The Power of Less

by Wojciech Adam Koszek   ⋅   May 2, 2013   ⋅   Menlo Park, CA

This was something between minimalism (and was better than "The minimalists" book) and "Getting things done". Enjoyed it. Looking back on how many comments I wrote on this book, I feel like it's a worth read, as it triggered a lot of thinking.

Leo’s book I really enjoyed. I’m not alone in terms of trying to simplify things around.

There’s SO many approaches.

If you’re ever seen me couple of years ago working on my laptop, you’d see very minimalistic setup. It was FreeBSD-powered laptop, with dwm window manager, which I still think is the best window manager ever developed and with lots of work-spaces opened.

However I never really had a need to collect tasks and work on them to achieve the goal. Things for the university I tried to kept done on time as they came in to the “in basket”, so that I had a chance and time to work on my “own” thing. For other stuff, which includes mostly Open Source stuff like FreeBSD and some other minor projects, I never kept track of anything.

Lately (independently from Leo) I start to list my TODO stuff in a file executed with “tde”, which is “to do edit”. I see the differences with “tdd” which is “to do diff”. “tdc” commits the task to the list. Basically everything is Git-based TODO system.

However there are things I should improve. For example: time management. Basically how geek environments for day-to-day computer work I like, I still believe Microsoft Outlook’s calendar on my office computer is the greatest thing developed. I just never really got the Google Calendar stuff. Maybe if somebody shows me nice and standalone Google Calendar client, which I could keep synchronized. Yes, I know this is certainly possible. But I just never got real solution as complete as Outlook.

Reminders for meetings and tasks are a very nice thing indeed. And the fact you can coordinate completion of tasks with other people. You can basically send a request for a completion of a task, and it’d show up in person’s calendar.

I keep track of my personal TODO lists in my office calendar too. It’s just easier that way. It’s a pity I can’t freely export my office calendar.

Anyway: Leo does similar things to myself. TODO list present in one file, keeping the rest of the environment simplified etc.

By doing some additional study I understand he’s from a bread of “minimalist for all cost” people. However, I find it hard leaving in 1 rented room to have my desk always clean. Stuff yes, gets cluttered, and yes it’s my fault, but basically I feel human being needs some sort of a cache too.

Things go out of the drawers and boxes and land on desk, since you expect “temporary locality” to happen. So you pick thing X, cache it on your desk, but due to no flush policy, it remains there. Don’t get me wrong–it works perfectly well for computers, but doesn’t work for desks. What desks need is periodic flush policy, when things come back to boxes and drawers.

Power of habit is something you’re accustomed to if you’ve played musical instrument ever. Forming good habits is important and will get you further. Work habits too. If next time I walk to your cube and I’ll see you not being able to copy && paste the block of code in VIM, I’ll make you form a habit. MAKE YOU.

Telling people to go away or clearly stating you have no time to help them out is very viable option too. When you start working in a company, which is unlike school, you must start understanding people around you are hyena present around to steal your time. The less you commit to, the more likely is that you’ll me a schedule, since things slip in and schedules fall apart. So with enough backup time and less tasks, it’s likely you’ll be more creditable for other people, since you’ll be actually accomplishing your tasks. Note on slowing down – over high-school, where the biggest improvement in my technical skills happened, I had an amazing habits of coming back from school and taking a nap on the floor, with music in my years. Really unique feeling of just lying and being able to enjoy bass drum double-strokes at the tempo of 240bpm. That’s when Virgil Donati’s music started to kick in.

I HIGHLY recommend this book. Really, just go and buy it. And read it, chapter by chapter. Really great complementary material for “Getting things done”.

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About the author: I'm Wojciech Adam Koszek. I like software, business and design. Poland native. In Bay Area since 2010.   More about me