Doing less so that you can accomplish more
Have you ever seen someone is “doing too much” or being what we used to call a “try hard”? Maybe they are being inauthentic, trying to impress someone, or overcompensating for some reason. On the basketball court, he is the guy with all the new gear but can’t dribble or shoot. At a party, this may be the person who talks too loud and laughs at his own jokes but no one is really interested. In some ways, we can all be doing too much. It may not be annoying as the person I just described but doing too much can lead to us being less productive overall.
Normally our greatest strengths are also connected to our weaknesses. I have the gift and curse of doing too much. In fact, one of our family values is “hard work.” This is because it is not only a strength of mine but also of Amy. Our parents have a great work ethic and have passed that down to us. It is something we want to pass along to our kids as well. But is there such a thing as doing too much? Are you someone who sometimes has trouble accomplishing everything on your task list?
I didn’t realize how busy I was until the other day when I was on the phone with a friend I listed all the things I was involved in.
1. Training for a half marathon
2. Writing a book
3. Keeping up with a blog (Setting aside time for creative thinking, writing posts, editing posts, creating email marketing campaigns, scheduling social media posts, finding images to support the blog posts, etc.)
4. Working on numerous DIY projects that include finishing a deck, building a pergola, creating a stone pathway, adding a shelf desk in our kitchen, creating a hanging storage system in our garage, etc.
5. Onboarding new employees at ARC
6. For the first time, we were doing two ARC trainings in back to back months followed by the ARC conference
7. Preparing for the ARC conference
8. Reading 5 books at the same time (Leadership Book, Audio Book, Self-help book, funny book, small-group book, and not to mention my daily Bible reading and the book I was reading to Sophie each night)
9 Leading a small group and
10. Preparing a team of 25 for a mission trip to NYC. And I’ll stop here even though some of the most significant challenges we faced as a family are not even listed here.
I wonder what your list would look like?
Here is the thing about doing too much. This list of 10 things is actually not a list of accomplishments but of failures. I know that sounds harsh but I mean failure in three very specific ways.
How Accomplishments Can Become Failures
When we do too much…
- ...we don’t do anything to the best of our ability – While doing all of this I was constantly feeling like I was falling short in each specific area because my attention was constantly divided. I couldn’t do one thing without thinking about all the other things that needed to be done. I was exhausted mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually which means I was never able to give my best.
- …we fall prey to discouragement – When I would look at my to-do list over the past couple of months I would often get so discouraged that I would not feel like doing anything. If there were only a couple of items on the list I could have been energized to get them accomplished. In my case, the shadow from the mountain of tasks before me often darkened my day before it even began.
- …we live by the tyranny of the urgent instead of by the priority of our values – A long list of activities and accomplishments may be impressive to some. My experience has taught me that doing a lot often means not doing what is most important. What is not on the list above is being a husband, dad, child of God, and being a witness of Jesus Christ. When we try to do too much we often end up sacrificing the things that are most important on the altar of accomplishment.
In the past couple of months I have not been blogging; which is one of my favorite things to do. This is because I have been doing too much which is an old habit of mine that is resurfacing. Learning lots of lessons from this and maybe it will give me content for future posts. For today I will wrap up with this thought: The key to doing more is actually doing less. We have to learn to edit the good things in order to be focused on the God things.
Thoughts for reflection:
- What are your strengths and weaknesses? What weaknesses are connected to your strengths? How can you manage this?
- What are your priorities in life? How can you arrange your to-do list to match your priorities and values as a person?
- What good things need to be edited in your life in order to focus on the God things?