When you became an entrepreneur, one of the main driving forces was likely the desire for more freedom and flexibility. Then as you grew the business, and started saying yes to every opportunity along the way, you got more and more overwhelmed, and before you knew it, you got stuck in the business, with less freedom and flexibility than ever! Sound familiar??
The last 2 years have been extraordinary times in life and business, we have been challenged and pushed to the limit. Chances are, right now you are experiencing some level of emotional wake and personal scars from enduring these uncertain times and doing what it took to survive.
As you start to wind down 2022 and look ahead to the new year, you are likely thinking, “this is not sustainable”, “I want next year to be different”, or “something has got to change”. The status quo, cannot be sustained, and it will not get us to the next level in 2023. So where to start? Well, it is not as hard as we like to tell ourselves.
The first step is SIMPLIFICATION. When everything is important, nothing is important. It is impossible to be our best and do our best work when we are trying to do it all and meet everyone’s expectations. With more focus, letting go of what you don’t own, and saying no to the non-essentials, it is possible to reduce the load and have more impact.
A good place to start when considering changes in your life is to take an inventory of your current circumstances, and ask yourself some of these questions:
- Have you over-committed yourself (professionally and personally)?
- What is causing your fatigue?
- What is triggering negative emotion?
- What areas of your life are experiencing friction/tension?
- Has it been weeks (or months) since you did any self-care?
- Are your relationships feeling strained?
These are all signs of overwhelm and are common in entrepreneurs. A little hard work is good for your business, but not at the expense of your health and well-being. You are right in thinking that this is not sustainable. In this list of responses are some fundamental places for you to start to make changes in your life.
In this article, I will talk about how now is the perfect time to step back and reflect to see where you can simplify your business and life to get a better return for your efforts in 2023. The path to change is fairly simple and straightforward, but as we all know, change is hard. Start small, start early.
Assess. Prioritize. Shed.
Step back during the slower holiday season and assess where you’re spending your time in your business. What tasks are you doing most, and what areas of the business are you intentionally or unintentionally focusing on?
What are your Unique Abilities? This term, coined by Dan Sullivan, refers to the skills, experiences, or perspectives that you have, but others don’t. Come up with a list of your top three Unique Abilities that no one can do.
For example, if you’re a public speaker show shares their personal story of overcoming obstacles, no one else can present your Keynote speech but you. THAT is one of your Unique Abilities. Perhaps you hand-make a product that you’ve been learning to perfect since your childhood. Making that product may be one of your Unique Abilities you can’t teach to someone else.
After you’ve listed your top 3 Unique Abilities. It’s time to look at your to-do list and calendar. Highlight tasks that require one of your Unique Abilities. Put aside your tasks for a moment while you look at how you can delegate the remaining tasks:
- Is there a team member who can help?
- Can you train someone to do the task?
- Can you outsource the tasks to someone outside your company?
Re-assign any task that doesn’t require your direct attention. Then bring back your Unique Ability task list, and we’ll prioritize where you focus your efforts for the biggest results.
Write down all the tasks and responsibilities you have and prioritize them. How you prioritize them may be different for each person. Here are some categories you can organize your tasks into:
- Revenue-generating vs. non-revenue-generating
- Day-to-day business admin vs. occasional tasks
- Tasks that you enjoy vs. tasks you dread
- Tasks that give you energy vs. tasks that drain your energy
Likely, all the tasks on your list must be done at some point. What’s important right now during our “big clean out” is to understand their value to your business and your time. During this big cleanout, we need to determine where to best put our efforts to get maximum return. Identifying the critical few thighs that you must maintain discipline and focus on now, and going into 2023, will help you put them first and guard time to ensure they get to the top of the list every week.
The focus needs to be on the tasks that have the most positive impact, and the things that give you energy. When we spend more time doing what we love, are good and value most, frankly we become far more productive and satisfied.
Now that we know what you can delegate and what must be done yourself; what you value most; and what energizes you, the hard work needs to be done to let go of the rest. Spending time doing your lower-value work, and things that drain you, have a real cost and will take away from the things you value most. It is time to get real about what you need to let go of.
Making a list of what you need to shed going into 2023 is probably the hardest of all. Be honest, and put your needs first. Now, once the list is complete, go through it and identify the top 3 things that need to go and put a date on it. You may even like to put a reminder in your calendar to help you deliver on your commitment to yourself.
Remember, when you say yes to something, you say no to everything else. If you keep saying yes to the non-essential things you are doing, you will continue to sacrifice the things you value most. Think of it like Marie Kondo’ing your work: If it’s a task that doesn’t bring you joy or fulfillment, get rid of it.
This Big Cleanout will help you restart your productivity for the new year, but it needs to be maintained, or it will get complicated and overwhelming again. Here are some ways to filter incoming tasks and requests to keep things simple:
- Only accept new tasks that:
- Are an absolute business necessity
- Move you towards your goals
- Bring you joy or satisfaction
- Create time each day, week, or month to stop and assess, prioritize, and shed to keep your systems running smoothly.
- Create systems and processes, so you can repeat your successes without reinventing the wheel each time (templates and process guides can be a big help)
My biggest tip is to lean on your 3-4 Unique Abilities. It’ll help you better understand what opportunities to say yes to and where to focus your energies for the biggest returns. It will guide your decision-making and help ensure you don’t take on unnecessary tasks or time suckers.
As we say goodbye to 2022 and prepare for 2023, I encourage you to start small this month and create your list of Unique Abilities. Then go through and get organized now, so you can start 2023 strong and better maintain your more organized and simplified life to achieve more and be more.
Need help getting started on simplifying in the new year?