The Daily Stoic for today, January the 29th. Keep it simple:
“At every moment keep a sturdy mind on the task at hand, as a Roman and human being, doing it with strict and simple dignity, affection, freedom, and justice—giving yourself a break from all other considerations. You can do this if you approach each task as if it is your last, giving up every distraction, emotional subversion of reason, and all drama, vanity, and complaint over your fair share. You can see how mastery over a few things makes it possible to live an abundant and devout life—for, if you keep watch over these things, the gods won’t ask for more.”
—MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 2.5
If yesterday’s stoic didn’t resonate with me at all, today’s one is the exact opposite. The “Keep it simple” principle, overly cited but rarely followed, is probably one of the top ones for me to follow, along with “Less is more” and “Do what you love”.
The Marcus Aurelius passage above brings to my mind lots of thoughts. Let’s have a look at some of them.
Keep It Simple At Work
One of the first things you learn, when you start working as a freelance, is how hard it is to work on several things simultaneously.
In order to focus and be productive at work, I need to get rid of all distractions, especially social media.
Additionally, I really need to focus in just one thing. For me, trying to work in several tasks at the same time, or quickly switching between tasks, is the perfect recipe for disaster.
One of my favorite books,“The 4-Hour Workweek“, talks precisely about that:
“Being overwhelmed is often as unproductive as doing nothing, and is far more unpleasant. Being selective—doing less—is the path of the productive. Focus on the important few and ignore the rest.”
At the beginning, I used to build schedules on spreadsheets and devote some hours every day to different things, trying to do a little bit of everything each day.
However, throughout the years, I’ve found out that I work best when I focus in one -and only one- task every day. If I manage to accomplish that task, I can work on other stuff. Nevertheless, finishing that single task makes makes me end my day with a smile and a feeling of fulfillment.
Keep It Simple In Your Business
I have talked before about how hard it’s always been for me to say “No” to new projects and proposals. I have a tendency to try to do everything on my own. Probably, most solopreneurs struggle with this.
While knowing a lot of different things -product development, marketing, business management, etc- is certainly enriching, we need to focus on what we do best. As Marcus Aurelius puts it:
…mastery over a few things makes it possible to live an abundant and devout life.
Even if you are a micropreneur, you can’t do everything yourself. Find out the things you are best at -or you enjoy most- and hire someone else to do the rest.
Keep It Simple In Life
What I wrote for your work or your business applies to your life too. I usually tend to overanalyze even the most simple things.
And that’s another aspect I also need to work on. As Occam’s principle states: “the simplest explanation is usually the correct one”.
I need to let go on a lot more things, relinquish some control and -as the stoics affirm- focus in just what I can change: my thoughts and feelings. Let others make mistakes and follow their own paths.
Today’s Daily Stoic, “Keep it simple”, is actually one of my favorite principles, alongside “Less is more” and “Do what you love”. Ironically, keeping things simple is not as simple as it might seem. 🙂
In this post, I discuss about what this means for me when applied to my work, business and personal life.
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