The Difficulty of Doing Less

in the grass Photo by conejoazul
as seen in Small Notebook
It seems like it should be easy to do less, but I find it to be pretty hard. It’s so much easier for me to throw out an old pair of shoes or give away a shirt, but to declutter my commitments? That’s not quick and easy. Some of the things I need to do are unavoidable, so my solution is to get them done in the quickest, most effective way possible. Productivity and simplicity often overlap, although they’re not the same.
Productivity helps you get more done, but simplifying removes what is complicated to make something easier and more clear.

What would happen if we simplified our commitments?

Would we find more joy in our daily life? Would we feel the satisfaction of living more purposefully? Part of me is reluctant to do that. I see others seemingly “doing it all”, and I want to have those things too. I want to accomplish things that I can enjoy and feel proud of. I know that my worth is not based on what I achieved, but I do tend to measure my day’s success by what I accomplished. It’s tempting to look at the person next to me and think, “well, she can do all of that, then shouldn’t I be able to do it too?” There is a fear of missing out, skipping an opportunity, or giving up a chance to have success.

If we try to have or do the same as everybody else, we miss out on the joy of doing what we are uniquely gifted to do.

The problem of comparing ourselves to others is that we all have different gifts. We aren’t meant to do the same things. We have so many opportunities, and if we try to do too many, we lose enjoyment. It’s like when there is a fun activity on the calendar, but when the day finally arrives we wish we could stay home because we’re too worn out. Perhaps instead of giving up projects or commitments, I could try to work really hard and finish them all, so afterwards I can have a “simple” life while I recover from stress and burnout? I don’t think it works that way. Some seasons in life naturally have more activities, but I think the key is to find the balance where we can take joy in what we’re doing.  When we feel like our activities are purposeful and beneficial, not just filling the time or due to a sense of obligation. Just because there is a need, it does not mean that you need to be the one to fill it. Just because something is good, it does not mean it is a good fit for you. And one of the best responses to manage time is, “I would love to, but first I’ll need to check my calendar and other commitments.” It’s ok to leave a few days blank on the calendar.