You know the old saying, “sometimes less is more?” Kate Northrup believes in that mantra wholeheartedly. The entrepreneur, author, speaker, and mother of two has just released her new book “Do Less: A Revolutionary Approach to Time Management for Busy Moms,” which encourages women to rethink how they spend their time to achieve more. Below, Kate explains how working smarter and more mindfully is key to better results at work and beyond.
Besides the literal meaning, what does it mean to “do less”?
It means getting better results in less time by being more mindful about what we invest our precious time and energy into. It means doing less of what drains us, what doesn’t matter, and what doesn’t get results.
What led you to write your book, Do Less? Why do you think other women need to read it?
I wrote this book after having the wildest experience of working less than half the amount I ever had in my adult life during my first pregnancy and the first year of motherhood, yet making the same amount of income. It made me realize that I had been overworking all of those years prior and I knew that if I could get the same results in less than half the amount of work hours, I could codify that and teach other women to do the same. I knew if I’d been overworking for all of those years, other women were, too.
What was the biggest obstacle you faced trying to “do less” in your own life?
The biggest obstacle I’ve faced when practicing what I preach is an incessant need to be in action, regardless of what result that action is leading. Like most people, I struggle with sitting still and just being. Retraining myself to value rest and time that doesn’t look “productive” has been one of the greatest obstacles, yet ultimately one of the greatest gifts, of implementing this philosophy in my life.
What would you say is often the root cause in women believing that in order to be more they have to do more?
I would say the root cause is that we still have a ways to go in terms of being honored and valued equally in the workplace. Even now in the third wave of feminism, we expect ourselves to be amazing at work and run everything at home, too. It’s simply unreasonable. On top of that, we’re trying to prove our value through our activity. Women who lack self-worth have a tendency to overwork and that’s just about all of us.
What advice do you have for new mothers trying to balance motherhood and entrepreneurship?
I recommend that we change our expectations of ourselves and start looking at our days based on how we feel and how nourished and connected we are instead of what we’ve gotten done. When you’re a new mom you’re going through a massive identity shift on top of being sleep deprived and possibly having nursing issues and changes in your body and relationship. It’s A LOT. I don’t see it as needing to lower our expectations of ourselves, because keeping ourselves alive while keeping a tiny human alive is a very tall order, but changing our expectations of what a “good day” looks like is going to help create peace and sanity.
Entrepreneurs often think more is more when it comes to working their business—12 hour days= dedication, commitment, or pride, etc. How can they embrace this idea of doing less while still growing their business?
The data actually shows that none of us, even the highest performing athletes and executives, can focus on a task that really moves the needle for more than 4 hours a day. We have to get really honest about the time we’re spending and the results that the time is bringing in. Are we logging hours at our computer to feel busy and important or because we’re getting results. When I cut my work hours in half but made the same revenue, I was stunned by how much time I had been wasting in my business for years. I recommend tracking your time and then tracking the results you’re getting for each block of time doing a certain activity. It will become clear what you can let go of and that you can get just as good results, if not better, with focused, devoted time rather than more time. It’s about the quality of the hours we put in, not the quantity.
Order your copy of Do Less: A Revolutionary Approach to Time Management for Busy Moms today!