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Thanks to several popular books, Netflix, and Marie Kondo, minimalism has become mainstream.
But minimalism isn’t just about throwing away your junk and organizing your spice drawer.
Neither is it about those “carefully” curated #minimal #minimalstyle Instagram pics by wannabe influencers.
You can also take the minimalist approach to your work life.
And it’s worth doing not just because of the fancy vibe. Minimalism simplifies tasks. Helps you become more efficient and productive. Finally, it frees up your time and your mental space for a boost in clarity and creativity.
(Plus, as a bonus, you’ll feel significantly less stressed.)
If you’re feeling:
- Burnt out
- Drowning in papers and tasks
- Like there simply aren’t enough hours in the day…
I can relate…
As I’ve grown my business, Transizion, I’ve felt overwhelmed and exhausted at times. Minimalism has helped me prioritize tasks and boost performance.
Minimalism may be the solution you need to improve your approach to life.
6 Steps to Implement the Minimalist Approach to Work
Learn to focus on the essential by trying these minimalist approaches. Focus your energy where it counts, and you’ll notice improved positivity, productivity, and performance.
1. Declutter your desk.
Is your desk covered with month-old papers, Post-It notes, and a collection of unnecessary objects?
Turns out that your clutter could be holding you back at work. Studies show a link between clutter, stress, and procrastination.
When you declutter your desk, you’ll feel better and perform better. You’ll also have an easier time finding the documents that really matter.
Take a few minutes and throw out non-essential items. Repeat this process at the end of each day or week. Go paperless when you can, and create a filing system when you can’t.
2. Declutter your tech.
A cluttered desktop or a cluttered phone is just as bad as a cluttered desk. Unnecessary apps are time wasters. Unorganized files make your work life stressful, creating the impression that there’s more work to be done than there actually is.
Delete any apps that don’t add value to your life or make daily tasks easier. Get rid of unnecessary subscriptions, accounts, and memberships.
Take a while to actually examine if a given app brings any value to your life. If you haven’t used an app in the last 3 months, you’ll most likely never use it again (doesn’t apply to Tinder).
On your computer, delete downloads and documents that you’ll never open again. Not only will it make navigating through the files easier, but it will also vastly improve your computer’s performance.
If there’s a chance you’ll need to access the document sometime in the future, store it on Google Drive, Dropbox, or another cloud storage system.
Use digital folders and sub-folders to organize your work documents. When you’ve finished a task, it’s tempting to just save and close without filing it away. Remember that those few extra seconds can save you tons of time in the future.
3. Eliminate, automate, prioritize.
Do you ever feel so overwhelmed with tasks that it’s difficult to even start? In this scenario, minimalism is a lifesaver.
First, see if there are any tasks you can delegate or even eliminate.
- Is every task on your list essential?
- Why is each task important?
- How does it contribute to the goals of your company or business?
Next, are there any tasks you can automate? What can you do to make the task faster and easier without sacrificing quality?
Examples of automation include creating templates and forms that speed up processes or using keyboard shortcuts, spreadsheet macros, and autocomplete.
After you’ve eliminated and automated what you can, prioritize the rest. Keep a running list of every task that’s on your radar, and use a system to indicate priority.
For example, you may put an “A” next to tasks you must complete today, a “B” next to tasks you should complete today, and a “C” next to tasks that can wait.
Another approach is to set three essential tasks for each day. Focus on these tasks, and allow other tasks to wait unless something must be fast-tracked.
Alternatively, you can use the “1-3-5” rule. This means narrowing your task list down to one big task, three medium tasks, and five small tasks daily. You can adjust the number as needed. If unexpected tasks often pop up during your day, leave one medium task and 1-2 small tasks blank.
4. Say “no.”
Once you’ve set your priorities, start saying “no.” Learn to defend your priorities and your time.
Sure, you want to be helpful and agreeable. But saying “yes” to every task that comes your way is a recipe for stress, burnout, and missed deadlines.
If something won’t fit into your schedule, say so. You can also say something like, “Sure, I’d be happy to do that, but my schedule is full until Tuesday of next week. Does that work for you?”
What if your boss is the one asking you to cram in an additional task? Try, “I’m working on _________ for you right now. If I switch to this new task, it’ll delay the first task. Which is higher priority?” If your boss says the new task is the higher priority, adjust accordingly.
This is important for both entrepreneurs and employees, who have limited bandwidth to apply to projects. You need to defend your time because you’ll never get it back.
5. Take breaks.
Believe it or not, trying to power through your workday with zero breaks is counterproductive. Without breaks, mental and physical fatigue will set in and impair your effectiveness.
Experiment with different techniques and see what works for you. The point is to recharge and rejuvenate with short breaks throughout the day. Use your breaks to walk, stretch, or chat with a coworker.
Avoid eating lunch at your desk, and remember to leave work at the office when it’s time to go home.
Minimizing the time you spend working leads to more focus, productivity, energy, and effectiveness.
6. Tame the email monster.
For many of us, email is one area that could really use a minimalist approach. Try setting aside a few designated times to answer your email each day.
Other ideas include:
- Use Inbox Pause to stop the flow of emails until you’re ready for them.
- Set alerts only for people who may require an immediate response, like your boss.
- If an email will take three minutes or less to answer, do it now. Save the rest for designated email time.
- Set up filters to automatically sort your emails into easy-to-manage folders.
- Answer with statements instead of questions to avoid a never-ending back-and-forth.
- Do you find yourself sending the same or similar responses over and over? Enable “Canned Responses” on Gmail or set up templates that can be inserted with a few clicks.
- Unsubscribe to emails that you don’t really read or don’t find helpful.
- When you’re sure you’re done with a particular email thread, delete them or file them away. Don’t let your inbox pile up.
So, what do you think?
How do you take a minimalist approach to work? Which of these suggestions do you plan to try? I’d love to hear from you in the comments. Let’s get the discussion started!