Finding the Balance Between Simple and Complex

19 April, 2023

Whether we realize it or not, we often need to find a balance between complex and simple. Too often though, many people err on the side of the complex.

To some, the complex choice in anything seems better value. Others fall into the contingency mindset when choosing between complex and simple — they figure they might need more at some hazy point in the future, and go with the more complex option.

If you’ve been reading the posts in this space for any length of time, you know that I tend to choose the simple path wherever and whenever possible. Why? Simple offers less drag on my efforts. Simple requires less maintenance. Simple cuts to the core of what I need to do, what I want to do, what I want to know.

Take, for example, a task management application called Remember the Milk. Way back in January, 2016 I started a year-long experiment with it. Over the 12 months that I used Remember the Milk, I found it had more features than I’d ever use. It has more features than I need. That doesn’t mean that Remember the Milk is a bad tool. Far from it. It became clear by the middle of 2016, though, that Remember the Milk wasn’t the right task manager for me.

That’s not to say I shun the complex. Complex does have its place. You can’t wrap everything that’s happening in the world today in a simple, straightforward package. Very little is black and white. There are too many shades of gray.

Some people, for example, need the advanced features of software like Photoshop or The GIMP. Something like Pinta just isn’t enough for their needs.

Balance comes when you understand when to go simple and when to go complex. That balance isn’t easy to find. It takes a bit of introspection. It takes you challenging your ideas about what you need. In the end, though, you can strike that balance.

Scott Nesbitt