Organizing Time

I've always loved organization, especially when it comes to interior design or organizing project files on my computer, or keeping my drawing pencils organized. But I have never thought of "Time" as something that should be organized.

Throughout the day, I sort of tackled my tasks as they came to me, instead of attacked them in a methodical way. It often makes me feel like I'm not quite in control of my day, or schedule or life.

But just like organizing a to-do list, the time of your day can be organized. Not like a schedule, but like a methodical list of productivity goals based in order of priority.

Creating something

When I was about 16 years old, I always wanted to record my own full-length solo piano album.

But in my mind, there were all the obstacles. In college, I didn't have my own piano to play on and practice. And if I did practice, the songs I wrote were not "perfect" enough. And then, I didn't know where to go to record the album. And even if I did, it was probably going to cost too much money to do it anyways. 

I essentially made a lot of excuses on why I couldn't finish a piano album. I know truly that I wanted to create one. But I think my biggest fear was that when everything was done, I would look back at the final result and be unhappy with the quality. Maybe the songs weren't good, or the quality of the recordings were low. 

In 2012, I finally made my first piano album. The only thing I needed to do was get over the one hurdle that would push me forward, which was to book an expensive recording studio that had a grand piano. Once I did that, I forced myself to finish the album. I actually spent thousands of dollars on it, and it took 2 or 3 months to finish. But I learned a ton about the creative process. That deadlines actually help push forward a project. And that spending money on somethings with other professionals helped me stay more accountable and rely on other peoples' expertise. It was one of the best creative learning experiences I've ever done, and I've take numerous music theory classes and recording classes. But nothing forces you to really learn something like committing to a project, spending some money, and setting a deadline. I don't think that the creative process would ever be as creative if there were no forces of stress coming down upon it to push something to be accomplished. 

The best way to learn something is to simply commit to something big, with some pressure, and then scramble to put the pieces together. 

I did the same with my first photography client in 2010. I had a cheap $100 point-and-shot camera. I took lots of photos, but thousands of them were terrible. I only put my favorite 20 photos up on my website. One day, a client called me and hired me to do a photoshoot based on my cheap 20 photos. So I quoted them $1000 USD, which they paid upfront. I then went out and bought a $1000 Canon camera, and spent the weekend learning everything I could about it, practicing for 8 hours on Saturday and 8 hours on Sunday until I felt like I sort of knew what I was doing. I quickly became an intermediate photographer by putting myself in a stressful situation to force myself to learn something new.

It's the best way to figure out how to create something.

Thoughts on minimalist design

My thoughts on design have always been about efficiency. When I started designed when I was around 12 years old the style then was very similar to what it was today. Super simple, lots of white space. I think mostly because I was just impatient. I wanted to make something on the computer, print it out for my music, or make a website, and be done with it and move on to the next thing.

There are times when minimalism is just about being practical. Not anything beautiful or unique. Just get the thing done, and move on with your life. I didn't realize what I was doing at the time. But when I was 19 years old, I started to realize that the basic skills I had doing web design and graphics could be marketed to people who had established businesses looking to make their mark on the internet. 

The only things I change in terms of design were selecting the right fonts, spacing letters apart in an elegant way, and subtly changing dark blacks to dark greys, or bright whites to off-white greys. In photography, minimalism is about focusing on 1 or 2 simple elements, and filling the rest of the space with voids of color. And in architecture or furniture, it's about creating the easiest, simplest, least complex shapes that come together with the least material possible. 

For me, minimalism is not really about the aesthetic. It's getting to the final result as quickly as possible, without too many tools, or materials, or time. And I think that's ultimately the most important part about it. It's that there are more important things to life that just working on things and filling up your time. There are fun things to do with your wife and kids. So why overwork at things that are less important? But to do minimalist design in a beautiful way is also nice. It's great to look at a completed work and be happy that at least it was done in an elegant way, and maybe it will last for a few years.