Special post by longtime collaborator Becky Bermont:
One of my main takeaways from John’s work on simplicity is that simplicity and complexity need to live in balance - too much of one or the other gets boring (or overwhelming) and is generally undesirable. As John likes to point out, they need a rhythm.
For me, it is the same with routine and change; structure and adventure. I crave both. This week I had the delightful (and scary) experience of deliberately trying to craft a new routine, one that has me unbeholden to an office for the first time in my professional life (with notable exceptions for grad school and a baby). Making the transition from being someone who is part of a larger organization to being a mobile free agent is a common one in today’s creative economy, and only becoming more common, as Richard Florida writes about eloquently.
I wrestle with tensions about how much routine to have in my personal life constantly. On one hand, I love the adventure of travel, for work and play, and have found scaling it back to be one of the biggest compromises of having a family (yes, there are rewards too). On the other, I have an extremely rigid bedtime routine that never gets compromised no matter where in the world I am, or if I had an extra glass of wine. When I’m all over the place too much, I want to be home; when I’m home too much, I need to get out. It’s about the rhythm.
As I try to set up my new officeless life, one principle I’m settling on is having just enough routine and structure to feel free. Without a routine, it’s easy to get stuck in wasting time constructing each day as if it were a bespoke garment, wondering what the best pattern and location to work in are. As I try on new routines for my days, I am eager to find one that feels comfortable, if only so I can enjoy the act of breaking it.
Copyright 2009 - 2016, John Maeda