I am going to continue on a trajectory I began several months ago—a trajectory leading toward control and simplicity. In a wired, digital world, I’ve too often felt like technology owns me and drives me instead of the other way around. I’ve started to try to regain that sense of control, sometimes scaling back, sometimes changing the way I do things. I hope to continue that through 2009 and beyond.I find this interesting because I've seen a rise in blogs, websites andbooks (as my title suggests) on the idea of simplicity. I've also been reading through "The New Media Frontier" (review forthcoming) and have been wondering about our life in the digital smorgasborg. As someone described it, it is like trying to drink water froma fire hydrant. So what are we to do? Blogger Leo Babauta of Zen Habits has written a book on just that.
"The Power of Less" is a short read on a big subject: simplicity. Who knew we were so cluttered we needed to be taught be simple again? From multiple e-mail accounts, to extra appointments, to lots of work projects, we are dying in a culture of paper and digital clutter.Taking the paper and digital beats is what Babauta does. The two essential steps he begins with are quite "simple": find the essential and get rid of the rest. If you can do that, the rest of the book is pretty easy. Steps like focusing on what is at hand, starting small, focusing on a few things to do per day.
As an example he cties going to the gym and eating as things that need to be simplified. He suggests you start going to the gym for 10 minutes at a time and staying longer every week. As for food, he suggests you chew slowly and not do anything else. I'm guilty of trying to read, watch tv and listen to music while I eat. You would think that doing less might be counter intuitive, but doing exactly that Leo has trained for a few marathons, started a business and quit smoking. Pretty impressive for a guy who was working more than 40 hours per week and only ate junk food.
So is simplicity the new "going green"? Possibly. Zen habits is a very popular blog, as is The Slacker Method and Life Hacker. Getting control of clutter in an easy way is going to become more of a need as we become a more cluttered culture. The main culprit however is the internet. So try a no-media hour today. Take an hour where you won't be on-line, on a computer, or with a cell phone. If you can't do that, you should pick up this book.