The one-sentence summary

Life is simpler than you think, so get on with it.


  • The best ideas aren’t always complicated and the incredibly straightforward stuff is often overlooked in the search for a complex answer
  • Many smart people lack the set of essential skills which could roughly be described as “common sense”
  • There are 7 principles here that can be adapted for attacking most everyday problems
  1. Many things are simple – despite our tendency to complicate them
  2. You need to know what you’re trying to do – many don’t
  3. There is always a sequence of events – make the journey in your head
  4. Things don’t get done if people don’t do them – strategic wafflers beware!
  5. Things rarely turn out as expected – so plan for the unexpected
  6. Things either are or they aren’t – don’t fudge things
  7. Look at things from other’s point of view – it will help your expectations


  • In a world of over complication, asking some simple questions can really make your life easier. For example:

~ What would be the simplest thing to do here?

~ Describing an issue or a solution in less than 25 words

~ Telling it as though you were telling a six year old

~ Asking whether there is a simpler way

  • Try writing the minutes of a meeting before the meeting – then you’ll know what you want to get out of it
  • It highlights the difference between duration and effort. “How long will it take you to have a look at that?” “About an hour.” But when?
  • It explains the reasons why things don’t get done: confusion, over-commitment, inability – usually busy people never say there’s a problem!
  • Plan your time assuming you will have interruptions – the “hot date” scenario


  • The orientation is very much based on a project management perspective, which is fine if you are one, but others may prefer to cherry-pick the most applicable ideas
  • Anyone who flies by the seat of their pants would have to be very disciplined to apply these ideas. It’s a bit like dieting