This is a guest post written by Els Pontin.
For me, this came out of absolute necessity.
Around twelve months ago - I decided that in addition to a job that took around sixty hours out of my week involving a daily commute of one hundred miles, I would re-train as a Professional Coach.
For this, I would fill my every evening and free days honing my coaching skills. I would also start a business, be the perfect girlfriend, and move house. Said house had a garden which needed to be transformed from a field into a habitable space. It needed fencing, a shed and plants. Not to mention a lawn. I would also take a position that would fly me over to California for a month to re-invigorate my training skills for work. There’s more, but I won’t bore you.
Complete gospel truth, that was my year last year.
Result - for a Type A, over-achieving, driven perfectionist who is a total ‘yes’ to everything girl and can absolutely juggle a million things at once, I got there. I completed the training, aced the final exam, started the business, juggled the many tasks at home, pretty much kept my relationship on track, saw my family just enough to keep them from disowning me and plastered a smile on my face to keep up appearances.
Actual result. Complete and utter overwhelm, exhaustion, guilt and anxiety times ten - with a daily wave of feeling that I wasn’t doing anything well, I can’t keep doing this and I am the only person in this relationship that is coming last, ALL of the time.
I came to the realisation, that my business, in fact, more importantly, my life, solely depends on me. How I’m feeling, how I’m choosing to turn up in the world, and how I’m looking after myself.
So, for me, simplicity in my business, wasn’t just a collection of buzz words, another blog to read, another ‘to do’, another ‘action’ - it was 100% a complete and utter necessity. And I’ll let you into another secret. It was also a complete game changer.
Challenging myself to create simplicity has been the thing that’s taken my business from forced jobs to calm creation. My weeks from frantic and emotional to purposeful. It's meant a routine that organises and doesn't stifle, and it’s brought more business success than I thought possible, with far less effort.
As business owners, we have so much coming at us, and that’s the case, even when you’re not juggling a day job as well.
So much that we ‘should’ be doing. We’re told you ‘need’ a marketing plan, a blog post schedule, you need to work both in the business and on the business. As a creative person, you also have one hundred ideas in your brain at any one time, and you’re stuck between engaging with them, not forgetting them, and overwhelm. There’s the tax return, the vision planning, the goal setting, the workshops, the expenses. Then there’s the networking group, the social media presence and the emails…oh my god don’t get me started on the emails…
So I challenge you now. For the sake of yourself and your sanity…for nobody else, just you….
Find your own way of doing this, but take a look at simplicity.
With the word SIMPLICITY in the forefront of your mind.
Ask yourself the following three questions:
- How do you want your business world to look?
- How about your personal world?
- How well are you doing at looking after yourself?
This does not need to be stressful, nor another ‘to do.’ It takes five minutes, somewhere peaceful, with a journal if you use one, or your laptop, or the note-app on your phone.
Once you have your answers, create no more than three actions to get one step closer to your version of SIMPLE.
Here’s some stuff that’s worked for me:
- I answer emails in the morning, for no more than an hour. I’m really focused for that hour - I set a timer, and anything else after that hour needs to wait until the next morning. It’s amazing how much more I get done.
- I’ve deleted Facebook off my phone. Yep, really. I have a whole other blog post on this, but for me - being purposeful with social media has changed my world. Apart from anything else, my interactions are far more thoughtful and less knee jerk - I feel like I’m adding a whole load more value when I connect now.
- I don’t work weekends. Let me clarify - the day job still continues so if I’m on shift over the weekend, then quite obviously I turn up for work, but, come Friday night, that’s the end of my business working week. It’s made me hustle far better Monday to Friday!
- I’ve done away with the ‘to do list’. Why? Because I never finished a list, ever. Result - guilt, anxiety and stress. Enough. I have my vision board, and I have a couple of things in my head that I try to achieve by the end of the day. If it’s important enough to stay in my head - it’s clearly important enough for me to focus my energy on it.
- I blog as and when I want to. I’ll say that again. I blog, when the moment takes me - when the creative juices are flowing, and I post them, when feels good. Yes, I probably choose the morning of a day, and perhaps on a Monday or Wednesday as the start of a week of a ‘hump’ day, but we all have too much stuff flying at us. My favourite blogs are those that when I see a new post I react with a ‘Awesome! new post’ - who says it needs to be daily? Actually, does it need to be weekly?
- I keep post-it notes and a Sharpie by me at all times. Especially when I’m in a focused mode! Idea pops into my head - on a post-it and onto the wall. Every so often, I look at the wall, and take the top one idea that’s going to make a difference, or, that I feel particularly connected to.
And, at every point, I check in with myself. How does this FEEL?
What’s my breathing like (no seriously…check yourself) - how many of you actually realise through the day that you’re holding your breath. For no good reason other than that you’re concentrating so hard, you’ve forgotten to breathe.
How about your jaw? Anyone else clench this for the majority of the day? Just me? I don’t believe you!
So why is SIMPLICITY the key?
Because you are your business.
There’s no good saying otherwise.
My simple processes, right or not, are not perfect and I’ll continue to refine them- to seek the simple in my business.
But that’s ok. Because perfection isn’t important - progress is, and for me, this is progress.
What you do, how you are, how you choose to show up in the world every single day is the vital piece of the puzzle.
And I promise you - I’ll take simple, calm and focused ANY DAY over stressed, frantic and anxious.
Try this. See if if works for you, and drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions, comments or feedback.
I’d love to hear from you.