Nik Spyratos

Simplicity is also mental

Table of Contents

In continuing my posts on the topic of Simplicity in software, I'd like to take another angle: simplicity in our minds.

Simple isn't small

Now, I'm not just talking about "thinking small things", but rather mental overhead when dealing with day to day life as well as knowledge work.

This becomes especially important for those of us more disposed to anxiety and stress.

By keeping your mental overhead low, you reduce strain and stress. You spend less time worrying about things unnecessarily.

It seems obvious, but feeling the difference here is the key. That's why it's worth saying.

To me, prioritising my mental overheads is just as important as how I prioritise my time. Having extra time is worth nothing if you're stressed out and just veg on the couch to recover.

Similarly to how prioritising your time can "give you time back", reducing your mental overhead gives you your brain back.

How to reduce your mental strain

So how do we do this as tech workers? Two things, one familiar: simplicity, and choice.

Let's start with simplicity. Keep your systems simple instead of complex, and there'll be less on your mind when you need to manage them, and especially when you don't.

It's the same as favouring code readability instead of conciseness or overly fancy design patterns. Of course, there's not always a choice in every scenario, but we must still try whenever possible.

And what of choice? Again, I'm referring to a specific kind of choice: choosing tools that you enjoy working with (or at least don't detest).

You don't always have to enjoy doing what you love. However you'll definitely feel better by marginally improving your day to day by using your preferred tools, workflows, work cultures, etc.

Lean to what you like

In other words, it's good to be deliberate about using what you like. I do this with pretty much everything I do, both with my work and lifestyle. Language, framework, infrastructure - it all goes through the filter of "do I not hate using this"?

It's important to note that applying deliberate choice as one of your values can go against other aspects of life. Most notably, some choices will simply not be as profitable as others in your career. Sometimes, that's okay. Sometimes, it isn't.

The choice is up to you.

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