Something to Read

Focus Is About Saying No

Focusing our minds is essential to productivity, high performance, and awareness, but our focus is constantly under siege by things grasping for our attention. Some of us may excel in multitasking, but you will undoubtedly perform better with full, selective attention. It’s not exactly supernatural. Our attention is a precious commodity, and it requires protection. Not just by avoiding things that distract us, but also through exercising our attention through techniques like meditation. You might call that mindfulness or cognitive control.

Generally speaking, us humans are keen to please. We say yes to a lot of things because we feel we can fit it all in. It also means we avoid making tough decisions that may disappoint or offend others. But where does that ultimately lead? Well, it leads to several places—one of those being stress, and another being mediocracy.

“You’d think focus means saying yes, but it actually means to say no.”

—Steve Jobs

I think the key to being focused is through living by design, and not by default. Meaning that we deliberately make a distinction between the vital few from the trivial many—eliminating everything that is non-essential to us. And it’s this elimination that will drive us to say no to distractions—to the noise.

We can even look at this from a wider standpoint, and analyse what we’re actually saying yes to, and how this not only affects the tasks we perform, but also the lives we lead. Sometimes we will say ‘yes’ to something that is seemingly important, but by doing so, we are inadvertently saying ‘no’ to things that are even more important—our physical and mental health, our relationships, and even our creativity. Scale it back, be more intentional, and don’t be afraid of saying no—even to the good things.

Recommended Reading: Focus by Daniel Goleman and Essentialism by Greg McKeown

Carl MH Barenbrug

Creative Director

Minimalissimo

Cofounder

Minimalism Life

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Hello

I'm Carl MH Barenbrug, a multidisciplinary maker and creative director currently living in Edinburgh. I run a small independent magazine called Minimalissimo, which is dedicated to minimalism in design—a passion of mine that extends to a lifestyle. I strongly believe that better design is simpler design. From the approach, to the function, to the aesthetic.

I also run a couple of other collaborative side projects called Minimalism Life and Mnmllist, and I'm always open to work on something new.

If you’d like to hire me as a consultant for a particular project or to collaborate on a product design, please get in touch. Services include Creative Direction and Web & UX Design.

Or you can be a kind human and just buy me a coffee.