When to Simplify, Why It’s a Game Changer And How Less Really Can Be More
If you’ve already read the blog this year, you’ll know I created a series designed to help you set a solid foundation with actionable steps to achieve your most important goals. This is because I want you to be successful at achieving what’s most important to you in the new year.
If you have important goals for the coming year, you’ve struggled to achieve what you set out to in the past, or if you’re feeling a little unclear as to what your goals are, the good news is that there are simple, effective techniques that do work.
I invite you to take a few minutes each week to set yourself up for success as you define it in the new year. Want all the steps now? Download the full PDF Guide with Five Steps to More Sustainable Success.
These steps are powerful whether you’ve got big changes to make or your life is pretty good and you’re ready to take it up a notch.
If you haven’t read or completed Step One: Be Strategic and Step Two: Be Specific, Step Three: Be Structured & Steady you’ll want to do these first. Set aside some time to take stock of where you are and to consider how you want to feel and act differently – so that you can bring your best out at work and live a more satisfying life.
Want all the steps now? Download the full PDF Guide with Five Steps to More Sustainable Success.
Prefer to watch? Here’s this week’s video:
Why Less Really Is More
A friend and colleague asked me the other day how I do it all. In fact, she stated it. “I don’t know how you do it all. I just don’t have the energy you have.”
My answer was that I don’t do it all. Not even close. Learning when to say yes and when to say no, even to people, events and opportunities that are really interesting, takes clarity and practice. It’s still a daily practice for me but one that can and has been life-changing.
If you’re a high achiever and regularly manage to artfully keep an incredible number of balls in the air, you may be skeptical at first. I was, too, and it’s understandable. Yet after over two decades of working as a strategic consultant, project manager and success coach, I believe there is a myth in the worlds of time management and project management that if we’re just more organized or work faster or harder, we can get it all done.
While it’s true that being more organized and working smarter can help us achieve our goals more easily, the reality is that we all have a certain amount of energy and time each day. Much of our success – and our enjoyment of that success – comes down to managing the energy and resources we have so that we’re spending it on what’s most important to us. This is where more meaning, enjoyment and fulfillment come from.
Simplifying your work and your life in an intentional way leads to more focus – and more traction – on what matters most. This is such a game changer! It can lead to:
- less stress and overwhelm
- improved physical, mental and emotional health,
- increased effectiveness in your business or workplace
- fewer yet more meaningful social commitments, and even
- less physical clutter in your home or workspace…
Simplifying in key areas gives you the freedom to be more present with those people, opportunities and things that matter most. Consider:
- How can you be less busy so that you are more productive?
- How can you engage more fully in each moment and enjoy yourself more?
Once you’ve completed the first three steps, you’re ready to look at where you can streamline and simplify. This is where you commit to managing your own finite resources in a way that supports more day-to-day enjoyment and success. For most of us, having fewer commitments to worry about and less stuff to take care of means more time to focus on what matters most.
STEP FOUR: Simplify
Even if we’re working at our best – well-rested, creative, productive – we’re also human. This means we must manage our own energy – including physical, mental, emotional and spiritual resources.
The reality is that for many of us, the way we are working is not working very well.
Often we’re surprised by the challenges and the complexity that comes along with our success. As our business grows or we’re promoted, as we commit to relationships or a bigger home or to starting a family, things can quickly become much more complex than before. We can find our success taking a toll on our relationships, our time and even our own energy and health.
Many of us are working longer hours, spending more time outside work on digital devices or social media, and taking less time to renew, reflect, or prioritize. This can leave us tired, overwhelmed and not as engaged or alive as we deserve to be.
Not only is this not sustainable, it’s not very fun or effective. We are humans after all, not robots. And as humans, we’re at our best when we regularly move between work, play and rest.
When we expend a certain amount of energy, we need to refuel. When we do this regularly, we’ll be more engaged in our days and our lives and we’ll perform better. We’ll also feel more positive, which means we’re more likely to achieve our goals, have more impact and enjoy the journey of life more.
We understand this about our cars. If the tank is low on gas, we know that we need to pull over and refuel. And intellectually, most of us get that this also applies to ourselves. But it can be challenging to translate this our day-to-day lives – especially when we’ve not been in the habit of doing so.
When you’re juggling running a business, managing a team, leading an organization while trying to make time for family, for fitness, for some fun… where does rest and refuel fit in?
Start to Simplify
This isn’t necessarily easy or straightforward. In fact, this can be the most challenging of the five steps. But it gets easier and can become second nature with practice. Try this process right now to start:
- Clear Your Mental Clutter. Take a moment to write down everything on your mind, to-dos you need to take care of at home, projects and priorities at work or in your business, commitments you’ve made to customers and existing projects, personal priorities such as exercising or starting a wellness program to eat better… whatever your tasks, commitments and even your ideas. Jot down anything that comes to mind whether it’s a project you’re actively working on, something that’s been lingering on your to-do list or just something in the back of your mind that needs doing and isn’t getting done.
- Categorize. I like to categorize by key areas (which relate back to the vision you set in Step 1). These include my own health and wellbeing, my business, my social time and relationships. You might include categories such as “Business” “Home” “Health” “Social” “Spiritual” or “Play.” You can do this by circling each item you wrote above in a color that corresponds to a specific category.
- Prioritize. You can start by ranking your to-do lists in Step 2 from most important to least important. In each catetgory; what are your “Musts” – things you’ve committed to doing or that drive the most revenue in your business, for example? What are your “Wants” – things you want to do but aren’t committed to? Finally, which projects or tasks are really “Ideas” that can be filed or stored for later in a “Parking Lot” or “Someday/ Maybe” file? This last category is also where you begin to identify the not-to-do list.
As you begin, start small. Consider one step you can take to clear and to simplify in each of the following areas -or create categories that are meaningful to you:
Start by intending to focus on what’s most important, to free up your time for those things that are a “hell yeah” – whether it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a trip or the focused work that will multiply your business revenues if you stay with it.
Simplifying can and does lead to more room for what matters most. We don’t need to have it all to be happy. But most of us do need more time and space for those people, opportunities and commitments that are most important to us. When we simplify, we make room to invest our whole heart into our most important things.
Step Four can be the most challenging of all. But remember that you don’t need to do this all at once. In fact, you’ll be most successful if you don’t try to. Start with one area such as your workday or your social calendar and identify a few changes you can make.
- What are you willing to say no to in order to say yes to your most important commitments?
- What is on your “not-to-do” list?
- What commitments can you let go of that are no longer helpful or healthy for you, your business or your career?
- Where in your life can you simplify this year?
I hope these steps help you to achieve more of what’s most important to you in the year ahead – while enjoying yourself more.
Remember that when you are on the threshold of making changes, it can be supportive to talk about your thoughts, goals and feelings with a trusted friend, family member, colleague, or even with a skilled professional who can help you make sense of what is going on – as well as what steps are most effective to help you achieve what you’ve set out to.
Want all the steps now? Download the full PDF Guide with Five Steps to More Sustainable Success.
If you’re looking for professional guidance, I’d love to chat. Contact me to learn more or complete this form to see if you qualify for a complimentary strategy session. If I don’t have a solution for you, I’ll recommend you to someone in my network.
You can also learn more about me, read more blog posts, download free tips to create a business and a life you love, or check out the stories of people who have worked with me.