Eric's Blog

Adding Complexity to Improve Focus

Changing a process can be a great way to restore focus on a task or habit. Here is a recent example:

I wrote somewhat extensively about my tea practice last January. That practice hasn't changed much for several years, which is fine - it is a simple habit that has served me well. But as my interests have pivoted towards higher quality, single-origin teas, I've increasingly been turning to gongfu-style brewing for my daily tea fix.

I've had the necessary teaware to make gongfu cha for a while (it doesn't take much when you're drinking solo), but before the past couple of months, I had only done it a few times. Why? If I'm being honest, it felt too complex and time-consuming. Western brewing is simple. Throw some tea in a big cup for a few minutes and then drink it all day. Gongfu cha, on the other hand, requires careful attention to quantities, temperature, and time over many short steepings. It's a more demanding process, and the necessary time and attention felt like luxuries I didn't have.

Some days that is still the case. If I have back-to-back calls at work, a Yeti mug full of tea that will last the day is still a good choice. But after some convincing from the gurus over at r/tea, I've come to see the value in taking on the more complex process on the days when I have margin in my schedule to do it. I can't deny that the tea tastes better (a whole range of new flavors surfaces with multiple infusions). But it's more than that - the extra effort keeps me more focused on preparing and drinking tea. Because I am more invested in the process, I gain more enjoyment from it.

The simplest way of doing something isn't always the best.

If that sentence sounds almost blasphemous to you, I get it. I've been interested in minimalism for a long time and have been intentionally simplifying my life for over a decade. My default posture is that simpler = better. This experience, however, has been a good reminder that there are exceptions to every rule. If adding complexity also increases value, it just might be the way to go.


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#focus #habits #simplicity #tea