The Minimalist’s Guide to Launching an E-Book

January 29th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

11 ways to use minimalist ideas to launch your e-book.

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

As many of you know, I’m putting the final touches on my e-book The Art of Being Minimalist.

The Art of Being Minimalist is essentially the culmination of the ideas I’ve put out on this blog, along with my experiences traveling around the country over the last four months.

I’ve integrated some of the best articles from the blog (so you’ll recognize or have read some of the content before) with a lot of all new content that expands on my ideas.

How I went from zero to done in two weeks.

Some people have asked me how I went from having no plans for an e-book to selling in e-book in two weeks.

The truth is that I’ve always planned on having an e-book available through Far Beyond The Stars. This is why I’ve worked so hard on the content here, because I’ve wanted to put all of the ideas that I’ve developed here into an e-book.

The final product came together over the last two weeks. I felt like I had completed enough of the e-book to make it worth reading. So, I finished it.

I’ll be releasing The Art of Being Minimalist on Monday, February 1st at 6am.

I’ll be giving away the e-book for free for 24 hours, with the request that you spread to as many people as possible during that time. I’d rather this e-book be read by 10,000 people, than forcing 1000 people to buy it. All of you reading this now deserve to read it for free, because you’ve been so supportive over the last few months.

You’ve helped me write every word of this e-book, thank you.

I’m going to be offering the opportunity to earn 50% commission selling the ebook to everyone. There are many great minimalist blogs out there, I hope this e-book can help support your writing as well as my own.

Here’s what I’ve learned about launching an e-book. I hope this can help you with yours.

12 things I’ve learned about launching a minimalist e-book.

1, Make the end the priority.

My aim for this blog has always been to launch e-books, much like Chris Guillebeau does at The Art of Nonconformity. Every day I sat down at the computer, and when I wrote I was focusing on the end product. This created a consistency to my blog that wouldn’t have been there otherwise. From day 1 to day 124 this has been about The Art of Being Minimalist, and nothing else.

2, Write content that helps people.

Your blog and your e-book has to have the goal of helping people. Self-referential blogs are a dime a dozen out there on the net, and there is a reason why everyone’s eyes gloss over when they come across a diary blog. This blog and this e-book has always been about helping you, the audience. I want you to join me in living this life of minimalist freedom. I hope this e-book can help you achieve your goals.

3, Give yourself no other options.

I quit my job to become a minimalist and move to Portland. I’ve passed up other opportunities in order to focus on writing this e-book, because I knew I had to create something of value for the community. I also knew that I wouldn’t be happy if I wasn’t creating something that was going to build my legacy project. I was tired of my work going to benefit large corporations, so my focus has been on creating useful information for people. I hope this writing can help you. I also hope that enough people will buy it that I can support myself until I write the next ebook.

4, Write what you know.

This blog and the e-book are about the life that I live. I couldn’t have written this sitting at a desk in an office, because I wouldn’t have experienced the depth of being minimalist that occurs when you get on a plane with all of your stuff on your back. There is simply no way to have that experience while being safe at the same time. This writing wouldn’t have happened without making the leap to see if the life I dreamed about was possible. It is possible, I’ve been there.

5, Don’t stop doing the work.

This is probably the most important. Don’t stop working. I’ve never missed a scheduled post in the last 4 months. Once I settled on a publishing schedule of three articles a week, I didn’t take a break. I did the work every day towards this goal. If I knew I was going to have other commitments, or I’d be out of contact, I scheduled posts ahead of time. It’s a really bad idea to drop off the planet while trying to run a successful blog, if you do that the momentum is gone and you don’t have an e-book after 124 days.

6, Participate in the community.

I wouldn’t be here without the minimalist community. I’ve met some amazing people, and they’ve helped me more than they’ll ever know. See the blogroll on the side to meet some of these awesome individuals. I’ve received emails asking for help that made me think about how to help people better. I’ve received some emails challenging my positions, which made me think more about whether they were valid. I changed things if they were crazy. I stood fast if I found I could defend them. All because of the amazing people who read this blog. Thank you everyone.

7, Choose a mentor.

I also wouldn’t be here without the help of Leo Babauta, the author of The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life. 1, Because the sales of his e-book helped support me while I worked on my own e-book. 2, Because many of you probably found my blog through him. When I say mentor, I don’t mean that I bothered Leo all of the time for help. We’ve probably spent three minutes interacting over the last four months, mostly on Twitter. I wouldn’t dream of taking up any more of his time. He’s made the decision to link to my blog a few times over the last few months, and that has made a huge difference in how much traffic I’ve received. Thank you Leo.

8, Study the best.

I spent the last year studying e-book launches. I did this by watching some of the best. Darren Rowse of Problogger, Chris Guillebeau of The Art of Nonconformity, Jonathan Fields of Awake at the Wheel, and many more. These people are the masters of creating e-books that help people. I spent endless hours reading their material and learning how they do what they do.

9, Spend less time with hype.

I’ve noticed that many bloggers announce the e-books they’re working on around a year in advance, and then every couple of weeks they write a post about how hard it is to write an e-book. That’s cool, but it’s not helping anyone until you’ve finished it. I also have artist friends that spend years talking about “amazing projects that will rock the world” that they never finish. I figured the minimalist approach to launching a blog e-book would be to not speak of it at all until it was ready to go. Then launch quickly, decisively, and actually launch (most people don’t get to the launch point.)

