Simplify, simplify, simplify

Many folks know of the KISS principle - Keep It Simple, Silly. But how do you implement that in your work life? Really how do you implement it in your life in general?

Leo Babauta takes on this question in an article on ZenHabits.net entitled "13 small things to simplify your workday" Lovely piece of work. Here is the list and my thoughts on how I'm doing on it and where I could improve.

  1. Start early
    This was a more common habit than it is now. My home rituals focus around an important relationship and mornings are a key time for building that. Still on the mornings that I begin by journaling and focussing on identifying my tasks for the day I am more successful.
  2. Limit your hours
    Interesting. I am using a little web-app called Rescue Time. First it reinforces how intensely productive I am when I'm on the computer but it has also helped me to realize that there is value in setting limits for myself. If I give myself an open ended committment for writing an email or installing a Drupal module, I'll tweak till the cows come home. 80% is good enough.
  3. Make a short list
    I usually set myself one major task each work day. After that I let my email, instant messages and things to do list drive my schedule.
  4. Batch distractions
    Key tool for me. Returning email messages in a block. Using a feed reader to manage blog reading. The challenge for the freelancer is to be available for marketing and customer service response. I manage expectations by letting people know in advance that I set aside blocks of time for productive work.
  5. Write shorter emails
    There is a danger to short emails. "it seems a quick one minute thought is all that is given for any questions and I don't feel any commitment that you are actually working on my site." What I find works well for me is to write a quick draft and then let it sit for awhile (how long depends on the urgency) then the quality of the response goes up.
  6. Limit meetings
    Because I don't work in a corporate environment I find this isn't a huge issue for me. I do implement a common practice of asking "What is the purpose of the meeting?" and "Do we have an agenda?"
  7. Automate
    Oh boy. Check out my post on Drush. There are other areas where this could be implemented though - site proposals, accounting, Drupal user documentation.
  8. Eliminate paperwork
    Recently I have been working with a client for whom I have to print out materials to make them comprehensible to me. Amazing how that works.
  9. Clear your desk
    Since my laptop is my desk I spend a small amount of time each day and weekly keeping it well organized.
  10. Get away
    Sailing. While the author was talking about getting away to quiet places to work I would put emphasis on getting away to re-create. I can't tell you how many times I have come back after some sailing and found a solution to what appeared to be an intractable problem.
  11. Take a breathing break
    Careful with this one. I find that a stretch and a deep breat are important. If I get up and walk away though distractions and I lose my train of thought.
  12. Practise a focus ritual
    This was the revelation for me. I want to take some time to think about what I want to do with this. I think it may have several different variations: one for when I'm working on a project; one for when I doing administrative work; and one for when I'm doing creative work.
  13. Schedule big blocks of creative time
    I do this but the time has come to put those blocks right into my calendar. I'm using a combination of Google calendar and Thunderbird as my calendaring - reminder app. Building in some project blocks will stand me in good stead I think.

How do these ideas sit with you? Let me know via twitter, facebook or a comment here.

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