There is a pattern in many of my failures, my unsuccessful attempts at… whatever: I got too complicated. I created too many rules. I overwhelmed myself because the mental effort of remembering and following and tinkering with and optimizing and applying the rules was too much. The complication depleted my energy and intellectual capacity. I used up my power managing a complex system rather than doing the thing I wanted to do.
Simple rules. Simple rules help you avoid complexity. Well, they help me. Maybe they will help you, too.
Writing, for example.
I’ve tried so many systems to get myself to achieve my writing goals. I’ve used spreadsheets and apps, kept lists and notes and records, tracked word counts, and established project milestones. I’ve devised and followed a writing process. I’ve sorted writing projects into different categories, and assigned blocks of time or days of the week to each category. I’ve set daily minimums and implemented accountability systems.
Some of those things have been helpful (particularly a writing process and daily minimums).
Most of those things have been more of a burden than a help.
What’s worked best for me in writing is one simple rule: write every day.
A simple rule works because I can have one of those completely mindless days and still stick to it. And let’s be real: I have as many mindless days as I have mindful days. Complicated systems ruin both, actually. On mindless days, when it’s a struggle to focus and my head feels like its on backward, following a complicated system requires more concentration and willpower than I can muster.
On mindful days, when I am in the zone and know what I am about and feel inspired, complicated systems waste that energy and focus and interrupt the flow demanding complex hoop-jumping instead of me just doing the work.
Some systems need to be complicated to work. Complexity is not the problem. Needless complexity is a problem. Complexity should have a purpose. Complexity beyond the needed purpose is over-complication. On good days, it slows the work. On bad days, it prevents the work altogether. When used consistently, over-complication can destroy the work.
A simple rule or two will give you a baseline.
Sticking to a baseline will build your skills and your confidence.
Growing your skills and confidence will help you deepen your commitment and increase your production.