Deliberate Simplicity: Doing More By Doing Less?

The paradox of simplicity has been called Meyer’s Law: It is a simple task to make things complex, but a complex task to make them simple.

Think about the things in your life that you enjoy because of their simplicity. I think  of my Honda Civic, for instance. Why isn’t everything designed to be this simple? The answer is, because it’s easier to be complicated than it is to be simple. Simple takes much more time and attention. Anybody can be complicated, but simplicity is a gift.

‘Tis a gift to be simple.
‘Tis a gift to be free.
‘Tis a gift to come down where we ought to be.
– Shaker Hymn

. . . . As Jim Collins points out in his book Good to Great, “Most of us lead busy but undisciplined lives. We have ever-expanding ‘to do’ lists, trying to build momentum by doing, doing, doing—and doing more. And it rarely works. Those who built the good-to-great companies, however, made as much use of ‘stop doing’ lists as ‘to do’ lists. They displayed a remarkable discipline to unplug all sorts of extraneous junk.” That’s the clarion call of Deliberate Simplicity: to unplug the extraneous.

These words are from Deliberate Simplicity: How the Church Can Do More By Doing Less by Dave Browning (2009) which I received free from Zondervan because they were late sending out Connecting Church 2.0 for the blog tour. What a great bonus! As you might expect from the title and this quote, Deliberate Simplicity is an easy, uncomplicated read, and although my church is very different from Christ the King Community Church described in this book, it’s given me a lot to think about and put into practice in my own ministry and personal life too.

The ‘stop doing’ list is just one example. At one time I kept a list of things I said no to, but that was after the fact and more to remind and reassure myself that saying no is quite ok. But now I’m thinking about being deliberately simple with a ‘stop doing’ list too.

Writing/Reflection Prompt: What would you put on your ‘stop doing’ list? What other ways do you “unplug the extraneous”?


For more on writing and other acts of faith,

sign up here for free email updates and receive

a copy of How to Pray When Prayer Seems Impossible

4 thoughts on “Deliberate Simplicity: Doing More By Doing Less?

  1. Sometimes I do too many things on a computer. I’m thinking reading a little bit here and a little bit there while I wait for a response, etc., won’t take much time. Well, it does. So I cut back on it. But I still like to read good posts randomly now and then because I discover great ideas and learn more about people.

  2. Received by email:
    “So often we are encouraged to multi-task, and we struggle to find a balance in our lives. Deliberate simplicity for me is doing one thing at a time. And enjoying the task at hand.”

  3. One thing on my ‘stop doing’ list is to stop joining any more committees, and I’ve already had a chance to practice this. I was invited to join a community group related to developing support for people/families dealing with long-term illness–very worthwhile, but not something I can take on at this time. So I’m leaving this for others to carry forward, and am limiting my involvement to responding by email on occasion.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.