Do Better Work and Faster by Using Minimalism

written by aext on October 1, 2010 in Freelance & Business with 18 comments

Want to get more of your work done in less time? And have more time left to relax or pursue other interests? You can make that happen if you use minimalism for your freelance, design, and any other work.

What exactly is minimalism, other than being a fancy-sounding term? Well, minimalism is basically eliminating the unnecessary.

So what that means specifically for you, the freelancer, designer, and all-round do-er of great work, is getting rid of the unnecessary tasks and activities to free up time and energy – which you can use to get your important stuff done better and faster. Plus, you’ll have more time and energy to do other things that actually matter to you.

Yep, no need to be scared off by the new-agey term or thinking you need to completely restructure your life or anything. It’s pretty simple, really – just reducing of unnecessary tasks to be able to do more of the important stuff.

Ready to find out how to use minimalism to do better work and faster? Read on, my friend, read on.

Here are 3 steps to using minimalism for your work…

1. Focus Only On the Necessary Tasks

Image: pshegubj

Use the 80-20 rule: focus on doing only the 20% of tasks that give you 80% of your desired results.

You’ll use your limited hours in the day to get more of your important work done and faster, since you’re ignoring the rest of the unnecessary tasks.

This will no doubt seem like forehead-smacking common sense – why would you not spend your time on necessary tasks? But a lot of people, me included in the past, don’t do this – and don’t even realize it. They have spread themselves too thin by treating all tasks with equal priority, because they think every task matters, when that’s never is the case.

So the minor stuff–like perfecting some design or website tweak–gets treated the same as the major stuff – like getting the website actually done, or increasing the click-through rate to get more subscribers/members/sales, or finding new clients. That’s screwed up, and yet we all have done that. I’m as guilty as anyone of wasting days on perfecting a website design tweak or researching something random rather than working on increasing the website’s effectiveness or finding new customers and clients.

In order to do your work better and faster, you need to focus only on the necessary tasks – otherwise, a lot of your time and energy is spent on the unnecessary tasks.

Oh, and while on the topic of unnecessary tasks…

2. Trim the Unnecessary Tasks

Image: Shane Adams

Keep going with the 80-20 rule: trim the 80% of tasks that only get you 20% of your desired results.

Y’know, those tasks that eat up a lot of time but don’t give much results.

This is probably the most difficult step, because:

  • a. Breaking bad habits is hard, and
  • b. Being honest with yourself about bad habits is even harder

But if you really want to use minimalism to free more of your time and energy, you need to trim the unnecessary tasks.

Focusing only on the necessary tasks will help you to do better work and faster, but trimming the unnecessary tasks is what will give you more time and energy to do that even more – or use the newly-freed time to relax or pursue other interests.

So identify the majority of tasks that you’ve been doing that, when you’re deep-down honest with yourself, don’t really matter that much (like the aforementioned website and design tweaking example). Then, one by one, start reducing and eventually eliminating them.


3. Take It One Step at a Time – All-or-Nothing Not Necessary

Don’t try to use minimalism all-or-nothing. Unless you want to or are capable of it, of course. But don’t beat yourself up if you can’t make any radical changes. Take it one step at a time – an all-or-nothing approach is not necessary.

It’s a process – not slamming the gas pedal, going from 0 to 60 right away, and having your car break down.

It’s much more achievable to eliminate one unnecessary task every day, week, few weeks, or whatever works best and is most realistic for you. Make that a habit, then move onto the next unnecessary task elimination.

In less time than you think, you’ll have established a habit, which will be easy to maintain – like brushing your teeth or taking a shower. You won’t even be thinking about it after a while. In fact, you’ll look at certain time-wasting activities you used to do and will actually think it’s weird to do them now.

So take it one step at a time, go at a pace that works best for you and is most realistic, and focus on establishing positive habits rather than rushing, not being able to sustain it, and giving up.

Go Beyond – Minimalism for Your Life

Image: David Joyce

Remember how I wrote at the beginning of the article that you don’t need to restructure your life or anything? You don’t. And anyone that claims anything is all-or-nothing is either full of baloney or trying to be elitist (I’m looking at you, niche music fans).

But if you’re going to be improving your work, why stop there? You can at least consider going beyond and use aspects of minimalism to improve your life.

  • Simplify your hobbies by focusing on the few that matter most to you
  • Get rid of unessential time-wasting activities (random TV watching, web surfing, mediocre video games, boring hanging-out times with friends)
  • Do more of the activities that matter to you (run, play music, paint, spend time with important friends and family, cook, work on that side business idea)
  • Have more time to relax, get better sleep, or take your time with the aforementioned important activities
  • And anything and everything else – have fun, enjoy your life, do more of what matters and less of what doesn’t

Anyway, just a consideration. If it’s pretty simple to do, why not at least try using aspects of minimalism to improve your life?

Okay, that was the sneaky personal development portion of the article. We now resume our regularly-scheduled freelance, design, and work program.

Do Better Work and Faster by Using Minimalism

Image: John Athayde

By using minimalism for your freelance, design, and any other work, you’ll be able to get more of your work done in less time. And you’ll have more time left to relax or pursue other interests. Do better work and faster by using minimalism.

To recap, here are the 3 steps to using minimalism for your work:

  1. Focus only on the necessary tasks
  2. Trim the unnecessary tasks
  3. Take it one step at a time – all-or-nothing not necessary

Your turn: have you tried using aspects of minimalism in your freelance, design, and any other work? Has it helped you to do better work and faster?