Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.


Are you at work? Look around your desk/cubicle/office. Pick one thing and ask yourself why is it there. Do you use it often? Will you use it today, this week, this month? If it’s not work related, why do you have it? What would happen if you threw it away—removed it from your life?

Here’s a funny story. There are three Diet Coke cans, empty, that have been on my desk for a few days now. Every day I look at them and say to myself, “I need to throw those away.” Yet there they sit. What’s keeping me from doing it?


Dissonance is a tension or clash resulting from the combination of two disharmonious or unsuitable elements/events. Here’s the deal. I want to recycle those cans. But I don’t have a recycle bin in my cube. The closest bin is on the other side of the building. I hardly go over there. So removing those cans from my life requires the extra effort. The tension comes in because I have this nagging thought: why the eff don’t I have a recycle bin? We sell the frickin things, 50+ different styles, yet for some reason I can’t have one. Dissonance. And that leads to resistance. Resistance leads to feeling empty, purposeless. Which may or may not lead back to more dissonance.

So what does dissonance have to do with simplifying your life? When you simplify, there are fewer things for you to be in conflict with, consciously or subconsciously. There’s clarity. You feel better. And you’re back in control of your life.

Where to start? Start small. For example, I lug a backpack to work. It contains three notebooks, a gazillion pens/pencils/Sharpies, some business cards, an empty bottle of Aleve, and a lot of nothing else. And every day I never open it. It sits on a chair and watches me do my work. Then I lug it home. So what should I do? How do I simplify? Right, ditch the backpack. I don’t need it. I think I need it, but I don’t. Not really. So tomorrow, no backpack.

That’s a start. Where will you start?


2 thoughts on “Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.

  1. I will start with my desk. Which is pretty neat. So really I should start with my office cupboard, which is cluttered with stuff that I never use. But it has a sliding door so you don’t see that. But still the clutter weighs me down. Right through the harmonica sliding door.

    Thank you for this post. I liked it muchly. And I understand the three empty cans of coke. How about you just take them for a walk to the recycling today and call it “exercise”. I’m sure you’ll feel a great sense of accomplishment afterwards, and who knows, you might run into someone who hands you a perfect line you can give to Escher.

    Tomorrow no backpack? My friend Clifford says: “Don’t be heroic.” Carry only the essentials (she says, lugging around three notebooks, a gazillion pens (fountain and other), wallet, iPhone, keys, gloves, 500GB hard disk, a novel (the excellent Arvinda Adiga’s Last Man In Tower) and make-up bag.)

    Then again, why not be heroic, and try the impossible?

    Good luck simplifying. It’s a wonderful concept.

    Much love from sunny but freezin’ Luxembourg,

  2. Thanks for the comment, Cecile. No backpack today. What a strange feeling, a good feeling, having that metaphorical monkey off my back. 🙂

    The Diet Coke cans are gone. And when I finish my next one, that instant, I will walk it down to the recycling bin. Perhaps I will get inspired with a line or two for Escher. Or for the two short stories I’m now writing.

    Glad you liked this post. Take care.

    Much love from Wisconsin!

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