Simplify your perspective

“with simple thinking, we can maximise our focus with minimum distractions.”

Many things influence our lives and decisions we make. The primary influences being the perceptions and most of the times, the mistakes of perception leads to our complex thinking. we get used to the complex processes, procedures and matters in our day-to-day tasks which in turn add to our complicated thinking. We acquire habits, possessions, relationships, needs, etc., which are part of richness and enjoyment of life — but also are the reason of the complexity of our thinking.

We get continually bullied by opportunities which seem to be attractive and get pressurised by them thereby making our lives more complex. Sometimes fear of boredom leads you into a complexity of temptations and pressures of ‘have to do things.’ This makes our thinking a complex process driving us to busyness, approval of others, anxiety, performance and control.

Some of this complexity is created by us and some we accept and take on as part of our daily lives. Having things to take care of, people to deal with or processes to attend to, our thoughts create clutter giving rise to complicated ideas and create confusion and disappointments. We get caught up in the day-to-day complex tasks we have to get done and often run out of time to do the things that really matter and those that are essential.

We get so comfortable things being familiar and certain way that we don’t want to find simpler way of doing things. Simplicity in thinking is something that is deliberate and intentional and should be a choice you make. By adopting to a ‘simple perspective’ in your thinking, you can free yourself from all the distractions and you can maximise your focus on that which is essential, can eliminate complexities, create effective solutions and can reach your objectives or goals much faster.

Simplicity makes it easier to do things. But finding a simpler way is usually not that simple.

The perspective of ‘simple thinking’

Complex is something which is hard to understand, explain, or deal with and leads to inefficiency, wastage of time, attention and mental energy in unnecessary things. But there is always a much simpler way of doing things. The perspective of ‘simple thinking’ and doing is always possible and is very important to improve efficiency and to reduce stress, anxiety and frustration. By identifying areas, matters and procedures which seem unnecessary and replacing them with simple processes, you can learn to take action much faster.

“When we begin pursuing a more simple, intentional life, we obtain a new perspective.”

Perspective of ‘simple thinking’ is a value, a habit and an attitude of mind as much as it is a process. You accept something complex because you are not looking for simple solutions and your outputs also tend to be complex. Simplicity will not happen unless you are prepared to work hard and make a real effort to achieve it. The emphasis needs to be on simple perspective at every moment of your decision-making process.

‘Is there a simpler way to do this?’

‘Is this really necessary?’

‘Does this add to simplicity or complexity?’

By having the intention of making something simple, you can prioritise your actions towards simple processes.

Ways to achieve a ‘simple perspective’

Many of us consider thinking as a complex process because we have never made any attempt to make it simpler. We tie ourselves up in complex rules when in reality, most of our practical thinking takes place in ‘simple perspective’ and is mostly based on self-organising system of brain. So, We can design simple tools for thinking to improve productivity in number of ways and for a more focused effort.

You need not always depend on major changes to make things simple. You can Make slight changes in small things to simplify your efforts of doing difficult things.

Here are some small changes that can be made to achieve ‘simple perspective’ in your efforts of achieving your tasks.

One thing at a time

We are capable of thinking many things at the same time. But if you find matters getting too complex, then it is always better to pay attention to only one thing at a time. It does not mean that you cannot do more than one thing at a time — but you choose not to for the moment.

Express in words

Complexity is difficult to cope with while it remains out of consciousness and you will find it difficult to arrive at decisions. When something seems complex and difficult, verbalise why you are making that choice, the reasons behind your decision. This can simplify and clarify your decision-making process.

Unbundle

Complexity arises when you are trying to deal with more than one matter at same time. If there are two separate issues, separate them out and deal with each one on its own. Analyse and break it down to deal with it one at a time.

Take small steps

If the task is complex, it can be broken down into tiny steps. Certain tasks may seem impossibly complex on the whole, but if broken down to small steps, each step can be simple and doable. It is simpler to focus on the next step than to focus on the entire task.

Use concepts

Concepts are a broad and general way of simplifying things. They simplify the action into stages. Making use of concepts in thinking can simplify your efforts. Once the concept is formed, the details of the concept will still need to be worked out but they set the direction of the action.

Think in stages

Always have a clear objective in mind and figure out how to reach the objective.

• The direction to reach your objective.

• The concepts that can be used in order to move in that direction.

• The ideas that can be used to put those concepts into action.

Thinking in this kind of framework helps you arrive at possible action alternatives to achieve your complex tasks.

Do things slowly

If your mind is minimally occupied, as in doing things slowly, it will be more able to have new ideas. This also helps the mind to clarify or simplify things and requires discipline and concentration.

Shedding

Things which were needed at one time may be no longer needed. Shedding approach simply involves throwing things out and putting nothing in their place. Sometimes things are ‘unnecessary’ or ‘redundant’. If these things add to clarity they should be retained, but if they add to the complexity of the situation, they should be shredded and thrown out.

Clarify

Clarity and simplicity go together. What is the situation? What do we really need to do? What is going on? Questions of this sort can clarify and provide thorough understanding of the situation or process. The perspective of simple thinking comes from thorough understanding.

Set routines

As a self-organising information system, our brain allows incoming information to organise itself into routine patterns. Once we identify with these patterns, we flow along with them without much effort. Setting up routines can simplify your perception and action.

Finally,

Be determined to seek simplicity.

When things are highly complicated we do often wish for simple perspective. But when things are not complicated we rarely strive to make something simple. Always find simpler ways of doing things. Make the ‘simple perspective’ as part of your normal thinking process to free up time, reduce stress and to make better decisions.

