Keeping it "Beautifully Simple"
At the end of September, we presented a workshop to the lovely team at Zendesk, headquartered right here in San Francisco. Their mission–to keep it beautifully simple–inspires us, their Scandinavian aesthetics delight us, and their employees always ask the most thoughtful questions. In short: it was fabulous.
We wanted to share with you, our faithful blog readers, the 5 core New Minimalism principles from our workshop. Before and after illustrate these points, but because some of the images are confidential (you'll have to wait for our book to see those!), we've included only the public photos.
We hope you enjoy!
1. DRASTICALLY INCREASE YOUR STANDARDS
In a time when material goods are abundant, we have to increase our standards for what comes into our lives. It requires stepping outside of certain habitual cycles, like that of gift-giving and impulse shopping. You can still show your love for the ones around you and still feel stylish even if you replace those habits with a new behavior.
Action: The next time you are tempted to buy something you don't really need, take a picture and let it sit for 48 hours. You will likely find that the impulse of see > want > buy fades away.
2. MOVE PAST THE MYTH OF CHOICE
We have been programmed to think that more is better -- that having a litany of choices creates a sense of freedom and bolsters creativity. When in reality, an abundance of choice can lead us to feel overwhelmed and paralyzed. Barry Schwartz describes this in his book, The Paradox of Choice.
Action: Take the time to automate one decision in your life for an entire week. We love the example of a work uniform. Try wearing the same version of an outfit to work all week long - maybe it's black pants and a button down. Or a simple dress. Whatever it is, decide at the start of the week and do not stray and experience the freedom that comes from not having to make that decision every morning before work.
3. FOCUS YOUR SPACE
Our homes have physical limits of square footage. Are you asking too much of your space given your square footage? If your space feel chaotic, asking too much of your space is commonly the culprit. If your goal for your kitchen is to easily whip up a simple dinner for the family, but your cabinets are crowded with specialty baking dishes and fancy tools, your kitchen is not functioning the way you want it to.
Action: for each room in your home, designate the #1 activity that takes place there. Then assess, is that room optimized to support that designated activity? Additional activities can be added to the space as long as they do not detract from the stated #1 activity.
4. END THE CYCLE OF BUSY
The answer "I'm so busy", to the question "How are you?" is often revered in our culture. We admire those who cram as much as possible into their days. And we can't ignore how this over scheduling is reflected in our homes. Slowing down is a big part of minimalism. It requires hitting the pause button to take stock of what you want, and how you spend your time in support of your deepest wishes. If you always say "yes" to invitations, you will likely end up burning out and not having the time to spend taking care of yourself.
Action: Pad your calendar with extra time between activities and commitments. It will allow you to completely wrap up something once it is finished (ie unpacking that bag from your weekend trip), and will allow you to gracefully and thoughtfully enter into the next part of your day.
5. YOU HAVE STYLE - UNCOVER IT!
Our clients often have a hard time describing what type of style they have when it comes to their homes. We are always surprised to hear this because after working together, and asking several questions, it is clear that they do have preferences and a sense of style. It comes down to listening to your gut and understanding what makes your heart sing. If you decorate your home with this heart-singing standard as your guiding light, you will never go wrong.
Action: Gather up your 5 favorite decor items and place them side by side. Look at all the items and examine what threads of continuity exist. What items contrast in an interesting way? If you live with a partner or roommates, make sure to include them in this activity, so that everyone feels represented in the home.
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