De-cluttering in a complex world.
To most people de-cluttering means removing physical items, either at home or at work. This could also be a process we do with our brains or minds. However, I got to think about this a different way, having read a recent article in the New York Times about freelancing. A staggering 47% of millennials are now freelancing, and as the percentage of “Midlife Entrepreneurs” is growing, this is creating a crowded market place. Furthermore, this means that each of us are having to do more activities than we have traditionally done, such as blogging, writing papers, marketing ourselves and advertising. Even in corporate consulting which was my background, we had teams to do these activities.
For people who just want to deliver high quality work, then these other external activities are just clutter. It maybe necessary clutter, but clutter nonetheless. So for freelancers this is a nightmare, as they have to juggle this work against their core work. In theory you can outsource, but in practice, you may not have the money, especially if you are a startup. There of course is no silver bullet or quick answer, but one way to de-clutter is to improve our level of focus, and start to segment or stratify. This means we need to take these activities to a different level and start to prioritise. Which support activities, do I really need to do? This has to be done in the context of value-add to the business. This does not mean that all digital marketing and social media is wrong, just which areas do we focus on? This is not an easy task, given the plethora of new tools and approaches in the market. This is where we need to have a clear, concise, and evergreen business plan. We need to be prepared to try and fail, but also re-adjust.
It is the openness to feedback, in whatever form, that will help us succeed. This is where mindfulness, and an open minded approach can help. We must not sit in judgement of ourselves. One way we can achieve this is fully understanding the difference between “What we do to exist” and “What we exist to do”, which I quote from an ex-colleague, Max Franklin. So in summary de-cluttering has many meanings, and in the context of the coach or freelancer, is very critical.