Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

The Simplicity Survival Handbook: 32 Ways To Do Less And Accomplish More

The Simplicity Survival Handbook: 32 Ways To Do Less And Accomplish More

by Bill Jensen

See All Formats & Editions

In a world of more-better-faster, the challenges and stresses have never been greater: too much to do, not enough time. And in an economy where worker talent (know-how, energy, attention, commitment, and creativity) is at a premium, everyone is trying to maximize personal productivity. In The Simplicity Survival Handbook, Bill Jensen offers the antidote


In a world of more-better-faster, the challenges and stresses have never been greater: too much to do, not enough time. And in an economy where worker talent (know-how, energy, attention, commitment, and creativity) is at a premium, everyone is trying to maximize personal productivity. In The Simplicity Survival Handbook, Bill Jensen offers the antidote you're seeking: a practical guide to doing less in a world of more, and making it count. From "How to Write Shorter Emails for Better Results" to "How to Use Your Mentor to Help You Do Less," Jensen offers step-by-step strategies, tactics, and techniques for communicating more effectively, setting priorities, and balancing the competing demands on your time, while avoiding the time-sinkers. He takes on corporate foolishness, walking you through how to be more productive and take greater control of your workday and, by extension, your life.

Editorial Reviews

Management General
Simplicity packs a megaton of gridlock-busting common sense which might even explode the work mess you're in right now.
Across the Board
Jensen is plainly a man with a mission... His observations about today's business world are dead on.
Fast Company
Bill Jensen offers not-so-obvious insights about the hard work of keeping things simple.
Business Thinkers
Simplicity is must reading for anyone who seeks to be understood...Run, don't walk, to get your copy.
Warren Bennis
One of the best guidebooks I've read... It's readable, useful, and profoundly simple.
Publishers Weekly
Few authors encourage people to read as little of their book as possible, but Jensen (Simplicity) uses the table of contents to highlight five "must-read" sections on streamlining work practices, then encourages people who just want the tools to skip to the "Do-Less Toolkit" at the back of the book, which distills every chapter into a one- or two-page summary. The tactic, which matches his counsel to always demand the "executive summary" of any professional training course, invites comparison to the "useless crap" of PowerPoint presentations, a subject of particular efficiency-loving wrath, but these quickie lessons are as effective as their full-length counterparts, if not more so. Each of the regular chapters is introduced by three "Less-O-Meters," which gauge the level of courage needed undertake each challenge, the level of difficulty, and the level of reward each brings. Much of the advice is familiar from other time-management handbooks, like the calls to delete e-mails unread or skip unnecessary meetings, but other sections offer new perspective on dealing with job orientations and regular evaluations, observing that they're more for the company's benefit than the employee's and showing how to focus on those parts that actually address your needs. Jensen's techniques were developed over the course of a decade-long research project, and he frequently directs readers to the Web site for his change consulting firm for additional info. Most won't need it, though, since his concise presentation-reminiscent of Tom Peters, but with even more concentrated substance-lays everything out perfectly the first time. (Nov.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
"Simplify," advised Thoreau. These 32 gems will surely help corporate businessfolk do just that. Not just tips or ideas, this is thoroughly researched, road-tested, time-saving advice, rooted in Jensen's (Simplicity: The New Competitive Advantage in a World of More, Better, Faster) belief that readers must focus on the important stuff and completely ditch the rest if they are to run a tight ship. Thus, "delete 75 percent of your email" isn't just an empty edict-it's direct advice backed up with experience. "This isn't a manual for overthrowing your company," Jensen notes; it's more a guide to happy productivity. The Do-Less Toolkit in the back effectively and powerfully reduces already clear concepts to one-page summaries. A thought-provoking antidote to more structured approaches, like that of Etienne Wenger and others' Cultivating Communities of Practice; recommended for collections serving corporate drones. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Soundview Executive Book Summaries
Better Ways to Do Less And Accomplish More
Work complexity expert Bill Jensen helps organizations clean up their acts by teaching them how to focus on what really matters and keeping them from wasting their time and energies. In an effort to provide executives, middle managers and employees with ways to think differently about leadership, communication, productivity, work flow and efficiency, Jensen has filled The Simplicity Survival Handbook - a hands-on follow-up to his previous book, Simplicity - with useful time-savers that can be applied to daily tasks, career milestones, and leadership efforts. By focusing his tools and tactics on finding ways to ignore the senseless time-wasters that occupy most people's days, Jensen offers a time-conscious approach to dealing with most common business matters.

Jensen writes that everyone should respect oneself more. To demonstrate this respect for one's limited time, he explains, people need to do less of the stuff that really doesn't matter, which makes it easier for them to get the important stuff done. He also writes that making the choice to do less can be an act of courage - courage "to bypass the stupid stuff, that everybody knows is stupid, but keeps doing anyway because that's what the boss wants."

The first chapters in The Simplicity Survival Handbook focus on saving time on daily rituals. Jensen's tips include:

  • Ignore Most Corporate Communications. Not only is there a 69 percent chance you will get the exact communication again, but you will also be able to pay more attention to the information on which you need to concentrate.
  • Delete 75 Percent of Your E-Mails. Jensen writes, "The key to continuously eliminating three-quarters of what comes at you is accepting that you have to change how you scan information." A simple way to scan e-mails is to check the subject and the sender. If neither points out that you have to read it or at least scan it today, delete it.
  • Quickly Prepare to Communicate With Anyone, About Anything. Remember to "know, feel and do." To prepare to communicate, know the plan, feel excited as well as accountable, and do what it takes.
  • Leave Shorter Voice Mails for Better Results. Assume you will automatically go into voice mail. You will be better prepared to leave a 30-second message.

