On Keeping It Simple
1. Simplicity of Access: centralize your essential materials.If your work materials are scattered all over the place, it’s difficult to be productive. Instead of solving problems, you spend your time trying to remember where things are, or on transferring them to where they should be. Rather than finishing the blog post you need to publish, you’re trying to figure out if it’s on your laptop at home, or your desktop at the office. Rather than executing on your action steps from last week’s meeting, you’re trying to remember where you wrote them down. If this type of scenario sounds familiar, it’s time to centralize. I personally use the cloud for most things: Gmail for all my email, GoogleDocs for text documents and spreadsheets, and Dropbox for storing files. I’m constantly working between home, the office, and other random locations, so it makes remembering where everything is a no-brainer. For my task list, I use a notepad, because a key part of remembering what I have to do is physically writing it down. Of course, how to centralize depends on your specific needs, so your solution may be completely different than mine. For instance, Levenger’s Steve Leveen can’t store all of his organizational tools in the proverbial cloud, so he keeps a supply drawer – with identical materials – in both of his work locations.
2. Simplicity of Space: give yourself a blank slate for creation.As we all know, creatives are distractible creatures – and a messy desk doesn’t help. Erin Doland of Unclutterer paraphrases a recent study published by the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute in which science confirms what we’ve always suspected:
3. Simplicity of Tools: explore your ideas with pen and paper.We’ve become so accustomed to using advanced tools that we sometimes forget how efficient we can be with a pen and paper. Yet, in the early stages of developing an idea, quickly sketching out your thoughts on paper is often the best approach. As designer Mike Rohde writes, “Sketching provides a unique space that can help you think differently, generate a variety of ideas quickly, explore alternatives with less risk, and encourage constructive discussions.” While complex programs are great for creating finished products, they’re not necessarily the quickest way to figure out the broad strokes of a solution. So ask yourself: Are you pushing around pixels in Photoshop, when you could be sketching? Are you fiddling around needlessly with PowerPoint effects, when you could just storyboard your talk on index cards? If there’s a simpler way, challenge yourself to try it. It just might be faster. -- How Do You Simplify? What have you done to simplify your workflow that’s worked well?
More about Jocelyn K. Glei
A writer and the founding editor of 99U, Jocelyn K. Glei is obsessed with how to make great creative work in the Age of Distraction. Her latest book is Unsubscribe: How to Kill Email Anxiety, Avoid Distraction, and Get Real Work Done. Her previous works include the 99U’s own bestselling book series: Manage Your Day-to-Day, Maximize Your Potential, and Make Your Mark. Follow her @jkglei.