Simplify, Simplify …

“Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify, simplify!”  – Henry David Thoreau

Henry Thoreau made this statement more than a century ago, yet it’s still true today. Even more so than when I first read Thoreau’s book Walden as a sophomore in high school.

When writing the “story” of your life (and/or your business), keeping things simple is as important as editing is to the end result of a piece of written material. That goes for business letters and emails too, not just books and articles!

Since February, I’ve been gradually building a picture of what it takes to “write” your own story – the ingredients of your core message (which is what every business owner needs to have if they plan on using content marketing to promote their business).

After deciding which types of stories you’re going to share with your audience, finding your voice (the tone with which you communicate with clients), creating suspense to keep your readers engaged, and then coming up with excellent solutions for your customers’ problems (conflicts), you’re ready for the next step:  Edit (aka simplify)!

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Cutting back, removing clutter, and simplifying your life and business is SO much easier said than done. But in the same way pruning a rose bush improves the health and appearance of your roses, trimming back the excess in your life can improve your whole outlook.

I may have some new insights on this in a couple of months, after my family finishes moving to a smaller place. But I have to admit that I’ve already noticed a difference in my thinking and creativity – for the better!

Fortunately, cutting out excess “fluff” from your writing is much less time-consuming (and painful) than pruning bigger things … like your life and business.

Choose Words Wisely

Simplifying your company’s story (aka message) isn’t just about removing a few extra words from your emails or business letters.  It’s also about deciding which parts of your marketing strategy are working and which are not.  And using social media “on purpose” (i.e., with a strategy in mind, not randomly).

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This month, I’ve included three resources to help you figure out new ways of simplifying your own business – writing and all.


Becoming Minimalist (blog)  by Joshua Becker This blog is written by a guy who decided to dramatically simplify his lifestyle back in the spring of 2008, intentionally living with fewer possessions. Read his posts to discover how that’s working for him and his family. He sometimes has guest posts too. Great photos, great messages!

Simple Living Manifesto: 72 Ideas to Simplify Your Life  by Leo Barbauta. This article offers a step-by-step guide to simplifying your life. “Getting to simplicity isn’t always a process,” says Barbauta. “It’s a journey, not a destination, and it can often be a journey of two steps forward, and one backward.”

Walden  by Henry David Thoreau.  Henry Thoreau lived in a cabin by Walden Pond (in Massachusetts) for two years in the mid-1840s. During that time, Thoreau had the chance to “immerse himself in nature, distancing himself from the distractions of social life.”

Thoreau’s writing is deep, yet simple. Assigned to high school students as required reading for many years, it’s a book everyone should read, I think. Especially since the distractions of life today are far greater than they were two centuries ago!


“Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.”  – Lin Yutang, The Importance of Living

“A child of 5 could understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of 5.” – Groucho Marx


This post originally ran as an article in the November 2012 issue of The Write Stuff.

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