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Minimalism, Music, and Multitasking

How music helped me integrate minimalism and combat multitasking

Piano
Photography by Jaclyn Clark

In the early stage of this year, I have found myself drifting more and more toward a certain type of what I deem to be ‘minimalist’ music. My playlist grows daily with compositions that focus more on the melody than the words. Some have no voices at all. I find it freeing. I’m starting to look at lyrics as distractions that pull my attention away from enjoying the quality of the music itself. One piece that captured me recently is Near Light by Ólafur Arnalds. The soothing piano that introduces the rest of the arrangement makes you appreciate the remarkable experience of unspoken conversation. It is music at its rawest. At its zenith.

It is this type of instrumental music that makes my approach to minimalist living more prolific. By plugging in my headphones, I am able to eliminate distractions and focus in a singular manner—on what I need to do. These musicians have helped me lead a more fulfilling life because I am able to accomplish more of my goals, both personal and professional, evolving into a better version of myself.

The music’s influence has also reached other parts of my life. For example, I finally decided to take a leap of faith and repaint my entire bedroom, get rid of most of my decorations, and unworn clothes. As in Marie Kondo’s phenomenal The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I sought to ‘keep only those things that speak to your heart.’ Applying the wisdom of minimalism propelled me forward onto a more optimistic path filled with greater happiness, stability, and peace. I now recognise that these mindless distractions and useless trinkets are unnecessary. Most new possessions are dust collectors at worst and future thrift store donations at best. I know I am better off without them.

On my minimalism journey, I have also turned my attention to multitasking. Multitasking is one of the most unrewarding habits I’ve had the displeasure of acquiring in the last few years. My mindset has always been, ‘There are not enough hours in my day. There are too many things to do and errands to run. Might as well try to do these at the same time.’ This doesn’t work—it never works. You will not be able to give your 100% to the performance of daily tasks if you maintain this attitude. You will minimize your own welfare because you try to do too many things, under extreme time restraints.

That being said, something that has really helped me break this obnoxious cycle is taking a few minutes each day to sit down and plan out everything that needs to be done—down to the minute. I list tasks in order of importance. I see what needs completing urgently and what can wait. I delegate blocks of time in order to focus on one specific errand instead of attempting to do them in bundles. Most importantly, I stick to my schedule in order to minimize overlaps. This has made me a more relaxed, productive, and positive person.

These may seem like small acts, but they can make a world of difference.

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