Live La Vida Simple At Work


Behold my blender.

She is beautiful, yes?

The glistening stainless steel. The thick, strong glass. The single switch and only two speeds.


A blender is supposed to have at least ten different modes and fifteen different speeds, right? I mean, what if I want to make a smoothie, which speed do I use? How about chopping up carrots? Isn’t that different than a smoothie? Shouldn’t there be a specific speed for everything I might need to liquify or blend together?

Honestly, it’s four little blades that spin around and slice and dice whatever you put in there. Does speed really matter?

My classic Oster Blender has two speeds: fast and slow. And I only use the fast speed to scare the cat when she walks by.

I LOVE my blender for everything it doesn’t have. It is simple, straightforward, and most importantly, it just works. The reason it works is because the basics of this blender are designed extremely well. It has a strong motor, good blades, steel parts, and a pitcher that doesn’t interfere with the mixing and stirring process. My last blender had a thousand speeds and a pitcher that I had to take off the base and shake every five seconds to release a bubble of air that would form around the blades. It was way too complicated for its own good.

I think we make work too complicated, don’t you?

  • Do we need a committee of fifteen people to make a decision that one person could make?
  • Do we need to fill out three forms to request a new filing cabinet?
  • Do we need to add a new clause to our contract every time there is a small hiccup with client?
  • Do we need to have meetings to talk about all the other meetings we need to have? (don’t laugh, people actually do this).

I sometimes wonder how the world works as well as it does with all the complications and chaos we’ve invented for ourselves, don’t you?

One of the best questions you can ask yourself is this:

If we were starting over today from scratch, what would we NOT do that we’re doing now?

Sometimes we keep the complications because we just haven’t taken the time to clean them up. So, here’s your chance to clean them up:

  • Do you have a policy that is confusing or outdated? Who do you need to lobby to change it?
  • Do you have a process with too many steps? It’s time to re-design.
  • Do you offer any products or services that people rarely use ? You’d be surprised at how much energy you’ll free up when you pull the plug on them.
  • Is it common practice to CC everyone on your team in the name of “good communication”? I’m pretty sure some/most/all of those people don’t need the extra clutter in their inbox.

Sadly, we often complicate our work to the point where we spend so much time maintaining the complexity that we start failing in the basics, like doing excellent work, paying attention to detail, and communicating clearly and consistently.

If you need a reminder to start living la vida simple, feel free to print out a picture of my blender and post it by your desk. It might even stir up some great conversations with people who stop by for one of those meetings you probably don’t need to have.


As always, I’d love your comments. What is too complicated in your workplace? What drives you nuts that you’d love to change? Leave a reply below.



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