Human Performance and Achievement Resources
red line
Home Articles & Publications Directories Link Directories Topics Directory Specialized Interest Directories Performance & Productivity Blog Search

The Easy Way or The Easier Way?

by C.S. Clarke, Ph.D.

Everyone wants an "easy button." Don't you? We all love the idea of going to and buying a big red button we can press to make all the work go away and get the results in an instant. But in every day life with all of its complications, there are few easy buttons.

If We Can't Have An Easy Button, What Can We Do?

We all start from scratch, learning the skills we need as we go along. We discover how to creep, crawl, stand, walk, tie our shoes. As we practice, whatever we learn becomes easier and easier. It's that way with everything we do. If you stop and think about it, you'll realize that you've had to learn something about each skill you've acquired.

Fortunately, the things you learn can be "generalized." Tying shoes generalizes to tying knots of all kinds. However, we still have to practice each new knot pattern until it becomes "easy."

But, who likes hard work? When someone comes along and says he knows how to make something you want to do "easy," don't you perk up at the idea? Doesn't that get your attention despite any skepticism it raises? Don't you want to believe it can be easy, quick and cheap or free?

Few things worth having are easy, fast, cheap or free. But almost everything can be easier, faster and less expensive.

Making It Easier.

The whole point of the study of "human performance improvement" or "human performance technology," is to find ways to make what you do easier, faster and/or better. It's a good thing to look for the easiest way.

When you're seeking the easier way, consider these qualities:

1. Easy by comparison.

Most of the time, when you say "easy," don't you actually mean "comparatively easy?" Be sure to say what you compare it to. For example, is it an easier computer application to use because it allows you to use drag-and-drop modules to build your project, rather than having to learn to code?

When you are looking for the "easier" solution, remind yourself what it is "easier than." Think about specific ways in which what you are doing now is difficult. Look for ways to do those particular things easier. The more specific you get, the clearer will be the solution you're looking for.

2. Good instructions.

Part of making it easier is making the learning curve flatter and shorter. The better the instructions, the faster and better the learning. If you buy a solution, demand good instructions and support.

Whatever new program, system or process you want to apply must have clear, well-ordered instructions. Preferably with illustrations or photos. In instructions, a picture truly is worth 1000 words.

3. Builds on what you already know (transfer of learning.)

f you have to learn a whole new skill set from scratch in order to do the "easier" process, that's not an "easier" process.

It may turn out that in the long run, the only way to make your work easier, faster or better is to learn something new. But first look for a process that is like an add-on or plug-in for your "mental software."

Much of our learning is by association. The more one process is like another, the easier it is to understand and remember. The faster it is to put it into practice.

4. Is interesting, pleasant, entertaining.

Well, let's face it, if it's boring and dull, it just makes it hard work again, doesn't it. We've got edutainment for kids, knowing that whatever makes the learning process fun makes it faster and more memorable. It works the same way throughout life.

Any process that makes your work more interesting and enjoyable is going to produce better and faster performance. Keep your attention. Make you more productive.

Some things are hard, boring or distasteful. You have to do them anyway.

I'm sorry to have to say this, but there are some tasks that are difficult no matter what. Or boring. Or extremely unpleasant. Even under the easiest conditions you can make for them.

The "easier" in this case is in your attitude. You have to learn a process often called "acceptance." Then you can make the hard tasks doable without just suffering through them.

For example, unless you have a maid service, you have to clean your toilets. Who likes that. No matter how many "easy" cleaning products you try, you're still cleaning the toilet. If you accept that it's just something that has to be done, you might simply play some upbeat music to cheer yourself, put on some plastic gloves and get on with it.

Eventually, that's true of all your work -- the easy, the easier and the difficult. It's work. You can make the best of it. But you still have to do it.


Home Articles & Publications Directories Link Directories Topics Directory Specialized Interest Directories Performance & Productivity Blog Search

Website and contents ©1997-2011 C.S. Clarke, Ph.D. (Except where otherwise noted. Articles and content from other contributors are copyright to their respective authors.) All rights reserved.