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Less But Better: Filtering the Noise to Create More Impact

TIGNUM Thoughts

February 5th, 2022

Insights from the author

By Jake Marx

Are the demands you face more than a year ago? Are there more curveballs to deal with than last year? Is the fatigue you're dealing with this year more than a year ago? If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, your reflexive response may be, “I have to DO MORE to survive.” But, what if this is precisely the wrong approach if you want to be a Sustainable Human Performer?

Doubling down on more meetings, initiatives, and communication can lead to less clarity, more brain fog, and more fatigue. What if, instead, you approach your days with less but better thinking, and you asked yourself questions like:


What if I could only have five meetings?

Who would I meet with?

How would I give and receive the most value in those meetings?


You can also apply this thinking to your Sustainable Human Performance habits and choices. One great example is movement. We often progress in our training and think, “I ran ten miles this week, so I need to run more next week,” or, “I worked out three days this week and felt amazing; imagine if I did four days next week.”


The truth is, at a certain point, the benefits from additional training diminish, and the risk of injury, illness, and overtraining increases. What if, instead of always striving for more, you weigh the costs of the additional movement against the benefits by asking:


What type of movement would be best for me today, considering my current load and recovery?

What is the minimal effective dose to give me the benefits I need today?

What would be the best days of the week to plan more challenging workout sessions?


This same paradigm applies to many other aspects of our lives.


Here are some suggestions we have found to be successful in creating your less but better approach:


1. Identify where you are reflexively doubling down on MORE.

If you look at your typical day, are there any immediate opportunities for you to do less but better? Are there any low impact meetings you manage that could be covered with a few bullets in an email? Do you ever over-communicate for the sake of comfort without weighing the cost to you and the recipient? Do you habitually consume media that costs you precious hours of focus or even sleep? Could you reduce your stack of books to read down to the 2-3 you think will give you the most value? Do you prioritize and prepare for the moments you have to grow the 3-5 critical relationships in your circle?

There are countless opportunities but focus on one or two, beginning tomorrow.


2. Create a mental model to help you execute your less but better approach.

Mental models are a great way to create a simple decision filter so you can quickly determine the best course of action, even under a high load. For example, you could ask:


Is what I am doing strengthening the 3-5 relationships I most need to grow? Or is it taking away from them?

Is what I am doing a part of my priorities? If so, am I preparing myself to maximize my impact?

Will saying yes to this help me make a greater impact (on others, on my priorities, on myself)?

Will saying no to this help me make a greater impact (on others, on my priorities, on myself)?


No matter your focus, create your mental model by identifying a few questions that you could quickly ask yourself to serve as your filters.


3. Reflect on the benefits of your less but better approach.

In the end, eliminating noise with less but better should help you show up at your best and create more impact. You should not only have more energy but actually multiply the energy of the people and projects that matter most to you. The only way to determine if this is true is to spend a moment at the end of the day, the week, or the month and ask yourself, “Is my less but better approach creating those benefits?” If yes, this simple reflection will help strengthen your new approach and motivate you to continue by replaying all the ways it’s benefited you. If not, it creates the perfect opportunity to refine your mental model and try it again or look at other options to apply this approach.


If you have a moment, create your less but better approach and quickly go from winging it to Ruling Your Impact.

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts.

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