As the world grows more complex there is real value in appreciating the science of minimalism as well as the art of minimalism and applying it to our lives. Long a fan of clean design, I am more and more a fan of minimalism in process, connectivity, and relationships as well.

Using minimalism as a standard is not to elevate simplicity, although the external presentation may make it appear so. Underlying that image, however, is depth and rigor. One cannot achieve minimalism any other way. Minimalist solutions do not espouse shortcuts, quite the opposite. They represent a pureness that only testing, judging, and deciding can provide. To get to an effective end, every detail, potential obstacle, interface, and opportunity must be recognized, analyzed, decided, and integrated; and that integration must adhere to the rules of minimalism lest it add unnecessary or confusing clutter. Minimalism at its heart is about efficiency, and efficiency is about getting to the best possible solution with the least possible friction, be it in design, how we work, or how we relate.

I am not suggesting that everything in the world needs to be aesthetically or even emotionally streamlined. There are good reasons why we have different aesthetics, prefer varied interests, and are willing to invest ourselves in sometimes messy relationships. Each of these, or any other topic one might discuss, will have layers of complexity to them. That is assumed and is part of the depth and rigor associated with each. But when it comes time to get something done, to draw enjoyment with a group of friends, or create a solution to a life or business problem, then getting there as smoothly and easily as possible is usually the goal.

Minimalism’s underlying precepts clear away the trivial, emphasize the most important, and maximize the value of each element. Isn’t that what we desire in our lives, work, and relationships? Being careful to take a holistic perspective is important, of course, or one might run the risk of exercising minimalism as little more than a tool of self-centeredness. But when applied with a desire to see all experience the best they can be and with appreciation for what each offers, minimalism can become a multiplier for the best in us and the best that we do.

Minimalism isn’t just a design ethic, it is also a lifestyle and way to achieving purpose. Giving and doing the best we can necessitates choices about where and how we engage. Trying to do everything dilutes our focus and attention on all things, while doing the things that make the most difference with the greatest efficiency improves everything.