Doing Less To Do More
I’m in the midst of reading Deep Work by Cal Newport and it’s becoming clearer to me that I need to do less so I can do more.
What exactly does that mean? Well, everyday, I go about my routine and perform a myriad of activities. Some activities, like exercise, involve doing multiple movements. Others, like writing this article, require minimal movement but a lot more brain processing. Then, still others, like browsing social media, require minimal movement, minimal brain processing, but a ton of input.
This is where some of the challenge comes. When you receive input, something happens to it. It goes somewhere. It’s like the law which says energy is neither created nor destroyed. It’s simply converted from one form to the other.
Joanne Canter mentions in her Psychology Today article, Flooding Your Brain’s Engine, the brain’s capacity for processing information. It can take it all in. But it can only focus on and act on limited amounts at a time. The more information at a time we stuff into our brain centers, the less effective we are at using it.
In Deep Work, Newport notes how much our world is built on distraction. It has become more difficult to do nothing than to find something to do. The problem lies in doing so much but not necessarily doing what’s meaningful.
Full transparency? I’ve been involved in distracted work for far too long because I gave myself an out. I have allowed myself to move past my own self-imposed social media guidelines because I convinced myself it was “for business.” And truth be told, I’m not the only one. Sure, social media gets the blame here. But, there are other culprits…television, fake news sites, tabloids. We can use the excuse that we need to be “in the know” because it helps us stay relevant. I’ve used that excuse myself.
When I was a teacher, I said I needed to know what the kids were listening to or what they were watching so I wouldn’t be surprised in the classroom…you know, so I could relate. And there is value in being aware. However, what happens when it becomes more than simple awareness and injects itself as a constantly unscheduled calendar item?
If we’re about personal growth, each of us needs to ask the question, “Do I want to do more work, or more meaningful work?”
In order to do more meaningful work, you just might need to do less work.