Small Decisions Matter.

The ability to make decisions, like every other ability can be viewed like a muscle.  A muscle must be used for it to grow and to not atrophy.  Just like a muscle, you will have to use it for it to not just be maintained but to also grow and develop.  Decision making is a skill that can be developed and improved upon.  How?  Every decision that you make whether seemingly insignificant or small is a decision that works the “decision-making muscle”.

When we view decision making as a muscle that can be developed and improved, there are 3 keys to not just be better at making decisions but to be able to make the tough decisions when you need to. 

The 3 keys are:

1.  Small decisions matters.

2.  Make A Decision.

3.  Indecision hurts you.

Let’s break them down.

Small Decisions Matters

Yes, small decisions do matter.  Why?  A series of small decisions when made over a period of time has significance and impact.  For example, no one decides to be unhealthy.  No one aims to have high cholesterol or to be insulin resistant.  However, the outcome of a series of seemingly small decisions will lead to that outcome such as eating that extra donut or a bag of chips while watching a Korean drama on tv or forgoing that walk in the park.  If those seemingly small decisions that you made once but when you make them again the next day and the next, over time you will end up being less fit, maybe putting on the pounds that you didn’t want to and after a longer period leading you down a path of an unhealthy lifestyle.  Therefore, yes, those seemingly harmless or small decisions will matter when it is made consistently over a period of time.  Small decisions accumulated will lead to a path whether you intended for it or not. 

Small decisions enable you to make bigger tougher decisions.  If you can make good small decisions and choices, you are building your decision-making muscle.  Over time, as the decision-making muscle grows, and when you are faced with the need to make a big decision you would have built up the capabilities to do so.  Making big decision is no different from making a small decision. Both requires that you make a choice.  The difference is the impact and outcome of the decision. 

For example, a big decision such as who you will marry, creates an impact and outcome over the course of your life.  To make that decision, it is an accumulation of information and experiences and then making the best choice that you can.  In essence no difference than deciding to eat 1 or 2 donuts.  However, the difference is in its outcome and impact.  So, as you can imagine, if you are able to make good choices or good decisions with the small ones, then you are building your abilities to make the right decisions when the need arises.

Small decisions are your practice and training ground that prepares you to make the bigger ones.  Rest assured; everyone will be faced with making the big decisions at all points of life.

Just Make a Decision.

Making decisions can be hard and scary especially if it affects more than just you.  It is therefore tempting not to decide.  The ability to decide whether it turns out right or wrong is better than not making any decision.  One can argue that not deciding is making a decision.

For example, if you have to decide between exercising or not,  when you decide to exercise, you are making a choice based on a desire or a goal to achieve.  The desire could be, to be fit and healthy or the goal could be to finish a race that you have entered.  Now let’s imagine that it is now 5pm and you must decide whether you want to exercise or not.  If you are purposeful and have a goal in mind, you will decide to get your exercise in and just do it.  However, if now you are presented with a third option that is to exercise, to not exercise and to go out for drinks with your friends, you will most probably have a temporary battle of will.  In the midst of the decision battle, it is now 6pm and the sky is dark and gloomy, the decision has been made for you or the decision has been taken away from you.  Drinks it is. 

You have basically allowed the indecision to make a decision for you through the changing circumstances.  In other words, you have taken away your decision-making opportunity based on your indecision and let external situations make the decision for you.

Making a decision is just as important because intent and action must be aligned.  Just intending to make a decision is not acting on the intent.  That’s not decision making.  It is avoidance.  However, we have all avoided making decisions.  Sometimes it’s because it’s too hard, or we just don’t want to take the responsibility of the consequences of making a decision.  However, not deciding is a decision.  Which outcome would you prefer, the one where you made the decision or the one where the decision was made for you? 

For most of us and for most of the time, we would prefer not to make any decision because if we did, we would have to take on the responsibilities that comes with it.  However, if you don’t make the decision and let someone else decide for you then you have forfeited your right to complain or grumble about the consequences because you have decided to let go of your rights in that decision making process.

Therefore, making a decision is better than not and we all learn and be better when we are able to learn from the decision whether its right or not.  Learning from our mistakes is one way that we all learn and grow as adults.

