For a while now I try to keep things simple. That means I try to avoid unnecessary additional overhead to what I do, have or I’m in relationship with. I feel like this is one of the very best productivity habits to have.
But I noticed that in order to build the simplicity habit, you have to develop one particular skill.
What Does Simple Mean (and What Not)?
When I say simple I realize that this can be misunderstood. Simple doesn’t mean just less of something (at least in the way I like to think of it). Simple means reduced to it’s essence.
When something is reduced to it’s essence you couldn’t take anything more away without crippling its very nature. It also means that anything you would add is essentially unnecessary and would only really create clutter.
It takes a lot of intelligence to reach that essential state from where things just flow.
Why All Good Things Are Simple
Nature is simple (in the was I defined simple above) and works perfectly.
Usually everything we create goes through an evolution, or through a cycle of development until the process comes to rest. This is usually the essential state, where it nears perfection for it’s purpose.
When you try and learn something new there is usually a lot of seemingly chaotic input. It’s hard to separate relevant or even essential from irrelevant. Then you learn more and start to set the pieces of the puzzle together. Eventually you can arrive at the master stage, where you just know.
You know when something is not relevant for you (or your project) and you focus only on what is important. This is the state of simplicity.
The Skill for Being Simple
The one skill to develop is to see the essence. What does that mean?
It means that you see and understand on a deeper level. You see the nature of things and understand what is essential and what is not. Therefore you can move yourself in harmony with what you want.
1. When you are confronted with a new situation, try to ask yourself the questions: “What is the essence of that? What is the deeper meaning? What is the nature of it? What’s the perfect state for it?”
2. These questions can be complemented with “How does this fit into what I already know and what I want? Is it essential (for what I want)?”
Reflecting even more on that I just noticed that the process is very intuitive. Sometimes you can just sense if something is essential for you or not.
In my post The Simplicity Guide to Live a Simple Life I already wrote about the ways to simplify your life.
Using the “Simplicity Skill”
This surprisingly helps a lot for instance in business strategy. Because by focussing on the essence of your business you’ll seek to improve it to it’s own simplified state. This also defines a unique purpose of your business and moves it to a place where it can serve it’s customers to it’s best ability.
In that sense business is interchangeable with your job, your hobby, your house or anything you would like to move nearer to it’s essence, it’s predefined purpose.