More than a decade ago, I set in a friend’s office, on a sea trunk, coding twelve hours a day for three days in order to meet a Monday deadline. I had subcontracted some work to him and he had dropped the ball. I was helping him get caught up so that we could meet my commitment to the client. My back was injured at the time and the long hours on the sea trunk made it ache. I showed up early and left late and was exhausted at the end of it. It sucked.

What I noticed about the experience was that as the days passed, we both got less and less effective. And then the following week, I didn’t get much done at all because I was running on empty.

A few years ago, I took a month long sabbatical in Japan. I turned my email off and disconnected. When I returned, I was a dynamo and made eight weeks of progress in four.

I’m an advocate of doing less. I don’t buy into the hustle and grind mentality or the idea that you have to do everything to be competitive.

An effect of doing less, is that you have more energy to achieve your objectives. You make better decisions and are more creative. Waste is minimized. The work that needs to be done is completed more effectively and efficiently.

Because of this, it’s critical that you have a healthy ability to be selective. To say “no” to some opportunities. To be strategic in your choices. Every commitment comes at a cost, even options that seem good on the surface.

I have a Tibetan prayer bowl that has occupied a corner of my desk for a couple of years. I don’t use it for meditation. The reason it sits there is to remind me that a bowl is most useful when it’s empty.