How to use the KISS Method for Productivity


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We’re always looking for ways to be more productive in the amount of time we have each day. There are systems and tools that solve problems we face in our daily work that are meant to help us get more done in less time. But sometimes we tend to overcomplicate things by adding tool upon tool, system upon system.

We think that in order for something to be effective, it needs to be complicated. As humans, we are prone to a way of thinking called Complexity Bias: The tendency to think something must be complex to be effective. We think, if one is good, two must be twice as good!

This is not always true. In fact, complexity can often cause more problems than it solves.

This knowledge is what led to the acronym KISS or Keep it Simple Stupid.

KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid) was coined by a lead engineer at the Lockheed Skunk Works, Kelly Johnson. His designers needed to design jet aircraft that an average mechanic could repair under combat conditions using basic tools. If the complex system of the aircraft wasn’t designed simply, it couldn’t be repaired quickly and effectively.

Complexity can cause confusion

Complexity seems appealing because we feel like we’re getting the best of everything. The problem is, when we’re given too many choices we often shut down and take no action. For us, this means the more complex our productivity system, the less likely we are to use it.

Sheena Iyengar, a professor at Columbia University, led a research experiment that showed consumers are more likely to take action if they have few and simple options. The keywords here are simple and action. When the choices were simple, the consumers took action.

When we have too many choices for apps and productivity systems, we can feel overwhelmed and either not use the apps or systems that could help us, or we rely on those we’re familiar with—which might not be the best solution for us.

If you want to optimize your workflow by simplifying your app collection check out my blog Productivity App Overwhelm And The Myth of Multitasking

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