Maximizing Value: Learning to do less

I have always been concerned with maximizing efficiency for a long time; before, it meant learning everything I could in the shortest time possible. To me then, ‘done’ meant completing a book or series of videos and this blinded me from verifying acquired knowledge. So I mostly went from one book to another without challenging myself to find real-life applications.

The trend continued when I began at Masdar: I tried to read all the library books I had longed to read, signed up for a lot of online courses and took on side projects. I soon got burnt out (I was doing too much at once) and quickly learnt to respect my limits.

The unpleasant burnout experiences also made me review my daily schedule: were all the tasks really completed? I started planning my days, used pomodoro time blocks to improve my focus and abandoned multi-tasking. My ‘completion’ speed dropped however Alhamdulilah I started completing stuff consistently without getting burnt out.

There is a long ever-growing list of fascinating things I want to do however I know I can’t do everything. A couple of days back I started to question my activities: how have I applied the stuff I keep learning? What were the results? Have I been doing the right things? Alhamdulilah I can reasonably follow up on tasks consistently now, so the next challenge is to focus on the right things. 

Insha Allaah I hope to improve by aggressively whittling down the fascinating list of to-dos, everything I do should have an impact or align with my goals. Less can actually be more…

Insha Allaah I’ll be asking these four questions:

1. What am I doing?

2. Why am I doing this?

3. Does this align with my purpose?

4. Am I doing it well enough?

Summary (tl;dr)

Know that you can not do everything, know your limits and then do the things you can do excellently. Finally, always remember to pray to Allaah and rely on Him totally as all success is from Him alone.

May Allaah bless all our efforts and grant us all success.

6 thoughts on “Maximizing Value: Learning to do less

  1. I found a bug in your list of questions, her is how it’d go

    1. What am I doing? —-> I am doing X, Y ,Z..

    2. Why am I doing this? ——> Cause I feel Like it

    3. Does this align with my purpose? hum… what’s my purpose!

    4. Am I doing it well enough? I See… no seriously what’s my purpose!! :D


  2. “So I mostly went from one book to another without challenging myself to find real-life applications”. Should this be the case ? Or should we rather let the “real-life” application come to us ? But yes long time focus on the right thing is essential to a sane life.


    1. Mallam, good to have you here :)

      I bet there are usually ways to apply things we’re learning but usually we don’t try…. I agree it might not be always possible but at least making that effort might help.

      What do you think?


  3. Its like if you haven’t reached burnout, you haven’t yet seen the light. Sadly i went through the burnout stages also and realized i needed to be brutal with time and focus so as not to wear myself out.


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