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05

May 2015

The Pursuit of Essentialism: Finding Time

I was planning to jump into a different article, one I was overly excited to post, but as my week filled with activities, work and friends it became clear there was a more important article to launch this series: finding time. Because if we can’t find the time, none of the following adventures will have the space to breathe they require. So, how do you find time?

I’m busy. In fact, when I’m catching up with old friends and ask what they’ve been up to, the first thing most people say is, ‘Yeah, I’ve been busy.” We wear it like a badge of honour, as though being busy is the same as contributing to a full and happy life. I’m not here to generalize, it could be said that in some or many cases, this could be true. I know some painfully beautiful people working to make others’ lives better; caregivers, people working for non-profits in Zambia, people teaching adults who never learned how to swim some life-saving basics. I would not presume to say what I’m working on most of the time has this kind of effect but I am lucky to love my work and most of what I do.

But what are we busy with and how do we measure its value? The last time I really considered this was a year ago when I read a list of 5 Regrets People Make on Their Deathbed. I’ve spent a large part of my life living without regret — if something shitty happens, that really is too bad, but it’s happened and the only thing we can control is what we learn from it and how we move forward. I didn’t want to hypocritically claim a life free of regret but still end up mourning the same poor decisions. It was especially the second regret that stuck with me, “I wish I didn’t work so hard.” Or, as I’ll paraphrase it, “I wish I spent more time on the things that matter.”

For instance, I never regret amusement parks.

For instance, I never regret going to amusement parks.

I avoided getting a gym pass for years because of cost (even though it was roughly the same cost per month as one night of eating out), fear of commitment, fear of looking like an idiot in the gym, and time. I had a million and one reasons for sidestepping this particular activity until, one day, a jogger passed me on the street wearing a shirt that said, “Someone busier than you is running right now.”

There was that word again.

So, how? How are people who are so busy able to fit these things in. Sure I could reduce my sleep to 3-4 hours a night (at busier times of the year this would already be redundant) but is that really value-added to my life or taking away from other aspects? Namely my ability to think and how much I snuggle with my cat. So it really became about completely re-thinking how I spent my day and how much time I spent on other activities.

I’ve always been someone to recognize patterns and have used that to my advantage. I’m not sure how many people are aware of this pattern identification in themselves, but I’ve read a number of times how large a roll it played in our evolution and progress as a species, so we must all have it. Recognizing and exploiting patterns is a great way to make yourself more efficient at time-suck activities. When I get out of the shower, I dry off using the exact same pattern every-time. So much so that now if I start drying the wrong leg I’ll miss an arm, forget to put on a sock later, and put the box of cereal in the fridge. That’s how important my auto-pilot has become for these little tasks. Admittedly I have minor OCD, but you get the idea.

Ok, great. Little rituals are good for sneaking an extra few minutes here or there. What about getting hours, days or weeks back? I’m afraid to say there’s no easy answer here: it will require sacrifice. It all comes down to valuing your time and how it’s spent. Saying ‘yes’ to something you kind of like may mean saying ‘no’ to something you may love down the road.

In “Running the Gauntlet” by Jeffrey W. Hayzlett, he recommends establishing ‘Conditions of Satisfaction’. Here he is referencing business, but the takeaway is these conditions are very specific needs. If they are not being met, you pull out of whatever you’re working on STAT. His conditions were 1) grow professionally, 2) have fun and 3) make money. Your conditions can be anything that’s important to you, but in the end they are what you come back to you when you find yourself questioning wasted time at work, watching TV or surfing the internet.

“If you end up with a boring miserable life because you listened to your mom, your dad, your teacher, your priest, or some guy on television telling you how to do your shit, then you deserve it.”
― Frank Zappa

Happy people spend the most time possible doing the things they love the most. They “make the highest possible contribution towards the things that really matter.” Maybe that means starting your own business, spending more time with loved ones, exercising more, even spending more time at home. If you’re telling yourself that you have no time to learn a new language but are still watching 4 or more hours of TV a day then there’s probably a disconnect there. You do have the time but you’d rather spend it catching up on Downton Abbey. If something is important to you, you’ll find the time. If binge-watching Netflix isn’t providing quite the stimulation you’re expecting maybe it’s time to list your conditions of satisfaction and consider how to better use that time.

Someone busier than you is running right now.

 

  • by Brandon William Fletcher
  • 1 Comment
  • May 05, 2015
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28

Apr 2015

The Pursuit of Essentialism

I have a hard time thinking when my kitchen is cluttered.

As an admitted procrastinator — something I’m trying to work on, but also not — if I have a full day’s workload in front of me and there are dishes on the counter or a carpet to be vacuumed, guess which ends up taking priority? Over time I’ve learned to appreciate it, I turn cleaning into a zen-like experience. After constantly working on thought-heavy and creative projects, the odd repetitive or menial task can be a great time to center oneself or work through opportunities. This little time-out can be hugely beneficial and pay off in spades later; when I finally do get started on my work I’ve organized a plan of attack, minimized outside distractions and can focus completely on the task at hand.

When life around me is unorganized, I am unorganized.

It’s something I’ve known for years and have spent the last 6 years trying to hone in on and learn to minimize. Minimize stress, minimize belongings, minimize work, all to maximize what little time I do have. That we all have! It was December, over the course of a couple flights, when I got around to reading a book recommended to me by one of my housemates, Joe. We’d been chatting about what was absolutely necessary in life and what isn’t. I was looking forward for my business to 2015, trying to figure out what I wanted to do this year and what I would give up in order to achieve that. Joe had begun reading “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by Greg McKeown and based on what he’d read so far he thought I would enjoy it.

From the description of the book:

The Way of the Essentialist isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s about getting only the right things done.  It is not a time management strategy, or a productivity technique. It is a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution towards the things that really matter.

