This post was first published on the Firebrand Talent blog.
So you’ve decided this will be the year you find a new job, change your career and start earning the kind of money you deserve.
If you have a really big goal in your sights, the best way to begin is to get rid of the old habits, patterns and physical clutter that are holding you back.
There is a lot more to decluttering than simply getting organised. It can make you happier, more productive and best of all it will free up space for the important things you want to achieve.
1. Clear the physical clutter
It might sound unlikely that clearing out your physical environment can free you up mentally to make changes and attract more prosperity, but I can tell you from personal experience that it really does work.
There is proof that letting go of physical ‘stuff’ is empowering because it lays the groundwork for inner renewal, creating space for new opportunities. Declutter any items you associate with career unhappiness, maybe a job that made you miserable or items relating to past failures.
Pay particular attention to your work wardrobe and get rid of anything that feels like the ‘old’ version of you. If you’ve been unhappy in your job for a while, it’s a sure bet that your wardrobe doesn’t jibe with who you want to be. Which outfits make you feel happy and successful? If you want to start wearing velvet jackets and loafers give yourself permission to do that. You don’t have to go and spend loads of money on a new wardrobe. Think of small ways you can make your desired changes.
2. Declutter old beliefs and patterns
One of the most important decluttering exercises you can do is to examine any old beliefs that no longer serve you. For example, if you feel stuck in your current role and you want to take on more responsibility, take an honest look at where you’re stopping yourself. Maybe you feel stuck because you think you need to do a course, when the simplest approach might be to ask your manager if you can take on more higher level projects.
Whatever your beliefs about your abilities and experience be honest and ask yourself: Is this really true? Forgive your past failures and make an effort to face your fears so that you can move ahead with confidence. If you find yourself in a negative spiral about your career prospects, practice replacing those thoughts with a new mantra such as: I am creative and full of enthusiasm for my new career.
3. Declutter your work schedule
Like many people I used to be a slave to my to-do list. I would start my day as if I was going into battle, with each task taking equal priority. The trouble with this approach is that it’s often reactive and it doesn’t help you achieve your big picture goals. It can also lead to underperformance and that feeling of being ‘stuck’.
Review your current work schedule and ask yourself: What do I need to let go of to achieve my goals? Free up that calendar for more fulfilling projects and remind yourself you don’t need to be a slave to your schedule. When you are planning out your year, put the bigger projects on first and fit everything else around your priorities.
If you are changing careers this year or looking for a new job, prioritise the things you need to do to make this happen, whether it’s updating your resume or making time to network.
4. Your physical & digital workspace
Your work environment has a huge impact on your career success. Are you excited to get to work in the morning? Or do you have an immediate stress out because you can’t find the document you need under a bunch of overflowing files? Having a mess on your desk is not conducive to career success. You need a clear workspace to do your best work.
Perhaps the most important element to declutter is your digital environment. How many email newsletters are clogging up your inbox? Do you have a system for dealing with emails?
Here are a few important changes I’ve made together with some magic apps to help you get organised and declutter your computer and phone:
- Unrollme is a godsend for newsletter overwhelm
- Wunderlist will help you keep on top of project deadlines
- Challenge yourself to write and respond to emails in under 3 minutes
- Respond to emails in batches where possible — once or twice a day
- Use autoresponders when you’re working on urgent or time-consuming projects
- Turn off social media alerts and
- (Brace yourself) pick up the phone once in a while instead of sending an email.
My advice for digital decluttering is: Consume less content. Write shorter emails. Send fewer of them. Respect your time as well as other people’s and you will be rewarded with less stress and the space to create more success in your life.
What do you want to declutter this year?
You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress, simultaneously ~ Sophia Bush
Feeling swamped by the number of items on your to-do list? Afraid you may have finally bitten off more than you can chew?
Your schedule can get out of control when you’re trying to tackle a change of job or career. Being reminded that you have the same amount of hours in the day as Beyonce isn’t always that helpful (I’m pretty sure she doesn’t have to worry about what to cook for dinner after a hard day at the studios).
When you’re overwhelmed it can be paralysing. Everything feels waaay too hard. You’ll be relieved to know there are ways to deal with that crushing feeling of overwhelm, without retreating to the safety of the couch and Netflix. I know because I went looking for ideas when I faced the same issues in my business.
