32 Ways to Refocus on the Important

March 28th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

The most successful people have only a few priorities. Here’s how to refocus when you lose track of yours.

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

The inconvenient truth of entrepreneurship.

I have a confession to make, I’ve been working too hard.

The whole idea of working for myself was so I could have more time to live life, remember?

Well, over the last two weeks I got carried away with my entrepreneurship. I’ve been working over 40 hours a week on the blog and my next e-book. This is far too much time to be spending on my minimalist business.

I was supposed to be living the minimalist work week to the fullest, and concentrating on my real priorities: Yoga, Cooking, Writing, and Reading.

Instead I’ve been working all day, cooking fattier foods, and I had totally forgotten about yoga for a week.

I’ve got to refocus, maybe you do too?

Everyone loses focus on their priorities occasionally.

This is okay though, everyone loses focus on their priorities once in awhile. Occasionally it’s beneficial to lose the balance in their life in order to achieve greatness in one direction.

But after working hard in one area, there comes a time when it’s necessary to refocus on what you’ve identified as being truly important. For more on identifying the important see: The Stunning Truth About Focusing on the Important.

This is why I’ve compiled a list, below, of 32 ways to focus on the important. I hope it can help you re-find the focus in your life.

I’m going to be refocusing in the coming weeks.

As some of you know, I’m working on a new e-book called Minimalist Business. The e-book explores my journey to creating a low-overhead business which supports my location independent lifestyle.

I’m writing this e-book because I’ve received hundreds of emails about business side of my work on The Art of Being Minimalist. These emails have given me many ideas to think about as I did my best to help everyone who emailed me create their own minimalist businesses.

I hope it can help you achieve the same kind of life, if you’re interested.

In order to get the e-book done, and maintain focus in my life, I’m going slow down the schedule here at Far Beyond The Stars to two stories per week. This way I can work on making two posts twice as useful to you, and also have time to work on completing the e-book.

On to the focus!

Feel free to apply one or a few of these to your life, but don’t try to do them all at once. Definitely feel free to bookmark this page and return to it whenever you find yourself losing focus.

Here are 32 ways to refocus on your priorities.

1. Slow down. The best way to refocus on your priorities is to slow down. Take 10 deep breathes. Walk slower through life and appreciate every moment. You’ll start to see clarity when you take time to appreciate every moment.

2. Stop checking email. If you read my post on Timejacking, you know my opinion on email: it’s not as necessary as you think. Set two (or even one) specific times to check email during your day. This can save you up to 3 hours of time sitting in front of your inbox waiting for messages to come, so you can react to them. Turn this around, and you’ll start to focus on your priorities and create great work. I’ve been checking email less (trying for one time per day as much as possible) for a number of weeks, and my productivity has exploded.

3. Change up your routine. Turn your routine on it’s head. If you exercise in the mornings, try exercising at night. If you work during the week, try working on the weekends or at night instead. If you walk down 5th Avenue every day on your way to work, try walking on 6th Avenue instead. If you always go out to eat, try cooking at home instead.

4. Disconnect from the internet. Turn off your wireless router, or unplug your Ethernet cable, and just sit there. At first you’ll go crazy without being able to constantly click around on Facebook. It’s okay, you’ll be fine. Before 1990 no one had Internet in their homes, remember? Let alone Internet in their pockets! You’ll survive. Just sit and stare at a wall until you’re able to refocus on your priorities.

5. Write your priorities down. This is so incredibly important. Take out a sheet of paper, or open a blank document on your computer, and simply write down your priorities. I like to keep them to 4 or less. These are the things that are really important to you. These are passions, not obligations.

6. Take a few days off. Nothing fixes focus like a good long weekend. Take a few days off and do something fun. Don’t think about work. Don’t do any work. Just focus on having fun, or creating something that you enjoy. When you get back to work you’ll have a fresh mind and be able to refocus on your priorities.

7. Take a walk. A good long walk can do wonders if you can’t focus. The repetitive motion of your feet has a way of centering the left and right hemispheres of your brain. Just pick a direction and start walking, don’t have a destination, just walk for the journey.

8. Go to the beach for a day. I love going to the beach. It’s a great place to sit in the sun and let your worries wash away. If you don’t have a beach near you, a park can do too, (but beaches are more awesome.) Bring some sandwiches and spiked punch. Don’t forget your sunscreen! Definitely forget your cellphone.

9. Up your intensity. Sometimes the best way to refocus is to take everything to the next level. Take one of your priorities and spend 80% of your time doing it. I plan on doing this with Yoga in the next few weeks. By spending all of your time, you’ll be able to refocus on your priority and take it to the next level.

10. Work somewhere new. If you’re used to working in an office, or in your home, make the decision to change your location. Work from a coffee shop or the library. Go to a friend’s house and work together. Take your work out on the porch and work in the sun, or go to the park.

11. Hang out with different people. We can sometimes fall into a routines of hanging out with the same good folks all the time. The trouble is, this can lead to social stagnation. Try hanging out with new people once in awhile. This will open you up to new ideas and you’ll have new experiences.

12. Sleep more. This is a no-brainer. The studies all show that we don’t get as much sleep as we need. Take a few days and catch up on your rest. Sleep for 9 hours a night instead of 6. You’ll start to notice your priorities come into focus when you have enough rest.

13. Eat good food. We are what we eat, literally. And yet some people eat garbage from the take-out. Don’t do this! Try cooking dinners at home every day for a week (perhaps consider doing this for the rest of your life.) Use fresh vegetables, beans, nuts, berries, etc. Eat fresh fruit for breakfast in order to have more energy. When you eat better you’ll overcome obstacles with much less effort.

14. Sit in silence. Simply sit in silence for 30 minutes. Don’t worry about meditating. Sit on a comfortable pillow, or in a chair, close your eyes and let the thoughts pass through your brain. A time-out like that can change your thinking and help you refocus.

15. Kill your bad habits. Choose one bad habit and take it to the guillotine. Just stop doing whatever you hate about yourself. There are so many things that humans compulsively do that are bad for us. When we have the courage to tell ourselves no we can free up space to focus on what we really want to accomplish. Some bad habits you may have: TV, smoking, drinking, Twitter all day, email, negativity, pessimism, driving.

16. Stop worrying so much. Anxiety is simply failing over and over and over again in advance. Tell yourself to stop worrying. The simple reason for this is that worrying doesn’t do any good. It doesn’t help to guess at what the outcome of an action will be. Make a decision about what you think the outcome will be and stick with it. Maybe it’ll work out, maybe it won’t. At least you didn’t spend 5 hours chewing up your stomach anticipating your own failure.

17. Throw out the plan. Plans are just guesses. Too many people spend 80% of their time planning and half of the time they never get to the actual execution. I’d like to let you in on a secret: execution is everything. The plan isn’t necessary if you don’t do anything. In most cases you can do something without a plan. Cut out the preparation and start making things happen.

18. Read for new ideas. Take a day and go to the bookstore. Find a great book. If you need suggestions, I’ve read a bunch of books so far this year. All of them were very good. Now, sit down and read the book. Slowly let the ideas flow off the page and into you. This will rejuvenate your focus on the important.

19. Turn off the TV. If you know me, you know I hate the TV. Two years ago I helped my roommate paint three of them and turn them into an art installation. Two weeks ago I helped my girlfriend finally sell her flatscreen. The average American watched 5 hours of TV a day in 2008 (according to The Story of Stuff), that’s 35 hours a week. Tell me there are better things you could be doing with that time.

20. Take a mini-retirement. There’s no sense in wasting the prime of your life working yourself to death. Save up a few thousand dollars and go incommunicado. Rent a boat and sail down slowly down the coast. Rent a beach house in Mexico and disappear for a month or two. Trust me, the world will be here when you get back.

21. Move somewhere new. So many people never make the decision to leave their home town. It can be one of the best decisions you ever make it leave a place one you’ve been there for awhile. Pick somewhere and go there. Leave behind all of your crap, you don’t need it. Just go somewhere before it’s too late.

22. Radically change your diet. If you’re eating pancakes every morning, try eating fresh fruit. If you eat steak for dinner, try eating tofu. There are a million ways to radically change your diet. You are what you eat, so when you transform your diet you transform yourself.

23. Declutter your living space. Take a day and get rid of clutter. Find a home for every object that you own. Put things in drawers or closets. If you can’t find homes for everything, you need to get rid of some things. Make a box and put things in it. Take these things and donate them to someone needs them.

24. Limit your work schedule. We work too much. The worst part is, we can usually manage to fit our work into as long as we give ourselves to complete our jobs. No one ever achieved great things by working 80 hours a week for an entire year. If you normally work 60 hours, reduce your schedule to 40. If you work 40, reduce it to 20. Once I get to 10 hours a week of work, I’m going to try and reduce it down to 4 as soon as possible. I bet you can get the same amount of work done by strategically batching requests and eliminating the unessential.

25. Turn off your smartphone. What a terrible idea, giving yourself the ability to be constantly in touch via email. (full disclosure, I do have an iPhone. I mainly use it for capturing ideas via Evernote, taking photos, and communicating with readers via Twitter during set batched intervals.) Turn your smartphone off for periods at a time, if you can’t get rid of it completely. You’ll notice a world of difference, and you’ll be able to focus on the important.

26. Leave your phone at home. Go out into the world and leave your phone at home. Trust me, you’ll be able to tell what time it is. You can ask somebody! It’s important to disconnect from people once in awhile. If you’re constantly available, you’re simply going to be reacting to requests. Bonus: let every single call you receive go to voicemail first, then batch call everyone back at one set time per day. This will save you tons of time if you’re a heavy phone user.

27. Rearrange your house. Take a day and change how your home is arranged. Or maybe even just your living room or office. Put the couch on the other wall. Take the TV and throw it out the window. Consult a Feng shui expert (or ask the Internet) and make sure your space is obeying the right rules. When you’re done, the new perspective will help you refocus.

28. Go vagabonding. Put the essentials for survival in a bag. Book a ticket somewhere and just go. It doesn’t matter where you go, just go. Email the hostel and book a few nights, then take off from there. Don’t have a destination, don’t go see touristy stuff, just live somewhere new every single day. Read Rolf Potts’s awesome book Vagabonding for more on how to have this amazing experience.

29. Read different blogs. We fall into reading the same bloggers over and over again, but that can be a trap. I try to write about new things, and delve deeper into topics, but inevitably I’m still me. Other bloggers are still them. After reading a blogger for a number of months, you might find yourself just reading out of obligation. Try reading new bloggers to change things up.

30. Stop reading the paper. Newspapers are dead. Most of their employees have taken huge pay-cuts over the last few years. Most of their writers are forced to write about topics that they don’t have expertise in and don’t interest them. This leads to sloppy writing and boring stories. Stop reading newspapers, you won’t be missing much.

31. Eliminate obligations. People tend to collect obligations like we collect junk. The problem is that sometimes we don’t take stock to see if we’re getting anything out of them. Take a moment and make a list of everything you’re obligated to do every week. Now strike out everything that you hate doing. This can free up a huge amount of time.

32. Let it all go. Finally, just let it go. The world can do without you for awhile. Just relax and let things happen when they happen. Don’t worry so much, or you’ll get gray hair and you’ll need anti-depressants. When you let it all go, it’s only a matter of time before you start to refocus on your priorities and start to make great work.


Here are some links that will help you:

Be Your Own Guru by Jonathan Fields.

The Joy of Walking by Leo Babauta.

