“More” Is Not the Answer to Too Much


“I’m overwhelmed” is something I’ve been hearing over and over lately. I’ve probably said it a couple of times myself.

Chalk it up to life in the vortex, the sense of having more time than ever before (in some ways), yet not always sure of where it goes.

Feeling overwhelmed is a common condition—yet in trying to deal with the problem, we sometimes often end up compounding it by adding more programs, systems, and solutions.

Here’s the irony of the $11 billion self-improvement industry: in an attempt to simplify, we end up adding new tools, gadgets, email newsletters, and subscriptions to our lives.

A few examples:

You can now download apps with the sole feature of blocking your ability to access other apps. An app to keep you from using apps!

There is now a podcast that consists entirely of trailers for new podcasts. Within a few weeks of its debut, it had dozens of episodes, all highlighting new series

Online meditation is now a multi-billion dollar industry, with brands that are just as competitive with their adversaries as financial trading firms are.

With no end to this growth in sight, you’ll only have more and more opportunities to study at the feet of the digitally enlightened—but should you? Your inner world deserves better treatment than your sock drawer.

Of course, some of these things can be helpful. I use lots of different tools and software every day. Just notice that the same people and companies who promise you a simpler life are the same ones that contribute to your life being complicated in the first place.

Learn to be wary of everything that demands your constant attention. Use the tools that help you, and religiously discard the ones that don’t. Apply a high filter to this decision process: don’t think “This might help me one day, so I’ll keep it around.” Instead, think “If I’m not using it now, I don’t need it in my life at all.”

Whatever the solution to overwhelm is, it can’t just be “more.”


Chris Guillebeau is the New York Times bestselling author of The Happiness of Pursuit, The $100 Startup, and other books. During a lifetime of self-employment, he visited every country in the world (193 in total) before his 35th birthday. Every summer in Portland, Oregon he hosts the World Domination Summit, a gathering of creative, remarkable people. His new book, Born for This, will help you find the work you were meant to do. Connect with Chris on Twitter, on his blog, or at your choice of worldwide airline lounge.

Image courtesy of Liza Summer.

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