Why Do More When You Can Do Less?

Here’s some news: the agency business is very demanding.

Oh wait. That’s not news at all. Literally everyone already knows that.

Still, it’s true. We’re constantly being asked to think more. To work more. To expect more. In short: to do more.

But should we? Is it actually smart to do more? Maybe it depends on how you define “doing more”.

For example: many of us are under pressure to get a lot done in a little time. To do that, you might find yourself multitasking. (Yes, we’re talking to you, Laptop in Meeting Guy.) Multitasking is definitely doing more. It’s also definitely a good way to work.

Oh wait. Multitasking is actually a terrible way to work and literally lowers your IQ.

Research conducted at Stanford University found that multitasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time.

“A study at the University of London found that participants who multitasked during cognitive tasks experienced IQ score declines that were similar to what they’d expect if they had smoked marijuana or stayed up all night. IQ drops of 15 points for multitasking men lowered their scores to the average range of an 8-year-old child.

Does smoking pot while you work sound like a good idea? (Maybe don’t answer that.) Or how about getting your 8-year-old child to work for you?

So multitasking: not a good way to do more. All right. What about doing more in the form of… options? We love our options in this business. After all, if you’re giving your partner/boss/client 5 options for a concept/proposal/whatever, you might as well give them 10, because more is better, right?

Oh wait. Offering people too many choices is actually bad and might even confuse them.

We have observed three main negative consequences to offering people more and more choices. They’re more likely to delay choosing… They’re more likely to make worse choices… They’re more likely to choose things that make them less satisfied.

Why generate a million options if it’s just going to hurt your audience (and thus, you) in the end? In other words… why do more?

It might sound funny. It might sound like we’re trying to get out of work. But it’s a serious question. When evidence suggests that your extra effort might actually be detrimental to yourself and to others, why make that effort to begin with?

Doing less isn’t an excuse to be lazy. In fact, it’s actually a way to do more. Because when you’re not trying to do more, you’re more effective and more productive.

…working long hours often leads to productivity-killing distractions. Such is an instance of the saying known as Parkinson’s law, which states that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. Work less, and you’ll tend to work better.

It has long been known that working too much leads to life-shortening stress. It also leads to disengagement at work, as focus simply cannot be sustained for much more than 50 hours a week. Even Henry Ford knew the problem with overwork when he cut his employees’ schedules from 48-hour weeks to 40-hour weeks. He believed that working more than 40 hours a week had been causing his employees to make many errors...

Are you going to disagree with Henry Ford? Because he probably knows more than you do about how to work efficiently.

Like we said: this is a demanding industry. And, like other demanding industries, we tend to treat people who “do more” as martyrs. But (as our helpful links have demonstrated) sacrificing yourself doesn’t make good work. More importantly, it doesn’t make a good you.

Saying no can be hard. Finding ways to get things done that don’t involve martyrdom can be harder still. It’s very tempting to instead just put your head down and power through. If that’s the way you want to work, go for it. Just don’t think it’s helping you do more.

Because the only real way to do more is to do less.


Art Supervisor
Total pro at sweet, awesome drawings. Greeting card writer/designer extraordinaire. Believes most things are NBD.


Copy Supervisor
Never gets tired of hearing “Righter/Writer” jokes. Often sarcastic. Owner of the world’s best commute to work at <5 minute walk.