This is a chapter from The Simple Business.
What’s the point of working for yourself if not to work less and live more?
In Mountain Song, I wrote about one of the moments I loved most in my daily routine in my house by the mountains:
“This is a place made for rituals, the slower and more mindful the better. I love the ritual of coffee as much as the taste. It punctuates my day – once after breakfast, again after lunch. Choosing the beans and putting them in the grinder. Watching them turn to small fragrant shards. The smell hitting me as I put a scoop into the stove pot. Finding my favourite cup: small, white and yellow with a chip on the side. Taking it outside to the balcony, where the steam hits the cold morning air. The first sip. Thank you.”
The ordinary, seemingly boring moments like this are often what bring me the most frequent joy. Just a moment of rest, from which I can recalibrate before going about the rest of my day. A space to land and find my balance. And for that, I need to give myself the space and time to slow down.
How many of these moments do your life and work allow you?
You can design your business to work off-the-grid giving you more time not just for adventures, but also for brewing a pot of tea, watching the birds, or doing the little joyful things that will never be monetised or considered “productive”.
You can also cultivate a life where busyness is an alien concept that you frown at, not a benchmark of your success.
How to design your business for freedom and flexibility
To get there, keep asking three questions:
- What would your work look like if it were easy?
- What matters to you now?
- What can you eliminate, automate, or delegate to make more time for what matters?
For the most ease at work and freedom outside of it, don’t waste your time on what doesn’t matter.
Think about the ideas you have for your business and the life these will let you live. What will help you get there and what’s a distraction?
- What is the 20 percent of your efforts that will give you 80 percent of the results you seek?
- Which product can bring you revenue in the easiest and most graceful way?
- What is the one marketing strategy that can give you the best results in the most aligned way?
- What’s the most impactful thing you can be doing now to take care of your business and yourself?
As you build your business, pay attention to what energises and excites you and what drains you.
- What brings you 80 percent of your joy at work, and how can you do more of that?
- Similarly, what brings you 80 percent of your stress? Maybe it’s accounting, business deals, customer onboarding, meetings, client one-on-ones, or tech stuff.
If something constantly feels like an uphill struggle, it’s probably not the right thing for you to be doing. Is it because you’re out of your zone of genius and need to outsource something? Or are you doing something you shouldn’t be doing whatsoever, because your customers really don’t care?
Sure, you can’t just ignore your taxes, but social media accounts? Go ahead and delete them if they’re not for you.
Eliminate what doesn’t actually need doing. The least productive use of your time is doing something well that doesn’t need to be done at all.
Automate what a machine can and should do. By automating the right things, you can focus on your creative, strategic, one-on-one, and beautifully human work.
If you automate anything, make it your accounting – as early in your business as possible. Accounting software lets you reconcile transactions and save a lot of time. It’s worth it. If you’re sending out the same emails again and again, try email automation.
Delegate what you’re terrible at, but also what you’re good enough at for it to be a distraction, or what a professional could do faster, better, and often cheaper.
I recorded the audiobook of my book Your Life in Bloom in a recording studio, and thought I could do the edits and mastering myself afterwards. I had the right software and knew roughly what to do. It would probably be good enough in the end. But it took me so much time.
After a few days of faffing about and making some sections sound worse than before, I found an audiobook agency that did an infinitely better job than I ever could. And it didn’t cost a bomb. Often by outsourcing some tasks to freelancers and other experts, you save money overall – and your own sanity.
Unless you have a really great reason not to, delegate your taxes. Even if you have the tiniest budget, it’s worth it. Not only should an accountant save you money, but after trying to do your taxes once, you’ll probably also agree that the time and stress are worth budgeting for.
You’re the one who gets to decide what stays and what goes. So make life easy for yourself.