Operation Simplification

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

Being honest, the fast pace of this world is starting to wear on me.  And according to Ray Kurzweil, the pace of change is expanding exponentially.  Ouch.  Things are going to get faster?  I can see why Yoga, Mindfulness, Soul Retreats and Vacations are so revered by those who get to enjoy them.

While I am a type-A, goal driven, never-slows-down Taurus, I have vowed to simplify this year.  Perhaps that is my reaction to a crazy last year of opening a new office, starting a blog, finishing my MBA, redoing my basement, getting a puppy, merging my business, or maybe it is just a sign of my maturity as I reluctantly approach middle age (well not that reluctantly because I suppose the alternative to aging is death).

So, what is simplification?  Not sweating the small stuff?  Saying no more often?  Not taking on any new responsibilities?  Not engaging in any new capital projects?  Limiting the constant brain activity that results from obsessive technology use?  Restricting the kid’s activities to my tolerances, not theirs?  Knowing my limits and being disciplined about maintaining them?

I believe that simplification is FOCUS.  Successful people focus their time on the things they are good at or love, they set boundaries, and participate in the intriguing, high reward things they find intellectually, physically, and spiritually uplifting.  Everything else is left behind.  So if you find yourself searching for the next thing, seeking out endless possibility, tangentially changing your mind or direction, perhaps happiness is actually in front of you, simple and clean, but the clutter you are creating in your efforts is clouding your view.

Zenhabits has some wonderful pointers for simplification (see them here).  My favorites include:

  1. Make a list of the top 4-5 most important things in your life.  These should dictate your schedule.
  2. Evaluate your commitments.  Do these align with # 1?
  3. Evaluate your time.  Keep track of this to see how you spend your day.  Do these align with # 1?
  4. Limit communications (personally I am bad at over-communicating.  This year I am making a solid effort to restrict this and to set boundaries – especially with email).
  5. Limit your spending.  Less spending means less stuff.  Less stuff means less clutter.  Less clutter means simple.  I am up for that.

So, contrary to my usual habit of writing down my long and exhaustive list of goals for the year, this year the list is decidedly simple.  In the end, as Zenhabits suggests, I am going to evaluate what is most important to me and try to eliminate everything else.


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