Over-complication Leads to Under-performance – So Simplify, Stupid

Leonardo da Vinci

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” – Leonardo da Vinci, Born Apr. 15, 1452.

Y'all are making it too complicated.

Drowning in options and possibilities? Start slapping some arbitrary limitations on yourself and see what you come up with.

Innovation and elegance come from making the best solution out of what you have at hand.

So if you have too much at hand and it's befuddling you, throw some out.

Can't decide on fonts? You need one serif, one sans-serif. Done.

Can't decide on colors? You need three. Use one of those online random color pickers. Roll two and pick one or else flip a coin. Done.

Need a photo for a promo? Take three shots and pick the best one.

Need to write a new article for your blog? Give yourself ten minutes to brainstorm topics. Pick one, give yourself an hour to write something. Publish it, move on.

The most productive processes are the ones where you get out of your own way and allow work to happen – not as some imagined potential thing – but right in front of you USING only what is in front of you.

The ode is when the poet sits and writes about just one thing they like until it's nauseatingly described.

The still life is when the painter just paints the pile of junk on the table in the kitchen.

The jam is when the musician just picks and twiddles out a tune from thin air using instinct and familiarity with the math of music.

Hell, almost all dancing is this freestyle kind of thing unless you learned some practiced moves.

And what you end up with when you simplify your process is often the kind of beautiful, sophisticated, and elegant kind of work that people call creative genius.

They marvel because they know that there is an endless chaotic universe of possibility and potential, and somehow you chopped it down to just one little piece of awesomeness.

You're getting it ALL done, while they drown in a sea of limitless “maybe, somehow, one day” quantum foam of “not getting anything done”.

If they only knew the secret:

Y'all are making it too complicated.

2 thoughts on “Over-complication Leads to Under-performance – So Simplify, Stupid”

  1. Hey Colin,

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while now, and this is the post to seriously resonate with me and where I’m at in my life right now.

    The paradox of choice has taken so much energy from me, and I’ve only just arrived at a point in my life where making quick decisions has become the primary focus. No more “shiny object syndrome”.

    The change has brought peace of mind and renewed energy. I couldn’t be more grateful for the shift.

    Anyways, the timing of my discovery of this post lining up with my current insights has been satisfying to say the least.


  2. One of my favourite articles so far!

    My late wife spent all afternoon – literally – trying to decide on the exact shade of blue she wanted for a website we were building.

    And no course or product we bought was ever right for her – she wanted everything to be tweaked or customized or made more complicated than it needed to be.

    And I don’t need to tell you the result – we hardly ever got around to implementing anything because part way through making the changes she thought she wanted, the next shiny object had turned up in her Inbox and it was as though the current project(s) had never even existed.

    Of course, she would never agree with what you wrote in this article – but it resonates strikingly with me, after more than a decade of seeing how complexity kills productivity.

    Thanks, Colin, for making this point so well and so clearly!

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