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Simplify Your Work

Find your simplicity in the chaos with these 5 tips.

Photo by Bench Accounting on Unsplash

Do you ever ask yourself…why is work so complicated? 

All the things.  The initiatives, the projects, the meetings, the committees – it’s easy to get overwhelmed.  

What if you could apply the principles of minimalism to your work and simplify? 

#1 Know Your Why

Why do you do the job you do? What belief drives and influences every action you take? Why do you get out of bed in the morning?

Your company probably has a defined why, but I’m referring to your personal mission statement. It could be the role you play in the larger why, or not. Your why can be customer focused, or not. Oprah and Richard Branson have all encompassing why’s…

“To be a teacher. And to be known for inspiring my students to be more than they thought they could be.” – Oprah

“To have fun in [my] journey through life and learn from [my] mistakes.” – Richard Branson

Your why can be temporary. It can be general. It can be specific.

This is why I am here.

This is what I am working towards.

This is what is meaningful to me.

Need more inspiration? Check out books, articles, videos and podcasts with Simon Sinek, Start With Why and Greg McKeown, Essentialism.

#2 – Define Your Goals

Once you, Know Your Why, ask – What does success look like in my role?

Beware, you may have a variety of answers – to generate $x profit, complete a certain amount of projects, to achieve customer satisfaction, to help people, to have a small percentage of errors, to be compliant – But just like going KonMari on your closet, you’ll need to simplify and choose the most meaningful.

I see managers of new hires concerned about setting goals too early. Understandably you want a new employee to feel comfortable and keep their focus on learning. Simplify all the input. Give clear direction on what success looks like, early.  

#3 – Identify Essential Tasks

Essential = absolutely necessary, extremely important

What actions do you need to take to achieve your goals? Working backwards from your goal, what do you need to do monthly, weekly and daily?

Ruthlessly cut away the unimportant. You’ll know you have your essential tasks when executing them results in accomplishing your goals, even if you do nothing else.

Don’t know? Shadow and interview those who have achieved success in your chosen field. You are looking for types of output, quantity, averages and ratios. 

Be as specific as possible! 

#4 – Make Space

When I worked in an office, I would start my week spray cleaning and wiping off my desk.

When I moved from Chicago to Austin and started working remotely from home, I realized how little I needed to get the job done. A phone. A computer. A notebook.

I refuse swag from conferences.

Look around you.  Are you surrounded by clutter? What about your drawers, shelves and cabinets?

1. Take everything out

2. Clean the drawers and shelves   

3. Categorize the content into piles – (trash, electronics, essential tasks, supplies, resources)

4. Put away things that need to go somewhere else, responsibly dispose of any trash

5. Put what is essential back in

Ta da!

As author and self-proclaimed “happiness bully”, Gretchen Rubin, likes to say “outer order = inner calm”.  You’ll spend less time looking for things, have more energy and focus. 

#5 – Try Mindfulness

I want to simplify my work. Do I have to meditate? No!

When you are mindful, you are aware of your thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and movements. You are intentional about being in the present moment. You don’t need to have a formal meditation practice to tap into mindfulness. You can practice mindfulness at any moment, in any situation. A study at Harvard found that people spend 46.9% of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they are doing. Try doing one thing at a time (single-tasking) and when your mind wanders (it will), come back to the present. That’s it! Practicing mindfulness will keep you connected to your why, your goals and your essential tasks.

Here’s to a simpler, more productive, less stressful work life!

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