The Art of Subtraction

If moments of peace and quiet are filled with small distraction take a moment to consider if you are already doing enough.

There is a print on the wall in my study that depicts opposing viewpoints on perfection.

Beneath the graphic there are two quotes.

“Have no fear of perfection. You will never achieve it.” – Salvador Dali

And an opposing viewpoint.

“Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but nothing left to take away.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

The latter gives me a feeling of calm.

For most of us, it’s not about doing more.

We’re already doing enough. Probably too much.

Instead we should be clearing the decks.

Removing what isn’t necessary and replacing it with nothing.

Empty space

Many people, like myself, have an aversion to blank space.

Instead of being cherished, empty moments are instantaneously filled with small distraction.

The next time you’re waiting (for a train, the dentist, to buy something) try just sitting with your own thoughts.

Take note of how you feel.

Surprisingly, it can be uncomfortable and unfamiliar.

Subtract to simplify

Once we are comfortable with empty space, we can learn to enjoy it.

Spotting other space in our life that’s filled with junk gets easier.

We continue to subtract, and as we subtract, we simplify.

Suddenly we find ourselves doing less and creating more.

Not because of a productivity hack. Or a piece of software. Or because we’ve magicked more time.

But because we’ve made space.

Space to focus on what matters most to us.