Giving Up the Nonessential
apple distraction ipad2 minimalism productivity writing
Of course, my laptop could do all the things my new iPad can do, but the problem I had with it was that it could do too much more. My computing habits had developed to the point where all I did was write and access a few online resources, so a computer that could do more than that was excessive in a way. Not only was it large and hefty, but it would get slowed down by all its extra features and security issues.
So I decided to completely eliminate all superflous features and strip all my stuff down to the essentials.
Freedom and Focus
So why would I want to get rid of a tool I had that had more features and abilities than I needed in exchange for one that could do just what I need?
The answer is the ability to focus and move.
Without the ability to do anything except what I need to do, I am much less likely to procrastinate or get distracted. Instead, I save my computing time for writing (I'm writing this post on my iPad) and managing my online accounts. There simply isn't anything else I can do. The result is that I can get more done and then spend time with people instead of my computer.
The other features I like about the iPad is the ability to work wherever I want to. Because of its extreme lightness and portability, I have access to my work anywhere I happen to be. With my wireless keyboard and iPad stand, I can set up a writing desk at my convenience.
Of course, I could do this with my laptop as well, but even that was awkwardly heavy. It was like carrying a massive tome when all I needed was a notebook. The notebook offers freedom in its simplicity, and possibility in its empty pages.
Basically all I have right now is a screen and a writing program with a Bluetooth connection to a small wireless keyboard. The iPad screen cover folds back into a stand to hold the iPad up in a landscape mode, and I can hold my keyboard anywhere convenient. The whole setup takes up a few square inches of space and can be set up inconspicuously anywhere.
The Case for Less
As I've written before, sometimes less is more, especially in the case of creative endeavors. Having less to distract you allows you to focus on channelling only your ideas.
I'm a big believer that most people do their best work when they cut out distractions, sometimes to the point of inconvenience. I'll sometimes purposefully isolate myself in order to get work done quickly, and if that means I have to get up at ungodly hours of the morning, sometimes that is what must happen.
In the present case, it means that I've made the jump to a much less powerful computing arrangement in order to limit what I can do besides the things that I've decided are important to my goals.
Figure out what matters, figure out what you need to do it, and get rid of everything else. Don't give yourself the option to do anything but that which matters to you personally.
A big part of my decision to change over my work tools was to make that final commitment to paring down my activities to just what I deemed important. Having my laptop meant that I had the option to do other things, so I still had a material way out. By getting rid of my other options, I was making a material commitment to limit my activities to the things that I was to accomplish.
Simply taking that step was a way to make a statement to myself, further cementing my priorities.
- Simplicity equals flexibility: Having a blank page allows you to do whatever you want with your canvas. A more complex medium often forces you to follow its operating procedures.
- Fewer features allows greater focus: Having the ability to do less of what distracts you means you'll spend more time doing what matters. In my case, an iPad makes it difficult to get distracted by the things my laptop could do.
- Make your work portable: If you can do your work anywhere you will be able to answer the call of the muse wherever it strikes. Find a way to carry your work with you, and make it convenient to get things done.
- Give up the nonessentials to make a statement to yourself: If you're still holding on to objects "just in case," consider cutting those last ties and flinging yourself completely into your chosen goals. Make it both an emotional and a material commitment by getting rid of the stuff you don't need.