Indecisions Hurts You

Being indecisive is just as bad as not deciding.  In fact, indecision is an issue that needs to be addressed.  Indecision is different from not deciding.  Indecision comes from a place of place confusion.  Let’s think about this.

When you are presented with options, lots of options with outcomes that are not necessarily bad but more of “which is the best option” to decide on, you might find it hard to decide because there are too many options and none are bad, just not sure which is the best.  Therefore, the challenge that you are faced is out of confusion.  The confusion of which is the best option to decide on.  Not necessarily a bad place to be in because when there is no clear choice to make, the best choice is the one that you do make.  Pretty much like “the best vaccine for you to take is the one that is available” type scenario. 

Indecision is the flip side of not making a decision.  It might seem the same, but it is fundamentally different in its perspective and the core of the decision-making process.  The truth is that all decisions have an element of fear.   After all, no one wants to make the wrong decision or suffer the consequences of the decision.  However, not deciding and/or indecision will produce consequences that you will not want.  It is like in an exam, it is better to answer every question whether you know the answer or not vs. leaving it blank which you know is definitely the wrong answer.

Let me summarise.  The ability to make decision is like a muscle.  The more you use it and use it wisely, the better your decision muscle will be.  The more decisions that you make correctly will help you to make better decisions in the future.  The better decisions that you are able to make, you will  develop your ability to make the tough and often not popular decision because you have built up a certain level of ability and resilience to see out your decision and its outcome. 

Therefore, No. 1 Small decisions matter.  View them as building blocks for your decision muscle and when you do need to flex the decision muscle in tough situation, you are able to do. 

Secondly, making a decision is a right that you possess.  Use it.  When you fail to decide, you are not taking up your privilege and responsibility but in fact, giving up your right to decide.  In that process you are failing to develop your decision-making muscle.

Lastly, Indecision hurts you.  The difference between not able to make a decision and indecision lies in its perspective and heart of fear.  Fear of the consequences or outcome of the decision.  The truth is there is no perfect decision in any situation.  It is the best decision that you made in that situation based on the information and your best judgement at that point in time.  Indecision hurts because it takes your options away as time and changing nature of the situation will eventually reduce the options that you have and expands the consequences of those options.

Build your decision muscle by realising that small decision matters, making a decision is exercising your decision-making muscles and indecision hurts you because it will reduce your options and magnify the consequences over time.

Thank you for taking the time to read my article.  I hope that you have learned at least one thing that you are able to apply into your everyday life.  Let’s step into the everyday with purpose.  As always, please subscribe, follow and share this blog with your friends.  Take care and step into the everyday with purpose. 

There is No Suddenly Getting Lost

Have you ever gotten lost?  Most of the time we only get lost when we don’t follow instructions or directions.  For example, you are trying to go to a new destination.  You will most probably put the address in to your GPS or Google Maps and it will magically give you a path to take with step-by-step directions.  If we can follow it correctly, there is a 99.99% chance that you will get to the destination without much of a problem.  However, if you fail to correctly follow by missing a turn or ignoring its direction, your chances of getting to the destination is either reduced or you will hear the dreaded “rerouting or calculating”. 

Life is pretty much like that.  You will not suddenly get lost unless something happened along the way.  For example, you will not suddenly gain weight overnight and wonder how did you put on 10kgs?  Somewhere along the way, you would have indulged more than necessary, have very little to do with exercise and more being a couch potato, and maybe given yourself reasons as to why you should be rewarding yourself with that chocolate cake.  No one gets to a certain point in their life suddenly.  For most of us, it happens slowly and sometimes subtly that we don’t even notice when we are off the path and on to a different destination.

No one suddenly gets lost.  Bad decisions made over time will be like the GPS situation which causes reroutes and redirections, not to your desired destination but to a destination that you had not planned for.

“The principle of the path” by Andy Stanley is a great book to read about how the direction of your life will determine the destination that you will end up in.

What distracts us which cause us to get off the path and toward a different direction?

There are 3 common reasons:

1.  Distractions.

2.  You know better.

3.  Short cuts.

Let’s break it down.

Distractions.