10, Let people help you.

I’m so thankful that I’m not doing this alone. Chris O’Byrne was thoughtful enough to email me a few days ago offering to copy edit my e-book, he did a great job. As you all know, clean copy is definitely not my strong point. I’m so thankful for his help. I’m also thankful to all of the people who have offered to help market the book on their own blogs, such as Tammy Strobel, Jules of Stone Soup, and Chris Baskind of the upcoming blog The Minimalist Century. I’ll be releasing more details on how you can earn 50% commission selling my e-book on Monday. If you want to get on board earlier than that, drop me an email and I’ll get you what you need to make sales and get commission.

11, Ship the e-book.

As Seth Godin writes in his new book Linchpin: the enemy of shipping is the resistance. Making the decision to overcome all of the fears that are associated with publishing a work is hard. I’m sure there will be people who read this book and decide to criticize me for living the way that I do. I’m okay with that. I could have let fear overcome the decision to publish this, but I didn’t. I fought it, I wrote for hundreds of hours. I did all of the design and photography on this e-book. I set a date and I shipped.

On Monday it will be available for the world.

I believe this e-book will help a lot of people begin living a simple and more minimalist life. I hope that you will enjoy it.

Thank you for making this possible.

-Everett Bogue

The Unconventional Truth of Being Minimalist

January 27th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

There comes a moment in time for all of us when we realize the rules just don’t work anymore.

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

There is a moment when we decide we can’t handle one more trip to Target, when we can’t buy another McChicken nugget. This is the moment when we begin to accept the unconventional truth of being a minimalist.

There is also a moment when we decide we just don’t want to go to work anymore. We don’t want to continue to be a cog in the system. We want liberation, not another flat screen TV.

We all could just as easily sit back and continue to be part of the problem, that’s easy enough. Just keep buying $2 goods from China in bulk. Put them in your closet, or fill up the other side of your two-car garage. That’s what they want us to do, that is what is easy.

But we don’t to anymore, so we decide to opt out.

I imagine the similar change in mindset happened to Jay Parkinson, when he decided to revolutionize the medical industry. He could have of simply joined part of the problem after med school, but he didn’t.

I imagine the similar change came over Mike Horn when he started What Is Fresh. He could have just kept on going to C-Town, and buying wilty greens, but he didn’t. Instead he created part of the solution: a website that tracks exactly which farmer’s markets are open in the city.

Now we don’t have to remember that the only good place in New York to get locally grown food is on Wednesday is Union Square, because we can just check.

The same change came over me, when I decided to limit myself to 100 things, and adopt a 30-day rule for my stuff. When I decided to live and work from anywhere.

The same change came over you when you stumbled across this blog, whether by word of mouth, or Twitter, or a link from another brilliant blog on the internet.

You decided to start accepting the unconventional truth about the stuff that’s cluttering your life. Physical, emotional, manifestations of time best spent.

You want to change, enough is enough.

But change doesn’t happen without action. You can read about being minimalist for ages, becoming minimalist is a different story.

I have a list of people living with 100 things on Twitter. It’s very short, I wish it was longer. I know there are more people out there like us, I know there are more people who have made this unconventional leap.

I need your help to find them.

  1. If you have less than 100 things, @evbogue me on Twitter and I’ll add you to this list.
  2. If you don’t have 100 things, retweet this on Twitter so people who do are able to find me.
  3. Follow the people on the 100 things list, because all of these people have made the leap. They are an inspiration.

The retweet button is either above or below, depending on if you’re one of the almost 1000 people (!) receiving free updates via RSS or Email, or you’re reading this directly on the blog.

Thank you for your part in this unconventional revolution. I could not do this without you.

–Everett Bogue

9 Ways to Distract Yourself with Work

January 25th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

There are a million things you can do right now instead of doing something important. How do you choose?

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

We are faced with unlimited choices in modern society.

There are millions of paths we can go down. One of the biggest questions inevitably is: which path do I choose?

Choose the one that is most important.

The most successful people I know aren’t on Twitter for two hours a day, they don’t watch TV three hours a day, and they certainly don’t own a Wii.

If you know what your important priority is, good. I applaud you.

If you don’t, your first priority needs to be figuring out what your priority is. Go on a vision quest. Lock yourself in a room. Read books. Anything until you have some idea, because until you’ve figured that out, it’s really hard to find an excuse to turn Lost off and do something worth your time.

What is important to me.

I have a little important project that I want to share with you: I’ve been working on a e-book on being minimalist.

Around a month ago I realized that I was writing too much material for this site, I had to publish it somewhere more important to me. An e-book seemed like a good choice. I hope you’ll agree.

I’ve never been a published author before, so I’ve been a bit nervous about how this e-book would turn out. So far I’ve been very surprised though. The words are just flowing out of me.

The e-book basically covers the minimalist journey that I’ve undertaken over the last year. It explains in detail the experiences I had ridding myself of my possessions, quitting my day job, and beginning to live and work from anywhere.

I hope this e-book will help a few more people take this rewarding journey.

Well, that’s all for now. I’ll be sure to give you updates as the e-book progresses.

Obviously working on an e-book is hard. I’ve spent countless hours (probably in the hundreds) writing, designing, copyediting the final text. I want it to be perfect.

The constant threat of distraction.