The way McKeown explains essentialism using real-word examples spurred a renewed interest in minimizing the non-essential. It’s helped me refocus on what is necessary, and more importantly, how to discern what is not (which, it turns out, is most things). Essentialism has begun to influence everything; how I work, my personal relationships, organizing my closet, grocery shopping, even nights out.

Seriously. You get one life, better make it count.

Seriously. You get one life, better make it count.

I am at the dawn of 30. This September I will be saying goodbye to my 20’s in the best way possible, building on the promise I made myself when I first went freelance back in 2013; be the absolute best me I can be. So here I am minimizing distractions, finding time for what’s important to become a healthier, happier, more productive self and to radiate that back into the world.

There will likely be something along my journey for everyone as I minimize my closet, media, mind and life. I’ll be posting on Tuesdays until I feel I’ve reached my essential.

 

  • by Brandon William Fletcher
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  • Apr 28, 2015
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14

Jun 2011

As it Happened | Côte d’Azur

A Continuous Lean‘s Michael Williams was in Europe for meetings recently and was able to spend a bit of time and a few days in the South of France. He was kind enough to take some photos with a Fujifilm X100 and a bit of post tweaking.

More after the jump…

 

  • by Brandon William Fletcher
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  • Jun 14, 2011
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29

Apr 2011

RiP: A remix manifesto

In RiP: A remix manifesto, Web activist and filmmaker Brett Gaylor explores issues of copyright in the information age, mashing up the media landscape of the 20th century and shattering the wall between users and producers.

The film’s central protagonist is Girl Talk, a mash-up musician topping the charts with his sample-based songs. But is Girl Talk a paragon of people power or the Pied Piper of piracy? Creative Commons founder, Lawrence Lessig, Brazil’s Minister of Culture Gilberto Gil and pop culture critic Cory Doctorow are also along for the ride.

 

  • by Brandon William Fletcher
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  • Apr 29, 2011
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06

Apr 2011

Death Cab for Cutie, Breaking New Ground

Yesterday Death Cab for Cutie performed the first ever one-take, scripted, LIVE music video for their new single ‘You Are A Tourist’. As fans and  listeners, we able to tune in to www.youareatourist.com/ at 4pm PST / 7pm EST to watch them perform live on a stage with dancers, lights, and some great visuals. So awesome. This is exactly the reason they are my favorite band of all time, and have remained as such for 10 years.

 

  • by Brandon William Fletcher
  • 1 Comment
  • Apr 06, 2011
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09

Mar 2011

Seagull 1963

Admittedly I’m not a watch guy. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to be. But I generally spend upwards of $300 when I buy a watch and usually only wear them for a couple months before they disappear into my drawer (see. Watch Graveyard). I told myself if I was to get another watch, it would have to be somewhat timeless, masculine and pretty simple/elegant. This recent re-launch of the Seagull 1963 is that kind of watch I think.

In 1961 the Tianjin Watch Factory was assigned to manufacture the first Chinese aviation watch (chronograph) for the Air Force of the People’s Liberation Army. The code of the assignment was “304.”  The factory pre-manufactured three batches of the aviation watch by October 1962. In the end of the year 38 leaders and experts (industrial ministry, air command, and naval equipment supervisors) came together for the appraisal of the watch. After the meeting the Tianjin Watch Factory received permission to begin the mass production of the watch. In 1963 the factory completed and delivered 1400 aviation watches to the Chinese Air Force.

The chrono has an automatic movement with a 40 hour power reserve, is made in China and retails for a cool $339. Find out more here.

 

  • by Brandon William Fletcher
  • 1 Comment
  • Mar 09, 2011
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06

Mar 2011

How To Make An 8-Bit Twitter Avatar

It’s a great story, inspired by an 8-bitted Dribbble post by UK artist and designer Harry Harrison, San Francisco interactive designers Addison Kowalski, Amadeus Demarzi and Courtney Guertin took the idea to the next level by 8 bit-ing their Twitter avatars, which inevitably went viral among the tech set, finally consuming MG Siegler and myself in a blaze of pixelated glory about a day ago.

Read more about it here

 

  • by Brandon William Fletcher
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  • Mar 06, 2011
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02

Mar 2011

Captain Bowen’s Kodachromes

On December 16th, 1960 a Trans World Airlines Lockheed Super Constellation collided midair over Brooklyn with a United Airlines Douglas DC-8. The T.W.A. flight — a slow moving propeller plane — was heading from Columbus, Ohio en route to LaGuardia. The other plane, a much more advanced jetliner, was destined for Idlewild airport (JFK) with 77 passengers from Chicago. All together, the crash killed 134 people, being one of the worst air disasters at the time. It is a fascinating story that was highlighted extremely well on the NY Times City Room blog.

The coverage included additional information about T.W.A. co-pilot Dean Bowen that, as well as being a skilled aviator, he was also a talented photographer. Through his travels he used Kodachrome to document life as he saw it. One commenter even pointed readers to a Flickr set of Bowen’s images.

(via A Continuous Lean)

 

  • by Brandon William Fletcher
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  • Mar 02, 2011
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28

Feb 2011

Sampled Room

I feel like these sorts of videos will be the metaphor for my generation one day. For remix culture, the group of folks addicted to music, art, design, film and of course re tooling something already existing into something new, these videos stand as a perfect snapshot of the zeitgeist being created today.

 

  • by Brandon William Fletcher
  • 1 Comment
  • Feb 28, 2011
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05

Feb 2011

Moleskine Silk Screen Printing

Take an up-close look on how Moleskine notebooks are customized. This decorating procedure is used to create Moleskine custom edition.

 

  • by Brandon William Fletcher
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  • Feb 05, 2011
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