Applying Einstein's "Three Rules of Work" to Create a Better Life

Bill Abbate

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How to Change Your Workplace through Simplicity and Harmony

When asked to think of the name of a highly intelligent person from the past, who comes to mind? For many of us, the iconic wild-haired Albert Einstein is at or near the top of the list. Did you know he had a lot to say about work?

Let's take a look at Einstein's "Three Rules of Work."

"Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity. From discord find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity." Albert Einstein

Rule 1 – Out of clutter find simplicity

How can you go about finding simplicity out of clutter? There are at least two types of people in the world, Those like Jane, my wife, who always have a clean desk. Then there are those like me, who have "stuff" everywhere!

It is said that clutter wastes time by reducing your ability to focus. I can attest to this somewhat, but for me, it depends on the amount of clutter. When I write, rather than clean my desk, I take my laptop to my comfortable, uncluttered recliner and write away. I do my final editing at my desk and must admit the clutter is annoying.

Once in a while, I take time to clean everything up. Why can't I just keep my desk clutter-free? This is where Jane and I are very different. She touches things once and throws them away or, if they are essential, files them. I am completely different in this respect, although I have gotten better over the years.

Rather than throw things away or immediately file them, I lay them aside. My thinking is they are there if I need them, which I seldom do, and I can find them quickly in a pile, which is rarely needed or true.

Why can't I throw things away like Jane? I am working on that!

Jane and I have different working styles as well. She can wait until the last minute to do something and will do it with precision and accuracy, where I have difficulty working that way. It produces too much stress for me. I rarely wait until the eleventh hour to do anything unless forced to do so. I prefer spreading a project over time without rushing to complete it all at once. There appears to be a connection here to the clutter I create.

I am working to move toward Jane's style of keeping a clean desk and office as it greatly simplifies things. Simplicity through the removal of clutter brings clarity, and clarity certainly improves thinking and the outcomes you produce.

It looks like I still have some work to do on reducing clutter and simplifying my work and life!

"The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak." Hans Hofmann

Rule 2 - From discord find harmony

Doesn't it feel great when everything at work goes smoothly, and you get that feeling of being productive and accomplishing more than usual? Who doesn't want a workplace like that? That is what harmony can bring to any workplace or relationship.

Rather than being at odds with others, especially those you work with, it is good to find common ground on difficult issues to achieve peace and harmony. When you are focused on the same outcomes, everything is better.

Sometimes it is best to keep your mouth shut rather than say something negative. There is never a reason for a mature adult to say anything hurtful to someone at work or anyplace else for that matter. Avoid creating or involving yourself in strife whenever you can.

You will find room in any disagreement to discover something that works for each of you if you keep an open mind and look for it. Keep the win-lose attitude where it belongs, in the marketplace rather than between you and another employee. When you seek harmony in the workplace and life, you can usually find it. Everyone's lives will be better for it!

The man who was once the wealthiest person in the world said the following about getting along with other people.

"The ability to deal with people is as purchasable a commodity as sugar or coffee and I will pay more for that ability than for any other under the sun." John D. Rockefeller

Rockefeller's wisdom in this statement is how greatly he valued the goodwill such a person brought to his organization. This goodwill translated to greater unity and harmony in the workforce.

Rule 3 – In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity

Life is full of opportunities. Why? Because life is full of difficulties! So long as we live and breathe, we will face challenges in life. This always has been and always will be true.

"What is the difference between an obstacle and an opportunity? Our attitude toward it. Every opportunity has a difficulty, and every difficulty has an opportunity." J. Sidlow Baxter

Think about it for a moment. Can you name one modern invention or convenience not created because of difficulty? If you can come up with one, please leave it in the comments below.

To learn more about how difficulties present us with opportunities in life, check out this article: Find the Encouragement You Need and How to Deal with Difficulties in Your Life.

"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." Winston Churchill

Final words

What I love about Einstein's Three Rules of Work is its simplicity. There is little that compares in the clutter of suggestions made by others today. I also love the focus on bringing harmony into our lives. I don't know about you, but I could always use more of that! And what could be more valid than the reality that the difficulties we face in life provide a source of endless opportunity!

If you can live out Einstein's Three Rules of Work, you will find more enjoyment in your work, and you will find more enjoyment in your life!

Everything good in life starts with you. Heed the words of a great man and live them out in your life:

"Individual commitment to a group effort - that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work." Vince Lombardi

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Semi-Retired-Leadership/Executive Coach -Personal & Career Growth Expert -Editor and Leadership Writer at Illumination -Author

Richmond, VA

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