THE BLOG

Take the Easy Way Out

02/20/2015 11:26 am ET | Updated Apr 22, 2015
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Here's my new mental discipline: for each idea or project, I'm asking myself, "What's the EASIEST possible way to do this?"

As a natural-born over-complicator, this does not come easily to me. But I have noticed that I sometimes don't move forward on projects because I have larded on too many extra moving parts.

So my thoughts go, "Oh, I want to build that new web page. But I wanted to put video on it. So I need to shoot the video first. What should I wear in the video? I need some decent new clothes. When am I going to find time to go shopping? Maybe I should wait until next week when my friend Tish and I are having lunch near that cute boutique I like and we can go shopping together..."

And for want of a lunch date, the web page was lost.

If, however, I put the big mental "EASY?" note in my head, my thinking can go something like, "I want to build that new web page. But I really want to add video. Maybe it would be EASIEST to build the page first and then when I get around to shooting the video I can just add it in later."
It helps me to think of each project/product as being in "beta" - that is, I'm just getting the first version out into the world and I'll make improvements as needed.

I can hear someone's ego squealing, "But no! My project has to be special! It's complicated...it needs to be perfect...I can't just slapdash something together...I don't want people judging me on work that's in beta for crying out loud!"

Yeah. I feel you. After all, I am the person who, when making chicken soup, starts with a whole chicken. I'm into artisanal everything, too.

But guess what: Not everything needs to be a Ukrainian Easter Egg. Defy your perfectionism and jump in already.

And as for people judging you, well, if you're not putting any work out into the world then you're not making art, you have a hobby. Which is fine - I love hobbies - they are soul-enriching and delightful.

But if you are an artist, then you must share your work, your story, your point of view with the world and then let the world do with it what they will. Risky, yes. But like the man said, the risky is what makes it great.

So strip it down, take the shortcut, reduce the number of options, edit it, do the "dummy" version, simplify, simplify, simplify and see what happens to your productivity. (And your ego ;)
Let me know, OK?