A few years ago, Shane and I started living a more minimalistic lifestyle. While it started with our home life, I’ve been able to see huge improvements at work, too. It’s amazing how much you can boost your productivity and simplify your workday when you eliminate non-essentials and create no-brainers.
A no-brainer is a decision that’s so easy and automatic you don’t waste any time thinking about it. You just do it. We create no-brainers when we set up simple systems or delegate tasks to make our day easier.
Here’s a few no-brainers I’ve implemented to boost my own productivity:
I started by getting rid of all the half-read books on my bookshelf. I had kept them “just in case” I got around to reading them. “Just in case” are the 3 most dangerous words to someone trying to simplify. If I couldn’t get into a book the first time I tried to read it – or if I couldn’t find the value in it – why would I try reading it a second time?
Next I got rid of all the books I did read but I don’t plan on reading or referencing again. I gave them away (or sold them to a used bookstore) so someone else can get value from them.
What was left? A small row of less than a dozen of my favorite books that I reference over and over again. These books now sit in a neat row right on my desk. I can easily grab one any time I need to reference it with a coaching client.
No-Brainer Office Supply Closet
Next, I tossed all the old “just-in-case” training manuals that I had hopes of using someday. I also turned my office into a paperless environment. We keep so much paper and files for who-knows-what, but there’s no need. Instead of keeping notebooks full of notes, I now take a picture of the page and email it to myself with a descriptive subject line. Searching electronically is much easier then flipping though piles of paper. Then I tear it off the notebook and recycle it immediately. Finally, I donated all the office supplies that were just taking up space. How many pens and highlighters do you really need? Now I can grab the things I do need in an instant.
Other Office No-Brainers
Think about any task you do often that requires you to go looking for information or physically leave your desk to retrieve something. How can you rearrange things or create a system to take all the friction out of it? Print out cheat sheets with rates/product info/scripts and hang them on your wall for easy reference. Do you have to create a physical file for each new client? If so, take a lesson from the book Getting Things Done and get a small label maker and set it within reach on stack of new folders.
Challenge yourself to rethink all of your processes and see how you can streamline them to simplify your workday.
My Wardrobe: One Less Decision Every Morning
One of the biggest changes I made was at home in my closet. I pulled a Zuckerberg and made my wardrobe as simple as possible. Mark Zuckerberg once explained why he wears the same outfit (or “uniform”) every day. The reason? He doesn’t want to waste any energy making a decision on something so trivial. I couldn’t agree more! After I made the plunge and purged 75% of my wardrobe, I quit stressing out about what I was going to wear.
Let me be clear: I don’t have a set “uniform” that I wear everyday like Zuck does (although my husband does), but I don’t waste any time in my closet each morning debating what to wear. That’s because I turned selecting an outfit into the ultimate no-brainer!
3 Rules for a No-Brainer Wardrobe:
1. Stick to one color palette.
Everything I own goes with everything I own. I decided on a classic black and white theme, so everything I buy or wear goes with black. I even got rid of some black items if they were too specialized and only went with one thing. Believe me, it took me several phases to finally get down to a small wardrobe I loved, but I haven’t looked back and I haven’t regretted it once.
Note: This doesn’t mean your wardrobe has to be boring! Just stick with classic main pieces (or suits) and then get creative with the accessories.
2. Eliminate everything that doesn’t fit.
Clothes that don’t fit are the ultimate “just in case” items. What are the chances that item is going to fit you again – or that you’ll still like it when that special moment finally arrives? Not likely. In the meantime, it’s taking up space and it’s one more item to flip past every morning. Eliminate the guilt and get rid of it. If you’re determined to fit into it, create a plan and set a goal date for yourself. Does it fit on the goal date? If so, then congratulations – you won! Otherwise, let it go.
3. Keep only your favorite items.
Everything in your life should bring you joy. After reading Essentialism by Greg McKeown, I’ve really tried to focus on this philosophy even more. You should feel great about wearing every single item of clothing you own. I’ve found tremendous joy in only keeping my favorite things. I don’t live a life of not purchasing anything new – I love new clothes! – but when I buy something new, it’s to replace something old. When an item doesn’t bring me joy anymore, it goes into the give-away bin so it can bring someone else joy. When you only own your favorite things, every outfit in your wardrobe will put a smile on your face.
Simplify Your Workday: Less Decisions = More Sales
I recently wrote about my morning routine. When I simplified my wardrobe, it played a big part in making my day easier. Selecting an outfit and getting dressed each morning is now just another “no-brainer” in my day. That means more time (and mental energy) to make more sales!
Try finding a few ways to simplify your workday. Give it a try. You’ll be happy you did.
Until next time – go sell some stuff!