We know that the world in which we live is complex. Yet, much that we do need not have complexity. Somewhere in our development, especially after years of education, we come up with complicated ways to do many things. To get back to doing things in simple ways may, therefore, be a bigger challenge to the way we see and lead our lives than we first imagined. I have spent a lot of time thinking over the past few weeks: thinking, however, is one activity that can create complexity, but I have been striving to find some simplifications to things.
Simplicity comes more easily if you have a good understanding of what you are doing; that way, you can reduce many aspects to some bare elements. Simple also comes more if you work in a realm of probable, rather than possible, outcomes. When it comes to activities, simple also often reflects a good amount of mental preparation: that helps reduce the degree to which likely events knock you off track. There will still be shocks and surprises, but they should be rare and need to be accounted for.
Simple also means reducing distractions. More distractions exist than we often want to recognize. Last week, workmen were building in the area where I usually work–in part, making a proper office area. They were not making much noise, but their presence was not helpful. I should have just shut down operations for a few days, but that seemed more than I should have to do. I have also had a peculiar distraction in that the basement area in which I work seems to be very cold, so as the outside temperature has risen, I’ve noticed more how cold my working area has been. Dressing for winter in the spring is a common thing in this area, but I hope I don’t have to do it all year round just to get my work done. I used to have to work in an office with constant interruptions, but now–working at home, and perhaps being older–interruptions seem more of an intrusion.
We often confuse the ‘simple life’ with a life where little happens. Like ducks, the truth is that a lot of work has to be done, often unseen and unheralded, for the simple to take place.
Simple also means having a plan, or at least some clear ideas of what is to be done and the objectives. Many of us fall down on this, by starting with a plan but modifying it along the way.
Simplicity make come more easily with a sense of humour: laughing off the many things that appear to conspire against doing something simply may be a valuable reaction. In the middle of my morning trading, did I need to be taken away to try to fix a washing machine that had stopped working? It broke my focus, and led me to rethink how I was going to proceed. I put on a wry smile 🙂 and pondered if it was really a good thing to try to work from home.
I admire people who, from the comments they make and the actions they take, appear to have mastered the simple ways of doing things. Unfortunately, simplicity does not come in a bottle or packet, and is not easily administered.