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Accomplish More by Doing Less

by Don Meyer, Ph.D. | March 17, 2012
“By working faithfully eight hours a day, you may eventually get to be boss and work 
twelve hours a day.”
Robert Frost, poet

In Darren Hardy’s essay “Accomplish More by Doing Less” he admits, “Here is my problem, and maybe yours:  I am an addict.  My drug is constant movement, constant communication, continual achievement – the long list of to-dos and completed tasks at the end of the day.  It’s a wonderful high.”

But Hardy also warns, “But this behavior of constant busyness can actually take you off course from your high-value goals; tax your physical, psychological and emotional system; and even damage or destroy relationships.”

In order to achieve balance in his life, Hardy makes a number of excellent recommendations which can help anyone desiring the same thing.

1. Learn to Stop Doing.  We are all busy with seemingly limitless to-do lists.  “The only way to gain more time is to stop doing something.”  And the only way we can do that is to re-evaluate how we spend our time and stop doing the time wasters.  Setting those priorities may be one of the hardest things we do but with only so much time, it will be the only way we will survive.
2. Create and Protect Your Boundaries.  Technology has obliterated the natural boundaries between our work life and our personal, family life.  It is almost impossible to have an extended conversation with some people because they constantly allow themselves to be interrupted by some form of technology.  This constant intrusion keeps us constantly connected, placing us at the mercy of a stream of information and demands.
3. Put a Junk Filter on Your Life.  Priorities must be set.  Goals must be in place.  Once our values, goals and priorities are established, a junk filter should be placed on everything else. I used to say I love mail, even junk mail.  But when I look at my inbox I am beginning to have some second thoughts.  
4. Just Say No.  “There is no middle ground here.  This is one of the most important disciplines you can develop to unhook yourself from your addictions.  If you aren’t comfortable saying, ‘No,’ say, ‘No, thank you.’”
5. You Get in Life What You Tolerate.  “Life will organize around the standards you set for yourself.  Some think they are victim of other people’s behavior, but in actuality, we have ultimate control over how people treat us.”
6. Study More.  The key is not simply acquiring information by learning more.  Facts change nothing.  Successful leaders must study and implement what they have learned.  The time we take to sharpen our tools is never wasted.  When the ideas are put into action, real change occurs.
7. Stay Consistent.  How easy is it to start something new?  It takes enormous consistency to move from the starting line to the finish line.  If we stop and start and stop and start, we wear down limitless amounts of positive energy.  Little by little, we move the mountain a shovel at a time.  
8. The Management of Time.  We all have 24 hours a day and seven days a week.  Many would call time life’s most precious commodity.  If we waste our time we will waste our life.  All time does not weigh the same.  An hour in the morning may not be the same as an hour in the evening. 
9. The Art of Delegation.  “One of the greatest success disciplines of super achievers is delegation.  Learn to ask for help.  Learn to trust and empower others to accomplish what needs to be done.”
10. Value Time Off.  “How does America regain its supremacy in the productive world?  How do you improve your personal productivity?  Go on vacation.”  Research tells us that too many Americans do not take their vacations.  Perhaps that’s why America ranks number one in depression and mental health problems.

Perhaps all of us can accomplish more by doing less.

Think about it.

Dr. Don Meyer is President of 
Valley Forge Christian College, Phoenixville, PA 
Responses can be mailed to president@vfcc.edu