Career Corner: Be More Productive by Working Less

Man working poolside.

It is ingrained in many of us that if we are not getting done everything we want, the solution must be to simply work harder. Give up more leisure time, put more time in at the office, and get less sleep until you see results.

But that mindset might actually be holding you back.

On his website, Mark Manson says that if anything, you need to be working less. If you are wondering who Manson is and why he is qualified to give advice on getting things done, his work has appeared in the New York Times, Time Magazine, CNN, and NBC just to name a few. And he is perhaps best known for his book The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck which, per Amazon, was the most read non-fiction book in 2017.

So how does somebody who has so many accolades explain a philosophy of not pushing yourself as hard? In essence, Manson discusses fatigue and burnout. He explains that while simple jobs like taking stuff from one area to another can be done mindlessly, creative work requires you to be alert.

However, the longer you work, the more drained you will become. Eventually, you will be so mentally fried that your output simply won’t measure up anymore.

Manson argues that diminishing returns from pushing yourself can get so bad that not only will your work not be as good as when you were fresh, you might actually wind up creating more work for yourself.

He uses the example of how he churned out dozens of pages for a book in one sitting, only to go back and realize it was mostly horrible. This left him an even bigger task of now having to sift through all his bad writing to extract the rare good bits.

In simple terms, Manson does not advocate you becoming lazy and doing nothing. But he does implore you to stop pushing yourself to exhaustion all the time. Six hours where you feel recharged are worth more than ten where you are running on fumes.

It might sound counterintuitive in a culture that values constant work, but Manson asks you to take a break. Enjoy a day off with no phone or laptop. Go to the beach and just relax. Learn that regular rest is not optional, but essential, especially if you want to maximize your productive abilities.

For more of Manson’s candid insight on a productive work process, check out his thoughts on his site by clicking here.


Wilmington University, the sponsor of VISTA Today — Career Corner, is a private, open-access institution that serves more than 20,000 adults, including those seeking advancement through higher education and traditional-age students who aspire to become successful global citizens.

One of the most affordable private universities in the Delaware Valley, WilmU is committed to the idea that finishing an undergraduate degree or obtaining a master’s or doctoral degree can be affordable and accessible.

The University offers over 200 accredited and career-relevant degree and certificate programs in flexible online and hybrid formats designed to accommodate adults of all ages who work full- or part-time or juggle demanding career, family, and personal schedules.

Learn more about WilmU here or register to attend one of the University’s webinars. You will find information about academic programs, flexible scheduling options, tuition, admissions, student services, athletics, and more.

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