This is the most common reason.  We get distracted along the way.  Just like following the directions from Google Maps when it tells you to turn right, but because you were distracted you had failed to hear the instructions and by the time you noticed it, you have missed the turn.  So what do you do?  Most probably you will either have to make a u-turn or follow a new set of instructions to get you back on track.

Why do we get distracted?  Usually its because we have far too many things running around in our minds.  The best and easiest way to solve this problem is to capture or to write down everything that you are thinking about.  There is a great power in writing down and a great relief for your brain that it is no longer a list-keeper.  Remember, your brain is not meant to be a list-keeper.  When you have a long list running in your mind, you are distracted because it is consuming your brain power without it doing anything about it.  Your mind is meant to be processing information and making decisions, solving problems and innovating.  It is not designed to keep information without an end or a conclusion. 

One of the reasons, people worry endlessly is because they are not able to put the “worry” down or in other words, process the worry into actionable items.  For example, you are worried about forgetting to pay a bill.   So long as you do not capture that action item, your mind will constantly be wasting precious cycles just trying to remember it, all the while giving you a sinking feeling that you will forget, which perpetuates the cycle of worry.  However, if you write it down and schedule the time for you to pay the bill, you have essentially taken down the worry and given it a time and place to act on it.  You will no doubt not be thinking about that task, but when the reminder appears you will just get that task of paying your bill done.

The simplest step that you can take to eliminate distraction is to capture it and schedule time to act on it.

You Know Better.

Yes, that’s right, you think that you know better than the GPS and you might know best if you know where you are going.  But, if you are in an unfamiliar territory, do you really know best?  For example, if you are travelling in a new country or going to a new place for the very first time, do you really know better than Google maps?  One of the reasons, men get lost more often than women and this is not based on my assumptions, but proven research is because of pride.  Men somehow think that they know the way and then when they are lost, they will not ask for directions or help.  All the while getting further off the destination or getting more lost.

Yes, pride is our biggest enemy when it comes to the decisions that we make along the way to our destination.  I think that its also a safe bet to say that we have all gotten “lost” because of our pride.  When we look back on some of the decisions that we have made, we can laugh about it, as for the most part it wasn’t disastrous because we had probably course corrected earlier, rather than later.  However, if you course corrected too late, the consequences could be bad.

For example, an addiction does not happen overnight.  It takes a series of bad decisions that leads someone down that path.  The best remedy for this is to engage in a healthy feedback environment.  Your friends, family, work colleagues who are able to provide you with feedback will help you to keep your pride in check.  Feedback is one of the most important tools that you have to ensure that you do not fall into the “you know better” syndrome.

Short Cuts.

We certainly don’t like long road trips.  We want to get to our destination as quickly as possible and if there is short cut, all the better.  However, I am sure that you know that usually short cuts don’t happen often and, in most cases, short cuts are actually harder than the “normal” paths.

We all need patience.  Some of you might know that I think the wisest creature is Yoda from Star Wars who said, “Patience you must have, my young padawan.” Isn’t it true?  We want everything now and if we can get it with as little effort, even better.  Short cuts might seem to work in the short term, but in the long run, you will realise that you have lost a lot more along the way.

Try to avoid the short cuts, the instant rewards or gratification.  The path may seem shorter and quicker but the destination may not be what you had anticipated or wanted.

The best remedy against short cut is patience with purpose.  You will need to be clear on what and where your destination is.  For example, the end goal of financial success is not having a target number in the bank account, because after all, we will all die and can’t take it with us.  The end goal of financial success is how much impact you have made with your generosity of giving and serving others. 

No one gets lost suddenly.  No one wants to get lost.  You only get lost when you are distracted, think that you know better and when you take short cuts.  Don’t stumble into a destination that you had not intended.  The good news is if you have taken a few wrong turns, it is not the end of the world.  You can still make the necessary corrections.  Do it sooner than later.    Listen to your GPS!

Thank you for taking the time to read my article.  I hope that you have learned at least one thing that you are able to apply into your everyday life.   As always, please subscribe, follow and share this podcast with your friends.  Take care and step into the everyday with purpose. 

3 values that we are truly working to achieve.

There are many things that we want and that we work extremely hard for.  You can work hard to acquire things or to achieve success.  That’s just how life is.  Going from one thing to another, taking on one challenge at a time, and all the while wanting to achieve more. 

