Minimalism for Authors

This section, for me, is probably the most fun area of this website. This is because minimalism has transformed my life in a really positive way and I’m excited to share my experiences and encourage others regarding the potential benefits of embracing a minimalist lifestyle.

In this article, I will discuss the two main categories of minimalism (physical and digital), I will give a few reasons why minimalism appeals to me and how it has impacted my own life, and then I will finish by explaining the significance of minimalism to the author journey and will embed a few videos from my favourite minimalist YouTubers.

Physical Minimalism

Are you aware of the number of things you own? Would it be dozens, would it be hundreds, or would it be thousands? And whatever the number is, how many of those possessions do you actually interact with on a regular basis?

Such questions can form the basis of a re-evaluation of one’s life based on the principles of minimalism. The philosophy behind minimalism says that we should only hold onto those items which bring us joy and those items that we really need.

Paperwork in a messIf you could see my father’s house, you might instantly get an idea of why I find minimalism appealing. In my father’s cellar, for instance, there is literally no room to move around because there are stacks of all kinds of boxes and containers within which are objects from years gone by. Some of these items have been in these boxes for decades.

My father describes himself as a ‘squirrel’, which is a good analogy for this kind of hoarding. It’s not just my father’s cellar that’s the problem — all throughout his large house, in every room, there are piles of papers, shelves covered with dusty nicknacks, countless bookshelves filled with never touched books… well, you get the idea.

Converse trainers, a paper pad, pencils, and sunglassesContrast this picture with a guy who I recently saw featured on one of my favourite YouTube channels, Exploring Alternatives. This man describes himself as an extreme minimalist, and has a total of 47 possessions. He carries these around with him wherever he goes. Not only this, but the guy states in the video that one day he hopes to experiment with having zero possessions, which is perhaps laughable, but provides an even more stark contrast with my father’s clutter-filled four-bedroom house.

I have for a long time been a believer that simplicity is one of the most important things to strive for in life. I love finding ways of reducing what I call the ‘friction’ in my life – that is, the things that cause me frustration. Owning only the possessions that I actually need and use is one way I have found of reducing this friction, because it is liberating knowing that I have no clutter I will have to deal with in the future should something unexpected happen and I have to move out of my flat. I also feel happy knowing that in the event of my death, my relatives and friends would have a minimal (no pun intended) amount of stress to deal with.

Here are a few examples of the ways in which I have embraced physical minimalism:

I only own clothes which I actually wear

I have an inventory (a list) of absolutely everything I own

I purchase a few high quality possessions occasionally, rather than many low quality possessions regularly

I know where pretty much everything is in my home

I have been able to give many quality items that I wasn’t using to charities

I now have a simplified dietary plan which makes shopping for food, storing food, and preparing food so much easier

Physical minimalism looks different for every person who embraces the philosophy, but for me it’s about valuing the space that God has blessed me with, enjoying the possessions that I have, avoiding being selfish or greedy and being sensitive to the environment by producing much less waste.

Digital Minimalism

It has been an absolute joy for me to declutter my digital life in the same way as I have decluttered my physical life. Here’s a screenshot of my current computer desktop:

Minimalist desktop

As you can see, I have a single folder entitled Author Epiphany, and I only ever use my desktop for files that relate to the project I am working on at any given time. In case you’re wondering how I access my other documents, I have provided a shortcut to these in the dock, which is hidden away at the bottom of the screen.

I like to keep my digital life incredibly organised. I have a system according to which every application I own, and every file I own, has a relevant purpose. Everything that I don’t use that I’d like to hold onto for legacy reasons and on the off-chance that I might want to revisit it one day is stored on a single Samsung 1TB SSD hard drive that’s about the size of a credit card.

The only applications in my computer dock are those that I use on a regular basis, which makes me feel so organised. Nearly all of the applications in the dock are ones that I have paid for and I use them all, without exception, on a daily or weekly basis.

Here’s a picture of my dock, and below is a list of what I keep in the dock and why:

Screenshot 2020 06 30 at 13.41.36

(from left to right)

Finder: For easy access to everything
Chrome: For browsing the web
Things 3: My ‘To Do’ application of choice
Calendar: To keep me reminded of upcoming appointments
TextEdit: For capturing ideas quickly and easily
Notes: I have notes for life plans, work ideas, my inventory, scans of paperwork, etc
Photos: For easy access to my images
Photoshop Elements: Because I do a lot of image editing
Microsoft Word: Used for editing a variety of documents
Vellum: My book formatting software of choice
Budget spreadsheet: To help me keep on top of my income and expenses
Files: A shortcut to all my documents
Trash: Where one day everything in my father’s cellar will be

I do have a number of other applications stored away out of sight, and I can access them easily enough via the Finder if I need to. I review the applications in my dock on a regular basis and update them accordingly. So, for instance, I’m soon going to be recording audiobooks and will be investing in Adobe Audition, so that application will enter the dock for the duration of that project.

I take a similar approach to digital minimalism on my phone. I have an iPhone XS on which I have only a single page of apps (the home screen) so there is no scrolling to access pages and pages full of apps I hardly ever or never use. Every app on my phone serves a purpose and is one I use regularly. I have also carefully organised my widgets, of which I have four: my WordPress blog statistics, my current bank balance, what’s ‘up next’ in my Calendar, and the weather. Most of the time I turn notifications off and keep my phone on silent.

Conclusion and Related Videos

There is great joy in simplicity. I have struggled with some quite severe mental health problems in the past, which have at times included some quite crippling spells of depression. Embracing minimalism has helped me to manage my depressive episodes in a life-changing way. It’s so much easier dealing with depression when your home and your digital devices are clean, tidy, and clutter free.

Making a living as an author is hard, so living in such a way as to minimise expenses can be very beneficial. Being organised helps me to be more productive, and therefore to complete book projects more quickly, which in the future will hopefully lead to a greater income from my writing.

I’m very grateful to have watched the videos of many YouTubers who have inspired me to embrace minimalism, and I will paste a few videos below that I loved watching and I hope they will inspire you too.

This is the guy with only 47 possessions that I told you about:

Matt D’Avella is a brilliant filmmaker and some of his digital minimalism tips have inspired me:

This is Christine, who makes great videos about minimalism and sustainable living and also has a wonderful relationship with her dog Cooper:

Let me Know Your Thoughts!

I hope you have enjoyed this snapshot of some of the processes and benefits involved with embracing minimalism. I’d love to hear about your own philosophy of living, and feel free to share any productivity tips that have benefitted you and that might help me further reduce the friction in my own life and become an even more focused and productive author. You are welcome to leave a comment below with your thoughts.

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