One of my favourite sessions at Web Directions South ’08 was with Daniel Burka, the creative director of the content sharing website Digg.

He talked about the evolution of the Digg site. Over the years, a number of widgets, text and menus had found their way onto Digg. To get to their current version, they did something remarkable: chucked most of them away. The cleaner, simpler result proved a massive hit with their audience.

Daniel said “We realised that subtraction is iteration, too.”

Now I don’t know about you, but I go to events with big intentions and while I’ll come away with a notepad full of scribblings, ultimately it’s a handful of sentences that stick in my mind.

This statement was the salient point of the day for me. And not just from a web design perspective.

After all, our lives are full of things to do and our attention is forever being pulled in multiple directions. Clients. Partners. Children. Our rumbling tummies.

Daniel’s words inspired me to make a list of things not to do anymore and to make a point of decluttering.

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As I result, I kissed goodbye to a pile of books and clothes that had been earmarked for charity. I got rid of my unused gym membership, rather than suffer guilt for not going. That bank account with a $5 balance? Goneski.

I feel freer and more energised as a result of decluttering, which proves subtraction really is iteration, too.

I know I’m in good company.

Every new year, my friend and colleague Robert empties his office and only stuff which has been used in the previous year is invited back in. Then there’s fashion icon Coco Chanel, who said “take one thing off before you leave the house.”

Trimming the sails is a great fillip. What are you going to get rid of as a result of decluttering? 


“ I go to events with big intentions and while I’ll come away with a notepad full of scribblings, ultimately it’s a handful of sentences that stick in my mind. ”
 
Sam Leader

Sam Leader is a director of Flying Solo and the co-author of Flying Solo - How to go it alone in business.

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