In my life, I have always tried to be great at what I do. I have tried to be a great son, husband, father, and professional. Many times I have succeeded and others, I could have done better. The journey to giving the best of me is fun and rewarding, while at times being stressful and overwhelming.
As I look back to the most rewarding times, there was always a sense of easiness and completeness, such as the time when I was on vacation, playing tag and trying to catch squirrels (which is impossible and maybe not recommended) with my 9-year old daughter and my 4-year old son. At the end of the day, my daughter told me “that was awesome”, and my son said “yeah, you are super fun daddy.” That made all the huff and puff worth it!
On the other hand, the most stressful and overwhelming times usually involved a feeling of apprehension. Such as those times when there is a big task at hand, at home or work, and I don’t necessarily know where to start.
When I look at both the rewarding and stressful moments in my life, I realize that the undercurrent that makes a situation tilt to either end of the balance is the level of simplicity with which I approach the situation. Keeping things simple helps me enjoy the journey more and usually results in better outcomes. Because of this, I have promised to practice simplicity as much as I can. The following are some lessons I have learned in my practice of keeping it simple.
Simplicity is about doing:
Writing a blog post or embarking on a big project could be overwhelming to many. Thinking about how to approach a task is necessary, but what is not necessary is allowing your analysis to paralyze action. Give yourself a certain amount of time for analysis. If you go beyond that time, then, just start. Even if the initial product does not meet your standards, starting your project might lead to better ideas and will get you one step closer to your end product.
Simplicity is also about not doing:
A simple approach to action requires both a short to-do list and a stop-doing list. Define what a priority is and is not, select some of each, and focus on just doing your priorities and delegating non-priorities to your calendar or others.
Simplicity is about managing energy and focus:
Keeping things simple is easier when your batteries are charged and when you can devote your full attention to the task at hand. Some people are morning persons and some can work better in the afternoon. Organize your day based on your energy cycle. Schedule your more complex tasks when you have the energy to deal with them. Minimize distractions and stay present. If you remembered to do something, write it down and attend to it later.
Simplicity isn’t as simple as it sounds but it is more powerful than it seems
Sometimes taking many parts and putting them together in a more simplified way can be hard. However, doing so can have a positive impact on you and the people around you. Think of a ballet dancer who learns many complicated moves. Once mastered, her movements become beautiful lines for the enjoyment of others. Think of a book author who spends days and nights doing research for his book, to then write his work in ways that others can understand. Or think of an HR professional who spends many hours trying to understand an issue, to then elicit the best solution possible. The irony of simplicity is that it takes work to make it worth it. Hopefully, the first three lessons will help you make it easy hard work.
When I got up that morning to play with my kids, I was thinking about the many things we could do together that day. Before it became hard to decide what to do first, I just let go. I decided to make things simple for me and my kids by just committing to have fun, leaving my cell phone behind, and going to the park across the street. Hard at first, but so worth it!
If you are an expert or novice in keeping it simple, please share your thoughts on what’s worked for you.