Do Less, Get More

Design your life with less.

At the end of my second year of University, the advice I was receiving was to do as much as I can: build contacts, go to networking events, get an internship, do a part-time job, have side-projects, read, study, play sport. It was overwhelming. And during my degree I did all these things – I interned for a couple of months, held a part-time job for just over 2 years, made a short documentary, captained the university Squash team, did rock climbing, was in a band, and consistently achieving 2:1 or 1st level grades. I was a successful student. More than that, I was a model overachieving student. The thing was, I was incredibly miserable. I had forgotten the things I cared about. My relationship broke down, I had few friends that I could count on, and I was dealing with a drinking problem.

So how do you break your time down when at univeristy?

The 80:20 Rule

When I first started reading about how I could take control back of my life I came across a book called Do Less, Get More, by Shaa Wasmund. In this book Shaa discusses various ideas about how many of us create a life full of activities and tasks; where we have a fear of missing out and are afraid of failure. Entering my final year of university I was exactly at this stage. And I really didn’t want to fail!

Whilst reading Shaa’s words, there was one idea that stuck out most: the 80:20 Rule. You may have heard of this. Grown out of Wilfredo Pareto’s economical observations that 80% of Italy’s income was received by 20% of its population. It transformed into the idea that 80% of a businesses income was generated from 20% of its customer base. Wasmund has cleverly applied this to life, stating that if you focus on the most important 20% of your life, joy & success will follow. An example Shaa gives is that of friendships. She suggests that 20% of our friends give us 80% of our joy – something I can certainly relate to – yet we seem to spend so little time with them. The realisation of this was profound to me.

So, Take Action

List the 5 things that make you most happy. Mine are:

  • Rock Climbing
  • Reading
  • Being around my best friends
  • Cooking
  • Learning

What’s yours?

Now think of those people that make you happiest. The friends you really hold close.

Next, compare the two lists and find friends to go do things with! Rock Climbing relaxes me. Especially at the time, it allowed me to rest my mind away from all the work I had to do. So the first thing I did was to ring a mate to go climbing with the very next day. You might love going to watch live music. If so, find a gig, call a friend that you think would also enjoy it and go! Simple.

Then, Reap the rewards

I put this list somewhere I could see it. I also made sure that at least twice a month I did something I loved doing, with someone I loved. In fact, I ended up doing the things I loved way more often. I cooked almost every meal I ate, climbed 3-4 times a week and started reading more regularly. Life seemed to have purpose again. It was amazing the difference this made.

The second benefit of creating this list is that it made me realise what I didn’t enjoy doing. I quit playing squash immediately. My internship had come to an end, and I made a decision not to find another one. I also decided that once I had saved enough money to last me the year I would quit my job to focus on my studies. I chose to do less and thus ended up getting more of my life back.

What would happen if you chose to spend less time doing things you didn’t want to do, and spent more time doing things you loved doing with the people that mean the most to you?

I dare you to find out.

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