Physical & Digital Minimalism

Less is more

Hello friends,

Today we’re talking minimalism, both physical and digital variants. But first, a quick life update:

Two months have passed, we’re 1/6th (~17%) through the year. How are you doing on your goals?

According to my Open Goals sheet, I’m on track with 16% progress, but not every cell is equal, and I’m excited to share that on 2/20 I closed on my 2nd investment property (1st closing of 2020) 🥳

I’m frequenting home improvement stores weekly (pro tip: you can purchase 10% discount codes on eBay), comparing prices online (pro tip: open box items are just as good), and filling my weekends with all the quiet work (cleaning, painting, prepping) to make my contractor’s time that much more focused on weekdays.

I mention this because, with the new place comes a lot of purchases, something I don’t do that often for myself. In fact, since joining Poshmark in late 2018, I’ve been on a bit of a kick (over 100 items sold) to get rid of nonessentials. That was further fueled in 2019, to the point that I’m running out of nonessentials and much more consciously purchasing moving forward.

Is something nonessential?

  • Tip: Flip hangers inside-out | when you get home tonight, flip all the hangers in your closet so that they’re a bit awkward to take out the closet. As you use an item, flip the hanger back the “normal” way, indicating you still use said item. Now mark your calendar for a year from now and see which items never flipped back.

That said, it’s been an indulgence to “shop” for the new place and a reminder of how satisfying it is to do a little research (thank you, find (or make) a great deal (thank you + ebates + craigslist), and then physically install said item (thank you YouTube).

In short, a few thoughtful purchases bring more joy than a multitude of impulse purchases.

In clearing out old electronics I came across an external hard drive that hadn’t been utilized in over 5 years. After dusting it off and taking a trip down memory lane, I asked myself how can I move towards a more digitally minimal existence.

What do I mean by digital minimalism?

  • Just like physical minimalism, it’s firstly the organization, secondly the removal of nonessential, and lastly the system for determining what should be added moving forward. For me, this is coupled with the bias towards doing what’s best for the environment.

I mention that last bit for two reasons:

  1. Physical | Selling something is (often) better for the environment than donating something. Since selling implies a buyer, where donating might lead to a transfer of who’s storing the item. Don’t get me wrong, donating is amazing, but it’s more amazing to donate the money instead of the items.

  2. Digital | While likely minimal on an individual basis, digital storage consumes power and utilizes servers. Any removal of nonessentials will inherently reduce overall environmental impact.

So naturally I Googled... In my search for a system to organize my digital footprint, I came across community of people who take pride in just that. Enter Tiago Forte and PARA.

Imagine for a moment the perfect organizational system. One that supported and enhanced the work you do, telling you exactly where to put a piece of information, and exactly where to find it when you needed it.

P.A.R.A. stands for Projects — Areas — Resources — Archives, the four top-level categories that encompass every type of information you might encounter in your work and life.

As the quote addresses, its strength lies in its simplicity. If it’s important now, it’s in the Project section, since only a limited number of things can be important now, it should be an easy section to navigate so you can find exactly what you’re looking for. On the other hand, you don’t have to discard everything else in order to solve for discoverability. Instead, you can move those nonessentials to the trash and sort the remaining materials between Area, Resource & Archive.

Full disclosure, it likely took 10+ hours to gather and sort everything across four hard drives, various digital lockers (box, dropbox, google drive, icloud, etc), and a small filing cabinet of physical documents. That said, it’s amazing to have one system across all digital and physical surfaces in which to keep myself organized and minimal.

So what’s next?

  • The story doesn’t end here… With increased concerns over privacy (see Vice coverage of Clearview AI), and more data stacking against data overload (see Cal Newport’s Facebook Cessation Study coverage) I’m more motivated than ever before to explore what digital minimalism means for my greater internet footprint.

  • I know, ironic coming from a guy sharing his thoughts on YouTube and a public newsletter, but this is just one of my many goals.

Hope you enjoyed the second issue, give me shout if you found it helpful in anyway, it’s always nice to know there’s someone on the other side.

Talk soon,