Ruthless Simplicity: How to ward off doing more and burning out

Once again, I want to welcome the incredible Danielle LaPorte (author of the blog White Hot Truth) to Unclutterer. Read a more complete biography of her at the end of this article.

Last year was a biggie for me. I released a book, did speaking gigs in a dozen different cities, raised a bunch of money for my internet company, left that company for a new solo venture, and still made time to build forts and Popsicle stick boxes with my little boy. I knew that if I didn’t stand guard against the potential time, energy and stuff clutter that was coming my way, I was going to go berserk.

My initial inclination to planning for business growth was to do more. Work more hours. Put my kid into more programs. Just cram more into my life for a period of time. You know, weather the beautiful storm. But this time, I stopped myself. Maybe it’s maturity that brought me to my senses. Or maybe it’s all the sinus infections I’ve had from being over-worked. Or it’s the plethora of plastic toys and unanswered email that’s crept in while I’ve been juggling an ever-increasing more-ness to my life. But I finally had my eureka revelation and (I know, it may sound daft, you may have already mastered this incredibly obvious life lesson), but I finally realized that a girl can only do so much. Uh-huh.

When the going gets busy, the wise ones simplify … with a vengeance.

Managing chaos with beauty, quality, and ruthless simplicity:

  1. Commit to your creativity. This may sound like it should be the last priority on your packed to-do-list. When we’re busy, the creative things are usually the first to go, but creativity is like a super vitamin juice for the soul – a little bit goes a long way. Whether it’s just a love note that you write on a napkin, or some flowers you arrange for the dinner table – find little ways to keep your creative nature alive. Beauty-making helps you keep things in perspective.
  2. Get the best tools. Whether its more computer memory, a comfortable back pack, or a bus pass, invest in the best of what you use the most. Any carpenter will tell you that a house is easier to build with a sharp saw.
  3. Have it delivered. What last minutes trips and essential to-dos are consistently causing you stress? There’s probably a service to solve that dilemma:
    • Arrange for direct deposits and automatic payments. I go into my bank only a few times a year (no more looking for a parking spot or waiting in line!) We auto-pay utility bills with an air mile-earning credit card, and write just one or two checks a month to the credit card.
    • Get a food delivery service. Once a week, the food dude drops off organic veggies, milk and other yummers we’ve ordered. It costs about 5% more than our usual grocery bill, but race-to-the-grocery-store trips before work/daycare/appointments – no more.
    • Send gifts through Amazon. It seemed like every girlfriend I have had a baby last year. I sent them all kids books directly through Amazon (you can fill out a gift card that is included with your order.) I give them the more personal, lovey prezzies when I see them in person (and know better what they really need).
    • Get DVDs by mail. Now THIS changed my life. No more, “We have to watch this movie tonight,” pressure for the sake of the $5 rental fee. And no more late fees!
  4. Just say ‘no.’ Really. It’s a magic word.
  5. Insist on good service. I switched banks because I could never get a human on the phone and it took too long to get my business done. And as much as I liked her, I broke up with my hairdresser. She kept me waiting every single time.
  6. Give yourself a break. I adore books. I’d eat them if I could. But I actually committed to NOT read books for the first half of my very busy year. I also gave myself permission to be late with returning phone calls for six months. Sweet relief.

If you can see busy times coming, plan to do less, not accommodate more. Refuse to expand, insist on boundaries. Take your soul vitamins – be sure to do the little things that nourish your spirit. Reject anything that doesn’t foster your greatness, and put systems into place that support your freedom. Be ruthless. You’re worth it.

Danielle LaPorte founded because “self realization rocks.” Her blog is lauded as “kick-ass enlightening.” She is the lead author of the bestseller, Style Statement: Live By Your Own Design. A former think tank executive and communications strategist, Danielle helps entrepreneurs blaze their careers with her signature Fire Starter Sessions.

26 Comments for “Ruthless Simplicity: How to ward off doing more and burning out”

  1. posted by Jessica @ThriveYourTribe on

    Thanks for the great list, Danielle! The one that I tend to forget most often is #2–sometimes I think it’ll take too much time to get the right tools together so I try to start a project without them… I always appreciate the reminder.

  2. posted by Lori Paximadis on

    Great list! I’ve spent the last year implementing almost exactly this, with the exception of the errands. I actually *like* running errands (but I live by Netflix; I think I was one of their first members, back in the day). Errands force me to get out of the house and interact with real people, and the brainlessness of the exercise gives my mind time to wander and drift and recharge.

