August 6

“Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.” —Gustave Flaubert

Simplicity of process yields complex, interesting ideas.

When confronted with a difficult creative challenge, it’s tempting to dive in and start building or making something without first stepping back to think strategically about the best way to approach it. I’m not talking about the creative strategy, or desired outcome, I’m talking about the process by which we create it.

On his podcast, Tim Ferriss once shared a question that helped him find more clarity in his work. He said that when he feels overwhelmed by something he’s working on, he asks “What would this look like if it were easy?” This is not a lazy question. He isn’t implying that the work shouldn’t require effort. Rather, he is asking how his approach to the work might be more simple so that he can pour his problem-solving efforts into the work itself instead of wasting mental cycles resolving the complexity of the process.

As you consider your work today, pause and ask “What would this look like if it were easy?” Is there a way to simplify the process or the objectives so that you aren’t wasting energy doing work that provides little return on your effort?

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