We can achieve much when we put our hearts and minds to it, however, there are only a few things that truly matter.  The 3 things that are easier to achieve than to recover from are trust, respect and integrity.  The things that truly matter to each of us.  The intrinsic values of these 3 areas are worth so much more than any success because the truth is success does not help you achieve trust, respect and integrity but it is because of trust, respect, and integrity that you are able to achieve success and walk the everyday with your head held high.

Let’s break it down.

Trust.

Trust is fundamental to everything that we do and it is a reflection of how dependable, reliable, and committed we are to what we say and do.  Trust is built over time and through various situations.  There are various types of trust such as rules-based trust. For example, you experience rules-based trust when you are driving a car.  You trust that the other drivers are going to follow the rules.  For example, you trust that when the traffic lights turn red, the drivers will stop.  You trust that the double lines on the road will ensure that drivers on the other side of the road does not come into your lane. 

The trust that comes from relationships is different.  Trust that exist between people are different. The way people relate, share and work together is not based on rules to follow but it is earned or achieved based on how you behave.  It is based on how you live your life, doing what you say you will do, being consistent in what you do, how you make decisions and how you respond in various situations and circumstances.  This type of trust takes times for you to build and achieve. 

Trust is a fundamental value that must exist in your workplace and personal life.  No relationship can be built without trust.  Be careful how you protect and nurture your trustworthiness with those around you. Trust is earned through time and through shared experiences. However, it can be lost or broken in an instance.

Now imagine a situation when that trust is broken.  It might start with a little white lie and that grows to a bigger and ultimately into a significant lie, the trust that was established over years will come crumbling down in an instance.  In some situations, it is lost forever, and trust can never be recovered.

Respect

We all want respect and to a certain extend we are all granted a basic level of respect for just being a person.  However, the respect that we all work for, is from others based on our reputation, effort and achievements.  Respect is also given based on position or title but to keep that respect is to align the perception of the position or title with your actions and behaviours.

For example, you could be the leader of a team.  The base level respect that would be afforded to you would be one of a leader and the authority that comes with that position.  If your performance as a leader equates and reflects the position, then you are able to maintain the level of respect.  If you exceed the expectations, then the respect that you gained will exceed the initial level.  We all know that as a leader, everyone is watching you and depending on how you walk the talk, that level of respect will either grow or decline accordingly.

The moment you have the respect of others, a few other values are afforded to you and one of them is as the above, trust.  It is harder to regain or recover your reputation after a fall.  There are many public figures who have fallen from grace, the first two values to go out with them are respect and trust.

You can lose the respect of the people around you with your words and actions. Just like trust, once you have lost the respect of people, it will take a lot more effort to regain it than to earn it in the first place.

Integrity

Integrity is not just about being honest.  It is about a consistent life both in private and in public.  These 2 aspects of your life must be aligned.  You are authentic and genuine with not just what you say, think, feel but act.  It is not about doing the right thing only in front for people to see.  It is about living according to your values no matter the circumstances and potential cost to you.  Integrity consists of the two values that we have covered, trust and respect. 

Just like trust and respect, it is extremely hard to gain integrity and once it is lost, it is very hard to recover it back.  I am sure that you have heard the saying, “hard work and talent can get you to the top, but integrity helps you to stay at the top.”

I am sure that you have encountered various people in your life or read about the public figures and their lack of integrity and what that does not only to the person but to those around them. 

The truth is that what you work for your whole life for  is not about achieving goals or gaining financial success, it is about building your reputation which is based on trust, respect and integrity.  You might work your whole life to build trust, respect and integrity and if you are not careful, it can be lost in an instance.  The saddest part of these three values is that when it is lost or broken, for you to recover them is way harder that achieving them in the first place.

Thank you for taking the time to read to my article.  I hope that you have learned at least one thing that you are able to apply into your everyday life.   As always, please subscribe, follow and share this podcast with your friends.  Take care and step into the everyday with purpose. 

Top 3 Ways to Eliminate Distractions to Enhance Your Productivity

I think that it is safe to say that our lives are not just busy, but it is filled with distractions.  Or in another words, we are busy because of the distractions.  We want to be as productive as possible, but it is difficult not only because we have a list of to-dos that is a mile long but there is the added distractions that take place at any given time.

