload.

3. If you are in a creative industry, perhaps photography like I am, after you get your wiggles out and figure out exactly what genre floats your boat, focus your efforts on that specific area. I think it’s a great idea early on to try your hand at a lot of different types of photography (or other artistic mediums) because you won’t know which one you love the most until you try as many as you can. But then later on, simplify, do less, and pick one that you want to make your niche. Don’t try to copy someone else’s style (because the industry doesn’t need another ‘insert favorite photographer here‘), don’t concern yourself with buying Lightroom or Photoshop actions when you can learn how to create your own to streamline your workflow, and don’t muddy up your otherwise beautiful work with cheesy overlays that you bought on a whim (ok, stepping off soapbox now). In fact, maybe go as simple as possible and just load some good ol’ fashioned film (what!?) into an old camera, be mindful of every frame you click the shutter for, send it off for developing at a pro lab, and then just sit back and admire the art you created without further editing any of it on your computer (…challenge accepted?).

4. Don’t sign your kids (or yourself) up for a bunch of extra activities. Not only can it get expensive, but do you you really want to fill every minute of your day/week/month/life with something to do? Just enjoy your home, the nature available to you, and spending time making memories with your loved ones by simply being together and hanging out and talking (sans technology!). Keep it simple. Do less. At least wait until your children are old enough to express what interests they would like to pursue and what activities outside of the home they would like to be a part of before you go signing them up for everything.

5. This one might seem like a stretch to some, but if you’re a dual-income household, and you have children, consider having one income-earner leave their job. This will do many things for you. For one, of course it’s going to cut out part of your household income. But is that really such a bad thing? When the trade-off includes being able to spend more time with your kids, cooking healthy meals, and taking care of your home, that’s priceless. Second, with less income, you really have no choice but to do less! As we abide by our strict Dave Ramsey-inspired budget, we found that we make just enough money to pay our bills, buy the essentials, and do a couple of small outings with our children here and there on the weekends. We don’t use credit cards at all anymore, so we can only do and buy what we save up for and budgeted for. It’s been quite nice to be “forced” to live a simpler life due to having just one income. And if you decide to take the leap and become a single-income household, don’t freak out. Take a close look at your spending habits to see what you can cut out, and then do not go out of your way to find new ways to earn the money you’re no longer bringing in. That’s doing more and complicating things. Simply adjust your lifestyle and do less!

6. Stick to simple cooking! It will require less grocery shopping, less recipe hunting, less time in the kitchen, and easier-to-prepare meals. For example, try these super delicious and simple breakfast wraps!

7. Live in a small town. I frequently miss Austin like crazy, but that city has so much to offer that it makes it hard to do less! We now live in a small town (population 4,000-ish) outside of a few bigger cities. But even being just 30-45 minutes removed from them makes it easier to keep it simple and not do so much. However, big industry is trying to takeover our small town and increase the population to probably well over 50,000+ (booo!), so we’ll see how much longer we’ll stay until we decide to seek out another small town to continue our simple life.

8. Live in a small home. This term, of course, means something different to each individual. While our home is bigger than I prefer because most of the time we’re all spending time together in maybe the same 1/10th of the space we have available, I do cherish every bit of it. I’m thankful for it. We ended up in the home we did, because when we were house hunting, we had been living out of hotels for months, and we had 2 dogs, our 3-year old kiddo, and 1 baby on the way. We put in offers on other houses that fell through, and this happened to be the one that worked out! We weren’t in a position to be picky. Luckily, it’s an awesome house. But it does take quite a bit of time to upkeep, there are constant projects in the works, and even yard maintenance can be a time-consuming task. With less land and house, that much more time would be freed up!

9. Only do things you want to do. Say ‘no’ to the rest! My husband and I are “people pleasers.” And I have several friends who are the same way (you know who you are!!). ;-) People ask you to do things or attend functions or volunteer for events or committees that you just have a hard time saying ‘no’ to, even if you don’t want to do it. From now on, challenge yourself to just do the things that contribute to your own legacy and life’s purpose, no matter how big or small. If someone is trying to add unnecessary noise and busyness to your life, just say ‘no!’ (but nicely, of course). Just think about what matters most and what’s worth your time.

10. Last but not least, the absolute best way to ensure doing less, is to stop comparing yourself to others. A surefire way to start thinking you’re not doing enough to succeed in your home business, or not taking on enough Pinterest craft projects for every holiday to please your kids, or not going on enough vacations, is to compare yourself to others! This is easily done by just browsing things like Instagram and Facebook all day! Depending on who you follow on any social media platform, it can become one giant scrapbook of all the things you are NOT doing. So cut it out! Don’t mind yourself with other people’s business or lives. Focus on your own and you’ll be all the better for it.