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23 Sep

Make it simple

Datum: 2009-09-23 23:41

A con­sis­tent theme in cre­at­ing a good per­son­al or orga­ni­za­tion­al struc­ture is sim­pli­fi­ca­tion, to make things simpler. 

When things move too slow­ly for­ward and even when we get total­ly stuck, we and our busi­ness can get going and accel­er­ate eas­i­er if we make things simple.

But, how?

Here are six kinds of sim­plic­i­ty to utilize.

  1. Few instead of many

    When you write an e‑mail, how much can you sim­pli­fy by using few­er words than you usu­al­ly do, i.e. if you get right to the point and phrase what you want to con­vey short­ly and con­crete­ly? Often, you only need some back­ground infor­ma­tion and a clear request.

    In your prod­uct port­fo­lio, how few offer­ings could you pos­si­bly have? What would hap­pen if you focused on few­er prod­ucts, so that every vari­ety got more of your atten­tion than today?

    How much quick­er would you find what you are look­ing for if you had but one place for every kind of infor­ma­tion, e.g. one sin­gle place where you col­lect all infor­ma­tion about a cer­tain customer?

  2. Build on what you have instead of begin­ning from scratch

    When you write a let­ter, an offer or when you cal­cu­late a new pos­si­ble deal, at what extent do you write phras­es that you have already writ­ten before? How much could you sim­pli­fy if you used tem­plates that as much as pos­si­ble is already pre­pared, so that you fill in the unique infor­ma­tion rather than cre­ate the whole thing from a clean slate?

    Those tasks that you do on a recur­ring basis (though not very often), how much faster could you com­plete them if you had a check­list of the steps to walk through instead of every­time try­ing to remem­ber how the task was done the last time?

    When you are about to cre­ate some new text­ma­te­r­i­al of any kind, what of today’s exist­ing mate­r­i­al could you refine in order to not have to invent the wheel yet anoth­er time?

  3. A short while instead of for long

    What if you took one, short moment to start work­ing more effi­cient­ly (e.g. to start using to-do-lists, to start using a tick­ler file, to start using a tem­plate for tak­ing meet­ing notes)? You do not need a lot of spare time to enhance your pro­duc­tiv­i­ty so that you get more time at your dis­pos­al. Start with one, short moment once. If you are hooked, take anoth­er short moment soon.

    If you are about to do some­thing that you tend to pro­cras­ti­nate, decide to work max­i­mum five min­utes on the task, after which you are free to do some­thing else. When you are ready to, work five more min­utes. And then five more. Before you know it, you are done.

  4. Sub­tract instead of add

    Let’s pre­tend that you have a task that you think you ought to do, but you can not do it now, since you think you have to com­plete anoth­er task first. What would hap­pen if you refrain to do that oth­er task first and instead to the first men­tioned task imme­di­ate­ly? Could you live with the con­se­quences of this simplification?

    Are you doubt­ful about throw­ing away or sav­ing some­thing? Throw it away. If you want to be cer­tain, use a waste­bas­ket with return­ing rights”, a con­cept that I will present in a forth­com­ing post.

  5. Good enough now instead of per­fect from the start

    When you intend to cre­ate some­thing new and have a hard time get­ting start­ed, make a quick sketch first, con­tain­ing the most impor­tant com­po­nents. Lose the ambi­tion to cre­ate some­thing per­fect from the start. Cre­ate some­thing sim­ple now and refine it often.

    Do not hedge today for every pos­si­ble need in the future. Do some­thing quick, that you real­ly could use now and in the near future. You can not fore­see what will hap­pen beyond your con­trol before you will be able to uti­lize all those clever solu­tions to future prob­lems that you includ­ed from the beginning.

  6. Small instead of large

    Get going with at least some­thing of that gigan­tic task that lie before you and that you have got­ten stuck in. What small step can you take imme­di­ate­ly, that you will be able to com­plete in the next 60 minutes?

What is the small­est step that you could take right now? Take it.

There is always at least one sim­pler way to do any­thing. Seek it and find it.

How did you simplify?

What is the lat­est thing you made sim­ple and what effect did it have? E‑mail me at {encode=“” title=“”} and share your expe­ri­ences, or post a com­ment below. They are immense­ly valu­able for me and for oth­ers that I share my knowl­edge with.

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