Simple life: outline of cloud with many arrows

Get rid of the chaos and consider how leading a simple life can help you enjoy even more success, says Marsha Egan

In this over-committed lifestyle we all seem to be leading, there are a number of good reasons to “keep it simple.” Why?

The Simpler The System Or Process, The Less It Can Break Down

And when it does, the simpler it is to fix. A good example of this is when a company has multiple people or departments touching a product before it is released to the customer. The more people or touchpoints, the more potential for error and/or delay.

The Simpler The Procedure, The More Likely People Will Use It

Many of us tend to avoid or put off complicated processes, whether they are personal or business-related. By keeping things simple, you will increase the use of the system and help its effectiveness. Technology can be a great tool in this arena.

The Fewer The Words, The Greater Chance The Right Message Will Be Received

Think about the last lengthy email message you received. Did you read it all, word for word? Most likely not. But if that message you received had only one sentence, chances are you would read the entire thing.

Simplicity Allows Clarity

Clutter creates stress and overwhelm. The less clutter you have, the simpler your life will be. How difficult is it to find an email message among the 1,000 that you are holding in your inbox? How about those 10-year-old reports that you think you might need one day?

Simplicity Increases Quality

When you focus on only one thing, you can give it your 100% attention. Too many people try to do many things at once, thereby creating confusion and complexity. The result is that few of the tasks are done well, creating more work and more complexity. Simplicity includes a single focus. Doing one thing at a time can be a competitive advantage.

Actions To Consider

Streamline processes

By asking “Is this step really needed?”, you can find opportunities to simplify. Challenge the procedures that were in place several years ago and look for ways to modernize, automate, or eliminate.

Eliminate unnecessary handoffs

The more people who touch a process, the more room for delay and error. Look for ways to minimize steps.

Evaluate system breakdowns

When something doesn’t work, look for opportunities to simplify the process. By asking what might have been done more simply, you can not only fix what broke down but avoid a recurrence.

Practice laser focus

Give 100% focus to the task at hand. When you give full focus to a task, you simplify your reasoning and quality. Dividing your focus among projects puts the quality of at least one of them at risk.

Minimize “brain clutter”

Sometimes we clutter our own minds by multitasking and thinking of other things while working on a task. Sometimes we try to keep lists and tasks in our heads instead of writing them down. By getting it onto paper, you can give your brain some space to use for more important things.

Eliminate clutter – everywhere

Clutter can cloud your thinking. It can create stress. By eliminating clutter, you can give yourself the open space and simplicity you desire. Throw things away (or donate them) voraciously – from every drawer, closet, paper file, digital file, or box you touch.

Unclutter your workspace

While this may not be an issue for most Executive Assistants, it is worth being said. The difference in your stress level when you approach your desk strewn with unruly papers vs. an organized workspace can validate the benefits of simplifying.

Practice brevity

Keep your communications as short as possible. Write your most important point in the first line of your letter or email. Focus on being clear and concise while remaining friendly and respectful.

Try these. Your simpler life will thank you for it.

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Marsha Egan, CPCU, PCC is CEO of The Egan Group, a Nantucket, Massachusetts-based workplace productivity coaching firm. She is author of Inbox Detox and the Habit of E-mail Excellence. She can be reached at MarshaEgan.com, where you can also read her ... (Read More)

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