Work Less, Work Better, Work On The Right Thing

Valerie Jégo Marsh
5 min readAug 20, 2022

When you do too many things, you are dividing your time and energy. Rather than trying to manage our time and increase our productivity, doesn’t it make more sense to make sure we’re doing the right thing?

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

Managing our time and increasing our productivity is like buying shelves and storage boxes when your house is cluttered. All you do is shift things around, when all along, you needed to ask yourself what you really wanted to keep, eliminate the rest then set up the right systems for what was left.

“Here’s a simple question to ask before jumping into “all the work” you have to do:

What will happen if I don’t do this?

It’s remarkable how many things can be eliminated from your to-do list.”

James Clear

A Big Question

Think about your most important goal or project and ask, “What will happen if I don’t do this?”.

I don’t remember much from reading Steven Covey’s 1988 bestseller “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” many years ago, but one image that stuck to my mind ever since was:

“It’s incredibly easy to get caught up in an activity trap, in the busy-ness of life, to work harder and harder at climbing the ladder of success only to discover it’s leaning against the wrong wall.”

Stephen Covey

Over the years I have seen people get sick with stress, exhaustion, burnout and unhappiness, ignoring the fact — consciously or unconsciously is not for me to say — that they were climbing the wrong ladder. It is all the more tempting to ignore the fact when climbing that ladder proved financially lucrative.

The question, “What will happen if I don’t do this?” is almost too existential to ponder. It implies taking a risk and the next question then becomes, “What if I fail?”.

For smaller goals and projects, the question is useful as a sorting device. Motivation can come from being excited about a project or from the dread of that project not coming to fruition. Ask the question and listen to your body before you even reflect on it. If when you wonder what will happen if you don’t do this, you feel a contraction in your belly then this…



Valerie Jégo Marsh

Loves ☕️ 📚🖋 🎨 🧘🏻‍♀️ A Parisian forced into exile in London for preferring tea to coffee😉🇫🇷🇬🇧