Productive Minimalism: Freedom from Distractions

Minimalism is about more than editing your material possessions. It’s a mindset to help you focus on what’s important. That means being protective of your time and energy as well. Those are finite resources that are even more valuable than money. Stop wasting them on things that don’t matter. I call it productive minimalism, and it’s how I’ve been able to accomplish things while still finding a healthy work/life balance.

Productive Minimalism

One thing that an hourly wage structure has conditioned us to believe is that activity is the same is productivity. You don’t have to be busy, you just have to look busy. As long as you’re keeping up appearances, your boss will probably still pay you. That means that all tasks are theoretically equal. A flurry of activity that amounts to doing nothing is perceived to be better than standing around doing nothing, but the net result is the same. It’s fine if you’re satisfied with just serving time, but if you have any ambition at all it’s just wasteful.

If you want to be productive, you need to target your efforts. Cut out things that you know are a waste of time. Stop pretending that they aren’t, or trying to justify those tasks as having some meaning that they don’t possess. Do the things that most need doing.

The Cost of Distraction

Distractions kill productivity. Time is money and all of that. Eliminate the unnecessary tasks, get more valuable work done, make more money. I wish we could get beyond that, because while it’s true, it’s not everything. The cost of distraction is increased pressure to meet deadlines. Instead of getting done on time or even early, you waste time and have to scramble to finish on time. Who needs that stress? The cost of distraction is the feeling that you shouldn’t make time for yourself. You’ve already blown your “free” time when you should have been working.

Productive minimalism is eliminating the trivial wastes of time. Then you can enjoy longer blocks of time, and spend them doing meaningful things. We all hate meetings and pointless emails, because that’s time we could be putting toward a useful or interesting project. Five minutes surfing the internet here, ten minutes playing a game on your phone there, all add up to hours you could be spending with loved ones, reading a book, or even sleeping late.

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2 thoughts on “Productive Minimalism: Freedom from Distractions”

  • This is something I have been trying to teach students for years, under the name of ‘focus’ – focus completely on whatever you are doing at the time, and once that’s done, switch to the next thing rather than flap between tasks (or other activities). It’s all about working smart rather than working ‘hard’ – indeed anyone who brags about working long hours is either inefficient or incapable of delegating work… or has taken too much on in the first place. By applying these measures myself, I manage to float along in a comfortable relaxed manner while others regard me as getting a lot done!

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