Put yourself in ‘simple perspective’

• Be determined to make an active effort to make things more simple.

• Be motivated and creative to arrive at a possible simple, effective and practical solution to a problem.

• Have the willingness to simplify process instead of coping with complexity.

• Look for simple alternatives and be willing to invest time and effort in that search.

• Spell out in words what you are seeking to achieve. This creates a path to move in defined direction thereby avoiding unnecessary.

• Design the ideal simple process and then seek to work incrementally step by step.

• Consider all the things you are busy with right now and consider how few of these are really necessary.

• Take notice of your habits and cut back on clutter, distractions and focus on the essentials.

“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

Know the problem you are solving

Problems exist everywhere and may arise in all facets of our lives. They are natural part of any work related or business related process. These problems block our progress if not addressed or solved. When we fail to solve these problems, we often learn to work around them or simply learn to live with them. But they can be solved and focusing on finding solutions to problems that arise empowers us and will benefit our personal and professional lives.

It may not be clear what the problem is unless it comes to light. Understanding the problem is important in order to know whether to spend the time or money to find a solution. As a problem solver, you need to understand how the system meant to work and the fundamentals that affect the problem so you can follow a systematic approach. You can find solutions to almost any kind of problem in a methodical and disciplined way.

Here are some do’s and don’ts when diving into problem-solving.

Understand the problem

When we face a problem, we tend to come up with many ideas of what might be wrong and how to fix it and quickly get to work without proper understanding. Anytime you come up with a potential cause that you are not certain of ‘you are guessing’. Guessing is naturally reinforced throughout our lives and we like it because it is quick and works for some of easy problems.

Guessing has number of drawbacks as itrobs you of your time and resources to test every guess. With a long list of your guesses, you will end up wasting both and worse sometimes you may miss out the root cause on your list. You might cause new problems as you really don’t understand the root cause.

Next time around, when these guesses are going to bounce around and distract you, do not suppress, write down your guesses, recognise them for what they are and get them out of your system. Take time to analyse and understand the problem before you rush in to solve it.

“If you are unable to understand the cause of a problem, it is impossible to solve it.” – Naoto Kan

Do not Hide Behind Ignorance

We are often afraid to admit what we don’t know, because it is comforting to imagine that we already have a good idea of the solution to our problem and can take action. The fear of looking ‘ignorant’ or of being ‘exposed’ by asking questions one is “ supposed to know” causes many to hide behind their ignorance. You fail to solve the problem by pretending to know something you don’t under false understanding.

When you are in a problem solving situation, you must focus on learning what you do not yet know. You need not present yourself as all-knowing. Embrace your ignorance and challenge what ‘everyone knows’ by asking questions to make sure you have facts. These questions shatter assumptions and provoke new insight and gets you closer to the problem-solving.

Define the Problem

Get your problem definition right. The way you define your problem influences the solution. Not knowing the problem you are solving might lead to wasting your time and resources to fix something that was never the problem in the first place, whereas defining lets you have a measurable observation and you can remove guessing and emotional attachment to the problem.

Don’t get trapped into solving the wrong problem by defining with prejudice or assumption. Make sure to define your problem as something that is fully within your scope and precisely describing what you observe.

“A problem clearly stated is a problem half solved.” – Dorothea Brande

Don’t wander aimlessly, Generate Possible Solutions

Sometimes, we aimlessly wander around looking at too many things and reams of data. Instead try to ask specific questions about the behaviour of the problem and generate as many solutions possible.

Understand what is going on behind your problem and what controls your problem. Here are some questions to ask:

1. What does the problem look like?

2. Is it the same every time?

3. When did you first see this?

4. What pattern do you notice?

5. What is its cause?

Be detailed and thorough to know how the problem manifests and use the answers as guides. You can develop a pattern of failure to understand where the problem does and doesn’t happen. Try to find specific information and generate possible solutions. Consider about the positive and negative consequences and what you want the solution to do or not to do.

“You can increase your problem-solving skills by honing your question-asking ability.” – Michael J. Gelb

Arrive at simple solutions

Many of us are used to a pattern of poor problem solving that we have come to believe that complex problems have complex solutions. The complex solutions tend to be often expensive and end up fixing the symptoms instead of the actual problem. Break your assumption and believe in simple solution to complex problems.

Once you understood the root cause,

evaluate them for their effectiveness by considering the following:

1. Does the solution solve the real problem?

2. What are the consequences of implementing the solution?

3. Would this solution help you solve the problem permanently?

This way, you can eliminate many of the variables that aren’t working and can arrive with best and simple possible solution.

Simple solution will always give you the most effective outcome and you will be able to approach the problem correctly rather than work around it.

Don’t make opinion-based decisions

If a particular problem that is ‘known to all’ is being solved, a common method is to use “wisdom of the group.” In solving such problems, do not use your assumptions about facts or the assumptions of others to make decisions, rather verify the facts yourself. Opinion-based decisions prevent progress and you might end up in a wrong direction and won’t solve the problem.

When solving your own complex problems, recognise your opinions for what they are and set them aside.

Use facts to determine which solution is most objectively valuable and has more impact. Be persistent in getting the right facts and make fact-based decisions.

“Your ability to solve problems and make good decisions is the true measure of your skill as a leader.” – Brian Tracy

Finally, Focus your efforts to stay on the solution-finding path and avoid distractions. Don’t get bogged down by expanding the scope of your problem endlessly. Instead break up your problem to eliminate the variables that are not contributing and dig into those you can’t eliminate. This keeps you on the path to the root cause.

Next time you are faced with a problem or an issue, try to structure your efforts systematically and focus on an organised approach to get to the possible solution.