After presenting many case studies, examples and exercises to explain how readers can simplify their lives and improve their work, Jensen takes readers through each important milestone in a person's career. From the first moments of an interview to deciding whether to leave a job, Jensen describes questions that must be asked throughout a healthy career and the factors that can indicate when things have gone awry.

How to Say 'No'
While pointing out how successful meetings are created and how to say "no" to anyone in any situation, Jensen offers insights about human needs. While encouraging readers to trust their inner voice and to show their passion, he delivers specific actions they can take to reduce the wasted time that clutters their days.

The final section of Jensen's book shows leaders how to fix the elements of their jobs that take up more time than they should, and how to improve the things that make their organizations great places to work. As a bonus time-saving device, he also provides a one-page, tear-out summary of the most important tools and ideas he has described throughout The Simplicity Survival Handbook.

Why We Like This Book
Bill Jensen is more than a simplifier posing as a destroyer of corporate stupidity. He is an organizational sage with common sense who has found better ways people can solve workplace dilemmas in as short a time as possible. In The Simplicity Survival Handbook, Jensen uses his humor and wit to offer readers the skills and tools he has collected over two decades of consulting and researching how work can be designed for success. Copyright © 2004 Soundview Executive Book Summaries

Product Details

Basic Books
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
7.40(w) x 8.97(h) x 0.55(d)

Read an Excerpt

Simplicity Survival Handbook

by Bill Jensen


Cut-to-the-Chase Introduction

I have spent the past decade studying business’s ability to design work. I’m horrified by what I’ve found, and think you deserve a lot better. So I’ve designed a book of workarounds and shut-off values — 32 Ways to Do Less and Accomplish More — ways to get around or stop the senseless stuff that comes at you every day. The tools in this book work. They’ve been field-tested by people just like you, so I know that you can use most every idea to immediately create simpler workdays for yourself.


OK...On to the freebie advice...Here are excepts from two of the 32 ways to do less and accomplish more.



You know: senior execs...head honcho’s...big cheeses...corner office-dwellers


Reduce everything to one page.

Remember the Grand Poobah Law: If it has a staple in it, it doesn’t get read. Never walk into any meeting or presentation without a one-page summary (of display-size

type) that spells out, from their perspective: What This Means to You


Regardless of what the agenda says or the executive asked for...

Presentations* to senior executives are almost always going to be about one of two things:

            • Control

            • Minimizing the executive’s exposure to risk

So, regardless of what you’ve been asked to present, and what details you’re supposed to have covered, your story and your headline must always be:

• “Boss, things are under control / not under control.”

• “Boss, whether my news is good or bad, your butt is safe with me.”

* (Presentation, as opposed to an invitation for dialogue. That’s very different.)


Always shop your ideas around ahead of time.

Typical senior execs hate two things: 1) Surprises.  2) Spending time on anything that their lieutenants haven’t already vetted. Pre-selling your ideas to the lieutenants keeps you covered on both.


The stated problem is never the problem.

The perceived or stated problem is never the whole problem, and often not the real

problem. Issues and challenges at the senior level are complicated, interconnected, and overlapping. You will have to dig deep.           


Data will set you free.

(If it’s used to tell a story or start a tough conversation)

Always use data to tell a story, NEVER to just present numbers and results. Data can create uncomfortable discussions. That’s good. Be Switzerland: Detach from emotions and politics. Data are just facts and trends that leaders must figure out how to use. Present and facilitate from a neutral position


Be a “pair of hands.”

(Help with executive’s day-to-day tasks and priorities, and be involved in delivering their messages and plans throughout the organization.) Gets you in — behind those closed doors


Always take the high road. Always! 

Especially if alignment between senior team members breaks down, or politics grow:

No matter how painful it gets, take the high road. Tell the truth, take the blame, present bad news, whatever it takes. Always be able to look at yourself in the mirror.






Most everything you’ve been told about how budgets are set is baloney. If you jump through hoops to justify/quantify/rationalize/cut or supersize your numbers, you’re playing with a stacked deck. (Stacked against you.)


Do NOT focus on money.

It’s the very last thing you should discuss!

DO focus on the senior team’s headaches.

Find out what’s keeping the most senior members “awake at night.”

(FUD is a biggie for many execs: Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt)


Package your need for money to perfectly match the senior exec’s very personal concerns



Your first budget meeting with the Poobah should last no more than 15 minutes.

Make your pitch, but also make a favorable impression. The shorter the better. No handouts! Just you, and the key message. What can you accomplish in 15 minutes or less? See Step 4.


Closing your pitch:

DO NOT ask for money!  Ask for another meeting.

If you are invited back to a second meeting, you should have an 80% to 90% success rate in getting all or much of the budget you are requesting, because your Poobah helped initiate and shape the request.




Including why all these tips really do work, order your copy of Simplicity Survival Handbook today!

Meet the Author

Bill Jensen is President and CEO of the Jensen Group (www.work2.com). Founded in 1985, this change-consulting firm helps Fortune 500 clients apply the principles of simplicity to business management and work design. He speaks and conducts workshops widely on changing how we work. He lives in Morristown, New Jersey.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews