KISS as in “Keep It Simple, Stupid”. I’m thinking there’s got to be a more politically correct “S” term than “stupid”, but “sir” is gender-limiting–so “stupid” it remains.
This morning my husband and I had a conversation about a house that we just bought and are renovating. It needs everything. My loving husband has a slight tendency to make things more complicated than they need to be. :) To that end, in an effort to procrastinate from doing stuff that was a higher priority, he created an Excel workbook to track the expenses tied to this renovation. He created a separate worksheet tab for each room with a summary cost on the front worksheet.
I’m SO. PROUD. OF. MYSELF. for not immediately cutting him off and trashing his ideas (and thereby demeaning him) because this morning I was seriously limited on patience and especially on the topic of this house. It’s making me NUTS that we’ve owned it a week and it’s just sitting there with no decisions made. So I really had to hold back. But I did–because I love him. :)
Anyway, I listened. Suddenly, I felt like I was back in corporate running the reporting department and listening to some manager ask for a report on XYZ. I asked my husband why he needed the information broken out by room…? Then I confirmed my thought that his method meant that he had at least 2 rooms (the two non-master bedrooms) that had two line items for the whole worksheet (paint and carpeting).
We talked a little more and I DID tell him that what he was doing would make me insane. I couldn’t hold that back.
The reality is that we don’t track money that way, and we don’t discuss renovation projects like that, either. When we estimate the costs, we do it by the property–not the rooms. And when my husband heard that, he agreed. He had a hard time figuring out how he got to the level of detail he got to–but that’s very much how he thinks: in his quest to make his life more organized and less chaotic, he compartmentalizes a lot of things and sometimes looses sight of the bigger picture. Sometimes he doesn’t realize that the level of detail isn’t appropriate or helpful–making life even more difficult and laborious.
For me, I would make a separate worksheet tab for each property and have it roll up to a summary sheet. I would certainly break out the different categories and track the costs in some sort of organized manner… all the lighting under one heading, flooring under another, etc. I’m as meticulous and detailed as the next person–but there comes a point where you’re going too far. Figuring out when and how to implement these levels of detail at the appropriate time takes some work.
So the next time you’re looking at some task you need to take on, I want you to REALLY look at it. I will warn you that like most things in this blog, what I’m about to ask you to do is going to be very time consuming INITIALLY. Once you train your brain to work this way and it becomes second nature, it won’t take any time at all. But you need to train yourself to do it different.
Look at every single element of what you’re doing. Explain to yourself–out loud–why each part of what you’re doing is necessary. What value is it providing? Because if it’s not providing some valuable result, then you need to question why you’re doing it. And you need to see if there’s a shorter route to the ending that doesn’t somehow open you up to mistakes or missing something. Really sit and analyze it.
Time consuming? Initially, it is. I’m not going to lie to you. But longer-term, being able to simplify things will save you time, money, aggravation and could even help you get ahead in your job if not just in your life. Streamlining how things are done in the workplace while still hitting all of the necessary points without errors is a huge asset. You could build a career on it. :) (it would be called “business process re/engineering” btw ).