Life hack 2005: cut cable, get back 7-10% of your day no longer watching TV
Life hack 2015: stop commuting, get back 7-10% of your day no longer stuck in traffic
Life hack 2023: buy index funds, get back 7-10% of your day no longer looking at markets
— Adam Singer (@AdamSinger) February 16, 2023
Most Twitter threads from influencer-types usually layout a (long) list of things you should do to mimic their ‘success.’ Indexing your portfolio, essentially giving up on alpha, is an ultimate do-less flex. The ironic thing is that doing less will likely lead to better results.
Doing less, better. One of the challenges of the Daily Stoic New Year New You Challenge was to pick a mantra. I picked, “do less,” an idea that comes from Marcus Aurelius. “If you seek tranquility,” he said, “do less.” And then he follows the note to himself with some clarification. Not nothing, less. Do only what’s essential. “Which brings a double satisfaction,” he writes, “to do less, better.” – Ryan Holiday
This is especially true in a world full of distractions, most of which are not necessarily conducive to better thinking, like social media.
“Before you throw more time at the problem, throw more focused action at the problem. You don’t need more time, you need fewer distractions.” – James Clear
Distractions aren’t the only thing that waste our time. There is an emotional component as well where we think we need to say ‘yes’ to more obligations.
“The least successful people I know run in conflicting directions, are drawn to distractions, say yes to almost everything, and are chained to emotional obstacles.
The most successful people I know have a narrow focus, protect themselves against time-wasters, say no to almost everything, and have let go of old limiting beliefs.” – Derek Sivers
Saying no IS hard. Don’t kid yourself. That is especially the case when it comes our kids. In America, especially, we feel the need to program our children to the hilt.
“The most logical explanation for why so many people failed to choose the correct subtractive answer is because they didn’t even think of it. They instinctively thought of adding, then they added, and then they moved on. This helps us understand why we find ourselves adding meetings to the calendar or extracurriculars to the spring season even though “more” may be the very last thing we, or our kids, need.” – Yael Schonbrun and Leidy Klotz*
It’s easy to get caught up in the trap of doing more, saying yes and getting distracted along the way. Part of this is our bias toward thinking that more equals better. The more you default toward ‘doing less’ the more you see it. So keep your eyes open.
See also this Hidden Brain episode featuring Leidy Klotz author of Subtract: The Untapped Science of Less.