Seth Godin writes in his new book, Linchpin, (aff link) which comes out Wednesday, the following:

“By forcing myself to do absolutely no busywork tasks between bouts with the work, I remove the best excuse the resistence has. I can’t avoid the work because I am not distracting myself with anything but the work.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about this paragraph as I spend the hours making my e-book happen.

Many people would find something else to do, but I choose not too. I choose to make something important, a text that I hope will help people.

I could have watched TV, gone shopping, or had another cup of coffee. I could have complained about how hard it was to come up with ideas, or asked a dozen people to give their opinions on whether I’d fail or not. But I didn’t.

None of these things would have helped make this e-book a reality.

Here are a few techniques I’ve put into play to avoid distracting myself from the work.

  1. Incentives. Finish X before you’re allowed to have another coffee. When the going gets tough, I like give myself a little somehing that I’ll get once I’ve spent two hours working. Like I can’t have another coffee until I finish this blog post.
  2. Sitting in silence. Force yourself to sit in silence until your work is done. This is very difficult for many modern people, who are constantly updating the Twitter and digesting information. Don’t let yourself fiddle with a random thing until an idea comes to you, because it won’t come if you fiddle. Sit in silence until the idea comes, you’ll find that they come far more frequently.
  3. Continuing to do the work. When no ideas are coming, It’s important to keep on creating. There’s a common myth that creativity comes in waves, and you just have to catch the next one when it comes. Creativity doesn’t work like that though, so most people sit staring out a window waiting for the daemon to strike. It doesn’t just strike, you have to work for it. Sit and work for 30 minutes, and eventually your work will transition from crap to magic over that time.
  4. Take yourself away from distractions. If you’re having a hard time concentrating, consider moving away from distractions. I’ve been doing this by going to a coffee shop in Brooklyn, but there are endless other ways. Sit out in the back yard. Go work on a mountain top. Disconnect your Internet.
  5. Make everything else done first. I have two things that need to be done before I start working, the dishes and my email. I clean all of my dishes, and answer all of my email before I work. This is harder if you have a bottomless to-do list. I’ve programmed my life to have very few things that I’m required to do every day, so this works for me..
  6. Don’t allow multitasking. Don’t allow yourself to flip between Twitter and Facebook and chatting with your friend while you’re working. When you are creating something great, there is no way that randomly tweeting during the process will help make it better. Dividing your attention is project suicide.
  7. Recognizing the importance. I honestly can’t work on projects that don’t care about anymore. I’d rather starve than make another widget. The promise that I’m creating a work that is important in this moment in time has really kept me going. Are you working on what something that you feel is important?
  8. Deadlines. I’ve set the expectation that this my project must be done by the end of next week. I could have given myself an open deadline, but I feel like I’d then spend endless hours aiming for perfect. There is no perfect, there will be flaws, there will be things I wish I had said differently. The most important thing is to ship this project: 1, so it can start making good in the world; 2, so I can start on my next project.
  9. Off time. I don’t let myself do any work between 5pm and 10am. I know that sounds rediculous, but I’m convinced that workdays are too long, and we spend a good portion of them wasting time by procrastination and pointless busywork. I limit my work day, so I feel that I can barely get the goals I’ve set out to do. I finish the work without distraction, and then I stop. I read a book, I spend time with my girlfriend, I go for a walk, I cook dinner. The next day I can work again. The one exception is that I let myself write material at any hour of the day. Ideas come to me, I can have them finished and into Evernote in 15 minutes.


Here’s one more thing that occurred to me recently, I thought I’d share:

We’ve been taught over and over again that great work comes from thinking incredibly hard for a lot of hours. This doesn’t make sense to me.

I don’t think great work comes by thinking really hard about things that are hard to think about.

To be honest, this upcoming e-book is based on my experiences. The techniques that I’ve learned and employed. They are natural to me, because I’ve mastered them. If I was writing a book about something I didn’t know about, it would be difficult and I’d have to think really hard. I would make my brain hurt. But I know this stuff, so it comes naturally.

Great work doesn’t come from overworking the picture box in your pre-frontal cortex. It should just flow out of you without prior contemplation. It just comes out of you onto the page.

Important work should come naturally.

I have a guest post coming up on Zen Habits, in a few weeks (not sure exactly, Leo has a long guest post cue because of his site’s popularity) which deals more with creative flow. It’s quite a privilege to have a post up on Leo’s blog, I can’t wait until it posts. I hope you’ll subscribe to Zen Habits, if you haven’t already, so you don’t miss my post.

Anyway, it’s really important to remove anything that will stop you from achieving flow with the creation of your project. Distractions kill great work.

How do you remove distractions? What great work are you creating?

If this was helpful for you, please help spread the word in any way that you can. The buttons below are two good options.

Thank you.

How You’re Hindering Your Potential (with your stuff)

January 22nd, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

There’s a good chance that your life’s work is holding you back

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

From an early age you’ve been indoctrinated into a society that values things above people.

We are what we own, or so you’ve been told.

They all told you that you wanted the two-car garage. They told you to fill one side with stuff you couldn’t fit inside your house. Indeed, one quarter of all Americans have a two-car garage in this condition.

The stuff just sits there. You walk by it, and wish that it would disappear. Secretly you wish someone would burn your two-car garage down, so you won’t have to make the decision to get rid of that clutter.

We find so many ways to keep us from reaching our potential. Stuff is just one of those ways. We don’t want to deal with the harsh reality of our lives, the fact that we haven’t really done anything important.

