3 Ways To Beat The Complexity Bias

The human brain loves to prioritise complex tasks.

But good time management means not wasting time!

Complexity Bias is …..

our tendency to prefer the complicated over the simple.

This causes us to spend too much time thinking and not enough time acting!

Why Does It Exist?

Complexity bias is a form of perfectionism. 

The more complicated something is, the cleverer it makes us feel ……. and we are hard-wired to think that ‘clever’ solutions will be more effective.

Conversely, simple solutions ‘feel’ less clever and so we assume will be less effective

This means we tend to favour complicated solutions over simpler ones, even though they are usually slower, more expensive to implement and as a result less effective.

This is also often the reason that simple projects often don’t get completed.

People drop them in favour of a ‘shiny new object’ which they convince themselves will be a better solution.

3 Ways To Beat It

This isn’t a new problem.

People have been wrestling with this for hundreds of years.

Three tried and tested solutions are:

1. Consistency Matters

Most of the value of a project comes in the last 20% of the work. Completion matters.

Similarly, with habits, it is consistency that matters.

As anyone who has ever signed up for a gym can attest – the best routine is the one you stick to.

Given that there will always be other methods and solutions, you need to take a practical hands-on view when choosing not an ideal one.

What can I really honestly say I believe I will manage to get done/do regularly?

2. Use The 80/20 Rule

The 80/20 rule says that 80% of the value in a project comes from 20% of the inputs.

Whether they are time, money, or something else.

This is a reminder that an easy solution will be the most efficient solution, and so there is good reason to prefer it over the more complex one.

The 80/20 Rule is also known as the Pareto Principle, and it is a great tool for time management.

3. The Lindy Effect

The Lindy Effect says that the longevity of something in the future is proportional to how long it has been around.

If an idea or plan has been around for a long time and has ‘survived’: then it is likely to be in use for a long-time in the future and so more valuable.

This means you avoid new fads and stick with tried and tested ideas that, although boring, will probably work very well.

Put first things first and make sure you have the basics right before allowing yourself to move onto newer ‘shiny objects’!

You Can’t Unsee It!

Now that you know about complexity bias you will probably find yourself seeing it in all sorts of places!

Avoiding complexity bias is incredibly important for being productive and so is something we speak about a lot during our time management courses.

About Ben Richardson

Ben is a director of Acuity Training which he has been running for over 10 years.

He is a Natural Sciences graduate from the University of Cambridge and a qualified accountant with the ICAEW.

He previously worked as a venture capitalist and banker and so had extensive experience with Excel from building financial models before moving to learn SQL, Microsoft Power BI and other technologies more recently.