The Value of Keeping it Simple

Everybody has probably heard of the KISS principle.

KISS is an acronym for the design principle “Keep it simple, Stupid!”. Other variations include “keep it short and simple” or “keep it simple and straightforward“. The KISS principle states that simplicity should be a key goal in design, and that unnecessary complexity should be avoided.

— KISS principle |

It’s a principle that Steve Jobs embraced:

Job’s Zenlike ability to focus was accompanied by the related instinct to simplify things by zeroing in on their essence and eliminating unnecessary components. “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,” declared Apple’s first marketing brochure.

— The Real Leadership Lesson of Steve Jobs | HBR OnPoint Winter 2013

But have you ever thought of how embracing simplicity in your life can increase your productivity, creativity, and even your health?

Well, I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. Actually I’ve gone beyond thinking about it. I’ve been putting it into practice to see whether it really does make a difference.

What Really Got Me Started As Opposed to the Half Effort I Had Been Doing Before

Not, too long ago, I came across an article in Wired, Steve Job’s Doctor Wants to Teach You the Formula for Long Life.  Interested in learning what his recommendations were, I decided to read it and, while I’m not a doctor, I could see the benefit of many of his recommendations (based on the lives of people I know who are over 90 and still driving and working as volunteers).

One of the recommendations that I’ve really tried to put into practice is automating my life.  He says that your body loves predictability. You can keep your body balanced by doing thinks like getting up and going to bed at the same time every night, eating at the same time, taking medications at the same time, and exercising at the same time.

Doing things like not eating when your body expects food can increase the level of the stress hormone cortisol that makes your body hold on to fat. In the end, you end up gaining weight. Now not only is this bad for your body, but I know that for me, at least, it’s going to impact my mind because I’m going to be focusing on the fact that I’ve gained weight and I need to lose it. And I’m probably going to spend a lot more time exercising than I should be in an attempt to drop the pounds.

Plus, I’m just not going to feel good if my body is out of balance which in my case also means that mind isn’t going to function well. My awareness is going to suffer and so is my ability to focus.

What Has Kept Me Going

After reading the Wired article, I read the article, Extreme Productivity, in which Robert C. Prozen outlines his principles for getting things done. Principle 6 is, Keep Things Short and Simple.

On a daily basis, I try to keep the material aspects of life as simple as possible in order to maximize productivity. I get up every morning around 7:00 and have shaved, showered, and dressed by 7:15. Then I read two newspapers while having breakfast and leave home around 7:30. The night before, I set out what I’m going to wear. I have five winter outfits and five summer outfits. And I eat the same thing for breakfast every morning — a banana and a bowl of cereal. I’m very boring in the morning.

Extreme Productivity | Harvard Business Review OnPoint Winter 2013

Just think how much freer your mind will be to observe, be aware of what’s going on around you, and make connections when you don’t have to clutter it with “the material aspects of life.”

And all of this made me think of a really creative man I know who drives his family crazy because his schedule is so set. Like Prozen, he has a time for everything (probably a place to) and he doesn’t let anyone disrupt it.

I really think he’s on to something.

Want to increase your creativity, productivity, and improve your health at the same time? Then try keeping things simple. I have and I’ve noticed a difference for the better.