Author’s note: I’m not perfectly satisfied with this post, but I have a goal of blogging more, and I have accepted that done is better than perfect.

So I’ve outlined some of the philosophy of minimalism [1], but you don’t have to jump in all at once, or even over the course of a month [2]. Here’s an outline of my path towards minimalism. It all started with moving….

It’s not like I ever accumulated a ton of stuff–clothes or anything else, really. But my wife had been reading about this thing called “minimalism” for a while. When she first showed me pictures I just thought it was a fad trend within the modern style for homes, and I generally liked the style, but didn’t think it was something relevant to me. After all, I didn’t have that much stuff I didn’t use.

But then I moved. I was shocked at how many boxes it took to pack up all my shit. I just didn’t know where it had all come from! So I accepted that I could learn more than I thought from minimalism and started purging. Then I just kept going….

I started with my books. I like reading, and I’ve accumulated a lot of books over the years. Some were excellent reads that I’d like to read again, but most of them were books I’ll probably only read once, if at all. I’m a big fan of having pedantic books as decor, but for all the rest, I started getting rid of them. I sold a lot at Half Price books, but for the ones I wanted to keep, I digitized them using [3]. The notion that their scanning server only costs a dollar is rather misleading, but I now have a completely digitized library that was still a lot cheaper than re-buying everything as an eBook and even cheaper than other scanning services like Kinkos.

With my digital library organized by genre and author on, I then tackled my wardrobe. In hindsight, I should have done this first since it was a more influential, even if not symbolic or quantifiable shift. Again, I’ve never had a ton of clothes, but I did have a lot of clothes I didn’t wear very often. So I donated most of my wardrobe and spent about $150 on new stuff. Now, I have:

  • 10 plain, black T-shirts
  • A dozen or so plain, white T-shirts (that I use as undershirts, workout shirts, and paint shirts)
  • 3 pairs of the same jeans
  • 5 white dress shirts
  • 5 black dress shirts
  • 5 black, thin button downs (casual)

I still need to pare down some of my ties and replace my slacks with something uniform, but every day I’m confident in my clothes. It’s simple, and I don’t need to think about it. Having 2 or 3 outfits that I feel confident in and never deviate from really has made a difference. It also opened the floodgates: after realizing just how good it feels to simplify, I’ve kept going. After my closet, I started tackling my computer. Specifically, I got intentional about using my computer. Not only did I clean up my very bloated music library and finally delete some of those icons on my desktop, but I got the tools necessary to organize my thoughts, my life, and my ambitions.

I’ll talk more about technology, including my software setup and process and minimalism in the next post, but for this post the important thing to note is that I have streamlined process for tracking everything. I’m not hyper-organized or obsessive about checking my phone, and it’s because I’m neither of those things that I have my system. Basically, I’ve defined a purpose for my technology. It doesn’t own me, but it does control me in so much as I’ve told Trello my dreams and aspirations [4] and told Omnifocus what I need to do tomorrow, so I don’t need to think about these things. They’re off my mind so I can focus my mind on more important things, like meeting those dreams and aspirations one step at a time.

Lastly, a little encouragement and a source of new ideas is always a good thing. Reading blogs [5] about minimalism has been a great source of inspiration and encouragement to do more, and a constant stream of ideas–some practical for me, some not–of new things I can do to simplify. These are (in no particular order) the blogs I’ve found most helpful:

  • The Minimalists
  • Minimalism is Simple
  • Unclutterer
  • The Simple Dollar
  • Becoming Minimalist

Once I pared down my wardrobe to several iterations of a couple outfits I love, I realized how much simpler everything else in my life could be if it was pared down.I’m not a Romantic, but I can’t deny that the Romantics had some very interesting and wise insights into the human condition,so quote Thoreau again,

Our life is frittered away by detail. An honest man has hardly need to count more than his ten fingers, or in extreme cases he may add his ten toes, and lump the rest. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb nail. In the midst of this chopping sea of civilized life, such are the clouds and storms and quicksands and thousand-and-one items to be allowed for, that a man has to live, if he would not founder and go to the bottom and not make his port at all, by dead reckoning, and he must be a great calculator indeed who succeeds. Simplify, simplify. Instead of three meals a day, if it be necessary eat but one; instead of a hundred dishes, five; and reduce other things in proportion. [6]

So I’ve been paring down a lot of things. Even more than that, I’ve been intentional about spending money. Before buying stuff that looks cool or interesting, I ask myself this question: “Do I want to store this?” Most often, the answer is no. I don’t want to have to find a place to store that item so that it’s not cluttering my desk or living room, and if it’s not worth storing, it’s not worth having.

[5] For a long time I resisted blogs for two reasons. First, “who’s this person and I why should I listen to them?” and second, they’re just a lot of work. For the first, I eventually got off my high horse and realized that a lot of the people, while not necessarily citing empirical studies, have been doing this a lot longer than I have and have some interesting ideas. For the second, I got an RSS reader, specifically Feedly, which I’ll talk more about in the next post.