When looking to improve, those of us who naturally tend toward excess eventually turn our eyes toward minimalism. Let’s face it, when you live in a world of more, less sounds appealing. While minimalism is a heavily overused term, it’s becoming more and more common that I find myself taking advantage of simplicity. But there’s a caveat. If you really want to get better, it’s not about less, it’s about figuring out the right amount of the right stuff.
Getting “minimal” isn’t all that hard in the short run, but staying that way and really applying a minimalist approach to your work can take a lot of work and a lot of help. Anyone can make their desk spotless, anyone can throw things way, anyone can delete or answer all of their emails. And for a moment, you will be “minimal” but inevitably, someone will put something on your desk, your trash will fill up and a flood of new emails will arrive.
We live in a world where others will often interrupt whatever you are hoping to achieve. We live in a world where no one gives a crap about how clean you want to keep your desk. We live in a world where minimal isn’t always possible. That said, the ideals of minimalism can be extremely useful, especially when you use them to help manage the everyday onslaught.
Take the time to strip your work down to the essentials, discover where you spend (and waste) your time and consider additional tools can help reduce friction. Give it a try, but be careful not to take minimalism on as some kind of rigid underlying philosophy rather than what it really is, a resulting aesthetic of getting yourself organized. Don’t let yourself obsess on less for less sake, you’re often missing the true potential of a minimal approach: getting the unnecessary out of the way in order to let the important take center stage.
It’s still new and feels unnatural, but a healthy dose of minimalism has been helping to cut through the clutter. It’s forcing me1 to answer some of the most important questions of all: What is it that I really want to do and what do I need to accomplish those goals?
What’s your take on minimalism? Has it just become yet another buzzword or do you find value despite the excessive use of the term?
Related side-note: If you are even remotely interested in the subject, you should really check out Patrick Rhone’s “Enough” podcast. Not only has it fueled a lot of this thinking, it is consistently one of most thoughtful examinations of minimalism and goes a long way towards helping you find your own personal balance.
In a good way. ↩