Less, but Better (Or, how to make time for meaningful work)
So I read this article this morning from Unclutterer on living the life you want and it really resonated with a lot of the things I’ve been thinking about lately.
This paragraph really struck a chord with me:
When was the last time you sat down and asked yourself what you really want from life? What makes you happy? What matters — really matters — to you? Maybe it is home ownership and 2.1 children that you want? Or, maybe instead of the suburban life, you would rather travel the world on your own and work only when you need a little cash?
What do you actually enjoy doing? What inspires you?
As I’ve mentioned multiple times the past few months, this has easily been the busiest season of my life (This is the last week of busiest semester of college I’ve even been though) and this got me thinking about all sort of topics like the importance of keeping busy versus the importance of rest, and how to focus your time and attention to get things done.
There was something about that busyness that drove me towards simplification. As I found myself getting to bed later and later, finding it harder and harder to get up each morning, and drinking more and more cups of coffee, I realized I need to make some changes because it was physically impossible to keep up at this pace and I was dangerously close to burning out.
So I asked myself those very questions over and over. What kind of life do I want? What matters to me? What do I want to do? And I concluded that in the end, I really just want to make meaningful creative work. I want to work on things that I’m immensely passionate about. When I can clearly define what’s most important to me, nothing else matters and I can start making changes to make sure the things I say are important get the time and attention they deserve.
Because you can easily say that family is most important. Or friends. Or some cause. But would your calendar reflect that? If we tracked how you spent your time, how much time are you spending doing things with and for your family or friends or that cause? I bet if we looked at how your time was spent to gauge what was most important to you, we’d think Facebook was the most important part of your life.
I know it sounds like I’m getting all self-help with this “be-a-better-you” crap, but really, I think this is all part of the creative process. I’d argue things like this will help you make the really cool stuff you’ve always wanted to create more than a blog of design tips and tricks.
My favorite design maxim; the one I refer to more than any other, is from the industrial designer Deiter Rams who says “less, but better.” To me, that’s the key to good design. And, ironically, it’s probably also the key to good living. Just like in the design process, you remove all the unnecessary elements, in life you need to remove everything that doesn’t matter so you can focus on the few things that do so you can start living that life you envision and producing the work you want to.
So spend time with friends and family. Work on things that are meaningful and important to you. Go take a walk. Read a good book. You’ll work will be better. You’ll feel better. It worked for me.