The hardest thing to do is to simplify. This is especially true today with a shiny new object bouncing along every few seconds. We are all exposed to enough information in one week that could crash a laptop. It is interesting that while most information is not read, scrolling through headlines takes its toll on the ability to focus. A vicious cycle is born as it becomes harder to focus on one thing. Think about your typical day. How much concentrated time do you spend on any one topic? Is it harder for you to read through 2 paragraphs without distracting yourself or wondering, “what did I just read?”
Without focus, it is more difficult to simplify!
Keeping things simple means you have taken the time to clarify what is most important, what you really want, what you want to focus on now.
One reason TED talks are so powerful and enjoyed so much is because they take a big idea and discuss it in 18 minutes. It takes much more time to write or speak concisely. You have to be very clear about what your message is.
This month we are focused on simplifying – everything. What is so powerful is when you begin this process, whether it is simplifying at work or at home, the impact is contagious! You will begin to also think differently and changes will show up for you everywhere!
Where do I start?
Whether I am coaching executives or working with an entire department, I rely on the principles of Kaizen. This Japanese word means “change for the good,” and is based on small incremental changes that ultimately produce very large and significant results. Too often this approach is not taken seriously because the challenges seem so big and complex. Simplifying is one of the benefits of using Kaizen.
To answer the question where do you start, here are 3 basic rules:
- Start small.
- Be consistent.
- Monitor and measure.
In today’s complex world, simple is usually confused with inferior, amateurish, inadequate and then discounted. This is usually because there is a habit of distractions creating a false of urgency. This artificially inflates problems, stimulates the stress reaction and sets up a distorted perception. The urgency complicates the ability to clearly identify priorities. Everything feels big, so a big complex solution must be required, right?
[tweet_box design=”box_09″]Keeping things simple means you have taken the time to clarify what is most important, what you really want, what you want to focus on now[/tweet_box]
Does this sound familiar?
Let’s look at Step 1: Start small. When you think about keeping things simple, start with one area, one behavior and make a change. Let’s say, you want to get up earlier but you end up staying up late at night. Map out your behavior from the time you get up in the morning and the time you finally roll into bed. Draw this out on a piece of paper. As you look at that, what choice or behavior, makes the biggest impact in the course of the day? Do you have a cup of coffee at 2p that ends up revving your energy so much that you have a hard time going to sleep at the right time to get up in the morning? Change that one thing – only.
Now you are at Step 2: Be consistent. Everyday for 2 weeks you have to give up that coffee.
Step 3: Monitor and measure is the step where you keep track of how this choice changed the outcome for you. Did it make a difference? In what way? Are you getting up earlier? Maybe you realized something else and gained additional insights?
To start your simplification process, use the 3 steps and just get going! There is no failure, simply learning. You may start to attract attention because you will be calmer, more observant, filled with ideas and wisdom. This is what we call, “getting your zen on!”
Stay tuned for more articles this month on Simple Communication, Simplifying your Management Style and Simplifying Life especially when it is chaotic. We will share tips, tricks and tools to keep it simple and experience greater success.
Cynthia Howard RN, CNC, PhD is a Performance Expert, working with executives and organizations to implement everyday process improvement using a high performance roadmap. Schedule your complimentary consultation.