This guest article is by Tim Robson of NSU Media.
Over time, we build up clutter in our lives; clothes we don’t wear, equipment we never use and habits that formed because we didn’t pay attention. Our work lives can become the same – we acquire various skills, experiences, ways of thinking and working patterns, often with little consideration of whether they improve how we show up in the work we do. Eventually they represent our version of what work is, rather than how we could have more carefully designed it to be.
Too many of us slip into ways of working, job roles or market sectors that reflect what we can do but not what we should be doing that could have a greater impact. On the surface we may appear ’successful’; our diaries are full, the requests keep coming…but whenever we stop for long enough we wonder if we’re smiling enough while we’re doing it all.
Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
Just because you can add value, or could help, or because you used to do that well, or because you’re competent or even if there’s a need you can meet doesn’t actually mean it’s what YOU should be doing right now. Cluttered schedules, cluttered in-boxes and cluttered activity plans that match our abilities but not our evolving passions create stress that’s unnecessary. Too little time doing activity that moves us and where we lose track of time is a tragedy when life is short. And our work clutter comes from a simple lack of attention.
Sometimes less is more. Sometime saying no means you can say a far bigger YES to something better.
THREE QUESTIONS THAT COULD CHANGE EVERYTHING
As individuals we evolve over time; our interests and passions get updated and if we’re focused, our talents can be honed to become excellence. Why then do so many of us leave the work we do in the hands of others – a line manager, an organisation or even the market forces affecting the sector we’ve landed in? Try asking these questions regularly to keep yourself on track:
- In all your work, what had the biggest positive impact?
- In all your work, where did you experience most of what’s important to you (e.g. lifestyle, time, progression, freedom)?
- In all your work, what felt the most effortless / the most fun?
When we truly play to our strengths, there’s an ease to what we do and we do it more efficiently. Discovering what’s happening at the intersection of these answers could be the starting point for more fulfilling ways of working. Anything else is clutter.
Many of us hold on to clothes we won’t get rid of or lifestyle habits we know slow us down. Regular clear-outs help us all travel lighter. If there’s anything blocking your view of what the world needs from you right now, take a breath and recall when you made the biggest difference. Then do that more often, in more places and with more people. You’ll smile much more in every day you’re doing it.