The More I Do, The Less I Get Done

It’s a paradox that messes with me constantly. Though I do keep trying to get around it and be super productive at everything.

But that never works.

I just don’t get much done until I stop doing so much. Allow me to bare my soul to you, reader.

I tend to over-commit myself. I find myself saying yes by default, which has gotten me into the kind of trouble only several clones and a time machine can solve. (That reminds me — is Calvin’s transmogrifier on Amazon yet?)

I see a spare minute of the day not yet spoken for (which is a problem by itself), and I commit to another opportunity that suddenly came up. Sure, I can fill in for you this week. I can join that club. I can take on an extra project. I can look over your paper this week.

And in a desire to please people and keep everyone happy with me, I start dropping balls. Bad.

And much worse, I start breaking promises, which is absolutely unacceptable. That is an awful feeling I do not wish to repeat.

So to compensate, I go through a “no” phase, where I turn down new opportunities left and right. I even ignore email. (I’d say I ignore voicemail too, but that’s ALWAYS.)

And then I start being much more efficient — better yet, effective — at my responsibilities.

My efforts are more potent and the results stronger. This is when I’m able to take a moderate amount of margin and turn it into three blog posts written and posted. This relaxed atmosphere pulls the creativity out of me.

The white space between commitments grants clarity of focus, and increases the ability to do one task at a time, intensely and thoroughly.

With all of my mental and physical resources available, I can be engaged in the process of work, which can and should be a wonderful thing.

Finally, when I realize I’m getting stuff done and notice some free time and energy, I start committing more and repeat the cycle.

Lesson Learned: Stop learning this lesson! 3,524 times is quite enough!

The more I attempt to do, the less I actually get done.

And unless your name is Calvin and you have a transmogrifier, the same is likely true of you.

What conditions allow you to get things done?