So we refocuse all of our attention on the endless burden of resorting our stamp collection.

A friend of mine, the brooklyn hip-hop artist D.O.V. of Verbal Graffiti, repeatedly loses his life work every couple of years. In 2003 his house burned down. In 2009 his laptop was stolen from his living room without a trace, containing years of un-backed-up recordings.

The loss is always devastating to him. He tells himself that this is the end of his career and he’ll never make another beat again.

But this wasn’t the case, there was no devastating repercussions. Six months after the loss of his computer he had a new album on the streets.

The beats weren’t on his computer, they were in him. By clearing away all the years of junk on his computer–all of the beats that never had any potential, but he continued to mess with,–he was able to free himself to create a new album.

A clean slate can be a powerful drive to create.

What if you were able to harness this ability for a lifetime?


D.O.V. is DJing a dance party in Bushwick Brooklyn on Saturday (tomorrow, Jan 23. 2010 10pm-4am) night. If any readers are in Brooklyn, the details are here. I’ll be there and I’d love to meet you.

An Interview with Karol Gajda: Incredible Lightness of Traveling

January 20th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Interview by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

Every once in awhile I interview an important person on the subject of being minimalist. A couple of prominent minimalists I’ve interviewed in the post: Leo Babauta on the liberation of being minimalist, and Colin Wright about working from anywhere in sexy shoes.

This week I’ve had the pleasure of talking to Karol Gajda, the blogger behind Ridiculously Extraordinary. Karol is a perpetual traveler, living out of a bag and working from everywhere. He leaves for India in a few days. He hopes to help 100 people begin to live extraordinary lives through his blog.

We discussed tips for traveling lighter and supporting yourself while you’re on the road.

Everett Bogue: What made you decide to live a ridiculously extraordinary life?

Karol Gajda: It was either that or continue being normal.

But seriously, initially my only goal was to not have to get a job out of college by working for myself full time. That was almost 10 years ago. I didn’t really take advantage of the Ridiculously Extraordinary freedom I had by traveling extensively until recently.

Everett: You’re headed to India in a few weeks, according to your travel itinerary on your blog. Can you give us a short rundown of your travel plans?

Karol: I have a one way ticket and very general plans. I don’t even have my accommodations set yet.

My first month will be in Goa. A guy from the UK set up a little guitar building school there and I’m going to build my own guitar. If I love Goa I’ll stay there for a while after that.

Otherwise I’m not sure. I may visit Thailand after India, but again, it’s all up in the air. I am definitely visiting Poland when it starts warming up. I was born in Poland, but haven’t spent an extensive amount of time there. I do speak the language, but I’m looking forward to learning to speak much better.

Everett: I recently watched your interview with Baker, where you discussed traveling with three quick-dry shirts. Can you explain more about your approach to clothing while you’re traveling?

Karol: My approach is simple: take the absolute bare minimum and hand wash everything.

Having less makes my life easy. My single pair of convertible pants may look funny, but I don’t have to think about what I’m going to wear tomorrow.

Everett: What other essentials do you travel with?

Karol: My laptop so I can get work done. I do enjoy seeing the sights, of course, but I also love working in new places. To some that defeats the purpose of travel. But that’s the beauty of being free. I can do what I want.

If I want to work on the road perpetually I can. If I want to come back “home” (which is nowhere at the moment) I can. I’m not bound by the limits of savings. That said, I’m a pretty budget conscious traveler.

Everett: Can you recommend one way that we can all travel lighter?

Karol: Yes, my best tip if you want to travel light is to get a smaller carry on. Preferably a backpack. Mine is 32L. Then force yourself to fit everything you need in there.

Everett: One of the hardest aspects of traveling is being able to support yourself financially on the road, how do you accomplish this?

Karol: I’ve been working online for myself for almost 10 years now. It’s a little bit more difficult while traveling because of sometimes spotty Internet and because there are a lot of cool things to see and people to hang out with. I’ve found that it’s incredibly difficult if I’m constantly on the move so I’ve reassessed my travel goals. From now on I’m staying in each new place for at least a month. (Unless, of course, I just don’t like it.)

Everett: Can you suggest one method we can employ to support themselves financially while we’re traveling abroad?

Karol: That’s a great question, and one that’s at the forefront of a lot of prospective traveler’s minds. A lot of travelers I met in Australia saved up enough to travel for a few months and then found jobs along the way to extend the travel.

If you don’t already have an online business and want to get started traveling right away, I think that’s the easiest way.

Everett: When you first started traveling, did you bring anything with you that you thought was a necessity, but it turned out not to be?

Karol: Well, a couple of years ago I went on a 3 week US tour with my friend’s band, and I took a full suitcase. Not a small one either. I think I packed a full 2 weeks of clothes. 14 shirts, 14 underwear, 14 socks! Plus an extra pair of pants and 2 hoodies.

I’ve always been fairly minimalistic in other aspects of my life so I don’t think I ever had any other extras to take besides too many clothes.

Everett: And finally, can you think of one aspect of our lives that many of us can change, which can help us lead to life that is more free?

Karol: It’s difficult to state something that everybody needs to change. And my goals aren’t really aligned with telling people what to do. The most important advice I can offer someone is to take action. If you want to start a business, start it. If you want to write a book, write it.

If you want to travel the world, buy a ticket and go.