Therefore, in order for us to be more productive, we have to find ways to eliminate distractions.  The top 3 common distractions that impacts your productivity are:

1.  Environment:  The place where you work, your workstation or desk as well as the work set up that you have.  Is it conducive for the type of work that you are doing?  Is it organised in the way that will help you with your workflow?  Do you have what you commonly use within reach?  Is your desk setup organised to help you be most productive?  Research has shown that a messy or cluttered environment will distract your mind and impact your concentration. 

2.  People:  Yes, it’s true that you can’t avoid people at the workplace but people can be a great distraction to your productive.  People who interrupt your workflow or thought process or the distractions that they may cause with loud or boisterous chatter.  People who interrupt or disturb you with their ad-hoc request. 

3.  Thoughts:  Finally, there is you.  Yes, you are one of the worse distractions to yourself.  How?  Your thoughts.  Your worries or concerns or the gigantic list of to-dos that are running through your mind.  Your thoughts can create great fear and anxiety especially around the things that you have to do and the concerns around its outcomes.  This will eventually build up a great deal of pressure which will impact your productivity.  Therefore, a mind filled with worries or concerns will distract you from what you need to do.

How do we eliminate these top 3 distractions? 

The top 3 ways to eliminate distractions are:

1.  Visual Boundaries. 

2.  Putting Thoughts to paper.  

3.  Remove tech distractions. 

Let’s break them down.

Set up Boundaries.

In the workplace, it is usually very difficult for you to have the perfect work environment or set up.  You probably don’t have much of choice where your desk is located or what you can do about it.  However, you can control a few things.  You can decide how the layout or setup of your desk would look like, how things are organised or arranged and certainly “decorating” it with what makes it personal and inspiring for you to do your best work.  For example, I am a minimalist at heart and therefore I like my desk environment to be neat, tidy and clean.  I like to see a lot of “white space” if possible.  I will then organise my desk with only the essentials. 

You will need to decide what style or type of workplace you will enjoy working in, after all, that is where you will be spending most of your time.  If you are one of those who are working in a mobile workplace, then you will need to know and decide what works for you.  For most of us who are working both remotely as well as in an office environment, the essential tools that we need every day, will pretty much be the same.  For example, a laptop, paper, pen, mobile phone and a headphone.  At least for me, those are my essentials that I will have with me all the time.  I can work anywhere just with those 5 simple items.

Think about what boundaries you need to set or have set up.  What is working and what is not working?  One of the simplest visual boundaries examples in the workplace is to put on your headphones.  Noise cancelling headphones are great to remove the background noise in the workplace as well as the visual appearance of you having the headphones on will indicate to people that you are focusing on something.  They will most likely think twice before disturbing you.

Thoughts to Paper.

David Allen in his book “Getting Things Done” basically states that the very 1st step of being more productive is to capture our thoughts.  In another words, get everything out of your head and onto any capturing device which could be as simple as on a paper or your favourite note taking application.  As he states, “You must use your mind to get things off your mind.” 

Why is that?  That is essentially because of the “open loop” concept.  When our minds are having thoughts or to-do lists or worries, it creates an open loop which is always pulling your attention which creates distraction if it is not properly managed.  This open loop is what causes us to worry.  We constantly think about the thing that we have not yet action on.  Therefore, the way to eliminate this open loop is to capture those open loop thoughts onto paper or any capture tool that you use.  When you have captured that thought, you can then decide what action you would like to assign it.  You have 3 types of action to then take:

1.  To do the action now if you are able to do.

2.  Set a later time and date to do it.  Schedule it in your calendar.

3.  Not to do because you have not decided that it is not required or necessary for you to.

For you to go through your thoughts in an organised manner, you will need to put them down on paper.  Visually seeing the thought and processing the actions to take will help you to eliminate the distraction that is your mind.  Capturing your thoughts will enable to process and action on them which helps you to close the open loop

It is always good to remember that the brain is not designed as a list or worry holder or storage.  Therefore, capturing your thoughts becomes the key to releasing your mind to perform the functions that it was designed to which in essence is to process, decide and perform. 

