Create More By Doing Less

Hands Creating More Light

Create more by doing less? There is a “value of doing nothing,” as Pooh’s Little Instruction Book noted.

First, let’s clarify. What does it mean “to do” something? In today’s world doing is often filled with a crammed list of activities. We end up being overscheduled and overworked.

Multitasking, we seemingly “do” a lot, but we often sacrifice quality for quantity, swept up in a daily momentum. In truth, we are always “doing” something. But what is it we are actually doing?

As we dig deeper here, let’s see if we can figure out this unsolved “mystery of doing.”


Creative people make room for and thrive on down time. Author researcher Emma Seppala calls it “creative idleness.” In this fertile soil, here are six ways to do less and create more– which may may help you relax and be more productive.

1. Be intentional.

It’s wise to remember why you are doing things. Zoom out and look at the big picture. How are your activities affecting the quality of your life? Are they aligned with your deeper purpose?

Once you find out the answers to these important questions, activities make sense and become meaningful. Even routine tasks such as errands or maintenance can prime you to do the deeper more exciting work of your life.

In other words, it’s hard to get to that creative project if you had only four hours of sleep — and fell asleep in the same clothes you wore during the day.

2. Recognize intervals.

Yes, a balanced life is comprised of both movement and rest. It’s good to recognize that taking a break is necessary to do your best work and come up with creative ideas.

Every project has natural challenging points, or intervals, where you need to break, pause and sleep on it.

We’ve all awakened with wonderful ideas in the morning after “giving up” focusing on a taxing situation.

3. Manage your thoughts and feelings.

To live fully, you need to direct and authorize your life. That means being aware, but not enslaved to the 24-hour news cycle and social media .

To know yourself, you do need to follow the beat of your own drum, not others’. If you monitor your thoughts and feelings, you can respond instead of reacting. You can make better decisions.

Slow down… breathe… relax… sit or stand tall. That’s better, isn’t it?

4. Play

It’s still true: all work and no play makes you a dull boy (or girl). That means scheduling in fun activities.

What makes you smile?
What’s a good time?

Whatever you answered, do more of that.

5. Enjoy alone time.

Make time for yourself. It’s like going on a special date, just with yourself. One study showed that people would rather receive mild electric shocks than just sit a few minutes in a room without any stimuli.

Find ways to enjoy time with yourself: Take that walk. Meditate. Think of nothing. You might be surprised and delighted at what you find.

6. Do things differently.

Repetition can be dulling. Doing things over and over can become drudgery and feeling like you are stuck in a rut and wasting your time.

Instead, if you are in a repetitive routine, do it with fresh eyes. See a new pattern or sight in the same route you take.

Or change patterns: walk slower or faster. Take a different route. Use the other hand for brushing your hair or teeth.

Trying new and different creates joy and excitement. Don’t get so lost in everyday routines that you let life pass you by. Smell the roses, the coffee and whatever is in the air.


By using the creative idleness suggestions above– be intentional, recognize intervals, manage thoughts and feelings, play, enjoy time alone, do things differently– you will get out of stuck patterns. You will see things in a different light and hear sounds you might never have heard before.

Every day can become a blessing and opportunity.

Be not so busy, but enjoy your time.
Be not so rushed, but more spacious.
Be not so tight, but more expansive.
Be not so reactive, but more responsive.


So ironically, perhaps you will be more productive by “doing less.” Doing less and creating more is about a different kind of “doing.” Doing is an action so we are just about always doing something, even if we are just sitting still.

As we explored, doing less to create more means getting unstuck from the routine and automatic motions. Add variety and be open to the new and different.

At the same time, creativity emerges from going deeper into everyday routines, whether it is bathing or walking your pet, and making what you do more meaningful, maybe even a sacred experience.

Unless we take it for granted, life is a creative experience.


Phillip and Jane Mountrose