Conquering Clutter – Part 3

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

~ Leonardo Da Vinci.

A Rube Goldberg machine is a contraption, invention, or device that is deliberately over-engineered to perform a simple task in a complicated way. Cartoonist and inventor Rube Goldberg described his eponymous inventions as a “symbol of man’s capacity for exerting maximum effort to accomplish minimal results.” The devices include a series of indirect, convoluted chain reactions that are both ingenious and absurd.

Over the years, the expression “Rube Goldberg” has come to describe any confusing or complicated system that deliberately slows progress and inhibits transparency. The IRS Tax Code, health insurance, financial services, the legal system and customer service for large corporations are just a few examples where planners seem to have consciously chosen the vice of complexity over the virtue of simplicity. I think you would agree that we all pay dearly for this choice.

Your personal goal should be just the opposite…to accomplish maximum results with minimal effort.  To achieve this you must actively embrace simplicity, and deliberately remove complexity and confusion from your daily routines, from your relationships, from your business and from your thinking.

Here are a few ways to “say goodbye to Rube” and simplify your life:

1.    Work on one thing at a time.  Prioritize your “to-do” list in order of importance (important isn’t always the same thing as urgent), then focus on and complete the tasks one at a time. No matter how many things are on that list, whether it’s three or ten or a hundred, there’s really only one thing - the one thing you’re doing right now. In spite of anything else, the one thing you’re doing right now is the only thing that you can do, so relax and give it your full attention.

2.    Eliminate the too-many-goals problem. When you set unreasonable expectations for the time available, you increase your stress level and simultaneously decrease your productivity.  Try the 1-2-3 approach instead: for the next 30-90 days, choose 1 goal in each of 2 sectors (i.e., one personal and one professional), and commit to 3 action steps for each goal.

3.    Declare a “Do Nothing Day” each month and really do nothing that day. Get over the idea that time off from work is automatically time wasted.  The greatest geniuses created space in their thoughts and actions to make room for inspiration to emerge. Leonardo Da Vinci advised, “Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer; since to remain constantly at work will cause you to lose your power of judgment.”


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