Have you noticed a new fad in our culture—the one focused on simple living? I must say I’m curious about the related “tiny house movement” (but not curious enough to try it). The idea of getting rid of all the unnecessary stuff so you can enjoy and appreciate the most important things in life is something many people can connect with—I know I can!
That got me thinking about “simple business living,” removing all the unnecessary stuff that bogs down our day and prevents us from accomplishing the true purpose of our work. So many things can tug at us—and from every direction—making it easy to feel like we’re on an episode of “Hoarders” instead of “Tiny House Nation.” Ready to try to clear your own work clutter? Read on!
How to Simplify Your Life at Work
1. If you think you’re overcomplicating something, you probably are.
Does this sound familiar: You’re talking, thinking, discussing, planning…only to suddenly stop and wonder, what is it we are solving for again? True, everything won’t always be simple—it can’t be. I mean, we are dealing with Financial Aid here! But sometimes we forget to simplify because we get so hyper-focused on doing things, “the way we’ve always done them.” Know where you’ll really notice this overcomplicating mentality? When you train someone new on an established process. New eyes on a complex process often uncover over-complication—and helps me think of ways to simplify.
2. Don’t solve for the one-off scenario.
Things that should never happen, do. That’s a given. But that doesn’t mean it will happen repeatedly. I try to avoid over-solving for a problem that likely will only happen once because it likely will never happen again. Problem-solving is easy to get caught up in, and creating a new standard operating procedure can feel empowering. But until you see a pattern, avoid spending a lot of time or involving too many people. Adding time and energy may just grow a bigger issue, rather than resolving the one-time glitch.
3. Set priorities.
Focus on a few things that are most important to keeping your work life simple—simple for you, your team, institution, and students. The list of things you either want to work on, or feel you should work on, can seem endless. It’s important to take the time to narrow your list down to three or four tasks that will help drive focus and remove clutter. Often, people who have differentiated themselves in business have done so not because they do a lot of things better. They stand out because they’ve narrowed their focus and made a few things way better.
Keeping it simple isn’t simple. But once you get into the practice of removing clutter, you create focus—and focus is what drives results. I’m still not convinced about tiny-house living, but I do think Confucius was onto something when he said, “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”