The TV commercial makes it look so easy. Whenever things start getting complicated, you press the magic easy button and ta-dah, everything is simplified. If only this fictitious magical button of ease existed…
The truth of the matter is that if you want things to be easy, you need to be proactive in simplifying things for yourself in your life and in your business. If you have created an overly complicated mess of things, you will need to untangle from that, but after that, all it takes is a little planning and preparation.
How to Simplify Your Business and Life in a Complicated World
Before you can achieve a simplicity, you need to get rid of any of the legacy mess and clutter, and start with a clean slate. That may mean getting rid of a build-up of email and finally clearing off your desk or it may mean stepping back from personal commitments that no longer work in your schedule.
Do whatever you need to do to get back to zero and build your simplicity systems from there:
#1: Time Tangles — Stop over scheduling every single day. Not only does hyper scheduling your personal and business calendar cause unnecessary stress, it doesn’t leave time for the unexpected, either good or bad. Try a strategy like this 4+1 workweek to give yourself a flex day to finish up those spillover tasks.
#2: Get Rid of Clutter — Make it a habit to clear the clutter out of your everyday systems and create alternate systems to prevent clutter from starting. Mail keeps building up on the front entry table? Make a spot for sorting mail elsewhere and replace it with a beautiful flower arrangement. Too many meetings keep you from your to-do list? Declare the first 2 or 3 hours of every day a “Meeting-Free Zone”.
#3: Ditch the Drama — Avoid drama like the plague (because it is a plague on your time and your energy). That means catching yourself whenever you feel the need to shift into drama mode and it also means stepping back from people who are stuck in their own drama. Here’s how to protect yourself from toxic people.
#4: Narrow Your Focus — Get rid of that mile-long to-do list and focus your energy on achieving 2 to 3 core, must-do tasks a day. Making that shift requires discipline, but once you focus on your core tasks on a daily basis, you find yourself starting each and every day with purpose and power (instead of feeling like you are constantly playing catch-up).
#5: Say No When You Can’t — Only take on what you can reasonably accomplish! That probably means getting a lot tougher with your boundaries, but it also means evaluating how much you actually can accomplish in a day (once you subtract interruptions and downtime) and scheduling your time accordingly.
#6: Embrace the 1-2-3 Rule — Break everything down into tasks that can be achieved in 1, 2 or 3 steps that are clustered together for efficiency. For example, launching this post requires step 1: writing it, step 2: finding or creating artwork, and step 3: scheduling the social promotions. Neglecting step 3 means social promotion lands on my task list so I don’t start writing until I know I have time for all three steps.
#7: Pay Attention to Stress Signals — Monitor the frazzle factor to see if there are overly complicated tasks or processes that need simplifying. For example, if your morning routine requires a lot of panic and running around finding things to get the kids out the door on time, it’s a sign you need to do more preparation and planning the night before, and maybe lay out clothing, pre-plan lunches and load backpacks so your morning routine is stress-free.