I have asked the advice of coaches, scoured Facebook masterminds and listened to podcasts with my ears pricked for ideas. What I discovered is that although there’s no one easy answer, there are practical strategies that can empower you and ease the stress so that you can finally take action on those goals (and feel a whole lot better too).
The Magic Number
It seems that three is the magic number. Whether it’s the number of agenda items in your presentation, the points you include in an email or the amount of major projects on your to-do list, aim for no more than three. You can use this rule of thumb in your daily work life – three major tasks a day is more than enough in my experience. You can also use this when it comes to your career planning. Which three things are going to fast track your goals? You need to be ruthless about your priorities. What needs to come off your plate so that you can do what’s most important right now?
The Power of 15 Minutes
I may not be the first to discover the power of 15 minutes, but it has helped me to make major shifts. When I’m short on time and I need to make headway I give myself 15 minutes to complete a certain task. Sometimes I take a little longer but that’s okay, the point is I have tricked my mind into action. I’ve also found that I can get a lot done in 15 minutes, especially when I let go of the need to make everything perfect:
In 15 minutes you can:
- Invite a contact out for coffee and croissants to ask their advice about your next move
- Research your dream company – what are their biggest challenges right now?
- Write an attention grabbing LinkedIn bio
- Search for your dream job on LinkedIn. Tip: lots of folks post openings in their update feed these days
- Research job ads to see what skills and attributes employers are listing
- Do the VIA character assessment to see what your top strengths are
- Complete two exercises from my 10 Step Career Discovery System to find your ideal career
- Call someone who has the job you want and ask about their experience
- Write a blog post about a key event in your industry and post it on LinkedIn
- Tap on it and clear those feelings of overwhelm
My point is that we have a tendency to make things much harder in our minds than they are in reality. If we think about what we need to accomplish as one long uphill battle then it will be hard to do even one thing, when doing that one thing could make all the difference.
Like the one phone call that landed my ideal job
The newsletter that resulted in 2 new clients signing up for my services
The LinkedIn profile update that led to a speaking opportunity
Approaching my to-do list in this way has helped me to achieve more consistency with my newsletter, (kinda) get control of my inbox, become more active on social media, do more marketing, in short, it’s helped me to get shit done.
As you and I know, everything takes twice as long as you think it will, particularly if you’re doing it for the first time (like say creating an online course, running a workshop or doing your first Facebook Live – it’s happening this Friday!!!).
But you’d be surprised by what you can achieve in just 15 minutes a day.
Try it and let me know how you go?
PS: If you’re struggling to make headway with your career plans, I’d like to invite you to have a free Discovery Call with me to discuss your challenges. You can go here to book a spot.
Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment ~ Jim Rohn
Has this ever happened to you?
You know what you want and you decide to go for it.
Then you get overwhelmed by all the things you need to do to make it a reality so you stop.
I know that you already have a lot on your plate. There’s work, your family, endless meetings, laundry and an overflowing inbox not to mention the lure of Instagram.
It’s easy to get nothing done.
I used to feel crushed by overwhelm. I blamed the fact that I was juggling a business and part-time hours and parenting.
How on earth was I going to do ALL of the things?
I knew there had to be a better way.
I discovered that the problem had nothing to do with my circumstances.
The problem was I’d been asking the wrong question.
What I should have been asking was:
What’s the ONE Thing I can do that’s going to have the biggest impact on my goals?
I ask myself this question pretty much every day now.
It helps me see distractions for what they are and get down to work.
This idea is from Gary Keller’s book The One Thing: The Surprising Truth Behind Extraordinary Results.
I know it might seem simplistic but it always reminds me that I have a choice about how I use my time and that it’s important to choose wisely.
Your exercise for today is to go back and read your future bio and then ask yourself:
What is the ONE thing I can do this year, this month, this week, today to get closer to this future version of myself?
What is the one thing I can do that will make everything else either easier or unnecessary?
Whatever your one thing is, prioritise it and do it first before you get sucked into the busyness of your day.
Make this a habit and you will move one step closer to the life you want each and every day.
What is your one thing?