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Why Simple Wins in This Complicated World

Why Simple Wins in This Complicated World

There are two kinds of people in the world: simplifiers, and complicators.

Complicators, they seem blind or fearful of simple solutions. Everything they do, they do it in the most difficult and complex manner. From a distance, this looks like they thrive on challenges.

Simplifiers, on the other hand, are the opposite. They avoid complications of any kind. They can be mistaken for people who only do the minimum amount of work needed to get by.

The difference between these two kinds of people becomes obvious when they are required to write an essay or report. Even if they are writing about the exact same thing, the complicator will write far more than the simplifier. From a distance it will look like the complicator wrote the better piece, after all, its longer, and possibly more detailed.

    However, it needs to be asked, does more automatically mean better?

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    More + Complex = Better?

    It’s human nature to want more, we find interest in the difficult and complex. When we get more of something, we feel it is strangely worthwhile.

    Our technological progress focuses a lot on more. For decades a phone was something used to call people. Now our phones are web browsers, cameras, gaming devices… When we see something that has many different uses and functions, we assume it is better than similar items.

    For example, would you buy a pencil that is great for drawing and writing, and comes with no other features, or a pencil that comes with lots of other features?

      Most of us would go with the second option, even though in many ways its the inferior.

      Complexity Is Appealing but Not Practical

      Complexity might make something seem more attractive, but the complications may actually subtract from something rather than add. It doesn’t help to make something effective. But complexity is easy, simple can be difficult to achieve.

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      Edsger W. Dijkstra, one of the founding fathers of modern computer programming said,

      “Simplicity is a great virtue but it requires hard work to achieve it and education to appreciate it. And to make matters worse: complexity sells better.”

      Great pieces of work only emerge when you take things away from it. For example, the Declaration of Independence was heavily edited by Benjamin Franklin before he officially released it.

      The first line originally read: “We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable…” 

      This is close to it, but there is something lacking. So Benjamin Franklin got rid of the last three words and replaced them with two.

      Soon it read: “We hold these truths to be self-evident”

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        The difference is immediate and striking in its precision.

        Simplicity Gets More Things Done

        If you begin to see the beauty and efficiency in simplicity, you’ll be clearer about the purpose of something and find problems less overwhelming.

        Think about that multi-feature pencil again, do we really need that many functions out of a pencil? No. What we truly need is a pencil that makes writing and drawing easy. It’s that simple.

          Simplifiers always look into seemingly complex problems, interpret them, break them into smaller parts and re-organize them.They are aware of unnecessary input of their work which may complicate anything. Their goal is to simplify a problem in order to be clear about the root cause of it and solve them in the simplest way, which saves cost and effort.

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          When you start to make things simple, you can improve your productivity and get closer to success. It all boils down to trimming away unnecessary weight and baggage from your life which slows you down.

          Make It Simple, but Significant

          So ask yourself: are you a simplifier or a complicator? If you think that you lean towards being a complicator, don’t worry, it’s not something permanent. It can be useful to go from a complicator to a simplifier. All you need to do is follow two core rules:

          1. A Clear Intention

          This might be obvious, but before you set out to do something, you should be 100% certain about exactly what it is you want to do. If there is any uncertainty, your lack of understanding will be manifested in useless extras and complications.

          2. Kill your Darlings

          The name of this comes from the great writer (and master simplifier) William Falkner. It boils down to this.

          If you’re working on something, and you do something great (perhaps write a fantastic sentence) in a project, and it doesn’t work with the rest, then you must get rid of it. Essentially, it doesn’t matter how you feel about something, if it doesn’t work with the core idea, you must get rid of it. Getting rid of bad stuff is easy, but it takes a pro to see great stuff and remove it for the greater good.

          Use this simple trick to decide what to keep and what to ditch: Must Have, Should Have, Good to Have. If it’s a must-have item, keep it; a should-have one, trim it; a good-to-have one only, consider deleting it.

          Simplification can massively increase your productivity, but this takes practice. If you want to learn more about simplifying, I recommend this article: How Being A Minimalist At Work Can Make You More Successful

          More by this author

          Leon Ho

          Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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          Last Updated on July 10, 2019

          30 Best Procrastination Quotes to Get You Back to Work

          30 Best Procrastination Quotes to Get You Back to Work

          What do your 3pm fridge raid and perfectly alphabetised bookshelf have in common?

          You most likely did both of them when you should have been doing work.

          Procrastination is one of the most human behaviours. We’re all guilty of putting off what we know is important from time to time, and it seems the more pressing the task at hand, the better we are at avoiding it.

          Sure, it means that every time we have an important deadline we end up with a spotlessly clean house and a completely empty inbox, but the real work gets left until the very last minute and is finished in a frenzy of stress and caffeine.

