Day 9 — Simplify

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December 2020

There are two razors, named after my good friends — William of Ockham and Robert J. Hanlon — that deal with simplicity.

Occam’s razor states that you should optimize for simple solutions over more complex ones. There are exceptions, of course, but in general, it’s a good framework to have. Simplify.

Hanlon’s razor, which states “never attribute to malice that which can adequately be explained by neglect,” feels like an extension of Occam's razor. In a nutshell, find the simple explanation for relationship-related problems.

I resonate with Hanlon’s razor because I’ll worry about why someone takes a while to respond. Yet whenever it’s my turn to respond, I might take a long time simply because I don’t feel like talking. There’s no malice when I do it, so I shouldn’t assume it for others.

While these razors can be applied to different areas of life, I’m particularly fond of how you can shave off complexity for problem-solving and decision making. I find that whenever I’m focusing on too many things at once, finding the single most important task helps to quickly relieve overwhelm.

Another question I love, taken from Tim Ferriss, is “What would this look like if it were easy?” It’s good to revisit this one often because it highlights where we overcomplicate our solutions when they can be much simpler.

Which areas in your life can you (reduce complexity) simplify?

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by Amaan