Life is simple.
I can hear your cries of outrage echoing across the globe:
“Life’s not simple.”
“It’s a struggle.”
And I absolutely agree with you. Life can be overwhelming, particularly when balancing health, finance, relationships, and work. But it doesn’t actually have to be so complicated. We create many complications due to confusion when we aren’t clear about our own paths. Are you not sure how to react in certain situations, or maybe you find it difficult to simplify your life due to overwhelming workloads?
Here are three tried and tested tips that can help you simplify your life right now:
1. Be clear about what you want.
What do you want?
It seems like a simple question, but knowing exactly what you are looking for in your job and exactly what you’re looking for in your life in general, can actually be more difficult than it seems. Sure, everyone wants better pay, better working conditions, friendly work mates and cooperative management, but what do you specifically want from this position, from this company?
The first step you can take to figure this out is to list 5 things that you want from your job.
Some examples can include:
- Less working hours in the office, and more options to work remotely.
- To be heard or have greater autonomy on ideas or projects.
- Clearer pathways set out for career progression and salary raises.
- More space provided in the day for skills and professional development.
- Maternal leave and/or equal pay.
- A clear vision of company growth and how you can contribute to it.
- Better leadership or management structure.
- More social gatherings to get to know people better.
- The opportunity to develop for specific skills or areas of interest in the business.
- A clearly defined company purpose or mission that reflects your ethos.
Make sure you are clear and specific when thinking about your goals. Knowing exactly what you want and writing them down provides you with greater clarity and direction for your future. Be aware that you may not be in a position to demand many of these from your employer. Identifying what you want and being able to communicate those goals at the right time can mean the difference between a pay raise or a promotion, or simply staying where you are.
Make sure you choose the right time to discuss these goals with management and be prepared to negotiate terms and timelines in your employment agreement. You may need to tread carefully or perhaps be more insistent, depending on the situation. It’s important here to work on getting the message across, without diminishing your current position or affecting your work relationships.
2. Work on your people skills.
Work is something we all need to do to survive. It may be something you despise, something that simply pays the bills, or something you are deeply passionate about. Think about it – when you arrive home from work in the evening, what do you talk to your spouse/roommates/family about?
Or if you live alone, what are the things that you ponder about the most? List them. You will find, the majority of those situations (and therefore complications) in your working life are based on situations that involve one critical thing: people.
I have worked for a range of organizations, from small startups to large multi-nationals, and one thing I have learned over the past 10 years of my working life is that my biggest asset and my biggest threat is the way I deal with others, and the way I deal with certain situations internally.
Here’s an example:
A Sticky Situation
My very first job out of college was as a Fashion Design Assistant, working for a huge national company. I started as an intern and was quickly offered a full-time position after a few months. I was nineteen, buzzing with ideas and fast at learning new things. Management quickly recognized those skills and promoted me into a newly created marketing position after three months, with a pretty substantial pay raise to boot.
Pretty soon I was working across departments, dealing with a broad range of projects and people. After a few months, I started to notice that I wasn’t being invited to any after work drinks, groups dispersed when I walked up to join conversations and there were certain occasions where I knew jokes were being told about me. It sounds like I was being paranoid, but this actually was affecting me quite intensely on a daily basis.
I hadn’t realized at the time that my eagerness to learn and take on a extra responsibility was ruffling a few feathers along the way. My problem at the time was that I didn’t understand how my over-ambitious efforts were making others feel. Many of the employees were in their late 30’s and 40’s and had been in their roles for many years. I eventually left this role as the bullying took over my life and I became very unhappy.
In the marvelous beauty of hindsight I really should have:
- Strived to learn about my coworkers more,
- Listened to them on a deeper level,
- Reflected upon myself and how I could have improved the situation,
- Handled my emotions better to avoid conflict,
- Spoken to those involved or to human resources about how I felt.
I should have taken the time to get to know them better, to establish a connection with them, and sought to be an active part of the team both professionally and socially. It seems really obvious, but sometimes we aren’t really aware of the effect we may have on others. Although we can’t control the way others treat us, we can control the way we behave ourselves, simplifying seemingly complex situations.
3. Eliminate Distractions.
How can eliminating distractions simplify your life? By reducing the amount of time you spend on unnecessary things, you are able to focus on tasks that need to get done, making your life simpler and more efficient.
Ok, so it’s almost impossible to turn your phone off. I know. Actually, I retract my statement, it is completely impossible. Keeping up with what’s happening on the latest social media, news and current affairs is not a problem. It only becomes a problem when we are using our devices to distract us from doing things we should be doing.
Many workplaces still have policies regarding the use of social media on work computers, which essentially shouldn’t be happening at all. That aside, here are the really little things that can affect your productivity and over complicate your life.
Do you ever…
- Overthink a project?
- Procrastinate on things you don’t like doing?
- Take certain tasks way too seriously?
- Constantly think about your work relationships or discussions?
- Browse the web on sites that aren’t really applicable to your role?
If you answered yes to any of these points, you certainly aren’t alone. Many of us seek distractions in our daily life, often due to boredom or lack of fulfillment in our roles. However, these distractions can over complicate your working life, by making you less efficient and increasing your workload.
Here are some tips I have on eliminating distractions:
Make sure you have planned out each project, with defined goals and timelines to keep yourself ahead of all tasks. The gold old to do list works wonders. I still write my daily tasks by hand, alongside my digital planners like Trello or CoSchedule.
A simple procrastination buster
Do the things you dislike first. Get them out of the way, so you can put your energy into the tasks you enjoy – almost as a reward for doing those hated tasks. Also, try to reframe those tasks in your own mind as being of benefit to someone (even if only indirectly), e.g. Damn, I have to send out the newsletter, but I know there are a lot of people needing to refer to it for their latest freelance jobs. That way, it becomes less of a chore and more of a selfless act (you see, it’s working already!)
Don’t take it too seriously
Remember: YOU ARE NOT YOUR JOB.
You are not the money you make, or the position you hold, whatever position that may be. You are much more than that and your entire existence is not encapsulated in your work, nor should it be. SO don’t take it too seriously. Life is an adventure, so make it that way.
Stop overthinking situations
Take a good look at the discussion you are having in your head. Is it necessary? Is it something from the past or is it something that needs to be said? If it needs to be said, plan a time to meet with that person and discuss your issues. If it is in the past, realize that there is nothing you can do that can change that moment. The only moment you have control of is now. So take that thought, and put it in ‘the past is over’ trash can, and move on.
Browsing the Internet
Determine what the purpose of your browsing is. Are you shopping online? If so, think about what else you could be doing. Apply for an online course related to your career, connect with people on LinkedIn, book a conference or attend a meetup related to your field, research your industry…. anything related to your role, that can count as skills and professional development – this is what you should be using some of your downtime for.
Whether you’re an employee, director of a company or freelancer, making your work life simpler can certainly be a challenge.
By understanding what you want from your job, you can pave the way towards a happier and more satisfying career.
Knowing how to deal with others and tricky situations enables greater communication and creates a more peaceful working environment. Eliminating those distractions that weigh you down can make achieving your career goals more efficient and pave the way for a simpler working life.