Do less

Summary: Focus on the stuff that matters the most. Do the things that you HAVE to do. Ignore everything else. Do less, create more.

I started reading 37signals book Rework. The book arrived timely after my posts about increasing productivity and all the posts about doing less (even that the book is about much more, doing less is one of the core values in it).

The concept of do less is becoming more clear to me. My posts on lazy blogging and making time were drafting the idea. This post is one more step closer to finalizing it ("publish, then polish").

Kick-ass instead of half-ass

Do one thing well, instead of ten things that the world (and you) could do well without. Stop multitasking. No parallel things. Pick one thing that you can focus on, and finish it. Get it done. Polish later.

Great companies focus on what they do best - you should too. Focus on getting one thing done instead of having ten half-way. Finish one kick-ass product, instead of wasting time building ten you never finish. The same goes for doing that one product, the one project: Pick one task, do it, move on.

Focus on stuff you HAVE to do

Focus on stuff that matters the most. If your running a business, there is one thing that matters: making sales. If you don't have anything to sell, create something to sell. If you have something to sell, sell it. Don't drift away from what matters - If you're making sandwiches, make sandwiches - getting a custom paper around those sandwiches can wait.

The stuff that you have to do in order to achieve what you are trying to accomplish is what you should be doing. Ignore everything else.

If you're blogging, it's the content. If you plan to make money, it's the product and selling it. Get the stuff that you HAVE to do done, before everything else.

  • Design? Means nothing, if you don't have anything that the design can support, e.g. content or product to sell, whatever it is for you.
  • Pretty images? Useless, if images is all you have. (Unless of course, the pretty images are you're content)
  • Widgets? Banners? Is that butt-ugly thing on your sidebar making your site better? Is it attracting more subscribers or customers? Exactly. Widgets are the LAST thing you need to worry about.

When you have done what you HAVE to do, you can start improving. But even then, don't add stuff, remove what is not working. Keep the bare minimum. Improve the good stuff that is already in.

Stuff you WANT to do will have to wait.

It would be awesome if we could just to what we want to do. But we all know that's not the case. Even when making a living doing the things you love, there will be things that you NEED to do, the stuff that really matter.

Let's say you love sports. You love to train and compete. As a hobby, that's all you have to do. But what if you'd want to go pro? You would need to talk to sponsors, go to their events, talk to people. It is possible that you'd like and want to do that too, which would be perfect, but even if you wouldn't, you'd HAVE to do it.

Finish the most important thing

  • Ignore details. Sketch with the largest pen you can find. Get started. Focus on the outline, the framework. After you have the frame up, start working on the details.
  • Add eye-candy later. The front cover of your eBook is not the thing to worry about when you start. Awesome looking video trailer is not where movie making begins. You don't need to pick the perfect WordPress theme on day one.
  • Work in iterations. Don't plan it too much, get the alpha version done today. Tweak it a bit, and put out the beta. Ask for feedback. If it's working, make it better.
  • Stop perfecting. The stuff you do doesn't have to be perfect. Get it done first, make it better later. The chances are it will work just fine the way it is.
  • Ship it. Keep the tasks small so you can ship it fast. And ship often.
  • Polish after done. You can make some thing better only after getting it done first. Get the one thing done first, worry about making it better later.

These principles work whether you are building a business, writing a book, crafting a blog post, creating a web application or starting a web site. Get started. Take baby steps. Create value.

Do less, create more

If you're just getting started, stop adding stuff. More stuff doesn't make anything better. Keep it simple. Lose the fat from your blog, business or product.

  • Take everything out.
  • Leave only the things that make it work.
  • Take the things that work well and make them better.

This applies to personal productivity, building an Internet business, blogging, writing.

  • Do less: Begin with the things that you HAVE to do.
  • Create more: Focus on the stuff that really matters.
  • Singletask: One thing at a time.

Fight the urge to add more stuff (into whatever it is you are doing). Less is more. Focus on the stuff that you have to do and what matters the most to what you are trying to accomplish, you are free to ignore everything else. You will do less, but create more. One step at a time.

p.s. In the spirit of first publishing - then polishing, this article is a work in progress, and I'd love to hear your thoughts about the post and this "do less" -concept I've been working on, so leave a comment and tell what you think.

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Topic: Get Things Done
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