No matter what kind of work you do, the following will help you focus and simplify how you do it.
Set clear, specific goals.
The first step to simplifying your work is to be clear on its purpose.
Clear, specific goals enable a strategic approach, limit distractions, and cut down on the things that unnecessarily complicate your work.
For example, if your goal is to “sell copies” of a book you wrote the work that goes into doing so could easily drift off in a ton of different directions.
But if you define your goal as “to sell 1,000 copies of your book in the next three months,” it will lead you to generate a more streamlined, simplified plan to do so.
The specificity of a goal guides your tactics and helps you simplify your plan. It also ultimately helps you succeed.
Work complications are often a direct result of attempts to spin stories around what we do.
The truth is usually simple. It’s our embellishments and excuses that complicate things.
Don’t lie to yourself or others. Don’t make your work seem better, bigger, or worse than it is.
The more honest you are about your work, the more simple it becomes.
Ignore the rules.
Most rules complicate things.
They create hurdles and obstacles we have to navigate in our work. They turn straight line projects into labyrinths we must navigate.
But most “rules” aren’t actually rules.
What we consider to be rules are often just a set of expectations from others about how things are typically done — they’re rarely the only way things can be done.
If you have the courage to ignore the conventional wisdom, you’ll often find simpler ways to produce results.
While ignoring rules can free you up, it can also overwhelm you. So it’s just as important to create your own constraints around what you do.
When you create your own set of constraints— based on time, resources, or scope— you limit options and distractions.
Constraints force focus and illuminate a clear path to success. They simplify.
Constraints don’t only breed creativity — they also spark simplicity.
Don’t expect to do it all.
No matter who you are or what you do, you can’t do it all.
There will always be more things you want to do than you have time and resources available to do them.
When you acknowledge this, you free yourself up to simplify.
Because the less you obsess over the things you can’t do, the more you can focus on the things you can.
To simplify your work, you must learn to identify and ignore its ancillary elements and the first step to doing so is to recognize not every element of everything needs to be done.