Over the last months, I've been questioning why the streets of my hometown are flooded with electric scooters, at the same time that I keep asking myself if I should continue using social media and how.
In this essay, I briefly explain the way Amish communities decide whether to adopt a given piece of technology, and, hopefully, convince you that our modern communities—and ourselves as individuals—can learn from why and how the Amish do it.
Simplicity is an emerging trend; a luxury not everyone can afford.
For the last 10,000 years, human biology has barely changed — yet our lives feel more complex, accelerated, and stressful than ever before.
What are we trying to slow down from?
Opportunities to talk to people like Saba Ghole and learn about how they understand life and what drives them to do what they do every day, is what moves me to continue with the Getting Simple project.
"I had a chance to reminisce with Nono about what it means to get simple and embody a growth mindset on his very special podcast. Mixed in are bits about my childhood, my artistic pursuits, and my current love and passion, NuVu Studio." —Saba Ghole, Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of NuVu Studio
If you're intrigued about how growth mindset can be taken to reality, listen to this episode and learn about how NuVu, an innovation school for middle and high school students, helps students build long-lasting core competencies and creative skills.
? A month from today, I had a conversation with Matt Jezyk, who recently left Autodesk to go work with the the group that designs and builds the car and lithium battery "Gigafactories" at Tesla. I can't express how much I enjoyed talking to Matt.
? Matt talks about his rituals to slow down and stay afloat amongst all the things competing for your attention; embracing change and automation; techniques to be more creative; the rationale behind his ten-year life cycles; why he just transitioned from Autodesk to Tesla; and a lot more.
Take a look at the show notes and where to listen.
Last month, I had a conversation with Antonio García Guerra, who recently finished his PhD at the University of Oxford on nanotechnology applied to medicine. It was inspiring to hear about the physical, emotional, and informational activities that balance his life.
Listen to Craig Long on how life is in the moments you didn't expect, quieting your inner intensity, helping others achieve complex goals when they don't know where to start, remote working, and disconnecting from technology.
If you're enjoying the show and want to share it with your friends, take a look at How you can spread the word.
"Every decision you make taxes your brain."
This summer, right before leaving Cambridge, I was extremely lucky to interview Ben Fry for the podcast at Fathom Information Design, in Boston, Massachusetts. Ben, together with Casey Reas, co-created the "Processing" programming environment back in 2001 (that's seventeen years ago), an open-source tool still in active development and used daily by thousands of designers, artists, researchers, engineers, students, and professionals from a wide variety of disciplines. Processing was a side-project Ben was working on while writing his thesis on Computational Information Design at the MIT Media Lab, which led him to found Fathom Information Design later on, a studio in Boston focused on understanding complicated data problems.
Who said that making art was easy? Today, I'm glad to invite you to see the world from the perspective of an artist and creative that brings her craft everywhere she goes, might it be painting at her studio or teaching youngsters how to use digital tools to formalize their ideas.
Listen to artist, designer, and educator Jiyoo Jye on the struggles of making art and choosing your projects; education at an innovation school as a creative; when to share your work and the role of feedback; media consumption and technology; and her approach to simple living and daily routines.
Ian Keough (@ikeough) is the founder of Hypar. He writes code from his garage to automate the generation of the built environment to help stakeholders make better decisions faster. Trained as a fine artist and architect—and known as The Father of Dynamo—Ian believes efficiency breeds quality and automation yields better, higher-quality products. This episode uncovers the Ian Keough beyond Dynamo—including his life habits, tactics to get into the flow state and avoid distractions, his new adventure to disrupt the architecture, engineering, and construction industry, and a lot more.
Andrés Colubri (@codeanticode) shares with us how he manages to do seemingly different things—such as art, computational biology, or open-source development—by connecting them around one overarching theme.
I recently published Freeze Your Goals on Getting Simple.
When you have time to tinker around with your own projects and hobbies, many different things to do will come to mind. How should you decide what to work on and why? I believe my side projects and hobbies benefit from planning in advance what I want to do next. Let me tell you why.
Write for yourself. Talk about the things you care about. Construct an opinion on them. Take a clear position. Then, be flexible — as you learn more, your position might change.
This is what I tell myself when I sit to write. I learn (a lot) by reading what others say — but we won't go too far if we don't build an opinion of our own.
As Seth Godin would say: Don't hide. Write in public.
Then maybe, just maybe, what you write will resonate with your audience.
In the event of a disaster, we would probably leave most of our belongings behind. You're not likely — I hope — to care so much about your fancy tea mug, your watercolors, or whatever piece of clothing you own, as to put your life in danger to save them. Today, with the exception of digital information not backed to the cloud and other unique hand-crafted objects, everything we own can be replaced for an item which is exactly the same. After a disaster, great part of our stuff might be gone. If you manage to get out of there with no important injuries, you have, without choosing it, adopted an unsolicited minimalism — you've got rid of stuff without looking for it.
