I tend to aggressively limit certain activities to steps I consider sufficient in achieving a minimal viable effect. Unnecessary motions I find not only principally unattractive, but disproportionally wasteful in time and energy spent - resources better allocated elsewhere. As a result of drastic simplification strategies I feel happier and more successful with my tasks, on average, although my fairly aggressive filtration mechanism tends to distance some individuals and complicate certain relationships. There is cost benefit to any strategy in general, but I tend to employ those that lead to an average improvement overall.
The no free lunch theorem in control engineering effectively demonstrates that no model yields optimal results for all problems. In practical terms, any strategy I employ to attain certain effectiveness or energy savings under most circumstances is bound to backfire in some situation. Incorporating this knowledge, I could employ more complicated or a greater variety of strategies for managing daily challenges. This process, however, similarly (and often disproportionally) exhausts more energy while not leading to a notably greater overall improvement. Ultimately, this leads us back to the application of the Pareto principle:
- Simplify a strategy to attain a sufficient outcome in the respective undertaking.
- Only worry about strategies frequently enough applicable to warrant optimization effort.
You would probably find unwise to spend an hour devising an optimization for a 10-minute task encountered on only a few occasions. On the other hand, the effort may pay off by scaling the optimization across more problems or individuals.
As such, what areas do I target for the Pareto principle optimization?
My goal with this blog involves publishing a variety of content. I made the minimal effort to achieve this effect, having so far neglected features such as integrated comments or an elaborate biography, and not particularly minding the design and the initially chosen theme. I use photos very scarcely as I don’t consider them significantly beneficial with respect to publication value. As far as the platform, I use the Pelican static site generator to quickly generate new content and rapidly push updates at an invocation of a single command, abstaining from elaborate functionality.
I consume a small fraction of this beverage in comparison to old habits. I no longer obsess with freshness and could care less for additives. My only two requirements are the following: 1) non-instant 2) consumed in a small container with a < 8 oz. portion, for aesthetic reasons. I can prepare the beverage on the stove without any machinery or filters in either a Turkish ibrik or any small pot. To cause the coffee grounds to become heavier and rapidly sink (if time is of the essence), add a small quantity of cold water around the boiling point. I often prepare more than I need and refrigerate the remainder for later consumption, which I might not even reheat, because I don’t really care. This nonchalant approach saves on equipment, simplifies the preparation, and hardly sacrifices the outcome, at least for my purposes.
I’m effectively married to daily exercise, as pursuing this less frequently than perhaps six days a week not only causes me to feel suboptimal, but results in notable joint pain, a process I’ve empirically observed year after year. I made piece with this realization and learned to embrace the practice by means of various psychological mind hacks, internal programming, and visualization.
What I’m less fond of is unnecessary maintenance, the scent of gyms, and extended travel to reach the exercise facility. As a result, I exclusively rely on bodyweight exercises and calisthenics. I can carry out the necessary exercise almost anywhere either outside or indoors with floor space and a towel. I couple of times a week, ideally, I seek access to a pull up bar, which I can often find in nearby parks, or alternatively, some improvised indoor or outdoor elevated surface to perform pull-ups.
The drastically simplified routine allows me to sufficiently stimulate the body, achieve 80% of the look attainable under heavier-duty gym sessions, while avoiding the unpleasantries and the extra risk of injury.
I read both fiction and non-fiction. The first has been a hobby and a passion for nearly half of my life. Here I take no shortcuts. The latter, however, I read for educational purposes, and without elaborating on the specifics, I often concentrate on a small fraction of a book I find most beneficial to achieve most of the desired outcome. The extra content tends to yield sublinear benefit.
I dress very simply, emphasizing 2-3 generic colors and clothing that fits well, comfortably, without sacrificing style. Otherwise, I exclude designs, logos, or any elaborate articles. The tactic severely reduces the energy spent on wardrobe selection, and incidentally, not only does not compromise the perceived self image but occasionally elevates it. All of my present clothing fits in a carry-on suitcase, although this adjustment required years to craft.
Earlier this year I recorded a series of video clips to train presentation skills. I used the phone video camera, always seeking an accommodating indoor or outdoor location with proper noise and lighting, having to sustain the camera in my hand. Then I realized most difficulties concerned speech coherency and diction. So I now focused my efforts on audio-only content using my tiny, yet powerful recorder. It drastically simplified the workflow, considering I cringe at carrying an elaborate phone and more so wielding it as a camera. These audio training sessions may not address 100% of the challenges, but they seem to address the majority.
I minimize preparation effort and the ingredient variety to provide sufficient nutritional coverage and yet not spend unnecessary cycles in the kitchen (which I don’t particularly care for). I don’t toast bread. I don’t micro slice the vegetables, but eat them in coarse grained servings. I don’t blend fruit cocktails but eat whole, solid fruit. I can easily eat a whole avocado and feel no inclination to incorporate it into a salad. I eat plain oatmeal without spending extra cycles adding fruit or other additives. I don’t personally add salt or sugar to anything in spite of receiving strange reactions from almost everyone. Huevos a la mexicana is a delicious dish, but I prefer to prepare plain scrambled eggs (a 4-minute process) with a whole tomato on the side to severely reduce the preparation time and extract more nutrition even.
The above can perhaps inspire those concerned over lack of time to prepare food at home. These strategies are not for gourmet food enthusiasts, but more for spartan utilitarians as myself. The amortized time I spend preparing a meal falls between 5-10 minutes, and maybe a little more to clean the dishes. For two people the time grows, but sublinearly, since much preparation enables parallelization.
Having a tendency to aggressively minimize and eliminate belongings, I occasionally itemize small value items and advertise them for sale, having noticed severe time invested into some very low-return sales. While I don’t offer any particular heuristic for determining which items warrant a sales effort and which you should consider donating or disposing, I suggest carefully choosing your battles.
The original term draws inspiration from the Italy land ownership distribution, but I eagerly and frequently incorporate the Pareto principle in a myriad of respective areas. Do you recognize any such potential in your workflow?