July 16, 2021

The benefits of professional minimalism

The benefits of professional minimalism

💯 💯 💯 "If you reduce your physical clutter, you can manufacture more space. If you reduce your professional clutter, you can manufacture more time. And if you reduce your personal clutter, you can manufacture more energy."


EP: 29 Living a minimalist lifestyle doesn't have to apply to just clearing the attic of old toys and unworn clothing.  It can also play a big role in your creative and business ventures.  In this episode, I'll discuss how a minimalist approach can help you manufacture more space, more time, and more energy. 

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Transcript

Michael Der  0:02  
You're listening to Artrepreneurs, a podcast that inspires photographers and visual artists to live their best creative lives. My name is Michael Der and I am a full time photographer with nearly 10 years of experience in the freelancing world. And I'm sitting down with an amazing community of visual artists to talk about process, business, and the lessons that have helped them grow. So let's get to it. Artrepreneurs starts right now.

Hey, what is up everybody? Welcome back to Artrepreneurs season one. thrilled to have you joining me on I guess, Episode 29 of this show. How amazing is that? We've gone 29 straight weeks with new content. And we've got plenty more to go. So thank you again for tuning in and supporting this content. Now. Whether you listen to the program before or not, chances are you already know that there's a lot that goes into running your own creative business, so much so that sometimes it can feel a little bit overwhelming. If client research isn't killing you. Maybe it's the marketing, if it's not the marketing, maybe its pricing strategy. And if it isn't any of those, maybe it's taxes or insurance or reading contracts, whatever it might be. The reality is there's a lot of complexity to being your own boss. So today, I want to introduce the concept of minimalism, and how that practice might just help you reduce the unnecessary clutter that is dragging you down. 

So you might be asking yourself, what is clutter consist of? What does that actually mean? To me, clutter is a collection of unnecessary impediments. That's basically my definition. Now, you could argue that all impediments are unnecessary by nature. But I actually don't agree with that. I think some obstacles are necessary for creating strength and grit and resiliency, all of which you're going to need if you're going to be a business owner. So let me give you an example. Having cheap gear that you use can be seen as a necessary impediment, whereas expensive gear that you don't use would qualify as unnecessary impediments. So in a nutshell, clutter is something that doesn't add any value at all. Instead, it just robs you of your space, your time and your energy, it's also going to rob you of your money too. But the fast way to identify if you have too much clutter is to simply assess if your stress level is increasing. Now, I don't know how people usually measure that. But for me, it comes with negative mood, poor sleep, and a lack of being present in the moment. Those are usually my telltale signs that I'm stressed out. So whatever your signs are, consider this episode, your first step in doing what I would call a self-audit, which is identifying what areas of your life might have too much clutter. And there are three areas of clutter that I specifically want to speak on. I call them the three P's. They are physical clutter, professional clutter, and personal clutter. So let's break these three aspects down and see what we can audit out of our lives. 

Number one, physical clutter. So let's talk about the obvious one first, and that is physical clutter. Now a lot of creative professionals have this serious condition. It's actually a disorder. They suffer from gas. Yes, you heard me right. creatives suffer from gas, which isn't exactly what you think it is. It's simply an acronym that's funny and crude. That stands for gear acquisition syndrome. And if I could go out on a slight limb here, I think photographers are the gaseous of them all. We've got cameras, we've got lenses, backup cameras, backup lenses, we've got hardware, software and lighting equipment, and oh my god, don't get me started on those damn camera bags. We've got so much gas in our system, folks, it is absolutely crazy. 

Now I've mentioned in other episodes that nobody can justify a purchase quite like a photographer. So the key to identifying whether a product has value or not is just being honest with how it's currently being used. And the key word there is "currently".  Ignore the potential use of an item and focus on the actual use of an item. Have you ever watched that crazy show, Hoarders, where someone's always trying to justify their habits with absurd scenarios that might call on that item in desperate times? I mean, let's be real, do you think you're actually going to need newspaper clippings from the 70s soaked in rat urine? I mean, come on, folks. So I want you to get real with yourself. 

Ask yourself, what do you actually use right now, not what you could use one day down the road? Sure, you could find yourself in a situation one day where you need a macro lens. But if it's not something that you consistently use right now, or something that brings you joy, or brings in money for you consider that clutter. For years, I had lenses and lighting modifiers that I never used, that was 1000s of dollars sitting on the shelves, taking up space and losing money each day. And you might be saying so what it's not doing anybody any harm. And let me be clear, it's not my position to argue you on that merit. If you like collecting gear Go right ahead. I'm talking to the person who is overwhelmed by the amount of stuff they own. If it's too much to keep track of if it's creating paralysis by analysis, the day before a shoot where you're looking through 15 different sets of lenses, consider scaling down if I have gear that I haven't used in the past 12 months, and I don't project to use them in the next three to six, I'm going to try and sell that product. 

Now. One hurdle that's going to be challenging for a lot of you is to get over the cost that you've sunk into that product. It's very normal behavior to overvalue items that we have paid for whether it's through an exchange of money or an exchange of time. There's an actual term for this. It's called the sunk cost fallacy. And it plagues a lot of people who hold on to items that have little to no function. It's why you fervently hold on to shoes that you haven't worn in five years.

And while you'll never get rid of the suits that you can no longer fit in, and as illogical as that mentality is, it's very common for us to try and recoup what we've put into it to not take a loss. So what I suggest doing is asking yourself, if I didn't own this item, how much would I pay to get it right now? And you may find your answers very surprising. You might say, I wouldn't pay any amount for this item. So why are you keeping it? clear up your office space, create more room, and focus on function over potential. Now before we move on one last little area when it comes to physical clutter, I strongly advise removing physical paperwork from your office. In today's day and age, there are very few essential things that require hard copies, everything else can be digitized and backed up safely, I would rather have more room in my office for a table than occupying it with a file cabinet. Maximizing my physical space is an essential part of my organizational process. And it starts with cutting down unnecessary items. So look through your items and identify what is and isn't maximizing its value. 