Remove Tech Distractions.

Yes, that’s right, remove the technologies that distracts you.  We had always assumed that technology is key in helping us to be more productive.  However, in today’s technology saturated world, technology has become one of the top distractions to our productivity efforts.  We are often distracted when we hear the notification sound coming from our phones or our computers.  Not only from the notification sounds but when we have our phones within hand’s reach, the automatic reaction is to pick up and just scroll through the phone to see what’s up or the latest news.  And before you know it, you have spent 30 mins on the phone scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and emails and the list can go on depending on what applications we have on hand.

It is therefore important as part of creating a distraction free zone, you will need to set aside any technology that distracts you.  For example, put your phone on Do Not Disturb or silent mode, close all applications and notifications on your computer.  Just focus on the one application that you need to use at a time on your computer.  Set a timer on the PC if you are following the Pomodoro Technique for productivity focus time blocks.  Minimise the visual clutter that your eyes must see.  Simple and small things that you can do that will make a big impact on your productivity.

Let me summarise what I have covered.  In order to eliminate distractions, think about setting up boundaries that you will need to set, capturing your thoughts onto a capture tool, in another words, put your thoughts to paper and remove any technology distractions.  Sometimes it is in the small simple acts that we take that can make the big impact.  Try them out and share with others your experience in eliminating distractions.

Thank you for taking the time to read my article.  I hope that you have learned at least one thing that you are able to apply into your everyday life.   As always, please subscribe, follow and share this podcast with your friends.  Take care and step into the everyday with purpose. 

3 Steps to Simplification

We live in a world that is complicated and complex.  It seems like everything that we think or do has multiple layers and decisions are incredibly hard to make because of the multiple implications and complexities involved.  However, is there a way to simplify?  Are we complicating things just because we can or is it because we enjoy the complex and complicated challenges? Are we complicating our lives unnecessarily? Is there a way to simplify our lives by simplifying the way we think and live?

Hence the question, How can we simplify in a world that is dominated with complexities and challenges?

How can we make things simpler so that we are not overwhelmed with what we need to do?  I believe that we all know the challenges with complexities, but what are the benefits of simplification? 

There are 3 key benefits of simplifications and they are focus, eliminating distractions and reducing the waste of resources and effort.

Let’s break each one down.

1.  Focus.  When you are able to cut through the complexities, you will be able to see what is at the heart of any challenge or problem that is to be solved.  This enables you to focus on the core issue and with that will help you to decide how you want to respond to the core issue. Focus allows you the opportunity to allocate the appropriate amount of time, energy and resources to overcome the challenge. Take the Covid-19 vaccine development and availability as an example.  One of the main reasons the various offerings of the vaccine is available in such a short span of time is the 100% focus that every government, pharmaceutical organization, scientist of various areas of specialties that was dedicated to solving the problem. The whole world was literally focused on finding a solution to the problem. That is the benefit of focus. It allows for the total dedication of resources to meet the challenges of the core problem.

2.  Eliminates distractions.  When you simplify, you are then able to eliminate distractions or cut through the noise.  Almost every problem, challenge or issue has a root cause and unless we are able to identify the root cause accurately, you will not be able to solve the problem satisfactory.  If we are distracted by the noise that surrounds a certain problem, the solutions that you come up with will only address the noise but never the root cause which in turn will create a cycle of issues because the root cause was never dealt with.  Think about any attempts that we have made around solving any challenges, especially if a challenge is repeated over time, you know instinctively that you have not addressed the root cause. If an issue comes up over and over again, it is a simple sign that we have not identified the root cause and have not dealt with it satisfactorily.

Don’t get me wrong, there are certainly challenges that are complex and complicated and no one solution is able to fix all the problems.  However, the more you are able to simplify and eliminate distractions, the greater the ability to get to the heart of the problem.

