Simplicity, Parkinson’s Law and the Attic Effect (Death by Todo List)

Last Thursday I gave a talk in Malaga, about simplicity – which is a powerful and even necessary thing if you want to make progress and live a pleasant life without hassle.

Here’s why:

Ever notice how stuff (books, gadgets, clothing, shoes and what have you) just keeps accumulating?

Even if you do a big clearout, it just keeps coming back.

It’s an almost inevitable thing, and it happens in many areas.

In teams and the workplace, it’s called Parkinson’s Law:

“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”

And in terms of possessions, I call it the attic effect.

No matter how big your attic or your garage, stuff will just accumulate to fill up the available space.

But that’s only work, or space.

A far more insidious phenomenon is the way we mentally accumulate stuff.

Thoughts, plans, ideas, knowledge… it just keeps on piling up – and let’s not forget all the tasks we need to execute on!

Death by todo list!

So, simplify.

Scrap everything that’s not essential.

Unsubscribe from all those email list with useful information your never read, by using

Make life with todo lists easier by having ONE single todo: the one you’re working on now – and let all the rest be non-existent until you’ve completed the current task.

Take notes of everything, so that you can use your brain for what it’s designed for: ideating and being creative, instead of remembering stuff.

Because the mind is a terrible thing to waste, and if you use it to store stuff instead of let it be the engine that creates ideas, you’re underusing a mightily powerful tool.

Clean out the attic, and think. It ain’t illegal yet.



Also published on Medium.

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