Number two, professional clutter. So the second area that I want to talk about is professional clutter. And a minimalist approach doesn't just apply to the physical items that you own. It can also be applied to the clients you work with the services you provide, and the projects that you take on. Now many of us start out working quantity over quality, because we want so badly to get the ball rolling that we accept anything and everything that comes our way. And while I'm all for taking on free to low-paying jobs to get some experience, there is a limit. At a certain point, you have to assess what you are getting in return. And you may not realize that you're cutting your time in half on clients and projects that don't give you any value. So if time is so important to all of us, as I believe it is, shouldn't we be asking ourselves? How can we manufacture more of it, 

saying no to clients may come with a downside here and there. But don't assume that it always will. In fact, many of the best decisions I've ever made, were cutting out clients that didn't yield a good return, which for me, my criteria of a good return is a combination of things. It's about favorable pay rates, payment terms, copyrights, and opportunity. And there were plenty of clients that offered me none of those things, while also taking up the most amount of my time. So what sense does that make? So ask yourself the following question, what if I doubled my rates, but lost half my clients? Think about that for a second? How much money would you lose? The answer is you wouldn't lose any, you'd make the same amount of money but double the amount of free time. Now I know that's not a perfect hypothetical. There's a lot that goes into a decision like that you could lose all of your clients or only get 10% of them back. The point of the question, though, is to get yourself thinking about how to manufacture more time. Likewise, think about the projects that you take on yourself, consider auditing the scale of your productions. Have you ever found yourself planning an extravagant project, only to realize it's got way too many moving parts, so you don't do anything at all. I know I struggle with this all the time. So for me, it's more important to keep things simple. So I can actually get things done. And by using a minimalist approach and cutting out unnecessary clients and projects, you will gain more time that you can use however you want. You can use it to meditate or recharge your batteries, or double down on the clients and projects that yield the biggest returns, the choice is yours, just know that you have the power to create that leverage. 

Number three, personal clutter. Alright, so we are on to the final area of clutter that you should be auditing, which is rather multifaceted. Personal clutter consists of the people and the actions you give your attention to that yield no return. Now this is going to sound a little bit harsh, but there are plenty of people in your life that simply qualify as clutter, your job is to identify which parties they are, and minimize the interaction and attention that you give to them. Now you don't have to cut people out cold turkey. In fact, I think that's generally a very offensive thing to do if there's mutual care and affection between the two parties. But you probably know that you interact with several people that quite simply don't bring much to the table. And let me clarify by saying that I'm not referring and singling out those who can't help you with your career. There are plenty of friends and family of mine who provide value in different ways. I have friends that I talk sports with, I have friends that I laugh with. And I have friends that I just lean on for support. All of that's valuable. What isn't valuable, are people who robbed me of energy, people who bring me down and make me feel small. What I try to do is focus my attention on people that radiate an energy and mindset that inspires me to be the best version of myself, everyone else I tune out. And for those who I can't tune out completely, I simply engage with less. 

Similarly, I do my best to audit out activities that either a don't help me improve or be don't help me recharge. So I have no problem playing video games for an hour. I think it's a great way to recharge. I don't always have to be reading books on tax laws or cold-calling clients. But weeding out activities that rob me of energy has been a step in the right direction. For example, I cut out a lot of social media consumption, because I actually don't believe it puts me in a healthy frame of mind. I never feel more alive just because I looked through Instagram for an hour. In fact, it robs me of energy. So I tried to leverage it as a content creator mostly as opposed to a content consumer. That has been a healthy audit. I've also dialed back the amount of sports that I watched because when I get into sports, I really get into it. I'm sort of like an addict where I have to look at the box scores. I got to watch the replays find out what people are saying after the game. That to me gets to enough

sense of place. And for me, I am looking for healthy distractions like working out reading, painting, playing golf, things that really make me happier. And I know if I spend less time on unhealthy practices, I can spend more time on the things that give me fulfillment. going full minimalist may not be your back. In fact, I wouldn't even consider myself to be a hardcore minimalist, but I do believe the principles can help a lot of people. And I know by auditing things out of your life, it might feel like something is being taken away. But personally, I would argue that is adding to the quality of your life. If you reduce your physical clutter, you can manufacture more space. If you reduce your professional clutter, you can manufacture more time. And if you reduce your personal clutter, you can manufacture more energy. And so that is going to wrap up this episode. Folks, I really do hope this helped you out in your journey. Big shout out to all you Artrepreneurs for tuning into the show and for sharing the content please keep it coming. let someone know to check this podcast out that would mean the absolute world to me. And I thank you all so much for tuning in. And I hope to see you guys next week.

Hey everybody, this is Michael Der thank you so much for making it all the way to the end of the episode. I hope you'll follow tag and engage with us on our Instagram account at @Artrepreneurspod. We've also launched our website Artrepreneurspod.com. It is the central hub where you can sign up for our newsletter, read our blog posts, send us voicemails, and even access discounts from our amazing affiliates. It's also the perfect spot to shout out entrepreneurs with what would be an immensely appreciated five-star rating and review. And if you're feeling extra generous, you can even make a small donation that's really going to help accelerate the growth of this podcast. But no matter what you do, folks, I just want to say thank you so much for supporting this program. There are a lot of great photography podcasts out there and I am just grateful to have gained your trust even for a moment. Take care everyone and see you next week.

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