I recently read similar passages from two very different books.
The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss, chapter 5, “The End of Time Management”:
Effectiveness is doing the things that get you closer to your goals. Efficiency is performing a given task (whether important or not) in the most economical manner possible. Being efficient without regard to effectiveness is the default mode of the universe.
What you do is infinitely more important than how you do it. Efficiency is still important, but it is useless unless applied to the right things.
Most things make no difference. Being busy is a form of laziness — lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.
Being overwhelmed is often as unproductive as doing nothing, and is far more unpleasant. Being selective — doing less — is the path of the productive. Focus on the important few and ignore the rest.
Men of Valor by Robert L. Millet, chapter 2, “Have Done with Lesser Things”:
…drawing closer to my Heavenly Father, serving the people about me, and growing in gospel scholarship — along with devoting as much time as I could to my wife, children, and extended family — were the actions that had long-term, even eternal implications. Yet in reality I had spent the bulk of my time the previous week shuffling from one … activity to another.
More than once my friend and mentor, Robert J. Matthews, said to me, “Robert L., be careful not to spend your life laboring in secondary causes.”
…”have done with lesser things.” Lesser things do not satisfy. They do not fill the hunger of the human soul. They do not bring peace and rest. Lesser things do not build the family unit, bring harmony into the home, or fortify relationships that are intended to be everlasting.
Until yesterday, I thought the phrase “have done with lesser things” referred to frugality or resourcefulness, like “make due with less.” But these five words, in a bit of antiquated style, mean “be done with lesser things.”