June 17, 2023




The Decomplication Method

At a glance

Today’s Fast Summary:

  • Information overload leads you to believe that your everyday challenges require intricate strategies you must overcome.

  • Overcomplication is an excuse for inaction.

  • Decomplication is the process of boiling problems down to their simplest form.

  • Focus on the most basic and fundamental aspects of the issue. The simplest solutions are the most effective.

The Decomplication Method

We live in a world of information overload. We are constantly barraged with the latest hacks, trends, and complex solutions to our problems.

Google ‘weight loss,’ for example. You’ll be bombarded with products, models, and schedules claiming to help you hit your goal.

You’ll find yourself wondering, “Is it really that complicated?” It’s not, but it seems that way.

Many of our issues seem quite complicated. They don’t have to be.

Information overload leads us to believe that our everyday challenges—be they weight loss, productivity, or saving money—require intricate strategies.

This is a phenomenon known as artificial complexity. Artificial complexity is the tendency to complicate problems, making them feel less solvable than they are.

Problems that are artificially complex involve extraneous details that aren’t relevant to the problem itself. Artificial complexity garners marketers a lot of money. It also helps you avoid cognitive dissonance.

Overcomplication, or giving into artificial complexity, is an excuse for inaction. When a problem seems complicated, we give ourselves an ‘out.’ We say it’s too complicated to solve.

It’s easier to blame a problem’s complexity than it is to look in the mirror and accept our own shortcomings. But doing so doesn’t make the issue any less glaring.

Take weight loss for example. For the most part, weight gain is caused by overeating and a lack of exercise. Blaming your body’s complicated inner workings and genetics is easier than forgoing late-night milkshakes.

Decomplication is the opposite. It’s the process of boiling problems down to their simplest form. When you decomplicate, you make these issues more easily solvable.

Doing so allows you to focus on the problem’s core components. Then, you find effective solutions. You don’t get lost in unnecessary details.

To help illustrate the concept of decomplication, let's consider three common examples:

  • Weight loss. The weight loss industry introduces new diets, workout plans, and supplements to the market. But the weight loss industry is an industry; it seeks to make money. The influx of diets and products complicates the weight loss process.

Decomplication involves stripping away unnecessary information and focusing on the most basic elements of weight loss: Consume fewer calories than you burn, eat a balanced diet, and engage in regular physical activity.

  • Productivity. There is no shortage of productivity hacks, apps, and tools designed to help us get more done in less time. However, many of these ‘solutions’ add complexity. They distract from the core issue.

Decomplicating productivity involves identifying your most important tasks, prioritizing them, and creating an environment that both minimizes distractions and maximizes focus.

  • Saving money. Personal finance seems like an impenetrable world of jargon, investment strategies, and complex budgeting systems. Apps and systems are designed to complicate personal finance and capitalize on it.

Get back to the basics: Spend less than you earn, create a simple monthly budget, and save and invest consistently over time.

Decomplication In Practice 

To put Decomplication into practice, try the following steps:

  1. “Who’s making this hard?” or, “Why is this so complicated?” In other words, who benefits from this problem’s complications?

Oftentimes marketing and advertising agencies are the answer. They complicate problems for profit.

In other cases, your own psychology complicates problems to avoid them.

The issue is this: You aren’t benefitting from over-complication. Inaction is more harmful than action with negative consequences.

When you overcomplicate a problem, you overvalue it. We perceive valuable things as inherently complex. Decomplicating won’t alter the problem’s value. It will help you solve it.

As in the weight loss example, you will still struggle with losing weight regardless of the problem becoming simpler. Complicated or not, your waistline won’t shrink.

  1. Then, identify a problem or challenge you're facing in your life. Rationalize the problem. Consider the solutions you can think of.

Using the same example, you instantly think of a product or plan you saw in an advertisement. If that’s the case, you’re falling into the marketing trap.

The solution is simpler than this.

  1. Strip away the problem’s external noise, details, and complexities. Focus on the most basic and fundamental aspects of the issue.

Consider what is within your control. Which variables can you alter?

In the weight loss example, you control what, when, and how you eat and exercise. These vital variables are within your control.

  1. Decomplicate it. Based on the problem’s elements, develop a simple solution.

There are a few ways to try this:

  • Take the line of least resistance. Looking at the problem’s core elements, devise a simple solution. Ask yourself, “What’s the easiest way to achieve this goal?” Do what’s most simple for you.

  • Try the 80/20 method. This method dictates that 80% of your output comes from 20% of your input. How can you maximize or maintain your output with minimal work? Ask yourself, “If I had to do this in half the time, what would I actually do?”

Some problems are inherently complex, but others, like sleeping better, improving your productivity, getting fit, and eating well are not.

The simplest solutions are the most effective. Embrace the power of decomplication. Cut through the clutter. Make meaningful progress towards your goals.

Start solving today.

This week, I ask you to put decomplication to the test. Examine a problem or obstacle you’ve recently faced, and be honest with yourself. You play a role in conquering your toughest issues. Visualize the problem in detail.

  1. “Who’s making this hard?” 

    a. Question why the problem is difficult in the first place. Does the problem’s complication have monetary benefits for a company or organization?

    b. Look inward. Are you the person complicating this problem? If so, why is this the case? Most people complicate problems to substantiate inaction, or to give the problem more value. Why are you doing this?

  1. Strip the problem and examine its core elements. 

    a. What factors are truly at play in regard to the problem? If your problem is productivity, focus, and distractions are key components. In the case of personal finance, saving and spending are paramount.

    b. What can you control? You can’t control the weather, other’s actions, or chance events, but there is plenty you can control. Consider the problem’s components that you alone can alter.

    c. As a boost, list the parts of the problem that aren’t integral. In the case of weight loss, time and starting weight are relevant, but not crucial. You can make time to exercise and prepare meals.

  1. Make a decomplication plan. 

    a. Write a simple plan for how you’ll decomplicate the problem. Ensure that this plan is realistic and achievable. You can take the line of least resistance, try the 80/20 method, or come up with something new.

Follow the plan you created without considering external variables. You can only control yourself. Decomplicate to success.


I’d love to hear from you:

  • Which problems are you overcomplicating?

  • What’s complicating them?

  • How can you use decomplication right now?

Tweet at me (@_alexbrogan) or respond to this email — I’ll try to respond to everyone.

Have a wonderful, Wednesday all.

Until next time,


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