EP 334: Creating Mental Space With Simple Changes

Apr 29, 2021 | Money & Life, Operations, Podcast

Tara McMullin is a writer, podcaster, and producer who explores what it takes to navigate the 21st-century economy with your humanity intact. Click here to support this work.

What’s the ROI on mental space?

What would it be worth to you to get some peace of mind?

What would you be willing to do to alleviate a bit of uncertainty from your life or business?

All this month, we’ve been talking about simplifying and the immense benefits you can experience by building a simple business.

We’re going to close things out here by taking a look at how operational improvements can create a profound sense of relief—and open up mental space that you didn’t even know was cluttered!

I can easily remember what it was like to run my business before we built solid systems.

Cluttered is exactly how I would describe it.

It wasn’t just the operational clutter–files all over the place, to-do lists scattered all over my desk, and priorities that could change on a whim.

It was also the mental clutter.

Where did all that mental clutter come from? Well, it was a result of a whole bunch of unhelpful habits and patterns.

It was people-pleasing and scarcity thinking and entrepreneurial optimism. I had mental clutter from my habit of trying to remember all of the things instead of documneting stuff. I had mental clutter from avoiding conflict and never setting firm boundaries.

In order to clear up my operational clutter, I also had to clean up those patterns.

Because a simple system was never going to stick if my habits were just going to lead to me cluttering things up again.

And I think that’s where we so often go wrong when it comes to simplifying and cleaning things up.

We put smart systems on top of unconscious mental patterns. We try to apply countermeasures without addressing the inner game of business at the same time.

If we’re building awareness of how and why things get messy or complicated in the first place, then we can design a cleaner system AND maintain it.

Which is great.

AND… it gets better. As I mentioned, one of the best benefits of cleaning things up and simplifying is mental space.

Once I was less exhausted and emotionally drained from navigating my own cluttered systems, I had way more space for actually helping people!

I had more space for learning more. I had space for thinking more. And I had more space for getting create.

You heard Sophy Dale echo this sentiment in Episodes 330 and 331, too.

So, I’ll ask again: what is it worth to you to get that mental space?

I ask this not because it requires some financial investment.

What it likely requires is the discomfort that comes from doing things a new way.

Maybe you decide that to clean things up, you need to start documenting everything you do. Or track you time. Or wait 3 days before you act on a new idea.

Maybe you realize that you need to actually check items off in your project management software instead of just “checking in” to see what’s overdue.

Maybe you commit to organizing your inbox in another way or following a checklist for tasks that often suffer from overlooked details.

I’m not making light of any of these choices. These seemingly small operational shifts require a lot of effort in terms of addressing those mental habits we talked about earlier. Changing your habits–both mental and operational–is tough work. It’s uncomfortable. And you’re going to mess up–goodness knows that I do!

The habits you address and the operational choices you make might look pretty different from mine.

I have no earthly way of knowing what might be cluttering up your brain! Unless you’re blessed with a talent for always keeping things as simple and consistent as possible, you’ve got something to work on–and it’s going to indeed take some work.

But it’s worth it. It’s worth it for the health of your business. And it’s worth it for the mental space you’ll create after the discomfort passes.

Today, I have 3 more stories of simplifying for you—and they’re all on the theme of mental space. Artist Pamela Mattei shares how a checklist brought her mental space. Content marketing strategist Lacy Boggs details how getting clearer on her offers brought her mental space. And web designer Michaela Latavanha shares how simplifying her payment structure and onboarding system brought her mental space.

As you listen to each story, I encourage you to not only listen for the operational takeaways—though there are plenty. I encourage you to consider what kind of mental clutter might keep you from making similar decisions.

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