The Value of Simplicity

We live in a world where everyone around us is seeking to fill up their lives with as much work, entertainment and leisure as they can. They cram it all back-to-back, over-commit themselves and then frantically run around until they burn themselves out. They complicate their lives, seeking 'more' by trying to do more.

The technology that helps us run our lives makes it much easier to schedule in and keep track of all these things that we commit to. We can drop it into our smartphone calendar, slot it in right alongside something else, and feel that we can do it because it fits. With all the benefits that this technology brings, there are the drawbacks. These drawbacks, we must ensure we remain aware of.

A simple 2017

One of the 'keywords' that I have chosen for 2017 is 'simplicity'. I use these keywords as a foundation to govern and remind me of what activities I should be choosing and committing to; of what I should be focusing on. These keywords also serve as a reminder of what I should not be committing precious time to. Before putting anything into my calendar, I ask, "does this activity or would-be time commitment fit with my keyword(s)?"

If the answer is no, then I say no!

Saying no

It is easy to say 'yes' to things without thinking; looking at the desirable result or outcome, but failing to comprehend or remember the effort and energy that would be spent on getting there. It is for this reason that it is imperative that we learn to say 'no'. Saying 'no' is the foundation of simplicity. It is not always easy to say no. Your boss may not be receptive to such an answer, or you may even want to do what is being asked of you. For simplicity and focus' sake though, you need to learn how to say no.

It's not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential. -Bruce Lee

What does simplicity mean?

Simplicity should not be confused or associated with words such as 'mere', 'sparse', or 'lacking'. These are words that carry a negative vibe. The English Oxford Living Dictionary defines simplicity as:

"The quality or condition of being easy to understand or do; The quality or condition of being plain or uncomplicated in form or design; A thing that is plain or uncomplicated."

By allowing 'simplicity' to govern our lives, we find ways to discard the unwanted and unnecessary; an opportunity to uncomplicate our lives and focus on what is important and a priority. If we do not allow this principle to govern our lives, we may find ourselves spread thinly and feeling unaccomplished. We might find there is too much going on. We might not be achieving what we want in our family life or our careers. We might feel that we have a poor work-life balance.

How to simplify your life

  • Consider and note down what you truly want to achieve in your life over the next 5 or 10 years.
  • Write down 4 or 5 keywords that help you focus on those ambitions.
  • Ensure you use those keywords to govern your choice of activities and what you put into your diary or calendar.
  • Say no to anything that does not align with your keywords, or which do not help you in the pursuit of your ambition.

What about those things that just need doing?

There are things that need doing in our lives, that do not help us achieve our goals and ambitions. They may complicate our lives (by making it unnecessarily busier), and they are a waste of time. Cleaning the kitchen, washing the car, going grocery shopping, mowing the lawn, etc.. All of these things take up precious time. However, the one thing that all of us have an equal allocation of is time. You've heard it before, it's how you spend that time that counts.

Your time has a value attached to it. If you can be paid £50 an hour for your work, and the demand for your work outstrips the time you have available, you might consider giving those jobs to somebody else to do. Welcome to outsourcing!

Outsourcing to help you simplify

I used to wash my car about once a month. It'd usually take over an hour once I'd gotten out my garden hose and a filled up a soapy bucket. Then, one day, I found a local company doing a hand car wash for £3. They had superior equipment (a jet wash), buckets and soap ready, and a team of people doing it. They could do it in about 8 minutes whilst I sat in my car and made calls or responded to clients. I usually drive past this place at least once a week, so it wasn't consuming time by making a detour. In a basic way, I outsourced one of my chores. It needed doing but it wasted over an hour a month of my time. For £3, I gained back time and was able to work on more important pursuits, that paid me more.

Seth Proges writes more about outsourcing your life over at Forbes.

In conclusion

You've heard the old age adage, that less is more! For me, Bruce Lee describes this perfectly in his famous saying:

"It's not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential."

Remove what you do not need from your life, choose your activities wisely, and focus on what you are after. Pay someone else to do things that do not further your cause. To put it simply, anything you do that does not help you in your pursuits, is a waste of time! So, simplify, simplify, simplify!

Matt Chan

I'm a Digital Marketer living and working in the UK. I write about Business, Startups, Marketing, Web, and Self-Improvement. I strive to be learning always, and then share that with others.

Birmingham, United Kingdom