113: Simplifying Your Work

Leadership


Welcome friends to Episode #113 of the Own Your Best Life Podcast. In a world where we feel even more time-starved and distracted, we crave simplicity. When I work with people who feel like there is so much more to do than time to do it, often the one thing they most desire is to not have to do anything. If you feel like sometimes all you want is to simply stare at a wall and not be on the move, constantly – you’re in the right place. Today, we’re going to discuss how to create even more simplicity in your life so that you can enjoy having space in your life to do what you really want to do, with who you want, when you want to do it.

There’s an illusion of control that permeates everything we do. Even simplicity is a construct where we desire to let go of as much as possible so that we can have more time with the things we truly care about. For example, we work really hard to have kids with a certain routine, to find  a routine that works for them and one that works for ourselves so that we can stop wondering what they or we are doing next. We don’t have open decisions taking up mental energy.

It’s important to note that simplicity is a construct of our own imagination because we can get so caught up in the race to simplify and reduce that we lose sight of the reason that we wanted to do it in the first place. There is certainly a place where oversimplification doesn’t serve us. We miss the point completely and instead of taking out what doesn’t matter, we take out everything. 

Start with Your Goals

If you want to create more simplicity in your work life, one of the best places to start is with your goals. Create from a blank slate and ask yourself, “What do I actually want to achieve in my work?” Many times, we say yes to everything because we don’t realize that there are a few things that matter more than others. People may not notice if you didn’t do a lot of little things, but they will notice if your main responsibilities and roles weren’t handled properly. If you don’t do the one thing only you can do, well – it will be noticed way more than the myriad of things you might handle and touch on a day to day basis. Sometimes, we like the ancillary projects more than we like our day to day work, so we work on the pet projects without a true ROI of our time invested. Does one hour of time on this additional project, meeting or time equate to 10x the return in terms of impact? Many times it doesn’t.

If you love to say yes because you hate to disappoint people, it’s not easy to stick to your original plans. I would offer that it’s not all or nothing. Your original plans can leave room for impromptu opportunities or projects that come along. Decide ahead of time what makes the most sense in terms of additional time commitments. Perhaps you can create room in your life for 1-2 projects in addition to your core responsibilities. Let yourself enjoy the unexpected moments by leaving room for them in your life. The main issue isn’t that we don’t want to do the work, it’s that we don’t have time to do it all well. If we start off with the assumption that we will have some new things come in, we can leave space and time in our calendars to handle them.

Create Your Own Curriculum

Simplicity in our work also looks like deciding ahead of time what we want to become an expert in and what we want to learn. If you love to learn and grow, but feel like it’s not happening anymore you must decide that you can create your own curriculum. This doesn’t mean that you’re going back to school, although that is an option. It means that you put structure and accountability into your life so that you must learn and grow. This can look like classes, career paths or coaching. 

The reason this decision simplifies your work life is because you now know that you’ve created a process to ensure that you continue to progress. You’ve decided how to add value to yourself which helps you add value to others. You’ve decided how you will spend your spare time. Confusion happens when you see a lot of different opportunities and you don’t know how to value them because you don’t know already what you want to pursue. I remember early on taking a class about how to succeed as a young leader and this quote always stuck with me, “The difference between those who are successful and those who are not is how they spend their free time.” 

How you spend your time isn’t about just working more. It’s also knowing how and when to relax, recharge and restore. I often work with my clients on their personal growth curriculum. Instead of leaving their growth and forward progress up to chance, they learn about topics they are curious about or areas in which they know they need more work. Whether it’s time management, leadership, culture-building or developing your intuition – taking an engaged approach to learning, practicing and increasing your skills is what will accelerate your results.

Stay in your Lane

Simplicity can also be found by focusing on what your path is and your own evolution towards work that is more meaningful and purposeful, not someone else’s path. If you find yourself comparing yourself to others, it adds a lot of additional noise to your own life. It’s like trying to listen into one frequency of sound and hearing a lot of other noises around you. It’s distracting, not useful and often creates a sense of doubt about what your own frequencies are and what they sound like to you. Learning to know who we are, and who we are not allows us to drop any of the things we do to look good or better for other people and instead focus on trusting your own thoughts, voice and guidance.

If you have a project that no one else knows much about and you’re the only one working on it, you have to stay in your own lane and become an expert at this project, yourself. Instead of doing work from a place of external validation, we do it from a place of intrinsic motivation. What do you need from others? What is the one thing that you don’t want to do that must be done? How can we be more fearless? 

When you stay in your own lane, you can take bigger risks because you’ve allowed yourself to create more safety through confidence in yourself as a leader. You are practicing doing things not because you have to but because this is what is in front of you to do right now. This focus on what opportunities and work is available to you right now, allows you to create your own path filled with unique experiences that only you can have. Each of these experiences establishes you more firmly as a unique individual with a unique combination of talents, skills and passions to contribute to the world. 

When you see yourself as unique – not because of an aspiration to be “different” but because you realize no two people have the same life experiences and paths, life becomes more simple. You understand that other people’s paths are none of your business. You focus more on your work and less on others. Instead of judging yourself by comparing yourself to others, you learn from others. Once you do that, you have a lot less of the inner critic noise in your head.

In summary, it is possible to have more simplicity than you imagined in your work by starting with your goals, creating your own curriculum and staying in your lane. You will never have more opportunities to simplify your life than you do today so start now. You will only get better and more resilient by creating simplicity from chaos and the amazing thing is – you have millions of chances to do so, every single day.

Have an amazing week. I’ll talk to you next time.

If you want help making changes to your life, reach out at https://mayempson.com/contact to schedule a consultation. It is the next step to learning more about whether or not coaching is right for you and how to make the best use of coaching. In our coaching together, you will simplify your life, create more freedom of choice and learn how to live in the present moment.


If you want to join us now or if you’re listening to this later, you will have access to all this content and past teachings as well. Book a consultation at www.mayempson.com/contact to get started now. A year from now you’ll have wished you started two years ago. 

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