Very often in life, whenever we are trying to “improve things” in one way or another, we end up becoming fixated on complex systems and goals.
In your professional life, you might well gravitate towards coming up with a comprehensive project management system that takes an hour or more every day to properly maintain. Or, in your personal life, you may inundate yourself with different “biohacking” practices to try and maximise your potential.
In many cases, however, there may actually be a good argument to be made that genius and even productivity might rely on simplicity rather than complexity.
Here are some reasons why.
Because the fewer things you have to directly focus on, the more you can give them your full attention at any given time
There’s a reason why all sorts of professional services such as accountancy services and managed IT solutions providers exist.
The reason is, simply, because no individual can be a master of all things – and the more complex things we try to give our attention to simultaneously, the more stressed and anxious we become, and the less likely we are to perform well at any given task.
The more you can simplify your life by reducing the number of things you are focusing on at any given time, the more you will be able to actually dedicate your full attention to one thing at a time. This, then, will significantly increase the odds that you will actually be “putting your best foot forward,” while simultaneously being mindful, and enjoying the process.
Because a lot of the greatest insights in life come from just “being,” instead of always “doing”
A tendency to focus on complexity at all times tends to go along with a heavy preoccupation with “doing” and “achieving.”
While, of course, we all want to achieve things in life – and while it’s certainly good to be productive and proactive in the right doses an at the right times – the truth is that a lot of the greatest insights and experiences in life can only come from focusing on “being” rather than “doing.”
Nurturing a healthy relationship, for example, relies on being a certain type of person, being present with your partner, communicating well with them, and so on. It can’t be achieved by making a comprehensive strategic plan and crossing off several dozen items from a checklist.
“Simplicity,” in this sense, can help you to get in touch with the holistic dimension of your interpersonal relationships and habits.
Because too much chaos and turmoil can cloud your vision and distract you from what the most important
Excessive complexity always ends up preoccupying your attention, more or less by definition. At times this is unavoidable, but if you are constantly swamped by complexity you can really lose track of the bigger picture.
In life, when push comes to shove, we can probably all recognise that many of the preoccupations of the moment may be necessary to attend to, but simply aren’t the “really important stuff.”
But if we are constantly focused on these preoccupations and don’t have a chance to pause, take a step back, and reflect, we can find that years have passed us by and all we’ve done has been to handle short-term chores.
Simplicity can give us the space we need to remind ourselves of what’s most important in our lives.