Steve Jobs was famous for wearing a uniform - a black turtle neck and jeans. I don’t remember seeing a picture of him wearing anything else. His simplification helped reduce his decision fatigue. Simplification also allows us to level up, define priorities, and work on what is important.
I’m not the only one who wants to simplify things! The author and podcaster Marie Forleo has a saying “Simplify to Amplify.” She is referring to the fact that we need to do a few things well rather than trying to do everything. This is echoed in the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. He talks about “priority” rather than “priorities”. The Eisenhower Matrix asks you to look at what is important (and teaches that not everything is important)
What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important. Dwight Eisenhower
Simplification helps with making changes in our lives. In the Fogg Behavior Model, one part of the change model is ‘ability’ or how easy it is for you to do something new. If something is difficult to do, it’s less likely that you will do it. If something is simpler to do, it is more likely that you will do it.
How can you simplify your life?
1: Create deliberate habits and routines
You have a morning routine. It might be hitting snooze on your alarm 3 times, or it may be waking up prior to your alarm, making your bed, working out, or writing. I would guess that most people wake up, get dressed, and brush their teeth no matter who they are or what they are doing for the day. Having a deliberate habit and routine helps you get things you must get done (getting dressed and brushing your teeth). It can also provide some structure around things that are important to you (working out or writing).
2: Take an initial action
If you find yourself stalling on taking action, try asking yourself “Can I just…?”
…go to bed 15 minutes earlier
…drink an extra glass of water
…open the bills
…journal for 2 minutes
…open a Word document
It’s amazing how the smallest actions can be the most powerful at the moment!
3: Break down complex projects
Simplifications lets you take a project and break it down into simpler, easier tasks. Revamping your website might mean outlining what is there, sketching out how you want it to look, making it mobile-friendly, removing unnecessary content, improving navigation, hiring a design professional, taking an SEO course, and rewriting your about page. While revamping a website is a daunting task, rewriting your about page is much more doable.
4: Pare down your digital filing systems
I used to have a complex digital filing system, but the book Building a Second Brain bvy Tiago Forte shared a model that greatly simplifies everything. I like to put a number in front of the folder name for ease of sorting in the order I want it to.
01 - Projects
02 - Areas of Improvement
03 - Resources
04 - Archive
5: Reduce decision making
And there is evidence that reducing decision fatigue on small choices, such as what to wear or what to eat, can help preserve mental energy for things that are more important. Do you need to have a paired-down wardrobe like Steve Jobs? I'd say give it a try and see how it works!
I'd love to know! What are areas of your life that you have simplified or where could you benefit from simplification?
Are you looking for more ways to simplify? Let's chat.