Is Your Environment Simple?

What if you could strengthen your 80/20 thinking muscle by de-cluttering your physical environment?

In Pre-Suasion, Robert Cialdini shares a story of writing his first book, Influence. He worked in two different environments. The first one was his campus office with a view over academic institutes. In the second environment, his home office, he had a view over town and people going about their business.

When he wrote in his campus office, he was more likely to use specialized academic language.

When he wrote in his home office, his style was easy to understand for an average person.

Upon his realization, he revised at home all the pages he’d written at the university. Consider the difference between the initial opening line of his book written in his campus office to the one revised at home:

Campus office:

My academic subdiscipline, experimental social psychology, has a principal domain the study of the social influence process.

Home office:

I can admit it freely now: all my life I’ve been a patsy.

The difference is night and day. I don’t even understand what he wanted to say in the original, academic-influenced, version.

His findings (further explained in the book) show that the way we structure our workplaces may have a dramatic impact on us. Our immediate surroundings may help us find simpler solutions—or they may influence us to resort to complexity.

If your workplace is laden with distractions, de-clutter it or work in a more organized place. This simple change may help you better discern between the vital few and the trivial many.