          But we can gain control over procrastination by noticing it as soon as possible and stopping it in its tracks. On the contrary, you know you have a bad habit when you’re aware you’re putting something off, and you continue avoiding it anyway.

          To start you off with combating procrastination, here are a few quotes to get you in a motivated frame of mind, because if procrastination has any enemies, it’s motivation to work harder.

          A Few Home Truths

            “Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well.”
            ― Mark Twain


            “It is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end.”
            ― Leonardo da Vinci


            “Someday is not a day of the week.”
            ― Janet Dailey


            “Success is not obtained overnight. It comes in instalments; you get a little bit today, a little bit tomorrow until the whole package is given out. The day you procrastinate, you lose that day’s success.”
            ― Israelmore Ayivor


            “The man who waits to know everything is the man who never does anything.”
            ― Craig D. Lounsbrough


            “Procrastination is like going to a fancy restaurant and filling up on bread and not leaving enough room for dinner.”
            ― Richie Norton, The Power of Starting Something Stupid: How to Crush Fear, Make Dreams Happen, and Live without Regret


            “Procrastination is the lazy cousin of fear. When we feel anxiety around an activity, we postpone it.”
            ― Noelle Hancock, My Year with Eleanor


            “Doing things at the last minute reminds us of the importance of doing things at the first minute.”
            ― Matshona Dhliwayo


            “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”
            ― Abraham Lincoln


            “A day can really slip by when you’re deliberately avoiding what you’re supposed to do.”
            ― Bill Watterson, There’s Treasure Everywhere


            “By what right do I, who have wasted this day, make claims on tomorrow?”
            ― Alain-Fournier, Le Grand Meaulnes


            “If you want to get ahead in life, I’ve found that perhaps the most useless word in the world is “tomorrow.”
            ― José N. Harris


            Some Practical Advice

              “If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don’t just stick there scowling at the problem. But don’t make telephone calls or go to a party; if you do, other people’s words will pour in where your lost words should be. Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient.”
              ― Hilary Mantel


              “Thinking too much leads to paralysis by analysis. It’s important to think things through, but many use thinking as a means of avoiding action.”
              ― Robert Herjavec, The Will To Win: Leading, Competing, Succeeding


              “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone”
              ― Pablo Picasso


              “It is only by working the rituals, that any significant degree of understanding can develop. If you wait until you are positive you understand all aspects of the ceremony before beginning to work, you will never begin to work.”
              ― Lon Milo DuQuette, The Magick of Aleister Crowley: A Handbook of the Rituals of Thelema


              “Do first what you don’t want to do most.”
              ― Clifford Cohen


              “How often do you find yourself saying, “In a minute”, “I’ll get to it” or “Tomorrow’s good enough” and every other possible excuse in the book? Compare it with how often you decide it’s got to be done, so let’s get on and do it! That should tell you just how serious your procrastinating problem really is.”
              ― Stephen Richards, The Secret of Getting Started: Strategies to Triumph over Procrastination


              “How to stop procrastinating starts with believing you can overcome procrastination.”
              ― Robert Moment, How to Stop Procrastinating


              “Never put things off…you will wake up and find them gone.”
              ― James Jones


              Some Tough Love

                “Do something instead of killing time. Because time is killing you.”
                ― Paulo Coelho, Aleph


                “If you take too long in deciding what to do with your life, you’ll find you’ve done it.”
                ― George Bernard Shaw


                “If you want to get ahead in life, I’ve found that perhaps the most useless word in the world is “tomorrow.”
                ― José N. Harris


                “What is deferred is not avoided.”
                ― Thomas More


                “Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work”
                ― Chuck Close


                “If you always do what is easy and choose the path of least resistance, you never step outside your comfort zone. Great things don’t come from comfort zones.”
                ― Roy Bennett


                “Your ideas have legs and just as they run through your head, they could be running through someone else’s head and it’s just a matter of who gets to the finish line first. Nothing is new under the sun so act on your ideas.”― Sanjo Jendayi


                “You may not be punished for your procrastination, but for sure you will be punished by your procrastination.”
                ― Debasish Mridha


                When You Need Pulling out of Procrastination

                  “Time is an equal opportunity employer. Each human being has exactly the same number of hours and minutes every day. Rich people can’t buy more hours. Scientists can’t invent new minutes. And you can’t save time to spend it on another day. Even so, time is amazingly fair and forgiving. No matter how much time you’ve wasted in the past, you still have an entire tomorrow.”
                  ― Denis Waitley


                  “A year from now you may wish you had started today.”
                  ― Karen Lamb


                  Print these quotes out, stick them on the wall in front of your desk – do whatever it takes to remember why you shouldn’t be putting your work off, or getting distracted by a desire to rearrange your socks into colour order.

                  It won’t be easy, but being aware of how detrimental procrastination is to your longer-term goals is the first step towards overcoming it.

                  More Motivational Quotes

                  Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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