do less by Kate Northrup – book review
Welcome to the first book of our Launch Creative Book Club!
The thesis of this book is the opposite of “leaning in” and “doing it all”. Definitely written more towards the feminine perspective, it advocates less doing and more being present. So many working moms I know struggle with the guilt that they aren’t doing enough for everyone; that they are letting everyone in their lives down just a little. Even if it looks like you are killing it from the outside – YOU may not feel like you are doing a great job at all.
What I loved most about this book is that it approaches running a business and one’s life in a way that lets you focus on MEANING. As in, finding what is meaningful to you and working your way there in a series of “experiments”. For those moments where you feel like you are doing it all wrong – you’re probably not – and you can work your way into getting things right a little at a time.
What’s also great about this book is that it focuses on mindset AND the practical. Example – if you want to have a better relationship with your spouse, you can change your mindset and create an actionable plan to make your day to day better, together.
Before I came across this book, I had been doing some soul searching. I distinctly remembered a time when I would jump out of bed, full of excitement for a day of going for my big goals, cup of coffee in a hand. Even without enough sleep, I was looking forward to it. I hadn’t felt this way in a while and I knew the answer couldn’t just be “Oh, but you were in your twenties”. With a puppy, four kids, a husband, a business, and serving on my local school board, time for “me” is limited, but I knew I had to make it happen. SO I approached my life the way I approach my business – I made 4 quadrants – with “meaningfulness” as the x- axis and “time required” in the y- axis. I included family time, things I desired to learn, books I wanted to read, paying bills, grocery shopping, volunteering in the classroom, and of course, work. Anything with high time requirements and low “meaning” would be eliminated from my to-do list, anything with high “meaningfulness” and high “time required” had to be figured out. Anything with high “meaningfulness” and low “time required” was automatically built in my to-do list. And last, anything with low “meaningfulness” and low “time-required” was automated or also removed my from my to-do list.
The result? I found I really wanted to learn to play guitar, practice gratitude and meditation more, sleep regular hours, spend quality time with family, cook healthy meals, and produce high-quality work for my clients. Off my to-do list came decorating classroom doors(no one cared), grocery shopping (I get an “ugly” produce box delivered and give a monthly shopping list to my husband for the rest), and I automated almost all of my bill paying. I also stopped saying yes to projects that were “new”. I work with my team, but we have all done the types of projects that we accept so many times that we could do them well.
So I wouldn’t forget to prioritize the things I had decided were important – I scheduled out how it could all work into my day and taped it to my mirror. It’s amazing how brains hate change!
The great thing was, when I came across Do Less, it supported all of the work I had done in my business and in my life. It was great to see that my experiment was a worthwhile one (again, brains hate change!). I implemented some of her other “experiments” in areas I hadn’t approached yet – specifically her idea on managing your energy in regards to your “cycle”. It was another very helpful way to approach not giving so much of your self away that you feel ragged and resentful.
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