Have you escaped the rat race?
Let’s face it, if you’re reading this then it’s unlikely you are one of the daring few to have chucked the mobile phone and headed for the hills to live a life of self-sufficiency. In fact, you may have no desire to live off the grid – especially if you are relishing the busy mix of running your business and caring for your family.
But whatever your stance, one thing is for sure: Life can at times get way too complicated, especially in the fast-paced UAE business environment.
In the world we now inhabit, mumpreneurs may feel they have to be “on” all the time, simply because the technology is there to enable it. But working and living this way can lead to burn-out and exhaustion – and never really giving the best to any single task.
Okay, so this is a nice theory. But how do we apply it for the busy mumpreneur who is tackling the tough demands of the business world and keeping on top of childcare? If these are the non-negotiable realities of day-to-day life then what’s the answer when things get too much?
The answer is the minimalist approach.
Or as former Apple CEO Steve Jobs once put it: “Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
So let’s keep it simple and dive into five ways any mumpreneur can simplify her life and give her business a boost.
Cut down on clutter: We’ve all heard the saying “Tidy desk, tidy mind” and it turns out there is some real scientific substance to the old adage. Aside from the practical benefit of decluttering your desk, files or stationery cupboard, your brain also gets a boost from this type of spring cleaning.
In 2011, researchers at Princeton University studied the impact of physical clutter on the brain and found that working in a disorganised environment leads to a shorter attention span, increased stress and poorer performance. Working amongst clutter can also stifle creative thinking. And clutter is not just physical – so don’t forget to have a good tidy up of your inbox and cloud storage too.
In 2011, researchers at Princeton University studied the impact of physical clutter on the brain and found that working in a disorganised environment leads to a shorter attention span, increased stress and poorer performance.
Do one thing at a time: Multitasking is a myth. The research shows that we are never truly multitasking because when we (try to) multitask our brain splits its attention between jobs and rapidly switches its focus between them. So it is not actually concentrating on both at once. This results in neither task getting our full attention.
Studies over the past few years from Stanford and Ohio State universities have shown that those who multitask are less productive than single-taskers – and multi-taskers are also much worse at performing sub-conscious tasks such as filtering out irrelevant information.
Grow at your own pace: This is a topic we have covered before, but it really cannot be said enough: Do not bite off more than you can chew. There is a natural temptation when you run your own business to say yes to everyone. But keep in mind, if you have a reputation for doing something well, then customers should never be in short supply.
While the rewards for taking on extra work are clear, the potential consequences of taking on too much too soon can be devastating. According to a recent Startup Genome Report, the number one reason startups fail is premature scaling. Put simply, they grow too quickly.
Communicate clearly: Taking a minimalist approach is not only about internal aspects of your business. It’s also about the way you communicate externally. Whether it’s marketing materials or emails to clients and suppliers, it pays to keep your message as simple and focused as possible.
Whether it’s marketing materials or emails to clients and suppliers, it pays to keep your message as simple and focused as possible.
Consider how often you have spent time on a website without really getting anything of value from it due to the sheer number of pages and lack of clarity. Or stared at an impenetrable 2,000-word email trying to figure out what the author is trying to say. To give you an exact idea on ideal word count, consider the latest research by email efficiency service Boomerang which found the optimum length of an email is 50 to 125 words. So put yourself in your clients’ shoes when it comes to communications.
Simplify processes: We often over-engineer things. This is particularly true when running a business because we don’t tend to rewrite processes from scratch as we evolve. Instead, we add layers and layers to old processes over time, making them more convoluted and complex with each revision.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Just look at the example of Netflix: According to the Harvard Business Review, the entertainment streaming platform scrapped its complex expenses policy and replaced it with five words: “Act in Netflix’s best interests.” They also ditched their vacation policy, coming up with something far simpler. This kind of thinking can help anyone from huge enterprises like Netflix to busy mumpreneurs working from a home office.
So next time your process seems a little long-winded, ask yourself if it is still fit for purpose. If not, get rid and replace.
So that’s our list. As you examine your business processes, ask yourself two questions: Is it necessary? And is it important? Give your business a quick audit and highlight anything that is not completely necessary, whether that’s expenses, meetings, reports, or communications. Then decide on the most important area of the business and focus your attention there.
Many people are put off trying a minimalist approach because it can appear too radical. But stripping everything back and keeping it simple can mean greater control over your working life.