Simplicity

by Mark Forster

This chapter is a free excerpt from The Pathway to Awesomeness.

July 22, 2009

I think that one of the tendencies that most of us have to fight against is the tendency to overcomplicate things. I’ve tried with all my time management systems to design them so that they are as simple as possible and require minimum “props.” Yet I’ve noticed that one of the first thing that happens when I issue a new system is that an army of people descend on it and think up ways to make it more complicated.

What are the advantages of simplicity versus complexity?


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July 22, 2009

I think that one of the tendencies that most of us have to fight against is the tendency to overcomplicate things. I’ve tried with all my time management systems to design them so that they are as simple as possible and require minimum “props.” Yet I’ve noticed that one of the first thing that happens when I issue a new system is that an army of people descend on it and think up ways to make it more complicated.

What are the advantages of simplicity versus complexity?

To answer that, just think of a few things which people by and large really hate:

  • Software manufacturers who, instead of ironing out the bugs in the basic functionality of their products, keep on adding more and more functions which most people never use
  • Politicians who keep producing more and more laws in an effort to solve problems which they created in the first place
  • Being asked to provide the same information over and over again

Then think of a few simple solutions which suddenly cut through all the complexity:

  • The Amazon “One-Click” ordering system
  • The “point and shoot” digital camera
  • The Clickfree backup system, in which you just plug in an external hard disk to start the backup and unplug it when it’s finished

Please note that a simple system for the user may be in fact be the result of a very complex process. To produce any of these three examples of simplicity required a lot of thought and a lot of very sophisticated technology. But because the manufacturers were thinking, “How simple can we make this?” the end result was something that revolutionizes its field.

So a good question to keep asking yourself is, “How simple can I make my life/my business/this particular project”? This is not “simple” as in living in a cave eating vegetables, but “simple” as in, “makes it easier to do it than not to do it,” or, “makes it easier to do it right than to do it wrong.”

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