minimise / maximise

i’ve become obsessed with minimalism this year, but in an odd way. while i am still trying to get onto clearing out a lot of my older stuff (something i’m managing to do slowly, but there are some larger items i’m struggling to sell on eBay so a trip to the tip may be in order soon) but it’s taken another form.

as well as the physical ideas of minimalism referring to how we make use of space, i’m trying to apply it to other areas where i guess it already exists but isn’t known as minimalism. for me it’s a way of minimising effort or resources while still getting maximum results.

the first one of these for me was exercise. due to my shoulder injury, mental health and various side effects that go along with my current medication, i’m often very low on energy or worried about damaging myself further. so applying my interpretation of minimalism being getting the most out of the least i was able to research various workout plans that used a lot of energy in a very short time. things like tabata training and hiit all work well for me, and as soon as my head is shaved and don’t have hair in my mouth all the time i’ll be doing them a lot more often. please note i mean the workouts themselves take shorter amounts of time, these are still not “quick fix” weight loss routines.

that got me thinking. if i can condense what would normally be a two-hour gym session (including travel, warm up, cool down etc) into around 40 minutes, what else can i condense to save time?

i’m often asked how i manage to get so much done (producing new work regularly, running a blog, making podcasts and still maintaining a social life of sorts) and i guess this is one way i do it. if i’m ever travelling i’ll generally be overlapping a bus/train journey with work by planning or writing something down. i’ve found if i really focus on preparation while i’m doing other things that don’t require much thought or energy, i can do things so much more quickly when the time comes to do it. i’ll rehearse a podcast for days before actually recording it. then the time comes to record, i sit down, do it pretty much in one take and spend as little time as possible editing it. this also kind of refers back to a previous post where i discuss making time to think about things, as well as making the most of the time you have when you’re awake.

i apply it to my artwork too. i use squared paper to plan first because it helps with proportions and symmetry, especially when working from a reference. i also doodle a lot of stuff that never gets shown to people, but even when i do share work i don’t expect (and i don’t promote) aiming for perfection. aiming for perfection leads to overthinking and becoming hypercritical of your work, which isn’t the best way to use your time. trust me. i spent a lot of time doing that and it held me back in so many ways.

i don’t really spend a lot of time editing anything, if i’m honest. even when i’m writing i’ll maybe restructure something as i proof-read it, the rest is just spelling mistakes.

back when i was 17/18 i was in a band called the acclaimed and we managed to record a 7-song ep in the space of a four days. even back then i tried to make sure practicing was a huge thing so when it came time to record we all basically sat down and did our own bit in a couple of takes. i think we even had a three-take rule back then (you have a maximum of three attempts to record something and use the best one – it’s something i’d read about a few punk bands doing when studio time was expensive so they had to get through things quickly) which allowed us to focus on songs or areas we really needed to work on.

minimalism has helped me really take a new and effective approach to my own life, purely because i make use of the time i have available. i’m excited to see what i’m capable of doing in a day, week and even a year when i’m off my meds and not sleeping as much as i do now!

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