    “Saying no” is the most powerful tool in that list. I’ve been reevaluating the obligations I’ve taken on over the years and have let a number of them go. After the initial pangs of guilt, it was very freeing.

  3. posted by jan on

    Yes! Yes! Yes! It is really true that a girl can only do so much. Great post.

  4. posted by Shanel Yang on

    I call our total store of awake hours our “energy pie” and write, similarly, about how it’s only so big. (See “My New Frugal Life: Respect the Pie!” at ) You can’t make your pie bigger without losing critical sleep, so have to ration what’s left wisely. 🙂

  5. posted by kirwin on

    Hi Danielle!
    I’ve been a big fan of yours since I discovered you and the Style Statement. My blog is essentially centered around your Style Statement book and my style statement of Graceful Creative. I look forward to being inspired via White Hot Truth!

  6. posted by Danielle LaPorte on

    @ Lori: yes, yes, “saying ‘no'” is THE power tool. Finally getting that lesson changed my life, really.

  7. posted by Rebecca on

    Great post! I always try to do too much, but I use many of these tips to bring myself back to reality.

    On the subject of getting things delivered, you’ll most likely enjoy the company I work for, – we’re the people that will make sure you never run out of toilet paper again.


  8. posted by Get Togetha on

    Hey Danielle.

    I knew I recognized your picture from somewhere. That’s where I realized that you were from Style Statement. Great article; especially the part about committing to your creativity. I think its about not jumping on everybody’s bandwagon and knowing what works for you.


  9. posted by Jeri Lynn on

    Super duper. Really. I begin to reclaim my Life today. Thanks! jl

  10. posted by Gina on

    YES! This was just what I needed today. Finding something that works for ME!

  11. posted by Carrie on

    This article was just what the doctor ordered… seems like most of what you’re writing these days is resonating with me on a whole new level.

    But this sealed the deal on how to switch things up in order to move past being completely overwhelmed with the life clutter (in every form) and feeling completely underwhelmed to do anything about it. You outlined some very key items that I MUST start doing today… this minute.

    I also realized that there are a couple of things here that I’ve been doing or started doing but wasn’t paying attention to the small victories that they were. Time to get conscious 🙂 xoxo

  12. posted by Danielle LaPorte on

    @ Carrie: great reminder to celebrate the small victories of smarts ‘n simplicity. Today…I will celebrate…not opening my business mail until Friday — which is my day for lose ends and meandering.

  13. posted by Life* á la mode » Unclutterer on

    […] Laport of White Hot Truth contributed to Unclutterer dot com (which is now one of my go-to sites) about simplifying her […]

  14. posted by Michele on

    I broke up with my two-hour-wait dentist only to find out the hard way that he is unusually gentle. I’m thinking bleeding gums are not worth the time saved. Oops.

  15. posted by Dave Nicolette on

    If your clients and business associates take advice #5, then by practicing advice #6 you will hurt your own business. When you’re late returning phone calls, it ain’t good service.

  16. posted by deanna on

    Fantastic article! I’m sharing this bad boy. There is so much valid advice here that so many people I know could use.

    Thank you.

  17. posted by Michael on

    A great list and some sage advice, but did she really use the word “yummers”? Some people, I swear…

  18. posted by Weekend Links on

    […] Ruthless Simplicity: How to Ward Off Doing More and Burning Out :: […]

  19. posted by beth_nc on

    These are great tips – especially the point about getting the right tools for the job. A little bit of up front investment makes a big long term difference.

    But as for the last tip – Why give up something you adore? As a new mother, I decided NOT to quit reading but to commit to keep reading something for myself every day. Doing so makes me feel better.

  20. posted by Marci on

    Thanks for being a voice of sanity in our over-scheduled,addicted-to-accomplishment-at-the-cost-of-all-else world. Simple is good.

  21. posted by Overcoming Busy » When the going gets busy… on

    […] keep going back to a blog post I read last week on  The author said the following and it really stuck with me, “When the going gets busy, the […]

  22. posted by Catherine on

    Prudent advice – thanks!

  23. posted by burning questions with the queen of uncluttering, erin doland | White Hot Truth: because self-realization rocks. on

    […] reading, moi, on Unclutterer: Choose from the heart: Clutter free and feeling fine Ruthless Simplicity: How to ward off doing more and burning out Possibly Related […]

  24. posted by Scoothelemo on

    im thinking of buying one, who has ever bought one of these:

  25. posted by lh on

    People still write checks???

  26. posted by My Life on April 1st | jeannieBeannie on

    […] Published Ruthless Simplicity: How to ward off doing more and burning out | Unclutterer. […]

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