Karol Gajda writes the blog Ridiculously Extraordinary, a must read resource for anyone who wants to get unstuck and begin living to the fullest.

14 Simple Methods to Help Firewall Your Time

January 18th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Your time is the most valuable commodity that you have. Don’t give it away.

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter

In the modern age we’ve managed to find hundreds of thousands of ways to use as much time as possible.

We’ve come to a point where people cannot slow down. When they do, it is uncomfortable for them to sit still.

It’s impossible for some people to dwell in the present moment, without fiddling with a distraction.

We think we need to be constantly connected. We think we need to answer every email as soon as it arrives or society will leave us behind.

We think we need to madly dash from the subway, to the coffee shop (red-eye please), to the office every single day, or someone will think we’re not valuable enough.

None of this is true. In fact, it’s becoming readily apparently that the people who decide to opt out of this system of constant stimulation are far more effective people than the ones who are constantly plugged into the matrix.

Right now, in this moment, we need to reclaim our time.

Some of the most effective people I know, such as Leo Babauta and Tim Ferriss, have realized that being constantly connected is counter productive. They’ve both written in great length in their books The Power of Less, and The 4 Hour Workweek [aff links], about how blockading your time can generate far more intrinsic worth than by not.

The reason for this is simple: if you’re constantly connected, you’re also constantly reacting. Every single request that comes in needs to be answered immediately. This means you’re dividing your time between the important projects you’re working on, and little stupid things that come in.

For instance, I may get two @evbogue requests on Twitter in the time I take to write this. They will be simple questions, or requests to promote things. If I answered all of these requests immediately, wouldn’t have written these last couple of paragraphs.

Alternatively, if I wait until an hour from now, my work on this story will be done. I’ll be able to answer 5 @evbogue tweets and any emails all at once.

Constantly flailing from one activity to the next is only making our lives less valuable.

Time is probably the most valuable asset that we have left in this world, and it is rightfully yours.

This is the moment to take a stand, regain our valuable time for yourself.

How to firewall your time: 14 ways to save your valuable time, so you can use it appropriately.

1, Set dedicated work hours. Many people let there work hours extend into every odd hour of the day. Freelance web workers, like myself can fall into this trap even easier than someone who works at an office. There’s always something else to do, and never enough time to do it all. Set specific times when you will work on work, and stick with them. For instance: today I’m working from 1pm-5pm. After that time, I’m going to go enjoy the lovely weather and read Seth Godin’s new book, Linchpin.

2, Pretend you’re not here. Lock the door, don’t let anyone in. Hide under the desk. This is easier if you work from anywhere, or have your own office, but there are many ways to pretend you’re not here. Be creative!

3, Answer emails decisively. I write about this often. Don’t sit at your computer hitting the send/receive button over and over and over again. Work is not about how many emails you can reply to, it never has been. Work is about thinking about unique solutions to problems, unless you’re a widget maker, which many of us aren’t anymore because all of those jobs are in China now. You need dedicated time to work on solutions, you can’t do this if you’re constantly waiting for a new email to come in your box.

4, Make dedicated Twitter time. Just like email, stop hitting the update button on Twitter. Trust me, it does no one any good if you stay constantly up to date on the 50 140 character messages that flew into your box in the last 30 seconds. Actually, while I’m on this topic, don’t follow 50,345 people on Twitter. I can’t take people who do this seriously. There is no possible way they will ever see my Twitter messages if they’re following that many people. Follow 150 people max. Dunbar’s law applies to Twitter too. Follow people who interest you, unfollow people who don’t interest you. It’s that simple.

(If you want someone to follow you on Twitter, try retweeting a few of their stories. That’s usually the best way to get them interested in your own personal work. There are many ‘bots’ on Twitter, and it’s hard to tell who to follow sometimes.)

5, Refuse to put out fires. I wrote about this last week two. There will always be non-urgent work emergencies, but you aren’t the fire department. These fires usually drop onto your desk at 4:49pm, and can take hours to deal with. Most of the time these emergencies could have been dealt with before they became emergencies if someone had just got in touch before they spiraled out of control. Make it clear you don’t deal with these. When ‘emergencies’ come, unless they’re actual life or death situations (these don’t happen often, but recognize when they do.) Handle them just like an other work request. Don’t panic, just do the work. If it’s 5pm and you’re going home, it can wait until tomorrow.

6, Make yourself unavailable. Some people make themselves always available at the office, or online. This is a trap, because people expect that you will be available at all times if you usually are. A better approach is to avoid broadcasting when you’re online and when you’re not. This might mean keeping your office door shut, or always keep headphones on if you work in an open office. It might mean finding more time to work from home, so you can get important projects done.

7, Always take a day to respond to everything. Make people assume it will take a day or two for you to get back with a request. You can always give a better response to a question or a problem if you have time to consider it. Make a commitment to not respond to requests for at least a day. Make your response incredibly valuable to your client, colleague, etc. This doesn’t mean that you should procrastinate, it’s just a way to consciously slow down the work cycle, so that everyone does better work.

8, Select two primary modes of communication. Make a choice as to which applications you’ll use to communicate with online. There are so many communications platforms available, and it’s incredibly important to select only two that you actually use. I use gmail and twitter. I do use Facebook, but it forwards everything I receive there to my gmail. I don’t check my Facebook, constantly, I don’t check my Wave constantly. Think about which communications platforms you use, and consider how to opt out of some. If you have three email addresses, (your Yahoo, your Gmail, your AOL) consider consolidating them into one email. Most of these services will forward, but if they don’t set up an auto-reply that informs people who email you that you no longer check this email and they should email you a the correct address.

