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10 ideas to simplify your life

Making it simple is hard! Why? There are multiple reasons:

  • Because we want to please everyone, so we multiply things instead of setting limits.
  • Because we like to overthink and hear ourselves ponder, it makes us feel serious and intelligent.
  • Because we dwell on what interests us, instead of focusing on what is truly important.
  • Because we don’t dare to say no in the end.
  • Because we love adding things to what already exists, but we don’t challenge the existing to remove things.

You get the idea; today we’re talking about complexity and simplicity, or how to discipline ourselves to make life easier for us and others.

Ready? Let’s go!

What is simplicity? When do things become complex?

Simplicity is when things are easily understandable or doable. There are few steps or elements, and no need for an explanation or effort to understand.

For example, this refillable mist spray is simple: it has a part you fill with water, a screw-on cap, and a trigger to spray the water. You see the object, and you don’t need instructions to know how it works; it’s sold without them.

On the other hand, software like Excel requires some explanations and training to really make good use of it. It’s complex: there are many features, and you need time to think to understand how you can use it.

10 ideas to simplify

1. Break it down into smaller pieces

The first idea is to break things down into smaller pieces. If you have a large, complex project, or if you’re building a product with a large number of features, like Excel, use techniques to break down these features until you arrive at a hyper-simple and understandable element.

    You can break it down by function.

    If you have a mobile cooking app project: what are the different functions it will serve?

    • Displaying recipes
    • Recipe search
    • Favoriting
    • Printing
    • Potentially, a personal account
    • Publishing recipes in the app

    You can break it down by type of user.

    For my recipe app:

    • Visitors, who can search and view recipes,
    • Premium members, who can create favorites and print recipes,
    • Administrators who can publish recipes.

    You can break it down by stages.

    First, the user will search for a recipe, then go and view it. If they want to favorite it, they will be offered to create an account, etc.

    You can break it down by level of knowledge.

    At the moment, I know that users want to search and read recipes, but I don’t yet know what other features they will want later.

    You can break it down by the smallest usable product.

    For recipe search, the simplest thing to offer initially is an index by type of recipe (starters, main courses, desserts), sorted alphabetically.

    Later, we can develop a keyword search.

    And then, introduce search filters.

    I have given you examples for an app, but you can apply all of this to anything else.

    For a process: ask yourself what is the smallest number of steps to be carried out from start to finish.

    For a marketing campaign: what is THE most relevant target to test first. What is THE key message to test?

    2. Remove steps, elements, until you have only the bare minimum

    Let’s now move on to the second idea: remove steps or elements to have only the bare minimum.

    Look for the superfluous and remove it. Keep only what is absolutely necessary.

    Take, for example, a form to create an email list in exchange for a white paper. You would probably like to have more information about your prospects: Name, First Name, City, Profession, in addition to the email. Whereas in reality, you only need their email to then send them a newsletter or offers (and the first name for personalized sending is nicer!).

    Also, hunt for exceptions. Often, we want to do well and want to treat every minor case. However, it is sometimes better to handle exceptions “manually” than to want to manage everything in a process or software.

    3. Return to the ‘Why’ and the ‘What’ before reworking the ‘How’

    To simplify things, sometimes you have to stop and re-ask yourself why you are doing things and what your goals are.

    This allows you to take a step back and challenge complex parts.

    For example, if your ‘why’ is to help entrepreneurs sell their product on the Internet and your goal is to make €100K in a year, and you have 50 different products and you are speaking to ALL entrepreneurs, chances are that nobody will understand.

    If you refocus on your vision, it will allow you to review your strategy by simplifying it:

    • by focusing only on freelance developers who want to increase their visibility on LinkedIn,
    • by focusing solely on one or two high-value products, relative to your goal and your specific target.

    4. Start from a blank slate

    It can also be interesting to start from scratch. Act as if you had forgotten everything you have already done. Re-challenge yourself. If I had to start from a blank page now, what would be the simplest actions to put in place to achieve my goal?

    What would be the smallest step to take that would have the most value?

    If you have followed idea number 3 and have your vision clearly defined, it will be of great help to you in sorting through these ideas.

    5. Declutter and clean

    Everything is simpler when your living and working space is free from any visual distraction.

    Opt for minimalism and declutter: your space and your mind.

    For space: go hunting for anything you haven’t used in a year, anything you no longer like, anything you no longer use, and throw it away, resell it, or give it away.

    For the mind: use lists, post-its, reminders, etc. Don’t keep things like “I have to remember to make a doctor’s appointment” in your head.

    Enter it into your reminder app or your calendar at a date and time when you know you will be available to complete this task. Voila, one less thing to keep in mind, allowing you to focus on what really matters.

    6. Use mind-mapping to organize your thoughts

    If you are visual, you’ll like exploring mind maps. This is a way to layout a number of ideas, linking them together and grouping them by category.

    Mind-mapping allows you to clarify and organize your thoughts on any subject. For example, for this vlog, I identified three main categories of topics: self-awareness, agility, interpersonal relationships.

    For each of these categories, I can explore certain subjects. For self-awareness: values, needs, emotion management, etc.

    I am using the tool Mural for my mind maps, but other online tools exist, and you can do it very simply on a piece of paper.

    Once you have your mind map done, you can more easily identify what you want to keep as a priority, and stay as simple as possible.

    7. Be clear about your boundaries and respect them

    The seventh idea to simplify: be clear about your limits and respect them. Understanding and expressing your limits allows you not to scatter in the face of certain choices to be made. Just like with vision, actually.

    If you don’t want to end up managing 10,000 things at once, set yourself a limit on the number of projects to handle in parallel. The human brain is not designed for multitasking: it tires it out. So to be effective, list your limits and be uncompromising when it comes to applying them.

    If being uncompromising makes you uncomfortable, think about strategies for managing exceptions you might encounter.

    8. Group items together

    The next idea is to group things together. Rather than leaving elements separate, group them together for simplicity.

    An example I love is batch cooking, especially for meals. I like eating healthily, and I prepare all my lunch and dinner dishes for the family at one time per week, rather than doing it day by day. It takes me 2 hours, and then I just have to take out the dishes on the day. Goodbye mental load!

    You can, of course, apply this in many aspects of your professional or personal life. If you are creating content, you can do everything in advance at one time, for example, or conduct all your employees’ interviews on the same day if you are a manager.

    In short, the applications for this idea are plentiful!

    9. Use templates

      Now let’s talk about templates. A template is a model that can be reused. For example, you can create a document template for recurring presentations. You’ll already have all the structure and maybe the visual part ready. You’ll just have to fill in the content.

      If you realize that you are always producing the same type of content, a template can be very effective in simplifying your work.

      10. Automate

      Finally, in the era of artificial intelligence and automation tools, it’s possible to delegate your recurring and low-value-added tasks… to robots!

      I was going to write: maybe not for cleaning, but actually, yes, there are cleaning robots.

      When it comes to productivity in your professional activity, it is possible to automate more and more things in a fairly simple way.

      Tools like Make or Zapier are really great for connecting applications together and processing data on your behalf. Like automatically sending an email summarizing your tasks for the week, from Notion to your email inbox.

      That’s it for these 10 ideas to help you simplify your work and your life.

      As usual, nothing beats practice and experimentation to find what suits you best! Ask yourself what speaks to you the most in what I’ve offered you today and what you would like to test right now.

      On that note, I hope this video has been useful to you. If so, give it a thumbs-up, subscribe by clicking on the bell, or share it.

      I’ll see you soon for the next video; take care of yourself in the meantime!

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