Do Less, Gain More

I was looking at my schedule just moments ago before embarking on this post and my ical looks like a rainbow warzone. Wasn’t taking a break from working suppose to give me more time to chill?

Then it hit me. I was addicted to busyness. It’s been drummed into me since I was a child that idle hands are the devils’ tools. One should always keep busy, work hard, study hard and excel in all manners possible. It’s not hard to be busy in today’s society. In fact it is expected of you to check off tasks on long to-do lists. The longer your list, the more accomplished  you are. Bosses and families expect you to be superhuman and efficient in both your work and personal life. To juggle the pressures of society and multitask your way through the day. In Singapore, most people wouldn’t like to be seen being the first one to pack and leave the office as it shows non-commitment to the company. It’s not unheard off to have many employees with wasted paid leave entitlments at the end of the year because they just couldn’t afford to take time away from work. But it’s precisely such environments that leave your brain fried and your energies zapped. You work hard and long but at much lower capacity so in reality, you’re getting more inefficient and definitely less creative.

I am by nature, really lazy and I work hard to go against my nature so that I can live my life as efficiently as possible. But while color correcting and watermarking my Bali holiday photos, I realized how lazy, how happy, how at peace and more importantly, how productive I was then (It’s always weird to put lazy in the context of using it to be more productive) . So instead of writing my usual what,where, how travel post, I’m writing about my thoughts on my life and the direction I’ll like to proceed in.

Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.
Thomas A. Edison

During my time in Bali, I was completely rested and woke up early every morning for a sumptuous breakfast. Everyone knows breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it not only gives you sustained energy, it sets the tone of the day right.

After breakfast, I’ll take time to clear some emails and work on a couple of projects. In 2 hours, I would have accomplished so much more than what I would have gotten done in an entire day at the office because I was so focus and refreshed. It wasn’t about the number of hours spent working but more of the quality of work and the results you got.

Being in an environment where clocks didn’t matter really helped as well. I was happy to work and had tons of creative concepts without even having to try.

I swam in the afternoons which was great physically cause I never had to worry about putting on unhealthy weight. Being happy makes you healthy! I hardly got sick then! I was gearing to go all the time. I had a crazily lazy lifestyle but was 100% productive in whatever projects I worked on. Friends and colleagues used to wonder how seem to manage everything effortlessly.

Last year,I moved from that job to another job that required me to blur the lines between work and personal living. I worked longer hours than I ever had before and even though the work load was not totally unmanageable, it took me longer than I normally would to complete the simplest tasks and I felt lazier than ever. In retrospect, I think my laziness was trying to show me that my body was tired and unhappy. I felt burnt out, kept falling ill, stopped being creative, started to make the most careless mistakes and being really unproductive. All these happened despite me working harder than ever before!

Finally, I decided that I needed a break. It was time to focus my life in new directions and on the things that matter most to me. I didn’t want to live life like a zombie, I wanted life to give me zest! Whatever I do must give me energy. So I’ve been traveling and letting wanderlust take over. Over this period lots of new ideas and possible ventures have also been manifesting themselves on my plate. I am excited about life again and I returned to Singapore with an uplifted spirit.

Leading back to the beginning of my post, when I looked at my calendar for April, I realized that I have silently fallen back to my old ways.  The comfortable hum of busyness and filling my time with blocks of things-to-do are slowly creeping back to my life. It’s not an entirely bad thing, just that they need to bring learning and refinement into my life. As Henry David Thoreau says:

“It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?”

In this post, I’m going to set my 10 step Resolutions To So Less and I hope it helps other to do less too. Because you can gain so much more when you do less and do things right instead.

1. Less hectic lifestyle and more time for peace – I need to allocate time to do nothing. To give me space to quiet my mind and absorb what God has to say to me in his own ways. There’s no time for spiritual growth if I’m constantly on a timer. Slowly cut back on non-essential commitments and set limits on work hours or how many things there can be on your to-do-list.

