Less Is More

Media entrepreneur, Om Malik, had a heart attack three months ago. Since then, he’s quit smoking, consumed less meat and started an exercise routine. He’s also retooling how he works.

Simplification Through Elimination
I was reading a review of the Macbook Air over on Macworld when I realized that the machine and post-recovery me have a lot in common. I have to be very careful as to how I use my mental and physical resources, for there is a high risk of relapse. Similarly, the Macbook Air comes with miniscule amount of storage space, so one needs to be careful about how to use it. The machine’s battery power limitations remind me of how much time I have to devote to work on a daily basis.
It has been hard to use the Macbook Air as my primary computer, just as it’s been hard to change all those pesky “little things.” Indeed, the Macbook Air is an acquired taste. It’s also an apt reflection of an effective “simplification through elimination” strategy.
Three months on, I am looking to eliminate a number of things from life: excessive public appearances, too much travel and many, many RSS feeds. I am going to cut down the effort I spend on certain projects and focus on making the most of what we have at hand.

The Macbook Air as simplifier is an intriguing idea. Maybe I need to get one. I noticed in response to Om’s piece that Steve Rubel says he only keeps two apps open on his desktop at a time–Safari and Mail. I currently have 12 apps open.

[UPDATE] Cory Doctorow talks about how he manages the mountain of email that comes his way every day.

With several million pieces of archived email — and hundreds of non-spam messages arriving daily — you’d think that I was kind of guy who’d carry an email-based mobile phone, a crackberry or Treo or iPhone or what-have-you. You’d think that I ran some kind of IM in the background, and picked up the phone a dozen times a day to chat.
You’d be wrong.
I don’t even have a menubar display that tells me when I have new mail. When I’m being disciplined, I keep my mail-fetch interval at one hour (though I usually end up resetting it to 10 minutes or even five).
You see, I love communicating too much to be interrupted. Whether I’m writing an essay or a novel, composing an email, or chattering with someone by voice, the last thing I want is to be given a jolt of useless adrenaline every time something new lands in my queue.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.