Accomplish More By Doing Less: Part II

By Laurie Erdman

Part II of Laurie’s series on Accomplishing More By Doing Less. Read Part I here!

Have you been working on shifting your paradigm? Have you found your True North?† If so, congratulations. Not there yet? Still looking for your heartís desire? Thatís okay sweetie. As I said in Part I, shifting your paradigm is a journey that can’t be rushed.

Where ever you are in your journey, you can begin to manage your vision by doing less. Here are some tips I’ve learned along the way.

First Step – Stop Planning!

Ok, not completely.

The first thing I learned about accomplishing more while doing less is to spend less time planning. During my days of 60+ hour workweeks, I spent a lot of time figuring out how to get more done. I read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and sharpened my saw. I read David Allen’s Getting Things Done and at one point had my inbox down to zero emails. These systems taught me to manage time and paper. They didnít, however, help me accomplish more.

What I needed was a vision management system. Something that allowed me to do more of the things that excited me. That was where my True North came in. When I began honing in on my purpose, I began assembling my weeks accordingly. I became shocked at the amount of things I could accomplish, even as I was doing less – less planning, less of the things that didnít excite me. Instead, I was spending my time on fewer, more important goals.

Align Your To Do List To Your True North

Once you start seeing your True North, doing less and accomplishing more becomes simple, if not intuitive. Point your compass to your True North and all else will follow.

  • Start with identifying the single most important thing you can do for yourself. For me, it was eight hours sleep. (Not a bad place for everyone to start). I knew my immune system would retaliate if I didnít give it this one thing every single day. So I get eight hours of sleep, and whatever activities I can fit in after that are gravy.
  • Donít spend more than 10 to 15 minutes a week planning or thinking about everything you have to do. Planning becomes a time suck. I sit down once a week and write out what I have to do for the week. For time sensitive items, I determine the best day to do them. Thatís it. Any more time spent on planning is time taken away from your True North.
  • Categorize your to-do items. I bundle my to-do items into categories (e.g., health, pottery, writing, schoolwork, day job). Each category supports my True North either directly or indirectly. There are no other categories, no other to-dos. For example, my schoolwork directly supports my True North by training me to be a holistic health coach. My day job, on the other hand, indirectly supports my True North by providing me current income and on-the-job business training. Under each category, I list what I have to get done that week.
  • Schedule one True North item every day. Each category may have a one or two items a week. Make sure that every day gets at least one item from a category that directly supports a True North category (for me that means health, pottery, writing or schoolwork). This will keep your heart singing and make you less apt to resent those things that only indirectly support your True North.
  • Keep your to do list short. Donít schedule more than three things for any given day. More than three items induce stress. If you have four things, find another day to do one item. If your to-do list has more than 21 items for the week, cut anything that doesnít serve your True North.
  • Learn to be ok with doing just enough. Okay, this is probably the toughest Ė but most critical Ė lesson if you are a type-A personality like me. The world wonít stop if you donít do everything on your to-do list. Really, it wonít. I promise.
  • Set expectations of those that ďrelyĒ on you. All of us have someone that relies on us. We also have people who we think rely on us, but who will do just fine if we arenít there to clean up every mess. Sort this out in your heart and mind. Talk to these people and tell them that for your sanity and health you will be doing less for them. This may mean some adjusting on everyoneís part, but ultimately, you are empowering everyone Ė you, your friends, and your family.

Final Thought: Know You Will Fail… And You Will Be Okay

The funny thing about this pair of posts about doing less is they almost didnít get written. I had the idea and wrote a 1300 word draft in one sitting. But then my life blew up. I hit a To-Do List wall, stressing about the number of commitments I had, which all seemed to be converging and conflicting at once. Then a little mishap with my Etsy store put me into a complete melt down Ė I sold an item I couldnít locate. Who was I to opine on accomplishing more while doing less? I couldnít even keep track of my pottery. I had no wisdom to share.

Before I hit delete, however, I realized the beauty of my situation. The buyer wasnít upset and I ended up finding the awol mug a few days later. Business crisis averted. This was an apt lesson in letting go of perfection. Yes, there are risks to do doing less. I donít accomplish things perfectly. But I never really did. Something always fell through the cracks Ė usually me. Being aligned to my True North, now makes these crisis mere blips. No harm, no foul.

Are you ready to accomplish more, while doing less? What do you want to accomplish? What will you do less of, in order to accomplish more?

*††† *††† *††† *

Laurie Erdman is a writer for, an accomplished artist and life coach who aims to help individuals transition from a life defined by illness or fatigue to one defined by love, vitality and wellness. If you desire a partner for your wellness journey, visit Laurie at Chronic Wellness Coaching.


Barbara Erdman
Barbara Erdman7 years ago

Helpful, thanx for article

Past Member 7 years ago

actually...i didn't need this when i was working...i had my goals pretty well lined up with my "true north" problems started with retirement and having so much time to fill with so much i need to use the contents to get my retired life together.....thanks, very interesting......

Loo Samantha
Loo sam7 years ago

thanks for sharing.

Theresa C.
Theresa C7 years ago

Very helpful!

Laurie Erdman
Laurie Erdman7 years ago

Kay L., I also work for a tech company and have done my share of project management. That is something quite different - i.e., it is a planning function - then transforming your life. If you read both parts of my article, I don't suggest that you don't set life goals or determine the tasks you need to do in order to reach your goals. Yes, that is necessary. However, what I have found is that many spend more time planning and never get to doing. If you spend half your day planning what you are going to do that day, you will never meet your goals. I have lived this truth and seen this with my clients. I wanted to share that experience so others who get derailed from their goals may look at their actions in another way that might work better for them. With love and light.

Laurie Erdman
Laurie Erdman7 years ago

Sheri P and others, you are welcome. Glad to help.

Kay L.
KayL NOFORWARDS7 years ago

Sorry, but as someone who works in the high tech industry doing quality assurance and testing, I've discovered that 99% of problems with projects and software failures comes from insufficent planning. To save time, project managers often cheat on the planning time (which includes analysis) and just jump right into programming so that they can show "progress" right away. The usual result is that they are always playing catch up trying to fix the problems they could have avoided if they'd spent enough time on the analysis... and trying to jury-rig fixes when they found that they'd missed something essential in the proprocess after they'd already programmed it. And observing real life, I see the same thing happening. You not only need to plan enough to have a goal in life, you also need to spend time analyzing how to achieve that goal and then planning the path to get there. Lack of spending time planning is why so many of us never achieve all our goals in life.

Sheri P.
Sheri P7 years ago

Needed this...thanks!

Karen C.
Karen C7 years ago

very helpful.

Lisa R.
Lisa R7 years ago

Very nice article, thank you.