Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Minimalization Vs. Optimization

A good friend of mine from http://breakthetwitch.com/ is experimenting with minimization.  He and his wife are going around their home and throwing away things to minimize what they have.  With that rise of the minimization movement, I am curious if that is truly 'the best way'.

I do think minimization is great from a simply environmental perspective.  The less you have, the less your environmental footprint.  But I am also a strong believer that there is no perfect tool that does everything.  And usually an almost perfect tools is perfect at doing one task.  So by that thought, the less you have the less tools you have.  Thus, the harder it will be to perform most tasks.

Have you ever tried to drive a nail into a piece of wood without a hammer?  Or unscrew a screw without a screwdriver?

Of course I am not suggesting a different tool for every single task you need to perform because then an organization an space problem would occur and you wouldn't even be able to find the tools that you would have.  Just think of all of the different gadgets exist in a kitchenware store!  But I do think it is crucial to have the right tools for things that you do often.  Thus I do invest in the tools I use the most, laptop, phone and car.  I figure that the time savings and time that I interface with those products are significant.  But of course those are only 3 things.

I think the human brain is funny where if something is enjoyable we will do it more often.  A simple tweak of a user experience created by a product could change our habits and what we perceive what we like and dislike.  For instance, you could could have a bad can opener and it could take 20 minutes to open a can and you could injure yourself each time, this dissuading you from ever eating canned foods.  But then one day an electric can opener could come into your life, make it incredible seamless and then you could prefer to eat canned foods.  But of course I know you are thinking that canned foods aren't that great for you so maybe you are better off to have a bad can opener... but I stray.

Also, how about the fact that the more disorganization and things you have, the more creative you can be?  You now have more things at your disposal and that you are exposed to, and then can create things at a moment's notice.  If I threw out all my paints then when it would strike my fancy to paint I'd be restricted by not having the right tools for the job.  The energy to re-obtain those items would be so great that I would simply not paint.  Thus that creative moment and following result would be lost.

Am I critiquing minimization?  Not really, I think it could be a really great thing.  I think there are proper living techniques for different people.  I like having the 'stuff' around me because it also makes me remember things since I have a contextual memory.  Bring me back to my parent's house and as I look at old photos I will remember the moments that created them, all the thoughts, feelings and memories come back strongly.  Without those objects I wouldn't have the triggers to remember.  But on the other hand, maybe all those memories and thoughts could be considered clutter.  To be fair my brain isn't organized well... and clearly not linearly, but in my own way I enjoy having multiple streams of consciousness going on at the same time because then I get to find the patterns between it all.  For better or worse I feel like my mind is constantly going.  Having the tools around me gives me the comforting feeling that I can both be inspired and create in a moment's notice.  When I travel after the initial excitement wears off and I don't have all my 'stuff' I often feel restricted by what I can do.  And for me, that's an uncomfortable feeling.  I get the visualization that my arms are bound behind me and I feel frustrated.

I respect how people can find their zen and methods for living their best life possible.  Life is a giant experiment, and being able to hypothesize, test and iterate is the best opportunity that we are given.  So try it all.  Buy a few things, through out a few things, create a few things, break a few things.  But whatever it is that you choose to do, try to be the best you that there is, and let the people around you be the best them.