12 Ways to Amp Up Your Creative Career by Doing Less

There is no doubt that as a wider society, we are putting more emphasis on more than ever before. We want to achieve more and take on more things, have more, live more and see more.

The diminishing of real threats and outside pressures that existed for many of those in previous generations have meant our priorities on what is important in life have shifted. It is now easier than ever to compare yourself against others, and with that comes a profound drive to outperform, and a need to do and add more.

The irony of adding more and more, is that most, if not all cases of such ‘adding’, is detracting from the quality of our lives and our effectiveness. This is of course true to creatives. When we can strip away the layers we have added, we give ourselves and others space to breathe once more.

This ‘space’ is what creativity and productivity thrives on. This space is what will give you the edge.

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.Leonardo da Vinci

Here are 12 things that can be reduced that will have a positive effect on our creative lives…

1. Present Less

It’s very easy to think that more is better when it comes to presenting your creative work. I’ve seen portfolios that I could look through over days because they’re filled with so many pages of material.

It’s not necessary to feature tons of your creations at once. Make it easier for the prospect and yourself by reducing the range and depth of what you showcase.

You’ll be more memorable if you do, particularly if you can focus on a narrow definition of what you do well.

2. Sell Less

Unnecessary stress often comes from trying to – or feeling the need to – sell our products and services. This is often felt by those who are at the receiving end of your promotions.

The answer to reducing selling?

Connect more, over time.

Make your product valuable, easy to find, easy to use, and have a story. Then selling through connection becomes possible.

3. Fewer calls to action

There’s no denying it. Making decisions is much easier when there are fewer of them. When your intention is for someone to take a particular action, reduce the number of alternative options.

4. Less Stimulation

I’m no scientist, but I confidently believe that over-stimulation is a creativity killer.

When we take in more stimulation than we need, whether that be through various forms of ‘escape’, like television, fatty food, alcohol, masturbation (yes, too much of this, particularly to porn, is not good), sugar, caffeine, and smoking, this is what happens: we build up resistance to ever higher levels of stimulation.

This means that our sensitivity to the world around us decreases in accordance with our dopamine receptors continually getting fried. Take it easy on yourself and you’ll be rewarded with creativity and productivity.

5. Fewer products

Focus on creating fewer, truly awesome and valuable products rather than making more and more and diluting the care you can put into each.

This also applies to what you spend your money on. Buy less stuff, and focus on things of quality. But you knew that already.

6. Say and share less

Withholding information holds tremendous power.

You know how some of the best marketing campaigns behind products actually don’t give all that much away?

This is usually in the run up to some big launch or event in the future. Sometimes ‘ad spots’ for new movies last a few seconds.

Did you notice how that made you feel about that brand or product?

Great ‘marketers’ understand how to make their products irresistible, through withholding, rather than giving more away. The brain needs to fill in gaps if they are there. They know the power of the human imagination, and they know that imagination can do a lot of the legwork in their campaigns.

You can apply this idea to yourself too.

Get the balance right between giving out the right amount of useful information and keeping your secrets, and you could make a big difference to how you are perceived and how much attention you get.

You could create intrigue about your story by not quite giving the full picture, in the way you communicate with prospects, write blog post titles, or communicate your product launches, for example.

7. Less skill

Being a ‘Master of one’ blows ‘Jack of all trades’ out of the water. By all means expand your skillset all the time. But be a master of one, and present yourself as such.

8. Less thought

We often hear of people coming up with ideas when they least expect it.

Those ‘I came up with it in the shower’ moments happen because these are times when thoughts tend to switch off (mainly because we are in a flow-state as a result of doing something that is pre-programmed).

Creativity is about making links between things. This happens best when there aren’t other thoughts present to distract the brain from doing its work.

Clean out a corner of your mind and creativity will instantly fill it.Dee Hock

[Read more creative quotes on Red Lemon Club]

9. Fewer clients

I say this a lot, but really narrowing your target market will help you in a big way. Know exactly the type of client you want to work with, and focus your efforts on serving them.

Additionally, apply the Pareto Principle to the work you have coming in and take a close look at what clients and customers are providing the most, and least business to you.

Focus your efforts on catering to the clients that bring in the most and cut out the rest.

10. Less Internet

Despite its giddying wealth of information, entertainment and sources of inspiration, the Internet is also a massive hazard to your creative and productive lives. This is no understatement.

The winners of today and tomorrow are those that can eke out just enough of what they need from the net without being consumed by it.

Don’t let it consume you.

11. Less eating

I don’t want to alarm you with this one, but I’ve found that eating more, wholesome food, fewer times in the day, with less snacking, frees up time and keeps you operating optimally.

The benefits of breakfast are a myth, though you can choose to eat one of your few meals in the morning if you like. I tend to wait until later in the day to eat, and find my mind works very well when the body is not digesting food. Plus, this ‘intermittent fasting’ is great for staying in shape, saving money, and being productive.

12. Less commuting

If you work somewhere that takes just half an hour to get to, you spend over two hundred hours a year commuting. Obviously many of us have to, and some might actually enjoy it, but look at ways of reducing the hours spent doing so.

Without becoming a hermit, and with the variety of low-cost communication tools available, there are many times when travelling less is the sensible and do-able option.

Clearly many of these are pretty obvious, and I don’t deny that. Hopefully having these listed here like this gives you a little first step in simplifying your life and moving to the next level.

Comments and further suggestions, as always, are welcome. I’d love to hear from you.



  1. These are so sensible and resonate with not only my values but my experience overall.
    However, in my art, I can’t seem to find the narrow focus to master. I feel passionate about
    so many scenes and subjects…I hope with largely one ‘voice’. Have you done something on
    how (besides what people buy most) to identify that narrower place? BettyPieper@aol.com

    • I don’t think any one of us can only channel genuine passion into one thing without directing it somewhere else as well. It’s perfectly fine to have lots of passions.

      The difference lies in where we consciously direct our focus. It takes a conscious effort to say: ‘I love knitting and drawing so much, but I want to make a name for myself in knitting, and so I will forget drawing for now, and focus day in, day out on knitting, until I am an expert at it.’

      Hope that helps ;).

  2. Pareto Principle! How would you apply this to a new business (working from home) when you’re still establishing your clientele, and even still defining your niche? Or, would you recommend just going with your creative flow and every opportunity that present themselves (have to make a living!), and decide later how to narrow it down? Thanks in advance 🙂

    • This idea is something I’ll be exploring in more detail, so stay posted. The principle is better suited for narrowing down based on the information you already have on clients and more, but also very valuable for now business planning, go for it.

  3. How about less postings of, “12 ways to do this, or 7 ways to do that” all this chatter, post after post after post… kind of defeats the purpose and subject of THIS posting. List upon list of, “do this and…. do that and” can keep my head spinning for hours!!

    How about I sum it up in two words: do less. Or better yet, one: moderation.

  4. Less internet is a big one, sometimes we can get too caught up in what other people are doing and it hinders us!

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