On children, pink unicorns and simplicity
Regardless of whether you have children of your own or not, there’s a good chance you’ve spent some time with these equally infinitely adorable and frustrating little creatures. All day long, they seem to come up with the most mind-boggling ways to wreak havoc on any sort of routine or plan one might attempt – yet it’s impossible not to smile at their multitudously creative ways of getting what they want.
At first sight, every child might appear as if it were chaos incarnate. Yet, there is a simplicity at work which I’m rather amused to find has eluded me for several years as I sit here typing with one of them on my lap: they’re not chaos incarnate; they’re simplicity incarnate.
You see, provided they have inhaled (or so it seems, anyway) sufficient amounts of nutrients and gotten the necessary sleep and rest, they do nothing but that which brings them closer to the fulfillment of their current goal, whatever it might be.
They do not harbour lists of unnecessary tasks in their heads. They do not wonder (much) about the future, preferring instead to live in the present. They will do anything imaginable to achieve their goal, pending only further attempts and a complete lack of regret should they fail. And they have the most wondrous capability to fully engage in whichever activity that holds their current interest to the exclusion of all else.
For instance, the one on my lap now requires my assistance in making her pink unicorn fly. This is an urgent matter.
In fact, children are the ones who get simplicity right. Were it not for the allures of modern society and the millions of purchaseable trinkets imbued with value, they would be content with far less than what most children in the western world are in possession of. And, provided the aforementioned food and rest, they will wake up with a smile in the morning, viewing the day for what it is: a blank slate upon which only their imagination can impose limits.
As adults, there are things we must do, and then there are things we believe we must do. To counter the terror of a seemingly neverending task list, here’s a fun excercise I do every once in a while: imagine what your (or any) child would do faced with every single item of your task list (or list of projects, if you favour David Allen’s GTD productivity methodology).
Chances are, things would look a lot simpler afterwards.