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How To Simplify Your Life With The Help of 7 People

Aug 18, 2007
"Everything should be made as simple as possible. But no simpler"

That is one quote that has been attributed to Albert Einstein. From a mind so brilliant? So complex? So groundbreaking?

No.

In fact, Albert Einstein was not that brilliant, not that complex a character, and his groundbreaking-ness (for want of a better word) is due to his (or his PR people's) marketing skills.

How many of us have read somewhere that he claimed to be terrible in algebra? How many of us have heard somewhere that he was one heck of a peculiar character indeed?

But my article today is not about Albert Einstein. That was just the appetizer. This essay is about simplicity. One concept which Einstein stood for, and perhaps, because of which, he became what he is today in History.

He was simple, but profound. His ideas were simple common sense, yet their implications are far-reaching.

A fine line has to be drawn between simple and simplistic. One conceals depth while the other reveals emptiness.

Being excessively complex is as a twin sister to being simplistic - the former only weaves a web of complexity and profound ostentatiousness to conceal a fundamental shallowness.

Enough with abstract concepts. The last paragraph itself has been a jumble of complex words. Let me get straight to the point - This is not just going to be about simplicity, but how you can simplify your life.

Now why would you want that?

Simply because we live in a time and place (Planet Earth) that just demands of our utmost productivity, efficiency, creativity, time and energy in order for us to survive.

This demand upon us simply cannot be ignored. Ignore it, and you'll be left out in the race for more cheese

Hence, we have only one option - to face it. To face this demand head on, and be prepared for it. How? By simplifying our lives.

If there are 100 of you reading this, and I ask how many people have a definite plan for their lives, and live it in an organised manner, I'd say about 20 or so of you would put your hands up.

Let us use the concept of "Divide & Conquer". No, it's not a new Real-Time Strategy Game where you get to play a Superpower nuking countries harboring WMDs.

It is rather a very good strategy that you can apply in your life.

An average human being, in his lifetime, has 5 to 7 identities going on. Not split personalities, but identities. For example, I am a Student, a Son, a Father, a Businessman, a Teacher, an Author and a Servant.

Those are 7 of my most important roles and responsibilities I have in my life, right now, personified as these 7 identities.

Do the same for yourself. Define your 5 to 7 identities. If you find more than 7 identities, then you'd have to cut down on some of them. The ideal is 5. 7 is okay.

List your identities and prioritise them. Give the No. 1 position to the most important identity of yours, which holds the greatest significance in your life. This is somewhere near who you truly are as a person, when and if all the other identities of yours have somehow been removed from you.

Now draft out a rough timetable or schedule of activities which you occupy yourself with for 1 week. If you have some activities which you do only fortnightly, then do it for 2 weeks, or 1 month.

What do you do on Mondays, Tuesdays and all the way to Sundays? Divide each day into 24 1-hour segments. Or 48 1/2-hour segments. Fill each segment with an activity that you'd usually do.

Go back to your list of 5 to 7 identities, now prioritised from the most important to the least important. Next to each identity you've listed, write the percentage (estimate) of a day that you become this particular identity. If there is an overlapping of identities, then the total percentage would add up to more than 100% and that is perfectly normal.

Does your most important identity enjoy the highest percentage of time devoted to it? If not, if another identity lower on the priority list has the highest percentage, then perhaps that should be your most important one, or you should start devoting more time to your most important identity.

But sometimes, your most important identity need not have the most number of hours. Now write the ideal percentage of time in a day that you should spend as each of your unique identities, if you were to re-prioritise, re-organise and simplify your life.

Now check if the percentage of a day that you should become a certain identity correlates with the number of hours you spend on an activity or activities as this particular identity, which you've recorded in your timetable.

If it does correlate, good. If not, why? Write down some reasons / problems that may have caused you to not spend the correct amount of time as the respective identity which you've defined previously.

Then ask yourself some questions; actually write them down, concerning how you can optimise your hours per day as the appropriate identity you've identified.

Like:

How important is this identity of mine to me? Do I really need to spend the most amount of time as this identity (quantity) or do I just need to spend a certain allocated amount of time as him (quality)?

Which of my identities overlap? What can I do to optimise the amount of time given for each of my identities?

How can I further reduce the number of identities that I have? How can one identity of mine actually be an offshoot of another?

That's it! Identify 5 to 7 identities you become in your life, give the appropriate amount of time to spend as each one of them (while allowing for some overlaps), and then go and spend the allocated amount of time as each identity!

Every hour or so during the day, ask yourself: what identity, what role am I playing right now? Should I be playing this role right now? Is this the right time? Am I spending the right amount of time as this identity?

This kind of awareness gives you the knowledge and control you need to organise your life by living it according to your priorities.
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