3.  Waste of resources and effort.  We certainly do not want to waste resources and effort, however that is exactly what we are doing if we are not able to simplify.  We waste our effort trying to do more than we should or allocate resources thinly believing that we need to do everything when in fact, we don’t.  The heart of the matter is that we need to be efficient and effective in what we put our resources into.  The simpler we are able to address an issue the more concentrated the effort and resource allocation will be.  For example, if you only had 100 hours to work on a project, you will need to ensure that you are able to scope and allocate the appropriate resources to get the job done in the allocated 100 hours.  The same applies if now you only have 10 hours to do a project.  We tend to believe that if we put in more resources, then we will be able to solve all the problems or achieved a certain outcome.  However, that is not true.  The reality is that we should not be wasting resources and if we all use the appropriate number of resources, we would be able to achieve what we want.

The Parkinsons’ Law basically states that work expands to fill the time that has been allocated.  For example, if I have allocated a day to create content, I will use the whole day to do that.  If I then allocated only 1 hour to create content, then I will certainly be able to create content in that allocated 1 hour.  The difference is how I have used the time allocated to complete the task that was assigned.  I think that we have experienced all this or have observed this in the workplace.  Have you noticed how much time we “waste” at the corridors chatting or completing “filler” work?  Work that is necessary but not essential.  Work that fills up time but does not necessarily delivers impact.

Let’s break down how we can start to simplify.  There are essentially 3 parts to simplification:

1.  Know the Blueprint.

2.  Know the foundation.

3.  Build on it brick by brick.

Let’s start.

Know the Blueprint.

You must start with knowing what it is that you want to build or accomplish.  Without clarity of what it is you are trying to do; you will not be able to simplify.  In fact, you will not be able to be productive.  You might be doing a lot of tasks, but you will soon wonder or discover that it was either a waste of time or meaningless.

If you are trying to figure out what is the blueprint, ask yourself these 3 simple questions:

  1. Why am I doing this?
  2. What do I want to accomplish?
  3. What does success look like for me?

Take the building or construction of a house as an example.  Why do I want to build this house?  What is this house for?  What would make this house a home for me?  Depending on the answers, the blueprint of the house would fit the type of house and the functions that you need your house to fulfill your needs. 

As with all blueprints, it needs to be written down and to be visible.  Write down what it is that you are trying to accomplish with a particular project or campaign.  Keep it visible to remind yourself of the why you are doing what you are doing.

Know the foundation.

Once you have your blueprint in place, you will need to identify the foundation or the corner pieces.  Know your cornerstone.  This step helps you to prioritise your time, resources and gives you a starting point.

Think about how a house is built.  There are many stages and parts that go into making the final product.  The house must be built upon its foundation first and not as an example with its roof.  The foundation of the house is what will keep the house upright and a solid foundation will ensure that it does not collapse.  The simplest and most basic stage is the foundation. 

In the same why, simplification starts with breaking down each task or element to its most basic form.  It is always more exciting to focus on the big or exciting task, however, it is the small and sometimes insignificant task that is most important.  For example, you might not consider the nail as a critical piece of house building.  But imagine what would happen if you did not have nails or you are using substandard materials?

Simplification starts with asking the basic questions that are foundational to what you are planning to do.

Build Upon It brick by brick.

Once you have identified the foundation, the cornerstone, then you are able to build upon it.  You will have the confidence that what you are building is what you want because you have a blueprint and a foundation that you can build upon. 

The final step of simplification is to then build upon the foundation by prioritizing the impact and importance.   A crucial aspect with simplification is to be able to identify the most critical and important task to focus on first.  Remove all the nice to haves, the wants and the icing on the cake.  Focus on the key elements that are necessary and critical.  Most of the time the simple critical elements are not the fun things to do but what can be considered the mundane and boring.  Simplification process will help you to filter down to the crucial pieces and that is what you start on first.  Just like building a house, it would be most exciting to plan for the interior decorations or the smart home systems, but all those would be meaningless if the house is not built on a solid foundation.  The niceties of the house is not going to hold the house up.

Let’s summarise: 

The ability to simplify will help you to focus on the crucial and critical, the foundational building blocks and enhances your productivity because you are now focusing your time on the critical with a clear view on what it is you want to accomplish in order to create impact and long-term sustainability.

Thank you for taking the time to read my article.  I hope that you have learned at least one thing that you are able to apply into your everyday life.  Let’s be purposeful in our journey to live out the best version of you and of your life.  As always, please subscribe, follow and share this blog with your friends.  Take care and step into the everyday with purpose. 

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