the simplify guy

Daily acts of simplification

Category: Quotes

Lewis Hamilton: Keeping it Simple Makes Me Faster


Writing in his column for the BBC online, Lewis Hamilton describes how a simplifying philosophy underpins his success.


Day 98 – Direct Debit Delete & Ronald Reagan


A quick and easy one today. While I was reviewing my online banking, I took a cursory look at my list of Direct Debits. I found one that was no longer relevant so, with a couple of clicks, I deleted it.

As that was so easy, I’ll throw in a quote too!


They say the world has become too complex for simple answers. They are wrong. ~ Ronald Reagan

Day 74 & Eleanor Roosevelt


“A little simplification would be the first step towards rational living, I think.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Day 74 and the last day of electronic-only simplifying. Back at home there is plenty more to tackle. Today’s Daily Act of Simplification was to unsubscribe to a regular email from a restaurant chain.

Another step towards rational living as per Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote above!

Day 73 & Agatha Christie


“The simplest explanation is always the most likely.” ~ Agatha Christie

One of the greatest murder mystery writers of all time ventures that the simplest explanation is always the most likely. I wonder if that was true in her novels where the identity of the perpetrator was cleverly hidden until the end? She makes a good point however, and the sentence is a summary of the widely known concept of Occam’s Razor.. This concept has its fans and it’s detractors, but it is what I would call a good rule of thumb. The simplest explanation is the most LIKELY, even if it is not the BEST explanation in ALL cases.

The simplest explanation of today’s Daily Act of Simplification is that I ran down my list of friends on Twitter and unfollowed any that were providing content that didn’t fit with my current purpose for using it. Twitter has long been my “cleanest” social media feed, so I only had to chip away a couple and it is now exactly where I want it.

The holiday is unfortunately rapidly approaching the end (boo, hiss) but I am looking forward to some chunkier simplifications at the weekend!

Day 72 & Edsger Wybe


“Simplicity is a great virtue but it requires hard work to achieve it and education to appreciate it. And to make matters worse: complexity sells better.” ~ Edsger Wybe

Edsger Wybe was a world famous computer scientist and above he makes two great points. Firstly simplicity is hard work. As explained by my post on entropy, to achieve and maintain simplicity you have to ‘do stuff’. Secondly complexity does indeed sell better, again described in a previous post.

Today’s Daily Act of Simplification wasn’t computer rocket science, it was a simple email unsubscribe, but it is another step forward!

Day 71 & Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


“In character, in manner, in style, in all the things, the supreme excellence is simplicity”
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Simplicity is “supreme excellence” – another great definition!

Today’s Daily Act of Simplification was another email unsubscribe – some health newsletter that I’ve never read. I’m also pleased to report that the work on the Facebook feed of the last couple of days is having a marked effect, I reckon I’ve halved my scrolling time so far!

Day 70 & Robert Louis Stevenson


The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life’s plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life. ~Robert Louis Stevenson

I really like the above quote. RLS is reminding us that happiness and fulfilment can only be found in the moment that we are in now, and therefore we must look for it in the things right under our noses. It reminds me of a great short story called Acres of Diamonds which can be googled and downloaded free as a PDF. It is about a farmer in Africa who follows the diamond rush by leaving everything behind only to have a poor, lonely end to his life having failed to find his fortune. Later one of the richest diamond fields is found on his own land. That’s it in a nutshell – the actual story presents it a lot better!

I think it’s also important to add one thing to the RLS quote. “Life’s plain, common work” and “daily duties” are only going to give you the opportunity for fulfilment if you have a life of purpose and focus, one without long to-do lists of tasks that are not of your choosing. Knowing what you value, and removing everything else, are key to finding this sweet spot where your daily simple duties are ones of value and fulfilment.

Today, I did the same as yesterday and updated the subscription settings on things that appeared in my Facebook feed that didn’t get the treatment yesterday. Early indications are that this is making a dramatic difference!

Day 68 & William Morris


Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. ~William Morris

William Morris was a hugely influential artist and writer of the 19th Century, inspiring the likes of Tolkein amongst others. His quote above is a great mantra for the declutterer, and is worth bearing in mind when considering any purchase. Again, this is not about creating a white empty box to sit in, it is about creating a life where everything is there on purpose. You choose what is right for you, but what isn’t right needs to go!

Today, what went was another contributor to my lengthy Facebook feed. (BTW I am now in remote Scottish location No.3 – more remote but more connectivity too – yay!).

Day 67 & Leonardo Da Vinci


“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” ~ Leonardo Da Vinci

Leonardo Da Vinci is widely regarded as one of the great geniuses in all of human existence. He was a leading figure in a diverse range of fields, from engineering and architecture to painting and sculpting, a true “polymath”. For someone who had mastered the intricacies and complexities of such a wide range of fields to make the statement above speaks volumes to me. Simplicity is not a world of nothing, it is a world of mastery, purpose and elegance.

I am sure that Leonardo wouldn’t have wanted an online aquatics retailer to email him regularly, advertising things he would never want to buy, and so neither do I – goodbye!

Day 66 & Henry David Thoreau


Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb-nail. ~Henry David Thoreau

Keeping up the Daily Acts of Simplification whilst on holiday isn’t proving to be too difficult, albeit limited to things I can do with my iPad. Today I have hidden a mass contributor to my Facebook news feed.

Above, Henry David Thoreau echoes the voices of the wise folk noted on the last couple of updates – “Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!”