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Home / Advice / Anxiety / Take on Less and Do More

Take on Less and Do More

By: Lauren Hall

Updated: 10 August 2021

Take on Less and Do More

Take on Less and Do More

A contradictory idea, right? How could one take on less and be doing more at the same time? 

In this article we’ll be exploring the beauty of knowing our limits in our lives and how it can make us more productive and content over time. 

The Challenge

Do you find yourself at the end of the day feeling burned out, under-appreciated and like the list of demands in your life is simply never ending? You’re not alone. We live in a world of endless stimulation and constant demands. We’re accessible in more ways than ever before through phone, text, email, social media around the clock, day-in and day-out. The pressures from work, family and friends can start to make you feel like you are being pulled in a million directions while never getting anything done. 

For some people they have very clear ideas of their limits and know when to start cutting back, for others the limits are extremely blurred, if not invisible. The more you take on and try to do, the more ways  your attention is split. At first it can feel exhilarating to be rushing between demands and smashing through a lengthy to-do list, but how sustainable is it long term and at what cost? Burn out, anxiety and depression can start to appear when we’ve overloaded ourselves with more than we can handle. For some our relationships can start to suffer as we unknowingly transfer that pressure to others around us and the quality of our work can deteriorate as everything we do becomes diluted and rushed. Conversely, healthy boundaries and prioritising your mental health, in the long run makes you more efficient, productive and feel more present in each moment versus simply mentally preparing for the next task. 

While some people find it easy to know when to take a step back, for others it can feel like a daunting  change. If you find yourself in the latter group, here are some practical ways in which you can regain that balance in your life. 

Get Comfortable With No

Saying ‘no’ can feel incredibly uncomfortable at first. For some it can feel like you’re letting others down, as though you don’t really have a choice but to appease their request. However, looking at it in a different light, saying ‘no’ to something that you don’t want to do is actually a kindness, not only to yourself, but to others. How often do we agree to something, knowing we are at our limit, only to do it poorly or to quietly resent the task or the person who asked you? Saying ‘no’ takes practice but over time you will see the benefits. If you’re struggling to simply say ‘no’ without feeling guilty, start by offering an alternative that you are comfortable with in your reply, for example ‘I can’t come this weekend but perhaps we can get a coffee sometime next week’. Remember your time and your mental health is valuable, treat it that way. 

Lower Your Expectations Of Yourself

After lockdown, some people find themselves feeling the pressure to do more than they have ever done before – to socialise more, have more hobbies, learn new things and take fullest advantage of our newly regained freedoms. While these are noble ideas it’s also completely reasonable to want to focus your attention and energy on fewer areas; this can in itself yield better results than spreading your attention among endless demands.  Recognise that you are human and only have so many hours in a day, while its great to have new goals and to try new things, don’t let it become a source of guilt and strain.

Stop Comparing

Each of us has our own personal limits of what we can manage and there is absolutely no shame in that. What is frantic busyness to one, is an average day for another. The reason behind that is fairly straightforward — we are all unique individuals. We  all live in different circumstances, with different values and each individual has their own personality and tolerance for stress. To expect yourself to juggle an excessive list of demands, simply because you know someone else that does so gladly, is an unfair expectation of yourself. Stop comparing yourself and your life to what others are doing, they are not an expert on your life and your limits — you are. 

Prioritise and Let Go

It’s easy for the to-do list to become a never-ending source of strain, but what on your list is truly necessary? If you give everything the same level of priority, it can feel impossible to cut back and take time for yourself. However not everything we have to do is of equal importance. Somethings in our life should take priority over others. Identifying what is truly important can help you recognise your limits and create boundaries. For example, understanding that your mental health and time with your family take priority over an optional work event, helps you identify what to sacrifice. Saying ‘no’ and letting go of low priority demands in your life is an incredible way to regain your power and perform better in the areas that truly matter.  

What next?

We all periodically go through busier or more stressful times in our lives, that is to be expected. But if you find yourself feeling like you are constantly overwhelmed by never-ending demands then it’s time to pause and re-evaluate.  Learning where your limits are will not only protect your mental health but it can help you become more productive in the areas that truly matter to you. 


Natanielle Kelly Psychotherapist Location: Dublin 6

Approach: Gestalt Therapy , Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) , Humanistic & Integrative Psychotherapy , Person-Centred Therapy , Mindfulness , Solution-Focused Brief Therapy

Works with: Individual Session

Specialities: Self harm , Personal Development , Depression , Bereavement / Loss , Anxiety , Addiction , Trauma

Next avaialble appointment: 15:00 29 September 2022

Emma Cubitt Psychotherapist Location: Online

Approach: Humanistic & Integrative Psychotherapy , Mindfulness , Person-Centred Therapy , Psychodynamic Therapy

Works with: Children & Adolescents , Individual Session

Specialities: Other , Trauma , Bereavement / Loss , Anxiety , Anger , Domestic Violence / Abuse , Eating Disorder / Body Image , Isolation / Loneliness , Obsessive Compulsive Disorder , Personal Development , Personality disorder , Relationship issues , Self Care , Self-Esteem , Sexuality (LGBT) , Stress , Suicidal Ideation / Self Harm , Work Issues, Work/Life balance , Depression

Next avaialble appointment: 9:00 28 September 2022

Eli Guruceaga Psychotherapist Location: Online

Approach: Gestalt Therapy , Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) , Humanistic & Integrative Psychotherapy , Person-Centred Therapy , Psychodynamic Therapy , Solution-Focused Brief Therapy

Works with: Individual Session

Specialities: Work Issues, Work/Life balance , Suicidal Ideation / Self Harm , Stress , Somatic Experiencing , Self harm , Addiction , Anxiety , Bereavement / Loss , Depression , Relationship issues , Trauma , Self Care

Next avaialble appointment: 12:00 29 September 2022


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