No disaster? You might never get around getting rid of stuff. Belongings accumulate and, the more storage space you own, the more you'll accumulate. The thing is: we usually don't care much about most things we own. We tend to only love a small portion of it.
Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, was interviewed by Tim Ferriss not long ago. She is known as the Japanese tidying master, who created the KonMarie method. Her motto? "Love everything you own." She believes we need to be thankful of our belongings, thank them for their service while we have them, and, more importantly, before we get rid of them. This way, on top of appreciating the item itself, we remove the feeling of regret for getting rid of it (a feeling that frequently prevents people from letting go of things they don't need any more).
This, I believe, goes inline with what William Morris said in his 1880 lecture titled The Beauty of Life1. "If you want a golden rule that will fit everybody, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful."
As a friend pointed out, in Spain we often say that "moving three times equals a fire2." Will you wait for a disaster to take action? Or will you fake your own so you can get rid of the useless and love what you own?
It's easy to get trapped in busy work. You are given a brief and a deadline. You leave everything aside and focus on your work to meet a set of deliverables. Finish the task, and you’re all done.
Well, there’s a little lie behind this story: you are not completely done—not yet. A project doesn’t exist if it isn’t visible and accessible and shareable and understandable. The job is not finished until you've documented your craft, until you've done some sort of self-explanatory manual that others can peek at without you looking, that others can read without you talking.
Create it while working (or after finishing)—but don’t forget to provide us with a manual!
Over the last three years, I found myself spending long hours reading and writing on how to simplify my life, on how to do less things but do them better, on how to make things as easy as they can be, on how to remove the unnecessary complexities from my daily routine.
Today, I am glad to announce Getting Simple—a new adventure toward simplicity, a journey to bring the focus of our lives back to the things that matter. Join me on this journey. Sit back. Relax. It all begins here.
In a world full of inputs, to-dos, commitments, and notifications; We struggle to find time to do the things that really matter to us. How many times have you said to yourself: "I would love to do X but I don't have time for it?" To accomplish your goals, you need self-discipline, clarified goals, to take your time seriously and to simplify your life, to establish a series of conditions for stress-free productivity.
As Dieter Rams puts it, we need to do Less But Better. Simplify our lives; Focus our efforts; and Execute.
In order to amplify our efforts, we need to focus on just one thing. Even more important than knowing what to do is knowing what not-to-do. Everything that doesn't contribute to our end goal should be ruthlessly rejected—as it can only distract you from reaching your aim.
Be minimal. Reduce stress by simplifying your life: digital systems; physical clutter; daily habits; they all need to be simplified to disconnect and focus on your work.
Minimalism is, in its essence, having less to worry about—in all aspects of your life. An acceptance of our time-limited lives. David Allen knew it, the key wasn’t in being the most organized person, but in focusing your aims to really few things. He posed it as “you can do anything, but not everything.”
Ideally, you would focus on doing just one thing; do it; then move into doing something else. But in the end, you find so many distractions. Tasks take longer to do than expected. Things get post-poned for tomorrow, for next week, or for never.
Again and again, what happens is not that we don’t have time to do stuff, is that we want to do more stuff than we can. What else would you be able to do if you renounce to non-important things?
Close to finish what you are currently reading?
Take a look at a few books that—in some way or another—changed my life.
Over the last years, I have been lucky enough to find a series of books which helped me getting introduced to organization methods and learning how to work on my own projects in a consistent way. (A project could be any life-goal you set for yourself to do.)
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (David Allen). Allen presents a powerful way to manage and organize the tasks and projects you want to complete—how to get things done, basically—in order to have a good work-life balance. Get it from Amazon.
Making Ideas Happen (Scott Belsky). Techniques and work habits to make your creative projects happen. From the creator of Behance. Get it from Amazon.
Unclutter Your Life In One Week (Erin Doland). Even the most common sense tasks of your daily life—as can be organizing your clothes or getting rid of physical clutter—can benefit from fire-proof methods tested by others. In this case, Erin Doland provides a handful of them. Get it on Amazon.
All Marketers Are Liars (Seth Godin). A swift introduction to marketing. How to wrap what you have to offer around a story so it can be understood and spread by others. Get it on Amazon. Read Seth’s blog.
The Art Of Non-Conformity (Chris Guillebeau). Go away from the life you are supposed to live and enjoy an unconventional way of living doing what you actually like doing and, maybe, making a profit out of it. Get it from Amazon.
The 4-hour Work Week (Timothy Ferris). Change the way you see life. Get to know the new rich, the one that makes the amount of money needed for the way of living he really wants—but not more—being able to work less hours as a result. Get it from Amazon.
Hope you found this useful. I strongly believe that, even when books tell us things that are damn simple and obvious, advice from people who learned the hard way, after years of experience, is extremely valuable. No matter how basic their recommendations are, they are useless if we don’t make an effort for them to be present in our daily lives.
We all know "the right thing to do," but do we actually do it?