I have a thing for simplicity, as in I want the things I own or do to be the simplest they can be without taking away from the experience. To get to this, I usually need to spend time researching and testing. It forces me to focus really hard on what I want, on the essence of the thing I’m dealing with.

What I found is that the initial effort to simplify and search pays off by allowing the things around me to be simpler and minimal. The work done upfront searching for the optimal, and restricting the number of features / elements / colors / etc really has given me the advantage of having to use less mental power on most everything I do later on.

A harder initial focus leads to a simpler experience, and this leads to a simpler life. I like that.

I did just that when I was working on the new look and feel for the website. I took what I had, what I wanted to have, and what was the most important thing I needed. Then I focused on restricting what and how I could do this, forcing me to be very intentional. That intentionality helped me remove a lot of the unnecessary fluff, resulting in simpler, cleaner, and easier.

And I did the same recently with one of my top productivity tools: the todo list.

One of my friends wrote:

"The key is to focus on one task at a time, breaking those tasks down into manageable pieces when needed. You need to be diligent with setting your tasks and assigning time to them, making sure to mark those that need more attention. The whole idea is to focus on what’s most urgent, and then move to the important."

That right there is restricting how you do things, in a good way, which is what I’m striving to do. So, I downloaded his tool - a command line, hyper minimal todo - and began using it.

I used it before, but I didn’t really force myself to make it my only tool. I have been using it as my only todo tool for the past month or so, and the restricting nature of this tool has made my focus so much better.

a simple todo

I don’t have many choices here. I can’t create folders, projects, or anything else. It’s just a list with some minimal key visual cues. That’s all. Having this restricted and simpler way of handling my tasks has forced me to be very deliberate about how to note the tasks and how to focus on them.

This has removed a lot of mental juggling and has shortened the amount of time I spent with my tools. All wins in my book.

Following my friend's advise, I also decided that the prompt on the terminal was too cluttered, so I changed it to only the working directory. Yes... for the geeks out there, I do add the current user when I’m working on remote connections...

minimal prompt

All in all, restrictions are good. I’m looking at other things in my life now, which was already quite simple. I think I can make things even simpler by restricting what I can and cannot do. By being purposeful and focusing on finding the most optimized and minimal way of doing it, you will end up with an easier life, I think.