no“Paradoxically, the best solution to the problem of overload is to do less. Every day, make a point of saying ‘no’ nicely to one thing—either in your work or in your personal life. The therapeutic effect will astound you.”

I stumbled on the book The Power of Doing Less by Fergus O’Connell. Yes, like most of us would be, I was attracted to the title and the idea of doing less. Being a popular non-fiction book, it must, of course, have a colon and long subtitle: Why Time Management Courses Don’t Work And How To Spend Your Precious Life On The Things That Really Matter.

I have never taken a time-management course, but I am a maker of too many To Do lists who is often angry at how much I don’t get done on them.

O’Connell starts with the obvious: we will never get everything done. Taking that as a given, he wants you to not allow “Fate” to decide what you do. Fate in the real world is usually bosses, deadlines, guilt, and the expectations of other people. You need to decide for yourself.

He encourages us to identify what really matters and where you should place your attention. Great advice. And like much great advice (eat better, exercise etc.), difficult to follow.

Of course, I am tempted to read it because, like any self-help title, it promises, as one reviewer says, that I can “feel less stressed, but will also stop feeling guilty for leaving the office having only done half the things on your ‘to-do’ list, and will find great swathes of time opening up for you.”

The book’s topic is perfect for any of us (all of us?) who feel we don’t have the correct work / life balance, and never seem to have enough time whether in work or in our personal life.

  1. Do you feel that you’re not getting to spend enough (or any) time on the things that really matter to you?
  2. Is work the reason why that other life is passing by?
  3. Do you feel like you have no choice in these matters?

A good part of this approach to a solution is using the power of saying “No.” Sometimes, you have to say it to yourself.  Do I really need to write three posts on this blog this weekend?  Sometimes you have to say it to loved ones. “No, I’m not going with you to shop for curtains this afternoon.” Sometimes you have to say it to a boss.  “No, there’s no way I can have that done before I leave today.”

Which one of those three scenarios would be the hardest for you?