A Simple Strategy to Eliminate Complexity and Chaos

It worked for Einstein...

Do you think life is filled with complexity and chaos? Maybe overwhelming with more demands on your time and attention than ever before? If you are like the vast majority of people the answer is yes.

The problem—our individual capacity or bandwidth to process and manage growing complexity is limited. We are overwhelmed with more information and commitments than ever before but don’t know how to manage them to deliver the impact we desire most.

The solution? Simple—choose well. It worked for Einstein.

Albert Einstein said there were five levels of intelligence: smart, intelligent, brilliant, genius and simple. Simple is wisely choosing how you use your time and talent. Elaine St. James, author of Simplify Your Life, says, “One of the reasons we keep our lives so complicated is so we won’t have to listen to our inner voice telling us what we need to do to make our lives work better.”

A life that works best is one that is creating and sustaining positive impact on the people you love, teams you lead and the causes that stir your heart.

If we flood our limited bandwidth with more information and the pursuit of lower-priority roles, we are simply paralyzing our ability to choose well. Choosing well—simplifying—has a direct correlation on your feeling of happiness according to research by Jennifer Aaker and Melanie Rudd at Stanford University, and Cassie Mogilner at the University of Pennsylvania.

It is acknowledging your capacity and bandwidth is limited. It is choosing not to overcommit yourself—focusing on how you spend your time.

Choosing well and simplifying is difficult because you get sucked into the trying to do too much and serve beyond your ability and capability. This is the common theme when you dig into why people see their lives as chaotic and complicated.

Everyone can increase their personal and professional impact by focusing on one simple “choosing well” strategy.

Spend time with the people you love the most and develop friendships within the communities you spend the most time.

Activities and experiences that create social connectivity with the important people in our lives generates the greatest happiness.

Routine is powerful and can become an enemy of focus and choosing well. Just look back at the last couple days. Did you ever stop and ask, “What is the best use of my time right now?” Or, “Who is the most important person for me to invest time in today?”

On most days, we unfortunately can check off a laundry list of “to-do’s” and never touch the people we love the most and take the most joy in positively impacting.

Outside of our families, we invest a lot of time at work and with causes that may be a high priority. It is important that we build relationships that create meaningful friendships.

Over the years, I became very familiar with the Gallup’s Q12 survey. It was a survey that measured employee engagement and the quality of workgroups. One of the questions was, “I have a best friend at work.” It was always one of the most controversial and discussed questions before and after the survey was taken.

No one argued they had friends at work. The debate was the nature of having a “best” friend. Participants pressed Gallup on the nature and importance of this question. Gallup went back and focused on 80,000 managers who created high-performance teams. Gallup discovered that the teams with the strongest agreement with having a “best friend” occurred in the most productive workgroups.

“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.”

—Steve Jobs

Choose well! Simply choose to spend you time with the people and on the activities that provide you with the greatest opportunity for positive impact.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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