6. Simplify your life
The great Green Bay Packer’s football coach Vince Lombardi was once asked why his world championship team, which had so many multi-talented players, ran such a simple set of plays. “It’s hard to be aggressive when you’re confused.” He said. One of the benefits of creatively planning your life is that it allows you to simplify. You can weed out, delegate, and eliminate all activities that don’t contribute to your projected goals. Another effective way to simplify your life is to combine your tasks. Combining allows you to achieve two or more objectives at once.
Steve Chandler,author of reinventing yourself wrote in his one of his book that as he plan his day, he might notice that he need to shop for his family after work. That’s a task he can’t avoid because they’re running out of everything. He also note that one of his goals is to finish reading his daughter Stephanie’s book reports. He realize, too, that he’ve made a decision to spend more time doing things with all his kids, as he’ve tended lately to just come home and crash at the end of a long day.
An aggressive orientation to the day-making each day simpler and stronger than the day before-allows you to look at all those tasks and small goals and ask yourself, “What can I combine?” (Creativity is really little more than making unexpected combinations, in music, architecture-anything, including your day.)
After some thought, he realize that he can combine shopping with doing something with his children. (That looks obvious and easy, but he can’t count the times he mindlessly go shopping, or do things on his own just to get them done, and then run out of time to play with the kids.)
He also think a little further and remember that the grocery store where they shop has a little deli with tables in it. His kids love to make lists and go up and down the aisles themselves to fill the grocery cart, so he decide to read his daughter’s book reports at the deli while they travel the aisles for food. They see where he is sitting, and keep coming over to update him on what they are choosing. After an hour or so, three things have happened at once: 1) he’ve done something with the kids; 2) he’ve read through the book reports; and 3) the shopping has been completed.
In her book Brain Building in Just 12 Weeks, Marilyn Vos Savant recommends something similar to simplify life. She advises that we make a list of absolutely every small task that has to be done, say, over the weekend, and then do them all at once, in one exciting, focused action. A manic blitz. In other words, fuse all small tasks together and make the doing of them one task so that the rest of the weekend is absolutely free to create as we wish.
Bob Koether, who was the president of Infincom, had the most simplified time management system Steve have ever seen in his life. His method was: do everything right on the spot-don’t put anything unnecessarily into your future. Do it now, so that the future is always wide open. Watching him in action was always an experience.
Steve was sitting in Bob’s office and Steve mentioned the name of a person whose company he wanted to take his training to in the future.
“Will you make a note to get in touch with him and let him know I’ll be calling?” Steve asked.
“Make a note?” Bob asked in horror.
The next thing Steve knew, before he could say anything, Bob was wheeling in his chair, and dialing the person on the phone. Within two minutes, he’d scheduled a meeting between the person and Steve, and after he put down the phone he said, “Okay, done! What’s next?”
Steve told him, he had prepared the report he wanted on training for his service teams and he handed it to him.
“You can read it alter and get back to me” Steve offered.
“Hold on a second,” he said, already deeply absorbed in reading the report’s content. After 10 minutes or so, during which time he read aloud much of what interested him, the report had been digested, discussed, and filed.
It was a time management system like no other. What would you call it? Perhaps, Handle Everything Immediately, it kept Bob’s life simple. He was an aggressive and successful CEO, and, as Vince Lombardi said, “It’s hard to be aggressive when you’re confused.”
Most people are reluctant to see themselves as being creative because they associate creativity with complexity. But creativity is simplicity. Michelango said that he could actually see his masterpiece, The David, in the huge, rough rock he discovered in a marble quarry. His only job, he said, was to carve away what wasn’t necessary and he would have his statue. Achieving simplicity in our cluttered and hectic lives is also an ongoing process of carving away what’s unnecessary.
Steve’s most dramatic experience of the power of simplicity occurred in 1984 when he was hired to help write the television and radio advertisements for Jim Kolbe, a candidate for United States Congress running in Arizona’s Fifth District. In that campaign, he saw firsthand how focus, purpose, and simplicity can work together to create a great result.
Based on prior political history, Kolbe had about a 3 percent chance of winning the election. His opponent was a popular incumbent congressman, during a time when incumbents were almost never defeated by challengers. In addition, Kolbe was a Republican in a large Democratic district. And the final strike against him was that he had once before to defeat this same man, Jim McNulty, and had lost. The voters had already spoken on the issue.
Kolbe himself supplied the campaign with its sense of purpose. A tireless campaigner with unwavering principles, he emanated his sense of mission and they all drew energy from him. Political consultant Joe Shumate, one of the shrewdest people Steve have ever worked with, kept them all focused with consistent campaign strategy. It was the job of the advertising and media work to keep it strong and simple.
Although their opponent ran nearly 15 different TV ads, each one about a different issue, they determined from the outset that they would stick to the same message throughout, from the first ad to the last. They basically ran the same ad over and over. They knew that although the district was largely Democratic, our polling showed that philosophically it was more conservative. Kolbe himself was conservative, so his views coincided with the voters’ better than our opponent’s did, although the voters weren’t yet aware of it. Each of your ads focused on our simple theme: Who better represents you? This allowed us to gain rapidly in the polls as election night neared.
The night-long celebration of Jim Kolbe’s upset victory brought a huge message home to Steve: The simpler you keep it, the stronger it gets. Kolbe won a close victory that night, but he served 11 terms and is now an Obama appointee. He has never complicated his message, and he has kept his politics strong and simple, even when it looked unpopular to do so.
It’s hard to stay motivated when you’re confused. When you simplify your life, it gathers focus. The more you can focus your life, the more motivated it gets.