Sunday, February 12, 2012

Activity 8 - 30 days of simplicity


As mentioned when talking about my drive, I love design and simplicity in design. Therefore this activity was always going to be included in the project at some point. It's something that is very important to me, and something that I would like to do a lot better.

The talks
I think that this activity has the largest number of talks associated with it than any other. The talks that have inspired this activity, and will be included in some way are:
  • Rory Sutherland: Sweat the small stuff - this is one of my favourite TED talks. The concept of a Chief Design Officer is something that I truly believe government would benefit from. I will be taking the concepts around focusing on the small things that can improve our services and make it easier for people to engage with us. I'm not sure how this might apply to my personal life at the moment, I think it is more work related for me.
  • John Maeda on the simple life - John's talk is much more focused on making changes in your personal life to embrace simplicity. John's book The Laws of Simplicity (Simplicity: Design, Technology, Business, Life) and his website Laws of Simplicity outline the 10 Laws and 3 Keys for living a life of simplicity, which is about living life with more enjoyment and less pain. I haven't read the book but I have read through the website.
  • Alan Siegel: Let's simplify legal jargon! - Alan's talk is about using plain English as an empathetic way of communicating and gathering information. It's about changing the content, making it simple and intelligible. This would be another one to apply to work.
  • Sandra Fisher-Martins: The right to understand - this is the first TED talk that I have had to read (it's not in English) and I was extremely glad that I did. It is much like Alan's, about using plain language in official documents, but this one resonated with me a little more as Sandra talks about writing and designing documents to make it easier for people with low literacy to understand them.
The challenge - trying to introduce more simplicity into my life and my work
I work in government, so there are a lot of processes and information sources that could benefit from a simplicity focus. I've been trying to do this with the work that I am involved in at the moment, but I think that I could probably take this further.

The main work challenge is trying to simplify our processes, I already have a couple identified that could be made a little simpler. The main issue is that I don't have much control over these processes. This means my role will be making suggestions during this time to try to influence some things in our business.

In my personal life, I could certainly benefit from some renewed focus on Laws 1, 2 and 3: Reduce, Organise and Time. I find it interesting that in my work life people think that I am a very organised person, but in my personal life I don't appear to be that organised at all. This is partly due to the fact that we are living in a "temporary" house that is too small for us and we have so much going on with building the house, hobbies and this project. But I'm sure that there are things that I can do to feel more organised in the house, and I think this is really important challenge for me to take on at the moment.

The activity
Rather than detailing all of the things that may and may not be included in this activity I am going to outline this activity in a different way. At least once a day I will focus on simplicity. Whether that is as I'm writing something for work, redesigning something for work or making changes in my own life and simplifying an activity or process that I go through.

I figure that this should align nicely with 30 days of slowing down, as I am anticipating that introducing simplicity into my life should make things easier, and thus less time consuming.

This means that I should blog every day with this activity, to capture the simplicity application for each day, so I guess that factoring the writing process into my day is probably one of the things I need to focus on first :-)

Whilst it might seem, from this post, that this activity is less structured than some of the more recent ones I think that is because I'm carrying a pretty strong idea of this in my head, but that doesn't necessarily transfer into writing. Hopefully you will all see what I am doing/achieving as this progresses.

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