Grant Blakeman: Minimalism – For a More Full Life at TEDxBoulder (Transcript)

Are you guys ready? This is going to be really quick. All right. I am going to tell you a story. It’s a story about my day, but it might also be your day. I wake up, I grab my phone, I check some email, I catch up on texts from last night, maybe Twitter, maybe for you it’s Facebook, blog posts, news. And now I am plugged in and ready to keep going on my day. So, let’s get to work.

I could work on this project, or this project or this project. The client has already e-mailed me five times since last night, and — but right now, I need a — actually talk to a different client I could email her or I could have an instant message conversation or a video chat, or a — maybe a phone call, but, right now someone’s bugging me on Twitter and I’ve got to get back to them. And then another client calls and, you know, his request is really reasonable, but it’s really urgent and I’ve got to drop everything that I am doing and — What was I doing? It doesn’t matter. It’s lunch time.

And, what did you have for lunch today? I mean, I bet it was the same thing you had yesterday, or the day before that, or the day before that. But, let’s get back to work I like to listen to music while I work. My phone has got about a few thousand songs, but with the Internet I can stream just about anything I need to work out after work.

I could go for a swim, or rock climbing, or maybe a bike ride, or do some yoga — but, I am gonna head out on a trail-run. Then I am going to run some errands. And you know, they are out of my favourite kind of toothpaste and there’s like four other kinds in the same brand, but there’s like twenty on the shelf in front of me. Back home I am gonna watch some TV and while watching TV — You know, cable gives me a few hundred channels but the Internet gives me just like anything. Or I could read a book.

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I’ve got, you know, four, five books I am reading at any given time. But, I’ve got access to a lot of things and, you know, you could tell me about the book and I could actually be reading it pretty much by the time you’ve done telling me about it. So, we live in this world full of abundant choice and it’s really awesome. I mean, I can get on a plane and flight anywhere tomorrow. But that choice comes with a cost.

That toothpaste example — we’re finding the consumers when faced with too much choice, are actually choosing not to choose. It’s just easier to not make a choice and have those choices be made for you. So, what does it have to do with minimalism? Well, minimalism is this idea of taking things and stripping them down, to hopefully make them a little better. It’s maybe that “less is more”, or as Dieter Rams says: “less is better.” And, we can take some of those ideas and move them into our daily life. But, it’s not about just stripping everything away.

It’s about curating our lives actively, removing distractions, removing something before adding something new, or finding that wider negative space in life. It’s about changing the way we do something so that we can focus better. So how are you doing with this things everyday? Are you just frozen when you have to choose a new toothpaste? Do you constantly lose focus or add way too much to your life? We want to live really full lives and that’s the way we should do it. But, part of living a full life is finding negative space, it’s finding a way to process our day. For me, that’s everyday when I get to go for a run and just let my mind wander.

So, I am going to leave you with this one question — In your daily life, what is your negative space? Thank you.

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