9, Don’t use instant message. Always-on instant messaging is the ultimate enemy of firewalling your time. People expect an instant response to an instant message, and will usually become frustrated if you leave your instant messaging on but do not reply. Just don’t use AIM, Facebook chat, Gchat, etc. If you need to communicate with someone in real time, consider using one of these services on Invisible mode, and contact the person you’re working with.

10, Let the phone go to voicemail. When the phone rings, 9 out of 10 times you have no idea what the person on the other end wants from you. It’s good policy to let the message go to voicemail, and listen to the message. Let it compost in your brain for a bit and then give them a call back. This will give you time to consider a proper response to the problem, and not act in a reactionary manner. Respond once you’ve finished whatever you’re working on. Again, I’m not advocating procrastination, just having the ability to respond decisively.

11, Hire an assistant (or an Intern). In this economy, it’s pretty easy to find someone who can be your first line of defense. Timothy Ferris has an entire chapter in his book about outsourcing all of your boring tasks to India, maybe this can work for you. I don’t personally have anyone working for me, but I also have a very manageable workload. If you find yourself either doing a lot of remedial tasks that don’t challenge you, it can a good idea to hire someone to do them for you. Obviously, this only works if these tasks produce more value for your business than the assistant costs. If they don’t, consider whether it is necessary for you to complete them at all.

12, Take a timeout. Go for a walk in the park. Take an hour lunch break. There are a million ways you can disconnect, and I feel strongly that you should do this more than you are now. Leave your cellphone at home. Take a moment and think about your favorite way to take a break, and then find a way to implement it.

13, Take your work out of the office. If you can’t get any work done in the office, consider doing it at a coffeeshop or at home. This obviously depends a lot on the type of work that you do, and the freedom that you have to do it. I often find that a change of location can increase my productivity.

14, Only read information that contributes value. Unsubscribe from everything that is boring or you don’t have time to read. Many people subscribe to entirely too many blogs and other methods of incoming communication. Information is so accessible in this day in age, I promise you that you won’t run out. Consider each and every blog feed that you’re subscribed to, does it contribute value to your life? If you’re just reading it because you always have, maybe consider unsubscribing to these blogs. I used to check the front page of the New York Times constantly, just out of habit. I eventually realized that this wasn’t helping me. The news would still be there tomorrow, you don’t have to constantly stay up to date. Which blogs are you subscribed out of obligation instead of usefulness?


I hope you found these methods to firewall your time helpful. How do you firewall your time?


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I hope you’ll use it, because the sharing is incredibly important for independent content like my own.

Your single click takes less than 10 seconds, and can help my story be read by hundreds of people.

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The Solitary Minimalist Journey

January 15th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

You can’t make anyone but yourself become minimalist.

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter

Over the last couple of months I’ve received a number of comments and tweets from people who want to share their minimalist ambitions with their spouse or their entire family.

Some were so enthusiastic, they wanted to make all of their friends minimalists too!

This is great, I love that people are so enthusiastic.

However, the idea of making other people minimalist is a difficult question.

Many people relate to objects differently. I’ve met people who live with nothing, and are perfectly content. I’ve met people who would kill themselves if they lost everything — even if this would inevitably lead to them being freer.

Many people still subscribe to the (antiquated, in my opinion) mentality that we are what we own. It’s can be hard to change these minds.

So, here’s my suggestion:

Don’t worry about the other people. You can’t force them to be minimalists.

Instead, set a good example with yourself.

Adopt a 30 day rule for your stuff, get rid of all your stuff and start to live with 100 things.

Don’t bother your boyfriend about his pile of dusty CDs. Focus all of that effort you’re directing at another person into freeing your own life.

Lead by example.

Show the people who you wish were less attached to their stuff how free you’ve made your own life.

Consider starting a blog documenting your progress becoming a minimalist. This can only help communicate your intentions. Join a growing community of amazing bloggers writing about being minimalist.

With any luck your partner, your kids, and your friends will start to embrace the idea of lessening their connection to their material possessions, and begin to adopt a freer lifestyle.


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46 Ways to Let Go (of stuff, and other things)

January 13th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

The hardest element in any relationship is having the ability to let it go when it ends.

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

It’s incredibly hard to let go. I know so many people who have so much trouble with letting go that they have houses full of stuff they haven’t used in ten years. They’ve stayed in a job they don’t enjoy, just because. Or they keep crying over relationships that ended months ago.

It’s difficult to say goodbye.

This article is mostly about stuff, but this can apply to people and places and jobs that left us a tiny bit scarred.

It takes courage to stop dwelling and move to new terrain.

Forty five things in a box in a closet you haven’t touched in five years is one thing you might need to let go. Hanging out with those friends who always get you into trouble is another. Driving a car just because you always have can be something you can let go as well. Maybe you need to let go a snack food.

It takes courage to give something up, I understand that. Trust me, I’ve had plenty of my own personal battles with letting go of people, places and things. I imagine most people have.

One of the traits that most successful people share is the ability to know when to move on.

Because this is a problem that all of us face, I’ve taken time to prepare a list of 46 ways to let go of the old. I’m sure I left something out. I’m sure most of these won’t work for everyone. However, maybe one or two of these will stick and help you let go of something.

