For 2012, I only have one resolution: to simplify, wherever and whatever I can. After the years, I’ve accumulated tons of random stuff, memories, habits and processes, digital data and they’ve resulted in a certain set of constraints (or boundary conditions if you prefer that term) that have been determining me. 2012 will be an important year (I’m getting married!) and this occasion allows me to reflect and try to determine what can be simplified. In the end, life is -absurdly- light and this lightness can be emphasized by removing clutter and constraints.
Here is a limited list of ways to simplify:
1. Know your priorities – and let go of all else
I’m making this rule my anthem for 2012. It applies to all situations and fields: in work, in how I spend my time, in my creative evening time, in my sports schedule and even in my thoughts.
As I’m planning to gather my information and, when I’ll finally be done in the lab, start writing up my thesis, it will become important to focus and narrow down. With all the experiments I did, there will still be loose ends and questions unanswered, but my aim is to distill it down to the essential and use that information for my thesis.
Last year, I gave more importance to making time for creativity – but I ended up filling my evenings with too many activities and too little time to really enjoy the creating. This year, I’m going for less.
2. Do less – but more intensely
I’m going for less, but higher quality. For my research, doing less is very closely related to knowing my priorities – and stopping to spend time working on side projects which are going towards a dead end. It also means trying to spend less hours in my office, but making these hours more productive. I’ve started using Leechblock for the entire day – no more little slacking-off breaks in between. If I need a break, I’ll take a real coffee-break or do something that truly gives me new shot of energy – not just some random surfing around.
Doing less also means keeping some open space in the evenings, allowing enough time to enjoy my creative time, and some genuine downtime for reading or meditating.
3. Reevaluate your information stream
This method for simplifying the digital clutter is the first action I took this year. You can read all about it here.
4. Leave space and time
To enjoy the lightness of being, and a clear mind, I’m leaving more space and time – both physically as well as mentally. For this way of simplifying, I’m fully inspired by Zen Habits, which was long ago one of the first blogs I subscribed to, and I still enjoy reading the posts there very much.
5. Keep an open and clear mind
Again, this is related to all previous points. To simplify, and be ready to enjoy the moment with my full attention, I need a clear, awake and open mind. Worries and tasks to be done are only allowed a small portion of my energy and attention – the rest is being reserved for the action I’m in at that specific moment.