Sometimes doing less will help you achieve more. Here’s how

Can you cut back on the amount of work you do and still get stuff done? Read on for some ideas on how to be more productive while doing less.

Working on a creative project can be a little (or completely) overwhelming.

Even more so if we have limited time and energy.

This is because your creative work is so important. You’ve committed yourself to it and you spend your precious time thinking about it and working on it.

Sometimes you can feel overwhelmed if the task at hand feels too big or complex. But things can also become too much if you try to take on more than you can handle.

And when things get on top of you, your stress levels go up. This, in turn, can lead to all sorts of health problems or exacerbate the ones you already have.

So, you need to keep all stress to a minimum.

Even if you’ve been doing something for a while it’s easy for things to get on top of you.

When I get too involved in what I’m doing or take too much on, my stress levels go up and my health suffers. I have to take a step back.

Stress builds up over time and can overwhelm us if we keep pushing.

How do you prevent overwhelm? - First you need to remember that less can mean more.

If you do too much and your health suffers you won't be able to work. If you're overwhelmed and you procrastinate you won't be able to work.

Stay within your limits and you'll be able to work long-term.

This means cutting back and simplifying your work. Concentrate on your core project, do one thing at a time and make sure you don’t take on too much.

It also means freeing up time and cutting back on other areas of your life. Get rid of things that might be adding to your stress levels or taking up time.

Here’s a few tips to help reduce stress and prevent overwhelm:

Do less

It often feels like we live in a society where more is more. Where to achieve anything you have to spend 28 hours a day going after it. Where if you don’t you’ll fail.

But this isn’t true. It is possible to achieve great things by starting off small and working for short periods of time.

What we want to achieve is long-term consistency. A habit of coming back to our work and being able to get on with it. No matter what our limitations or how much time we have to take off.

Even if you have to take time out, all the small blocks of work will add up to a lot over time.

We have to be smart. Working like crazy, while seeming counter-intuitive, is actually counter-productive.

Focus

When things get on top of you, stick to the basics 

If I feel overwhelmed, I stop and take a break. Then I concentrate on the one thing that will move my work forward the most. Then I do that one thing. Then I repeat the process.

For me it’s usually as simple as ‘paint’ or ‘write’ because that’s at the core of what I do. All the other things that are vying for my attention can usually wait.

Focus on what’s important for you. Write a one item to-do list and then you don’t even need to think about what to do.

Taking time out

Don’t worry if you have to take time out.

Sometimes things get too much. Sometimes you might not be physically or mentally able to work for some reason. When this happens, you need a break.

The worst thing you can do is push yourself when should be resting. This could send you further in to the red if your energy and health are already poor.

Your work is a long-term project and it’s not going anywhere. Taking time off will let you help gather your strength while your creative spirit has time to think.

When you feel ready to work you can get back to it. You’ll have new ideas and a renewed eagerness to see where they go.

Try and put yourself in a position to work

The only way to achieve anything is to make sure that when you want to work, you’re in a position to do so.

So make sure that doing your work isn’t making you ill.

Do less, take time out, and focus on the basics of your creative work.

Remember these tips when things are going well. They can prevent you from becoming stressed and overwhelmed in the first place.

Keep in mind what your important work is. Break it down into its most basic elements; the things you can concentrate on that will move it forward.

Your health and energy levels need to be as good as they can be. If they are you will be able to achieve some consistency in your creative endeavors.

Even the smallest of steps will move you forward.

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