Slower, Fewer, Less

Some Simplified Principles for Complicated Times

On a few occasions, I have heard someone talk about a person or a company being like a duck in the water — calm on the surface, but paddling furiously under the water. It usually serves as an analogy to show how much work it can take to be poised, calm, and laid-back.

I also found this analogy to be apt for practicing simplicity. We usually have to deal with a lot of complexity and mess in order to actually implement simplicity. Anyone who has edited a long article or book can tell you that.

As the year ramps up, and we naturally reflect on how we can change our lives for the better — I’m reflecting on how I can live more simply. In that vein, I’ve adopted a motto:

Slower, Fewer, Less


When I act more slowly, more deliberately, I come to accept fewer tasks, and focus on the ones that will yield the most value. I also reduce the amount of mistakes I make. I don’t do things that I later regret doing, or were just plain worthless — busywork. I end up doing more valuable things, because I refuse to spend time on things that aren’t valuable.

When I eat my food more slowly, I eat less of it, I enjoy it more, and I will buy less food — thus saving more money, and lowering my chances of overeating.

When I breathe more slowly, my mind moves more slowly. When my mind moves more slowly, I tend not to overreact. I tend to be more compassionate, more flexible, and I am happier as a result.


When I buy things, they cost way more than what I initially pay for them. They all represent responsibilities, and commitments of time and money. Those can cause stress.

When I make commitments to others, to myself, I stretch my focus, time, and attention thinner. When that happens, there is less to give to each project — each commitment.


When I take less than what my greedy ego desires, I leave more for others. When I leave more for others, they appreciate it. When what I do is appreciated by people, my life becomes richer as a result.

When I say less than what I might feel like saying in the moment, the words I do say mean much more. After all, they were more carefully thought out.

When I expend less energy and less money on what I want now, I have more for when I truly need things.

These are just thoughts, but they make an awful lot of sense to me. I’d love to hear yours.

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