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Updated 30 Sep 2020

Quit over-complicating everything

Managing a business can be hard. Things can quickly become complicated and overwhelming, which is why you sometimes need to consciously dumb things down. Ask yourself: What would this look like if it was easy?

GG van Rooyen, 30 July 2016  Share  0 comments  Print

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Complexity is the enemy. The more complex a task is (or appears to be), the less likely you are to follow through on it. If you want to be efficient, keep things simple.

Think like Ferriss

On a recent episode of his popular podcast The Tim Ferriss Show, author, investor and entrepreneur Tim Ferriss shared a very interesting and useful bit of advice. He said that he often asks himself: What would this look like if it were easy?

Now, what does he really mean by this? And what is he trying to accomplish? Here’s an example that he offered during his show.

Podcasting can be quite complicated and time-consuming on a technical level. If you choose to use the most expensive equipment and spend a lot of time editing every episode, it can quickly seem like more hassle than it’s worth.

Related: Use the 'Eisenhower Box' to stop wasting time and be more productive

Keeping things simple

According to Ferriss, many podcasts die by their third episode because the creators get tired of the technical hassles and laborious editing. So, when he decided to launch a podcast, he asked himself what podcasting would actually look like if it was easy.

Based, on this, he decided not to obsess over sound quality, but instead use gear that was portable and easy to use, while still delivering a reasonable level of sound quality. He also decided to keep the actual recording simple.

Instead of heavily producing and editing every episode, he instead sits down with a guest, records the interview, and uploads it without any real editing. And thanks to keeping things simple, he’s managed to stick to podcasting and post episodes on a very regular basis.

It is a strategy that he employs in all areas of his life and businesses. After all, this is the author of The 4-Hour Work Week, so productivity is key for him, and complexity is the nemesis of productivity.

This is very true in business. Systems and processes are crucial in any SME, but they also have a tendency to overcomplicate things. Similarly, the desire to offer too many products and services can also muddy the waters. And before you know it, you’re stuck in a situation that feels too complicated to manage effectively.

Related: It’s complicated… But should your processes really be?

The solution is to ask yourself: What would this look like if it was easy? Why does this process or system exist? Why am I really performing this task? Is it adding real value? If I have to do it, how can I do it quicker and better?

Start applying this mind-set throughout your business, and you’ll find that a lot of systems and processes can actually be simplified, which will make your entire workforce more productive.

You can listen to the episode here.


Resist the urge to overcomplicate things, especially on an operational level. Find a way to make things easy.

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About the author

GG van Rooyen

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