Live simply – simply live

Apr 17, 2017

We’ve all heard about (and do) multitasking, but the real ticket is figuring out how to do one thing at a time, and do it well.

Editor’s note: Perry Shea will be a speaker at the 2017 Hot Firm and A/E Industry Awards Conference in Seattle, Sept. 21-22.

We live in a world of rapid change, quick pace, and communication overload. Don’t you wish you could find a magic wand to make your work and personal life just a little easier to manage?

We found our magic wand in a company called SIMPLIFY! Today SIMPLIFY! is a trusted SCJ partner.

I was introduced to Bethanne Kronick of SIMPLIFY! a few years ago at a professional training session sponsored by ACEC. The productivity training session tag-lines pulled me in with “Learn to improve organizational and efficiency skills” and “Take home new tools and techniques to manage your work and personal life.”

That first exposure to the SIMPLIFY! training became foundational for my company and created a new way of thinking for our staff. It has provided a common understanding and vocabulary within our organization, making it easier to support and respect each others’ efforts to improve ourselves. All of our employees go through this training with 15-18 staff in each cohort. It has been positively received by everyone.

I learned many years ago that investing in your people improves not only their work experience and performance, but also their home and family life. At SCJ we believe strengthening the way you organize and approach your day will pay significant dividends to both the firm and you personally.

One of the key SIMPLIFY! takeaways is busting the myth that multitasking is a strength. I am a strong believer that single-tasking makes us more focused, more efficient, and more available. To be effective, our brains can only focus and process one thing at a time. When you try to multitask – or what is really rapid “switch-tasking” – you are doing nothing optimally.

With SIMPLIFY!, single-tasking will become the new norm and will dramatically change your day and how you work with your peers and clients. Being in the now, and focused, will allow you to recapture more than 25 percent of your day – this is a huge amount of time that otherwise is wasted because of the mental clutter and multitasking. Believe me, embracing just this one notion that single-tasking is king will change your life.

The full-day training also helps you understand what impacts your day. It provides tools to be more in control of competing interests that complicate decision making and prevent tasks from being completed. Here are a few examples of SIMPLIFY! tools:

  • Create focus time each day. Be disciplined and set aside time each day to focus without interruption from others. I have focus time each morning (60-90 minutes) to start my day and it allows me to prioritize my tasks, organize email, and identify the top three things to accomplish in the day and more. For others at our firm, this is time they dedicate to one specific task or project to make significant progress with a block of time.
  • Establish a media to capture the thoughts in your head. We use capture cards (index cards) as a means to write down ideas, thoughts, and key words when they pop into our heads. The capture cards provide an easy and efficient way for a “brain dump” and are used to help our staff in many ways. A few examples include:
    • Creates a to-do list for action
    • List tasks for delegation
    • Provides reminders and future tasks for action
    • Lists future tasks and dates for delivery
  • Capture cards are placed in conference rooms, lobby areas, and all offices and workstations. I even have them at home to capture quick thoughts and ideas so I don’t lose what was in my head at that moment in time.
  • Managing your workspace. Does your workspace reflect organization or clutter? Techniques are presented to improve workflow and effectively manage not only paper, but also electronic media. This is a huge piece of the training that positively impacts the way you feel and operate throughout the day.

Interruptions, communication protocols, email management, and response time expectations are all covered in the training.

Another beauty of SIMPLIFY! training is how customizable it is, with room for each person to discover which productivity practice works best for them. The day immediately after training participants receive a one-hour personal meeting with the trainer. This one-on-one time helps people determine what’s best for them and provides help for immediately applying their newly learned tools and techniques.

SIMPLIFY! and its teachings are part of our company culture and DNA, with the tools and techniques creating new habits. I encourage you to consider implementing these strategies. You will be amazed by how making simple changes to your daily routine helps you manage your work day and personal life.

You will not be disappointed.

Perry Shea is co-founder and senior principal at SCJ. He can be reached at

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.