2. Less multi-tasking and more focus – Technology has a large part to blame for making us super multitaskers. We rely on technology to improve our life and hope that it will give us more time when we have the ability to do things faster and easier. Instead, it has only freed our time so we can fill our time with more useless time wasters. We become slaves to technology. I’m highly guilty of that and I would like to consciously use technology to effectively create more quality for me and not let myself get addicted to it. Doing things with focus will give a tangible quality to results which I can take greater pride in.

3. Less quantity, instead appreciate quality  – working on 1 successful project is worth more than running 10 projects that barely makes the deadlines. Just like a master craftsman that produces 10 epic swords in a year instead of a factory that produces a million.

4. Less time for short term interests and more time for long term interests – The world always presents itself with many distractions, but spending time reading, on keeping healthy and spending time with family and friends are the only things that truly matter in the long run.

5. Less hours awake and more naps  – sleep to many is a waste of time but being well rested means having a fresh mind at full capacity. It also brings lots of benefits to your physical well-being and complexion!

6. Do Less – this is simpler said then done. It’s hard to say no but we should do it more often. You get what you tolerate. If you tolerate being overworked, you’ll continue to be overworked. If you tolerate being overweight, you won’t take the steps to lose the weight. If you tolerate running the errands for everyone, they’ll expect you to.

7. Do less buying and spending – If you spend less, shop less, acquire less, then you will own less, need less, get into less debt, be in better financial shape, have less clutter, and have more time for things that are truly important.

8. Manage less – We all tend to be worrywarts and end up over managing our employees, our families, our love ones. We mean well, of course, but all the micromanaging gives you undue stress. It’s time for you to just delegate then let go. In the long run, they’ll learn to fly and it’s better for your heart.

9. Do less judging and complaining – It’s easy to criticize and sometimes even fun to bitch about the world, the government, the celebrity or the girl next to you. But it means that you haven’t opened up your heart and mind to learning to accept others and the world we live in. All change happens from within. It doesn’t matter if people are criticizing you, it happens. But if you get affected or do the same to others, it only shows that you have a certain expectation of how others should be and how they should see you. This expectation leads to unhappiness and pulls your life down negatively.  Don’t let negativeness tie you down.

“Be Content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” – Lao Tzu

10. Less interference – Imagine if you died, how would things be? Life would still carry on and things will still find a way to get themselves done. By wanting to interfere in everything, others don’t get a chance to pick up the slack or share their creativity or contribute. Some things need you to be there but many others will find their flow even without your involvement. Doing a lot of things may mean you learn to do more but knowledge is not power; it is the potential of power. What you do with knowledge is where the power lies. You need time to digest what you learn and contemplate on the possibilities before you can decide if you want to implement it in your life.

Of course, after stating my 10 Step Resolutions To Do Less, I can immediately see that the concept doesn’t quite matches with what I see on my current schedule. So no, it’s not going to happen overnight or even for the next week or two. But gradually, I’ll like to integrate my new philosophy into my life. After-all, who woouldn’t like to do less and gain more?

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.” – E.F. Schumacker

By the way, doing less means I was able to spend more time writing this post. Penning my thoughts down the way I liked to do when I first started this blog. Instead, busyness have made me slapped photos and captions instead of writing on more than one occasions. I’m still really appreciative that you are still following and reading my blog despite that. Thank you.




  1. Delia
    March 30, 2013 / 3:20 pm

    I love this post! I needed this just at the right time before I explode! Time to do less.

    • April 25, 2013 / 9:17 pm

      Hi Delia,

      Hope you managed to schedule more “me time” for yourself!

  2. Delia
    March 30, 2013 / 3:20 pm

    I love this post! I needed this just at the right time before I explode! Time to do less.

    • April 25, 2013 / 9:17 pm

      Hi Delia,

      Hope you managed to schedule more “me time” for yourself!

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