How to be more by doing less – Ep 94 with Susan Pearse
At a time when being idle is viewed negatively, and we are accustomed to filling every waking moment with activity Susan and her co-author explores why switching off, or at the very least, slowing down, is vital, if we are to live a life of fulfilment, which is what I believe we all want and deserve in our Next Chapter!
Your greatest potential is unleashed when you slow down. Do Less Be More reveals the science that explains why doing less is a bonafide strategy for achieving what you really want. We need to learn how to ban busy and focus on what really matters and I’ve discovered that having Vision clarity and awareness of our values and strengths really helps us to be discerning, to say no and embrace silence, space and solitude.
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While cramming in one more task may feel useful, productive, or even satisfying, it’s not always the best use of a spare moment. In fact, it will inevitably lead us to a place where we become less productive, less creative, less inspired and less satisfied with life.
The latest brain-function research shows that merely thinking of an activity, rather than actually doing it, sees the brain in active mode. While we might think we don’t have any space in our lives to do more of what is important to us, Do Less. Be More offers readers 21 activities to reclaim even the tiniest moments, like waiting for a coffee, to rest their brains and in so doing, rediscover insight, inspiration and fresh ideas.
This book rang true for me on a great many levels and I’ve already taken steps to bring some of the concepts into my life.
Here are some thoughts from the book, leading us towards an acceptance that being busy all the time is not a good thing!
- "Busyness is a barrier to self-reflection, a hindrance to novel solutions, and a smokescreen to clarity".
- "When you’re in a state of constant action, you’ll not only make mistakes and miss vital information, you’ll lose all sense of discernment and do a lot of stuff that ends up being a waste of your precious energy. Tasks are ticked off not because they matter, but because ticking them off feels like progress. Choices are made, not because they are the ones that take you closer to your dreams, but because they are the easiest ones to make in that instant. There’s no space to notice the golden opportunities, the magical moments, and the significant turning points that lie in wait to transform your day and your life."
- "It’s only when you untether your mind from the constant push and pull of daily tasks that another layer of depth bubbles to the surface. That’s why so many people experience ‘aha’ moments in random places like the shower, looking out the window of a train, walking in nature, and while on holidays. A total transformation takes place in your brain when you slow down, look up, let go and fall silent."
- "Activation of the Task Negative Network is associated with spontaneous recollections, improvisation and imagination, creative leaps, daydreaming, self-awareness and soul-searching, moral and emotional sensitivity, and the perceptive feelings we often label as intuition, insight or foresight. These rich rewards lie buried and out of reach when your Task Positive Network is in play. Your Task Positive and Task Negative networks cannot both be active at the same time. So that’s why solutions to lingering problems drop into your mind when you’re taking a shower. It’s why those life-changing realisations happen during holidays. It’s why indecision about which of the many tasks on your to-do list you should do first only resolves itself when you walk away from your desk. And it’s why looking out the window of the train allows your imagination to deliver a fully-formed idea for a story."
- "When you truly settle into the act of doing nothing, a cascading series of physiological changes takes place in your body and brain. Each step in this transformation is essential, if you are to reach the moment when an inspiration, and insight, or idea actually arises. The first step is to detach your attention from whatever you are doing. Mostly this will mean sitting back, lifting your head or walking away from a task, but it can also just mean flicking your eyes up, taking a deep breath, and pausing for a moment with your attention gently resting in the present."
- "We all have a different structure to our days—different pressures, different occupations and very different personalities. Creating your own pattern that balances ‘doing something’ and ‘doing nothing’ is important, because they are both vital for life. No-one can dictate what your perfect mix will be, but you can be sure that your life needs healthy doses of doing nothing. Maybe you would benefit from idle moments scattered through a busy day, or idle gaps when you can settle for longer into curious musings and wonderings; or maybe you crave intentional stretches of silence, stillness and solitude to indulge in self-reflection?"
And how do we change our habits, our neural pathways?
- Let’s face it, there will always be more things to do in a day than you can ever expect to achieve.
- The question to ask yourself should not be “how can I find s way to squeeze it all I”, rather try instead, “How can I be sure I’m doing the things that matter most?
- And to know this, being aware of the rile you want your business to play in your life is really important to know (my observation)
- And then, focus on changing the habit you want to create, not the habit you want to stop
And then some exercises to get you started in this new direction
There are 21 suggestions and I’ve chosen 3 to share with you as starters.
Pay Full price
There is no greater strategy for productivity than doing one thing at a time, mindfully, with full awareness. Consciously set aside other tasks and just do this one thing with complete attention.
Sounds of silence
Most of us are exposed to constant noise, even if it is subtly and background and all of this white noise can hold you back from fully settling into the nourishing folds of empty space.
The not to do list
This one is for you if you wake up and your first thoughts are “what day is this and what do I need to get done???”Brain dump all the things you feel you have to do and then look at each one and ask:
- Does this activity need to be done now? ￼
- Can I identify a real need that this activity will fulfil? ￼
- Is this activity ready to be actioned, or does something more need to unfold first? ￼
- Is this activity truly a stepping stone to the outcome I’m seeking, or could it end up being a waste of time or irrelevant? ￼
- Does this activity deliver the right amount of value for the effort that will be required? ￼
- Is this an activity that is mine to do, or am I taking on something that belongs to someone else? ￼
- Will this activity make a difference to something meaningful, or will I just get a fleeting reward from ticking it off? ￼
- Is this activity is something I’m taking on by choice, will it bring me joy or take me closer to something I genuinely care about?"
Perhaps some of the things that you’re currently immersed in really don’t belong on your To Do List?
Links and More Information
Susan Pearse is the Founder of Mind Gardener® & Best Selling Author of One Moment Please & Wired for Life. Her latest book Do Less Be More: ban busy and make space for what matters challenges the effectiveness of the busy environment many people operate in.
She’s a leadership and business expert who, for more than a decade, has introduced her mind gardening techniques into some of Australia's largest and most high profile businesses. A quarter life crisis, a shopping trip to New York, and a chance meeting with His Holiness the Dalai Lama lead to the discovery of Susan’s life’s purpose: to teach people the power and skills of being in the present moment – in business and life. Susan is passionate about women’s issues and is the Chair of the Board of Share the Dignity, Australia’s fastest growing charity supporting vulnerable women.
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