Yesterday I decided to turn to Anthony Ongaro’s channel for my one Youtube video a day, and found this little gem:
In this video, he talks about minimalism as a “filter” to live one’s life: It’s about asking the questions “Does this add value to my life?” and “How can I add value to this?”, to find a better way to spend your time and energy that is maybe not the most obvious one.
The example in this video is a conference, but those questions can be applied to pretty much anything. The point is to stop following the obvious and look for what fits instead.
Over the past two years, being busy was my thing. Saying yes to everything was my thing. Then I spread myself too thin with two theatre groups, a dance class and choir (in addition to working full time), and came out tired, lacking energy and half-arsing the things I’d committed to work on outside of hours.
Some time ago I dropped my second theatre company, and although I miss them, and I’m reasonably good at acting, I don’t regret it. I dropped out of my dance class, which I miss and was reasonably good at, and I don’t regret it. I’d started them both to try something new, but also, in a way, to get more busy, without reflecting on whether doing these things was the best use of my time.
In the end, I realised I wasn’t adding value to anyone’s life by going to dance class (and I only got moderate enjoyment out of it). I can do much better work in the theatre company I’m still part of than I could in the other one (“work” going beyond performance and into actual help with production, promoting the company, being part of a community etc). Choir I will never leave because singing makes me feel fulfilled, and I like to think I’m a good addition to the group.
Cutting out the things that didn’t fully serve me or others have allowed me to look into other ways of doing something useful. I now have time to properly contribute to the projects I’ve fully committed to. I have time to explore new things. And I have time for a social life; I can hang out with people I care about, and I can talk to my parents on Skype without feeling like I should be doing something else. And I’m getting more sleep.
Time is such a precious commodity, and over the past month I’ve really found that it helps to put that filter of “How does this add value to anyone’s life?” to the way I spend my time. It’s not like I never waster mine, I still do; but I like to think I’ve become better at using it.