Reduce the Noise

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

The next three posts we’re going to jump into some work and study around creating simplicity. With today the amount of space that is stolen from us by all kinds of competing priorities it is incredibly hard to find a clear head with all the noise. I’ve found in my work on simplicity it can be super powerful and very empowering. It is much easier to make things complicated, so we do it. Almost automatically.

Before we can reduce the noise and distractions of our physical spaces and those of others, we have to do for ourselves. We can’t really do what it takes to fully simplify our physical spaces and help others get there if our own yard is a mess. I think it means something different for everyone, so what I present, is just a thought that I hope can trigger yours to get going in the right direction.

I’ve kept this quote from Bruce Less close:

It’s not the daily increase but the daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.

Lao Tzu calls simplicity one of three greatest treasures (one of the other three was compassion which we covered last week 😀) you can have or keep close. Anything Simple in its actions or thoughts will bring you back to the source of being. This is why simplicity when it can be reached is such a treasure. It brings you into the present and shows you the way things are. You will find patience in things like friends, family, and colleagues because you will see them as they are. Not through a haze or fog because you’re trying to see it all through the noise that surrounds you.

Leo Babauta of Zen Habits writes:

The problem isn’t that we have to little time – we all get the same amount of time each day and each week. It’s the exact right amount of time, because it’s all there is. It’s possible that we have too many things to do. But actually the real problem is that we want to do too much in the time we have.

I struggle with this everyday I sit in the morning with my cup of coffee. I get greedy in what I think I can do in my day. Is it possible that we get greedy thinking we can do it all? This initial desire to always want and to do more, could it be working against us? Is it possible that we create the noise that makes things more complex than they need to be? This goal to reach out beyond what we’re capable does make things more complex.

I start my day with a piece of paper and a pen to fight this. Yes, analog is on the come back over digital. I believe in use of both and do so regularly, but that’s another post. Trust me on this, its like creating a painting for your day. You’ll feel great.

I have 5 boxes on the paper and I only put one task in each box. Three are saved for work that I want to accomplish and two are for personal things I want to accomplish. They are big deals and big tasks, very meaningful. That’s all I get to put into my day. I did this for over a month, everyday. Gratitude from yesterday that I was appreciative of and the five boxes. I found so much more joy in what I got done everyday because I got the most important things done. They were all I could fit into those 5 boxes, so they had to be super tasks, meaningful tasks. That’s the art of simplifying.

This practice was hard at first, but got easier as it went and I trained myself. A year later I am still doing it and getting the same feeling of accomplishment. Each task or actually moment that I tasked in those boxes got my full direct focus. It wasn’t to much and they were not little. It was very fulfilling. After the five were done I found all kinds of extra time to do other things and get generous with my time I had left.

Next post we’ll look into some ways we can declutter the noise and make better choices. We’ll make the reach for simplicity easier.

Thanks for reading and have a great rest of the week!

✌🏻 Shawn

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