Advertising
Advertising

Published on November 14, 2017

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?

    Advertising

    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.

      Advertising

      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”

      Advertising

        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.

          Advertising

          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

          What Is Procrastination (And the Complete Guide to Stop Procrastinating) Secrets to Organizing Thoughts and Ideas (So You’ll Never Lose Ideas!) How to Achieve Goals and Increase Your Chance of Success Why Do I Procrastinate? 5 Evil Root Causes And How To Tackle Them Forget Learning How to Multitask: Boost Productivity 10X More with Focus

          Trending in Smartcut

          1What Is Procrastination (And the Complete Guide to Stop Procrastinating) 2How Productive People Compartmentalize Time to Get the Most Done 317 Types of Online Work at Home Jobs that Really Pay Off 421 Cover Letter Tips to Hook The Attention of Employers 5How to Quit Your Job That You Hate and Start Doing What You Love

          Read Next

          Advertising
          Advertising

          Last Updated on July 19, 2018

          What Is Procrastination (And the Complete Guide to Stop Procrastinating)

          What Is Procrastination (And the Complete Guide to Stop Procrastinating)

          If you have so many things to do that you often find yourself struggling to finish projects and tasks and move on to other stuff, you’re certainly not alone. Studies show that over 20 percent of the adult population put off or avoid doing certain tasks by allowing themselves to be overtaken by distractions.[1]

          What about the rest of the population? What do they do to prevent procrastination?

          In this article, I am going to explain to you why procrastination is so difficult to beat and how you can stop procrastinating once and for all by following a step-by-step guide. But first, you need to understand how procrastination happens.

          What is procrastination

          Piers Steel, the author of the book The Procrastination Equation: How to Stop Putting Things Off and Start Getting Stuff Done, defines procrastination in this way:[2]

          “Procrastination is to voluntarily delay an intended course of action despite expecting to be worse off for the delay.”

          In other words, procrastination is doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones. The end result is that important tasks are put off to a later time.

          This comic is one of the typical examples of procrastination:

            Why stopping procrastination is difficult

            Human beings have limited self-control. Dr. Roy Baumeister, a psychologist from Florida State University, has been studying self-control and he has found that just like any muscles, human’s self-control is a limited resource that can quickly become exhausted.[3] When self-control is close to being depleted, human tend to choose what’s more pleasurable– the immediate procrastinated tasks instead of the actual works.

            At its core, procrastination is an avoidance strategy. Procrastinators choose to do something else instead of doing what they need to do because it’s much easier to choose pleasure over pain.

            In short, procrastination is so difficult to beat because it is a battle against human’s natural enemy, a human weakness that is in-born.

            Advertising

            A step-by-step guide to stop procrastinating

            Despite the fact that it’s human nature to seek for immediate rewards and procrastinate, here I have a step-by-step guide for you to follow so as to stop procrastinating.

            1. Identify your triggers: the 5 types of procrastinator

            Identifying the type of procrastination you personally experience is an essential step for you to fix the problem at its root.

            Take a look at this flowchart here to find out what type of procrastinator you are:

              Which type of procrastinator are you? Let’s take a look at the triggers for your procrastination type:

              Perfectionist

              Being perfect is the pleasure perfectionists want. But often this leads to them being too scared to show any imperfections. Because of this, they frequently fail to complete things, as they’re forever seeking the perfect timing or approach. Tasks end up never being completed, because in the eyes of the perfectionist, things are never perfect enough.

              Instead of finishing something, perfectionists get caught up in a never-ending cycle of additions, edits, and deletions.

              Ostrich

              An ostrich prefers to stay in the dreaming stage. That way, they don’t have to work for real, or deal with any negativity or stress.

              Dreaming gives this type of people a false sense of achievement, as in their minds, they envision big, ambitious plans. Unfortunately for them, these plans will most likely stay as dreams, and they’ll never accomplish anything truly worthwhile.

              Self-saboteur

              A self-saboteur has bought into the line that ‘by doing nothing, bad things won’t happen.’

              In reality, self-saboteurs have developed a fear of making mistakes or doing anything wrong. Their way to avoid these mishaps, is to do nothing at all. In the end, they may make few mistakes – but they also see few accomplishments.

              Advertising

              Daredevil

              Daredevils are those who believe that deadlines can push them to do better. Instead of having a schedule to complete their work – they prefer to enjoy time doing their own thing before the deadline comes around.

              It’s most likely an unconscious thing, but daredevils evidently believe that starting early will sacrifice their time for pleasure. This is reinforced in their minds and feelings, by the many times they manage to get away with burning the midnight oil. Often they sacrifice the quality of their work because of rushing it.

