Simply Better

I’ve been reading recently about simplicity. Last week I also set up a wireless computer network in my home. That was anything but simple for me; I was raised in a household where wireless networking meant “Silver, run upstairs and tell your father dinner’s ready.”

My technology struggles have set me to pondering complexity, too. It strikes me that we humans have a veritable knack for escalating simple matters into stupendously knotty issues. In a million different ways, we effortlessly make mountains out of molehills.

On the other hand, we seem sorely lacking in the ability to reduce complicated issues to manageable size.

Ernst F. Schumacher, the German-born British economist of Small Is Beautiful fame, sums up our plight this way: “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex and more violent. It takes a touch of genius—and a lot of courage—to move in the opposite direction.”

A good first step in the opposite direction is to ask, “What am I complicating in my existence that I could simplify, thereby making my life less hectic and my work easier?”

The Law of Attraction decrees that whatever you focus on, you receive more of it. That includes discomfort and trouble. Ever notice that the more you tiptoe around a short-tempered co-worker, the more nervous you feel when you must deal with that person?

By the same token, focusing on any positive aspect of relations between you liberates you mentally and emotionally to see and take steps to create a more favorable atmosphere. The situation grows simpler, you grow calmer and your work grows more enjoyable.

For big dividends, try simplifying some of the little things in your life that vex you the most.

I once coached a man who always arrived late to work. He couldn’t organize himself to leave his house with sufficient time for his commute. The merest glitch—mismatched socks, or a confused pat down of all his pockets in search of his car keys—disrupted his timetable completely.

Enormous complications grew out of this man’s failure to simplify his morning exit.

His tardiness angered his boss and earned him repeated reprimands. Feeling guilty, he couldn’t concentrate on his duties. From the moment when he belatedly walked into his office, he was set to fall farther and farther behind in his day’s work.

Unnecessarily, my client had made earning his living a frenzied, grueling trial.
Similarly, most of us torture ourselves with our own self-created complications.
The solution for my client was to make a basic checklist and lay out his clothes, keys, briefcase and other belongings the night before. His goal was to depart 10 minutes earlier than absolutely needed to get to work comfortably. A simplified departure routine reduced his stress and anxiety, and on mornings when he was ready with time to spare, he was able to page leisurely through the paper and savor his coffee. Needless to say, his boss was happier, too.

Take time to simplify something complex in your daily doings. I don’t know where you stand on whether small is beautiful in economics, but in life, simpler is better.

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