What is Your Less?

I caved in... Less IS more!
"Sometimes it's about less is more. It's about the seed. Thinking about this gigantic tree that you think is so beautiful but it started with this just seed" - Fred Durst
 If you know anyone passionate about a hobby you probably know how easy it is to go overboard. Think about all the golfers who have every gadget out there along with a shirt and hat collection that rivals the Queen of England. Not to mention that they can gleefully play 36 holes a day. Fishermen have gadgets galore as well and having seasonal fishing outfits isn’t unusual. Folks who love to design and sew have rooms full of material and gear yet keep shopping for more. Me? Obviously I have a gardening fascination and collect plants like some people collect shoes! Over the years I have filled my yard with plants and packed it full as if  there was no room – but I still have acres left that I can dig into.

I hate to admit that this year I actual heeded my husband’s advice. Less is more. I took a look at my garden beds, beautiful are they were, and started pulling plants out. I redesigned several areas leaving more space to showcase some of my unusual trees and plants (and added more of course). As I dug, I actually chanted to myself that indeed, less is more. Guess what? The result is stunning and well worth the intense labor involved. It didn’t hurt that I lost 5 pounds digging and hauling word chips either!

I admit that I am a classic example of a hobbyist gone mad. I’m in no way reformed however; I am trying to become more comfortable with spaces in my garden beds and trying to resist the urge to fill gaps with plants. It will be interesting to see if I can hold out! As any die hard gardener will tell you, it’s important to leave space in the garden and think about how big newbie plants will become or how far they will spread.

Why less is more in the garden:

  • Having less in the garden means that you can actually see some of your prized plants or unusual trees.
  • Plants will be healthier because they have air movement so plant diseases are less likely to flare up.
  • Insects love places to hide and a full garden is like a vacation bonanza for bugs that love eating your foliage.
  • Weeds always find a way to grow with minimal water and no sunlight. It amazes me. This spring I found a 3 foot tree growing in my raspberry patch. More room around plants means fewer weeds can grow out of control.
  • We all need room to stretch and grow. Plants are no exception and really need room to spread out.
  • Sound garden design incorporates space with the plants as the stars as they flow in the wind or sparkle with color.
  • Fewer plants can mean less work. I love an interactive landscape where weeping or slender trees are the main attraction and the other plants play a duet playing off of the uniqueness of the trees.  I love weeping pines for their character and uniqueness.
  • Most people are not aware of how invasive some plants can be. They start out playing nice and before you know it, they have outgrown their place. Suddenly they are far more than you bargained for so read tags carefully so you have less work down the road.
  • People like consistency and for some, a full and abundant garden is too much for the senses. Less is more can be more relaxing particularly if you jump in and plant like crazy then realize you may not have the time to manage the area.

What I love about gardening is that my mind can freely wander. I often have my best ideas jump into my head and inspiration hits me like lightning. As I was renovating my gardens the past month with less is more in mind, I thought about how we really need to step back and apply this methodology more to our everyday lives. Since so many of us spend the majority of time at work, it’s the best place to start. As my thoughts wandered I thought about some of my experiences with teams where more actually delivered us less success.

Why less is more around the water cooler

  • Perfection isn’t worth it. Peers seldom acknowledge it and often the quality of your work actually declines. I worked with a team that seemed to think that life depended on perfect Power Points for our client. There were sometimes 6 revisions and countless late nights. I can tell you that the client didn’t notice or care. Less is more.
  • Fewer management layers often result in increased empowerment and productivity.
  • People shut down with too much information. Presenting them with less will have more of an impact and they will remember your point.
  • How you say something will have more of an impact than repeating yourself and throwing out facts.
  • Complexity loses people. Less techno talk and details will bring more understanding and agreement.
  • Let’s face it; humans can only manage so much. The less that is thrown at us the more successful our output will be.
  • Too many choices baffle people. Some folks are even stressed with multiple choices. Fewer choices win every time.
  • Less can mean more clarity in a crisis. When there is a fire to put out in your area you only need the imperative facts to act. Clarity is vital.
  • Listen more and talk less. You will glean more information and have all the information. Our Mom’s would be proud as well. Courtesy is important in working with people. Don’t be an interrupter.
  • Checking your email constantly will only make you less productive. Schedule times to check it and respond. I worked with a team that had an email reading contest I was never clued in about. They would read every email as it rolled in and answer  immediately.  Valuable time was wasted.
  • Fewer appointments or spreading them out is more productive and a courtesy for those that you meet with. Have you ever been chatting with someone only to watch them spend half the time checking their watch or phone? You feel like you are a bother.
  • Clear the clutter to free up more of your space to work productively. Focus on what is in front of you.
  • Bring less work home and you will find that you are more productive at work and your relationships will be stronger.

Pick just one thing this week where you can do less but have more!