When Things Fall Apart: Navigating the Sh*t Show With the Laws of Simplicity
By Duke Greenhill, Chief Marketing Officer
Keep it simple, stupid
Sometimes, despite our most noble efforts, things fall apart. We feel overwhelmed, under-effective, caught behind the 8-ball with no way around… or through.
Of course, there’s always a way around, always a way through. We just have to put ourselves in the right mindset to see them.
Simplicity is the magic elixir to virtually every communications woe. If you can simplify, the dust settles quickly, obstacles evaporate, and suddenly the way — though often difficult — becomes, at the very least, clear.
To help you in those times, and in any time — from message development to branding to full blown campaigns — here are some laws of simplicity.
Remember: simple doesn’t always mean easy, but simpler is, nonetheless, always better.
Law 1: Reduce
Focus your concentration and your efforts by removing from your immediate plate anything that isn’t both urgent and important. President Eisenhower managed his task list this way. The process is called the Eisenhower Matrix. Take the time to consider your to-dos and categorize them according to the Matrix. It’ll help you keep your attention and action where it’s most needed and most efficacious. (See image above.)
Law 2: Organize
Organization makes a confusing or overwhelming “system” seem smaller and fewer. Take the time to organize your tasks (as above, the Eisenhower Matrix is a great way to do this, too!), and to marshal your resources as necessary. It’ll make you feel more in control because it will actually give you more control.
Law 3: Time
Plan out your available time to sort the chaos. Don’t try to focus on a single task for longer than about an hour. Instead, for every 50 minutes you devote to controlling the chaos, devote at least 10 to something soothing that you enjoy. Studies show embedding self-care into challenging times improves your performance in handling those times.
Law 4: Learn
Knowledge is everything.
Sometimes, things fall apart because we don’t have all the information we need. Take a calm look at what you think you need to arrest the chaos. If something is missing, ask for help, advice or find the information elsewhere.
Law 5: Face Fear
There’s almost always an underlying fear at work when things fall apart. Take a moment — in total and perpetual privacy, if you prefer never to share with anyone — and honestly assess what you may be afraid of that may be exacerbating the chaos. The most common fear by far, studies show, is the fear of asking for help.
Law 6: Ask for Help
If you need help to solve the chaos, don’t be afraid to ask for it. Help halves the problem in an instant.
Law 7: Emotions
Many have the tendency to try to “control” their emotions when things start to get chaotic. Although it may seem counterintuitive, studies show embracing — feeling, recognizing and naming — your emotions leads to far greater personal efficacy. Emotions are there to help us. Don’t ignore them.
*Extrapolated from the book, The Laws of Simplicity, by John Maeda. https://www.amazon.com/Laws-Simplicity-Design-Technology-Business/dp/0262539470/ref=asc_df_0262539470_nodl?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=459640465657&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=1422300446319969539&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=m&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9027250&hvtargid=pla-930503627507&psc=1&dplnkId=8f9ba621-d311-4482-be7b-8f1ee5b88a13
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