When Less Really Is More

How we simultaneously underestimate and overestimate ourselves, and how to avoid both

Mike Sturm
Published in
3 min readJan 23, 2022


Is there any more overused cliché than “less is more”?

I guess that’s kind of ironic, given the spirit of the saying. But I digress.

There’s an application for the aphorism that I don’t think gets enough attention. It has to do with achieving goals and managing tasks. When it comes to estimating the goals you can achieve in a given time, we tend to underestimate ourselves. But we shouldn’t.

However, when it comes to filling up our to-do lists for the day, we tend to overestimate what we can get done. But once again, we shouldn’t.

Both of these errors in estimation yield the same result: we get frustrated. Our motivation dwindles. We fall short of what we know is our potential.

And as I pointed out at the outset, the fix is simple: remember that less is more.

Goals: More is More

If you are serious about your goals, you need to dedicate a separate block of time for thinking about them. And during that time, resist the urge to think small. That is, think only about the what, and not about the how.

Rather than thinking about how you will achieve the goal, and letting that dictate what the goal is, think about what you really want. Then, put it into words that reflect your honest desire for what you want things to be like. Don’t be afraid to go big.

That’s the what. That’s the more portion.

Tasks: More is Less

Once goals are set, carve out a different block of time to think about the how. This is where you plan out the steps.

This is where you think about how long it might take. It’s when you get realistic, and descend from the heights of your ambitious future down to what you can actually do in the present. This is the less part.

Resist the temptation to think that tomorrow’s to-do list has to be as grandiose as your goals. Remember that goals aren’t achieved in a day. Achieving them is a marathon, not a sprint. So pace yourself. Failing to do so will just end up burning you out quickly. The…



Mike Sturm
Writer for

Creator: https://TheTodaySystem.com — A simpler personal productivity system. Writing about productivity, self-improvement, business, and life.