Most of us have heard the KISS acronym – Keep It Simple, Stupid. Used in many industries and even more productivity advice guides, it’s a concept of eliminating any unnecessary complications from your task, project or thought process. The result should ideally help you simplify your day-to-day, work life, or anything else that feels overwhelmingly complicated.
The KISS concept itself was invented by a US Navy engineer Kelly Johnson. He said that “… designs should be simple enough to be repaired by a man in a combat situation with only some basic mechanic’s training and simple tools.” It seems like an ambitious ask but this principle can be applied to our daily habits too. Here are some ways I simplify my day:
Break up your work
We’ve all been there – staring at a project that feels so enormous and overwhelming that we don’t know where or how to start. This could be a new challenge at work or a home renovation – our brain can only see the sheer scale of it at first.
This is where a technique called Action Planning comes in. It’s used in many time-management and efficiency training courses, and simply means breaking up your project into bite-size chunks. For example, to give a training session at work, follow these steps:
- Define you want to teach your team
- What resources and research will you need?
- Write the ‘how-to’
- Organise the information into a presentation and rehearse it
The steps will differ for everyone but the concept of defining the different parts of the project remains. This brings us to…
Do one thing at a time
This may fly in the face of the much-revered ability to multitask. But scientific evidence has been clear for years – multitasking doesn’t work. It’s been hailed as a characteristic of CEOs, busy parents and even all women, regardless of their job title. The truth is, we’re all bad at it! Multitasking divides our focus and means we don’t dedicate our full capacity to any of the tasks.
Instead, set the intention to be fully present for each task you’re about to start. If you’re writing a report for work, switch off the sound of incoming e-mails and social media notifications. If you’re in a meeting, participate fully and resist the distractions on your phone. You’ll notice more clarity and intention in your day!
Limit your working time
Now that many of us (including our team at Foothold) are working from home, it’s very easy to work more than we did in the office. The odd e-mail here, some ‘may as well finish this today’ there… Before you know it, you’re one of the home workers who are doing longer hours than they normally would.
The cure for this is simple (but not easy) – be strict with yourself and limit your hours. If you know you only have seven hours to accomplish everything you’ve set for the day, you’ll find yourself completing high-priority tasks first, forcing yourself to be more effective. This can go hand in hand with flexible working. The trick is to decide on your time limit and stick to it. Creating an enforcing this boundary will give you the best chance of a balance between work and the rest of your life.
There are many more ways to bring more balance and structure to your life. But whatever you do to simplify your day, it’s sure to reduce the emotional clutter we all feel every now and then. And that’s what makes the biggest difference.