              Chicken

              Chickens lack the ability to prioritize their work. They do what they feel like they should do, rather than thinking through what they really need to do.

              Prioritizing tasks is a step that takes extra time, so chicken will feel it’s not worth it. Because of this, they usually end up doing a lot of effortless tasks that don’t contribute much to a project. They’re incessantly busy on low-impact tasks, but seem oblivious to urgent, high-impact tasks.

              2. Face your triggers and get rid of them

              Whether it’s fear of failure, overwhelming feelings, avoidance or convincing yourself you’re just too busy to get something done, you can improve your ability to be productive by eliminating your procrastination triggers.

              For Perfectionists, re-clarify your goals.

              Much of the time procrastination tendencies form simply because we’ve outgrown our goals. We’re ever-changing and so are our wants in life. Try looking over your goals and ask yourself if they’re still what you want.

              Take time out to regroup and ask yourself what you really want to achieve:

              • What steps do you need to take?
              • Is what you’re currently doing reflecting what you want?
              • What do you need to change?

              Write things down, scribble them out and rewrite.

              For Ostriches, do the difficult tasks first.

              Even if you feel you’re not a morning person, the beginning of the day is when your brain is most productive. Use this window of time to get the more difficult stuff done.

              If you leave your difficult tasks to later, you’re much more likely to put it off because you’re tired and lack motivation.

              Finishing lots of simple tasks at the beginning of the day such as reading all the new emails only gives you a false sense of being productive.

              Advertising

              For Self-saboteurs, write out a to-do (and a not–to-do) list each day.

              Writing things down is powerful and psychologically increases your need to get things done.

              Each day, make a habit of creating a list of the tasks you know you’ll try and avoid. By doing this, it brings these ‘difficult’ tasks to your mind’s attention instead of keeping them locked away somewhere in your avoidance mode.

              Remember, think how satisfying and productive it feels to cross of a completed task.

              For Daredevils, create a timeline with deadlines.

              It’s common to have a deadline for a goal which seems like a good idea. But this is basically an open invitation for procrastination.

              If it’s a self-created deadline with no pressure, we tend to justify pushing it back each time it comes into sight and feel we haven’t yet done ‘enough’ to get there.

              Create a bigger timeline then within that, establish deadlines along the way. The beauty of this comes when each deadline completion is dependent on the next. It keeps you on track and keeps you accountable for being in alignment with the overall timeline.

              For Chickens, break tasks into bite-sized pieces.

              A lot of the time procrastination comes from overwhelming thoughts.

              If something feels too big to tackle and we don’t know where to start, it feels like a struggle. This is also true if our goal is too vague and lacking direction.

              Break down larger tasks into smaller ones and turn them into daily or weekly goals. Smaller steps may seem like the slower approach to achieving a goal, but it often leads you much more quickly to where you want to be due to the powerful momentum you get going.

              3. Take planned breaks

              The human brain isn’t designed to work continuously on the same task and this could be a reason for procrastination.

              Make sure you take regular, structured breaks away from your task so that you can come back refreshed and ready to be more productive.

              Advertising

              A break as short as 5 minutes is enough to keep your mind sharp and wards off fatigue. I recommend you to use the Pomodoro Time Tracker. It is a great tool to help you take breaks at set intervals. Simply start the 25-minute timer, and follow the prompts.

                4.  Reward yourself

                It’s important to acknowledge and reward yourself for achieving even the small tasks. It creates a sense of motivation and releases those feel-good, productive emotions that spur you on to achieve even more.

                Make your reward proportional to the task you completed so getting a bite-sized task done gets you a cup of your favourite coffee or snack. Then plan a weekend away or fun activity for the bigger stuff.

                Personally I try to make staying focus more fun by using the app Forest. It turns productivity into a game. In the game, you can plant a virtual tree at the beginning of your work time. If you maintain focus for the duration of the timer, you’ll grow a tree to add to your forest. It’s rewarding when you can eventually grow a forest.

                  5. Keep track of your time in a smart way

                  If you want to prevent the bad habit of procrastination from coming back, keep track of the time you spend every day.

                  By having a clear idea of where you spend your time, you can always review your productivity and know which areas to improve.

                  It’s not easy to keep track of every minute you spend throughout the day so I recommend you to use the app Rescue Time.

                  It gets you a categorized breakdown of how you spend your time and helps you to find out how much time you’re really on-task. You can even label activities as productive and non-productive so as to block your biggest distractions.

                    Make procrastination under your control

                    Procrastination exists for many reasons and only you know for yourself what these triggers are.

                    Understanding what procrastination really is and the source of your avoidance tendencies is important in moving them out of the way and help you start the productivity momentum.

                    Reference

                    Read Next