…this way you can make room for the new.

46 ways you can let go.

  1. Throw it away.
  2. Give it away.
  3. Recycle it.
  4. Tell it to go home.
  5. Make a list of things you’d rather have, or be doing.
  6. Don’t let yourself see it for a month.
  7. Don’t keep anything you don’t use or see at least once a month.
  8. Make a diagram of everywhere you spend your time.
  9. Eliminate time suckers.
  10. Trade one thing or activity for another that you like better.
  11. Throw it into the ocean (if it won’t hurt the fish).
  12. Break it.
  13. Tell someone to take it away.
  14. Sell it to someone who needs it.
  15. Turn it into artwork.
  16. Display it at an art gallery.
  17. Get a second opinion.
  18. Limit yourself to 100 things.
  19. Burn it on your roof or backyard.
  20. Tell it you love it, but you can’t be together.
  21. It’s you, it’s me.
  22. Throw a party and tell everyone to take something home with them.
  23. Bury it in the backyard so an archeologist can dig it up in 2000 years and think it’s more important than it actually is.
  24. Give it to your mom.
  25. Reinvent it as something new and interesting.
  26. Email a picture of it to me and ask if it’s worth keeping (my answer is usually no.)
  27. Acknowledge that it’s hurting you.
  28. Think about what ultimate freedom means to you.
  29. Contemplate your minimalist destination.
  30. Give it to someone who has nothing.
  31. Put it in an outbox.
  32. Bury it on the side of a mountain and tell no one.
  33. Leave it on the subway.
  34. Take a picture of it.
  35. Post that picture on craigslist.
  36. Drop it off the side of a building at night, and then clean it up first thing in the morning.
  37. Destroy it and hang it from the ceiling.
  38. Mail to to a random person in the phone book.
  39. Sell it and donate the money to a cause that you believe in.
  40. Leave it in a box on your doorstep, with a sign that says ‘free’.
  41. Take a vacation from it all.
  42. Stay at a friend’s house for a week.
  43. Take it to your recycling center free box.
  44. Tweet #minimalist and ask if you should keep it.
  45. Move somewhere you’ve always wanted to live.
  46. Take only a backpack.

What do you need to let go? Let me and many remarkable readers of Far Beyond The Stars know in the comments!

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” -Lao Tzu


Just in case you’re not following me on Twitter, you might have missed this! Yesterday I wrote a guest post at Naomi Seldin’s blog Simpler Living: 6 Simple Ways to Eat More Healthfully. Give it a read if you’re interested in some simple food tips.

How to Focus on the Important

January 11th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Success often comes down to priorities, why have only a few of us decided we have them?

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter

I asked many people over new years what they would like to do in ten years. I got a lot of ‘I don’t know…’ answers.

I know one woman who wants to move to France. She’s wanted to move there for a number of years. I asked her if she would make it there by 2020, and she wasn’t sure if that was enough time. She’ll be nearly 60 in 2020.

I told her she could do it in less than a year.

Why not just go to France, if that’s where you want to be?

Many people spend so much time talking about what they wish they had the will power to achieve. If these people spent half as long talking and more time doing the work to get them to their goal every single day, eventually they might just get there.

Achieving your goals ultimately comes down to focusing on your priorities. However, many people seek simply to avoid setting them.

Instead of starting a business, a person continues to work at Starbucks.

Instead of traveling the world, a person buys an SUV.

It’s also important to realize when you have handicapped yourself by using a ‘when this happens, then I’ll do this.’ statement. Like, ‘if only I had a million dollars, I’d start my own business and travel the world!’

Realistically you’ll never earn a million dollars, so you’ll never achieve your dream.

My biggest goal right now is to support myself by writing this blog. This naturally means that my daily focus is writing incredibly valuable articles for this blog.

It is absolutely essential that you take a moment and think about what your ultimate goal is, in this moment, and prioritize it. Make this single goal the most important activity of every day. — Even if you are working at Starbucks, your day doesn’t revolve around Starbucks. It’s just where you go to work, but meanwhile your brain is thinking about photography.

How to focus on your priorities to achieve greater success.

  1. Select one overall priority that you care about intrinsically.
  2. Break down the priority into manageable steps that are actionable.
  3. Spend at least an hour (more if you can) every day working towards it.
  4. Be accountable. Tell everyone you’re moving to France by 2011.
  5. Map your progress in the short term and what you’ve achieved in the longer term.
  6. Reward yourself when you’ve made sufficient progress.


It’s okay to have other interests, but only give yourself one priority.

Now, there’s no reason why you can’t have multiple interests (minor priorities) at any one time, but I think it’s important to just focus on one over-arching priority. If you have seventeen priorities it’s really hard to find the time to do one thing every day to further them.

Jane, left a comment a few days ago listing her many priorities: writing, photography, web design, and teaching.

She recognized that she couldn’t focus on all of them at once, and she is totally right. You can’t master all of these things at one time. I recommended that she pick one to work towards mastering, before investing too much time in the others.

But it is also worth noting that she can be all of these things that she listed.

In fact, all of these skills compliment each other in significant ways. A web designer/photographer/writer/teacher is a very different professional than just a photographer. A photographer who cannot write will have difficulty communicating with her subjects and gathering contacts. If she cannot design a website, she will have to pay a web designer to put her work online. Teaching photography is one of the best ways a photographer can network with clients and other photographers.

