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Many of the greatest business leaders of our time are big advocates of simplicity. From Mark Zuckerberg who pretty much wears the same outfit every day just because it’s simple to Bill Gates going on his annual ‘Think Week’ in the woods to completely unplug from the world. And there are many other (maybe a little less extreme) examples. The word ‘simple’ has become synonymous with ‘powerful. To put it in the words of late Apple founder Steve Jobs:
Simple can be harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there you can move mountains
And the power of simplicity has also been proven in several studies.
But, simplicity is everything but simple. In today’s super-connected and super-informed world simplicity has become rare and an after thought. We’re overwhelmed with options, advice and possibilities making it incredible hard to identify and focus on what really matters.
At ROLL, we’re all about simplicity. It’s the underlying philosophy of everything we do. Our goal is to develop the simplest tool to manage small and mid-sized businesses. From our experience, keeping it simple is often the key to success.
So, how can you bring simplicity back to your business? Here are our five top tips...
Simplify your workspace
I admit, I’m a bit of a post-it note fan. I like writing stuff down on colourful little post-its and stick them all over my desk. While it does look exciting and vibrant it can very quickly get out of control and end in chaos. As I strive for simplicity, the post-its had to go.
Have a look around your workspace and question what you really need and what is more distraction than helpful. Do you really need 10 pens and 3 different notepads? And don’t stop just at your desk. When was the last time you cleaned up your computer’s desktop or the apps on your phone? Removing things you don’t actually need helps you focus on what matters. Remember; less is often more.
Simplify your to-do list
Most of us write to-do lists to help us manage our days and make sure we don’t forget anything. But be honest, how often do you look at your to-do list and feel a panic attack coming on? By writing down everything, our lists can become incredible complex and overwhelming. So, think about ways to simplify your list. Maybe you limit the number of things you are allowed to put on your list. Or you keep two lists one with the things you’re actually working on right now and another one for all those things you just don’t want to forget. Or use a simple app to help you keep track of your tasks and priorities.
Simply say ‘No’
Ok, this is not exactly original. Pretty much every article on topics such as productivity, focus, time management, and the likes; sooner or later talks about saying ‘No’. But, simplicity is all about ‘saying no’ so it’s worth mentioning.
The tricky thing is that we often say yes to things in the moment and only afterwards realise we probably should have said no. It takes time and a bit of effort to train your brain to quickly realise when to say no.
Start with an easy exercise; at the end of each day take a few minutes to review your day and identify things you’ve said yes to in the moment that you should have probably said no to. This will help you in two ways (1) you might still be able to get out of some of them and (2) you start training your brain to identify things to say no to. Over time you will then be able to identify those things in the moment and can say no right away.
Simplify your language
Be it your emails, your marketing messages, words in your design, your business plan or the way you talk to your clients and team – keep your language simple. Get rid of jargon, fancy acronyms and long, cluttered sentences. Always ask yourself if there is a faster, simpler way to communicate something. Not only does it help others to understand you better, it also creates a culture and tone of simplicity around your business and work and tunes your brain to think simple.
Technology can be both simplicities biggest enemy and biggest enabler. Technology can be incredibly complex and distracting and it’s easy to get caught up in a new app or tool or checking emails or Facebook. But, used correctly (the right kind of) technology can also help make our lives and work so much simpler. As with so many things, the trick is doing it right.
Look at which technology (devices, software, apps, etc.) really adds value to your life, work or business – and get rid of those that don’t. Make sure you only hold on to (or select) those technology tools that really suit your needs. Don’t look for the technology that won the most awards or has the most users or media coverage. Look for those that are doing what you need as simple as possible.
Our advice when it comes to simplifying technology:
Look for simple tools designed for your type of business