Make it Effortless

Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism, recently released a new book called Effortless. I haven’t had a chance to read through all of it  yet, but I’ve listened to a lot of his podcast tour to get an idea of the main points of the book, and just hearing what he has to say about the topic of effortless execution has got me thinking.

How can I apply this to my career? How can I apply this to family? How can I apply this to ART?

The changes I’ve made have already greatly reduced my stress and increased my productivity. I have a set of questions I like to ask myself regularly, and one of those has always been, “What would this look like if it were easy?”

Thanks to McKeown, I’ve expanded that line of thinking to include a few more:

The first new question: “What’s the minimum acceptable outcome?” This is the question I ask myself when someone comes to me with a project idea or I set out on a new project of my own. Often, I over-complicate things before they get started. We all do. This is a good way to figure out what the real outcome is — it could be easier than you expected.

The next question: “What’s ONE simple step I can take to achieve the simplest outcome?” If I can break down the project into one simple step…that’s ideal. And this question at least gets me thinking about that possibility. UNfortunately, most projects have multiple steps, but if you start thinking about what you can remove aggressively, then you’ll still have a much easier time.

For whatever steps are left over — I ask the final question: “How can I make this step as easy as possible?”

Sometimes that means extreme preparation to make follow-up activities effortless, like templates of commonly used images in tattoos that I can mix, match, tweak and trace to create compositions on the fly.

Maybe it means hiring someone to do my taxes and accounting so I don’t have to think about it at all.

Maybe the website is just fine the way it is and I should spend more time promoting it than I do on adjusting the little things.

Maybe I should re-use elements of old pieces of my art to create new art.

You get the point. The easier I can make things, the better and more productive I can be.

As McKeown said in one interview — it’s great to know what your big rocks are and put THOSE in the jar first. But what if your big rocks are too big and even those don’t fit before the pebbles and sand? Prioritization is great — and necessary — but if you have your priorities figured out and you STILL can’t fit them all into your life, then it’s time to make your big rocks a little bit smaller and easier to handle. Be effective, do the essential, make it effortless.

Josh Johnson

I'm a husband and a father to three beautiful kiddos. I'm obsessed with philosophy, creativity, learning, and teaching. I want to make the world a more beautiful place by teaching others to embrace creativity.

Categorized as Design, Video

1 comment

  1. I’ve starting reading Effortless also. It’s got me thinking also! Let’s make it easier with the same outcome.

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