Priorities change over time.

At various times in my own life I’ve invested thousands of hours in the very same skills Jane listed. Earlier in my life (probably between the ages of 12-16) I wanted to be a web designer, so I built many websites. Later I choose to concentrate on photography (18-23), so I spent thousands of hours taking photos. This eventually led to a job as a photo editor (21-24) where I spent thousands more hours making photos look brilliant on stories which were published on websites.

It’s perfectly acceptable to shift your priorities, and I think it’s only natural that they will change over time.

We are human beings, not robots, and our interests morph as we achieve various levels of skill. If you force yourself to stick with one path, when you really want to change it, then you’ll end up being incredibly unhappy.

Let the other priorities become less important until you’ve attained some level of mastery in the first.

I’ve spent many years with maintaining writing as passive activity, while I was focusing on art directing and photography.

I didn’t stress about writing. I still wrote as often as possible, but not on a schedule. Two summers ago I filled two Moleskins with a novel, without even making it a priority. That novel still isn’t a priority, but it was a big passive step towards being a better writer, as I was focusing on larger priorities.

Now that writing is my ultimate focus, all of that passive work behind the scenes has come to the forefront. The pieces are fitting together, and the results I’m seeing are extraordinary.

What are your priorities? How are you working towards them?


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The Minimalist Path to Overnight Success

January 8th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

How to work towards a job you can believe in.

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

I’ve been writing exclusively about The Minimalist Workweek for the last couple of days. If you haven’t read these articles already, I definitely suggest that you do. On Monday I listed 21 ways to live a more minimalist workweek, on Wednesday Dave Damron taught us how to organize our drawers.

Today I’ve written a short article which I hope will help you deal with a subject that many of us face every day…

How do you work towards a job or career that you can really believe in?

An incredible amount of people are forced to work jobs that are slowly killing their souls. Nothing is worse than waking up every morning dreading the 8 to 10 hours you have to spend working a job that you hate.

We exist in a time when starting your own business has never been easier. Twitter and Facebook have made connecting with people instantaneous and free.

Now is the time to make the change in our lives and be able to do a job that really excites us.

It’s time to stop waiting, and cash in on your innate talent.

How to seize this moment and pursue your dreams now.

  1. Just quit. If you hate your job, and you have some money in the bank, just quit. Trust me, you will find a way to survive. If you don’t, there is always food stamps. This is harder for people who have to support other people, and I acknowledge that. But, if you’re young and not in too much debt, just get out and start having an adventure.
  2. Work on your passion from 7pm-2am. Maybe you can’t quit right now, but there are more than enough hours in the day to work towards your goals. Turn off the television and start making your dream come true. It’s easy to get into the habit of coming home from work and just sitting on the couch. Don’t let yourself fall into this trap, if you really want to make meaningful changes in your life, you need to force yourself to do some hard work on your actual goals.
  3. Make one small meaningful step per day. Put aside an hour to make a tiny contribution to your new career goals. If you write one 1500 word blog post a day about the field you want to enter, by the end of a year you will have written 546,000 words. That’s a couple of books worth of writing. If you write about what you want to become every day for a year, there’s no way you can’t become an expert on the subject.
  4. Spend ten hours a week trying to automate income. There are many ways to automate income these days. Start selling a product online, and give people who help you sell it 50% commission. Write a blog every day and use sell someone else’s product via affiliate services. These are some of the ways that I automate my income, but there are many more. A good resource on income automation is Timothy Ferris’s The 4 Hour Workweek.
  5. Learn everything you can about your passion. When I first quit my job in July, I had no idea what I was doing. I flew to Portland, and started doing yoga every day, but I also started reading every day. Over the course of 2 weeks I read every important book on business and marketing in Powell’s. Think about how you can max-out the knowledge you have on a particular subject. There’s no reason why you can’t be an expert in the career you want to pursue, so read every book on it now. You’ll be surprised how many ideas and plans can result from simply reading.
  6. Go back to school. Education is priceless, it also can be a great transition point. Apply to grad school, or go to college for the first time. Yes, it might be challenging, yes you might get into a ton of debt. The price you pay will pay back boatloads with the ideas and people that you will meet in the field you wish to pursue.
  7. Practice makes perfect. Malcolm Gladwell noted in Outliers that you need at least 10,000 hours to become a master. What can do you do to get in your 10,000 hours of practice in on your passion? –I might have read the entire business and marketing section at Powell’s in two weeks, but I’ve been publishing on the internet since I was twelve years old. This is a HUGE advantage over people who have just started. How can you leverage your existing experience in your new career?
  8. Work for free. The modern economy (especially on the web) rewards people who give their work away for free. Think of ways that you can give to people. Are you an excellent writer? Consider writing a profile on one remarkable person a week, to help them get exposure. Do you want to build cars? Maybe you can help your friends and family maintain theirs for free. Do you want to be a chef? Have one person over for dinner every night for a year, by the end of that year you’ll have at least 300 clients for your restaurant. It’s so important to give as much as you can as you’re building skills and a reputation. When I was becoming a photographer I shot thousands of free photographs for people, this gave me the experience I needed to shoot good photos, and later people came back to me with paying gigs.


Hopefully one of these ideas will help you achieve your dreams.

If you can think of more ways to follow your passion, I’d love if you could share them in the comments.

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