I’ve heard the phrase “less is more” a lot, but I didn’t really get what it meant until recently.
This year, I decided to make things simpler in my life and work. When I first wanted to start my own business, it was because I wanted more time and freedom. But earlier this year, I saw that I was actually further away from that dream than I wanted to be.
To sum it up, this is why I wanted to simplify my life:
I began by looking at every part of my life and each thing I do, asking myself, “How can I make this simpler but still make a difference?”
Wow, it’s been quite the ride. I won’t say it was simple or that I always get it right, but it pushed me to speak out for what I need, to understand why I keep piling more on my plate, to be kind to myself, and at last, to discover the sense of ease I’ve been talking about with my therapist for the past year.
Here are some key things I’ve learned this past year about why doing less is actually helping me achieve more now.
1. Say “no” more than yes
Learning to say “no” has been the biggest shift for me, and it shows up in all the points I’m touching on in this article.
I began turning down random activities to stay on track with my top priorities every week. This meant saying no to coffee dates with friends during my peak work hours and when I go, I’m combining errands to save time.
I also cut out distractions like social media, Netflix, and even doing dishes at times, making sure I focus on what’s important.
I turned away from things that didn’t feel right—certain events, people, tasks—to make space for quiet time and just being me.
2. Have less goals
Getting to my goals is amazing, but I saw that work is only one piece of the life puzzle. I want to have fun in all parts of my life, not just work.
As a multi-passionate person, I’m interested in lots of things and I can easily set too many goals. So, I took time to scale back a bit. I’m not giving up on them forever, just focusing on the big ones for now.
When you’ve got too many goals, it’s easy to lose focus. We’ve only got so much time and energy to make our goals happen.
You should try Warren Buffett’s 5/25 Rule:
- Write down a list of your top 25 goals.
- Circle the 5 most important goals that truly speak to you. These are your most urgent goals and the highest priorities to focus on.
- Cross off the other 20 goals you have listed that hold less importance.
3. Cut your to-do list in half
A sneaky way to feel busy but not really get much done is having a to-do list that’s too long (I call this “fake productivity”).
Try to keep your to-do list short: aim for 3-5 key tasks and put them in order of importance. Always think about your goals first and check that your top tasks are tied to these goals. Everything else can be put on hold or scheduled for later. So, ask yourself, “Which tasks will move me closer to my goals?”
4. Get the right help
I can’t count how many hours I’ve spent listening to podcasts and reading up on business and marketing.
There are two sides to me: the expert side (as a yoga teacher, mentor, coach) and the entrepreneur side.
Here’s how I see things now: if I’m willing to pay for training to become better at my expertise, why not also pay someone to help with different parts of my business? That’s how you avoid wasting time on random information (since you never know if what comes up in a podcast will relate to what you’re dealing with).
If you’re on the lookout for the right person to help you, make sure they’re a good match: they should be able to teach you something very specific you need, have experience in the type of business you’re running, and hold values that align with yours. Also, don’t forget that the help you’re getting should be tied to your goals.
5. Do the workouts that matter and eat the right foods
The way you exercise and what you eat really affect how you feel and how well you meet your goals each week.
Picking a workout or deciding to eat healthier might sound simple, but it’s not always easy. It’s common to take on too much, planning long or intense workouts that just end up feeling overwhelming.
The trick is to start small and keep it simple.
From what I’ve seen with my clients over the years, doing a 20-minute workout (the one that you enjoy the most) three times a week at a time that suits you is much better than skipping workouts because they’re scheduled for when you’re too tired or too busy.
As for healthy eating, I’m not talking about strict dieting. Most of us tend to eat the same few meals regularly. So, make those go-to meals healthy ones, with the right balance of nutrients, and keep your kitchen stocked with the ingredients you need for them.
6. Read the books that solve your problems
I read for two reasons – it helps me unwind, and I always learn something new, whether it’s for personal growth or my business.
But with millions of books out there, all promising to change your life, I’ve learned to choose my reading material wisely, based on what I need and what I’m aiming for at the time. This could be business-focused, like learning how someone else simplifies their life or runs a solo business, or, as is the case right now while I’m pregnant, I’ve only chosen a couple of books about pregnancy and becoming a mother.
I mean, you can’t read everything.
7. Do nothing
Have you ever noticed that your best ideas come when you’re in the shower, out for a walk, on holiday, spending time with your friends and away from the internet?
It’s because your brain needs downtime to piece together all the bits of information you’ve picked up.
And that’s exactly why “less is more” makes so much sense.