Paying it Way Forward by Colin Wright.

The Most Important Blog Post You’ll Never Read by Glenn Allsopp.


How do you refocus on your priorities?

If this article helped you, I’d love if you’d take 10 seconds and use your favorite method to share it.

Thank you.

The True Food Diet: 7 Rules for Eating Right

November 21st, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter

As I write this I’m sitting in the lounge car of the Empire Builder Express, cruising through the middle of rural Montana. It’s pretty sweet.

Everyone I told that I was taking a train from Portland to Chicago had either this reaction “wow, that’s awesome!” or “you’re insane.”

I must be in the camp that feels it’s awesome.

There’s no cellphone connection in the middle of nowhere, so I’m not sure when I’ll be able to upload this. (note, finally posted after I got to Chicago.)


I’ve been reading An Omnivore’s Dilemma, and though I’m not even half way through the book, I can say for certain that it’s definitely a book worth reading. Michael Pollan, like he did in In Defense of Food, dives into the problems facing our country’s food system head-on.

The first stop: Cornucopia.

You might not realize just how much corn you’re consuming in your average diet, but the quantity is astounding. A full quarter of the products in the supermarket have some form of corn in them. Coke and Pepsi is basically reduced corn juice (high fructose corn syrup). Most common-denominator meat consists of cows that are force-fed corn, which they aren’t able to digest properly, making them sick and depressed.

This makes me sad.

Reading about this subject reminded me of the dramatic change I’ve made in the way that I eat. Over the last six months, since I read Pollan’s In Defense of Food, I took his advice and started eating real food.

True food, if you will. Food that is made out of food.

There is a startling amount of “food” in the supermarket that didn’t exist fifty years ago. Most of this food exists in the isles in the middle of the grocery store filled with boxes and in freezers.

I stopped eating anything that came in a package, anything that had been processed, anything that won’t spoil. This includes veggie supplements such as soy hotdogs, veggie burgers, cereals, gogurts, etc.

I decided to abandon all of these foods. I started eating true food.

The result is that I’m an additional 10 pounds lighter than I was when I left New York. I finally don’t have a disgusting little belly anymore. It’s great. I haven’t weighed myself lately, but I estimate that I’m somewhere around 160-165 lbs. (I’m 5’11″) I had to poke a new hole in the belt that I’ve had since I was 16. When I was a teenager I weighed more than I do now, crazy!

Here’s how I did it. I promise you, if you follow these instructions you will lose weight naturally. You will also reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer. But keep in mind I’m not a nutritional expert. I’m just a common sense expert who reads books on food.

If this sounds extreme, take it slow. If you’re hooked on what the food industry wants you to eat, it’s hard to get off. Start by eating one meal a week with these instructions, and gradually work your way up.

I’d also like to dedicate this post to my blog friend Gordie. If you don’t know him, he’s the world’s fattest lifestyle designer. Check out his blog.

He’s made the brave decision of choosing to change his life. Go read about what he’s doing. Drop him a note of encouragement, it would warm my heart and his!

Now onto the secret to eating right. It’s pretty obvious, why haven’t you been doing this all along?

The Seven Rules of the True Food Diet

  1. Eat mostly fresh vegetables. Make this your top priority. Buy organic vegetables (and mushrooms) from a farmer’s market, or if you can’t get to one of those a place like Wholefoods, Trader Joe’s, or whatever local organic store is near. Make 80% of your meals contain a large portion and a variety of vegetables. Not frozen, not canned. Real live actual vegetables from the produce section. If you’re feeling really brave you can get vegetables from an organic CSA (community supported agriculture–basically a direct shipment of mixed vegetables from an organic permaculture farm near you, so you avoid supporting industrial organic farming and all of the transporting that goes with it.) When I figure out where I want to live for awhile, I’m definitely joining a CSA.
  2. Eat those vegetables that are actually good for you. Kale is in, Carrots are in. Chard, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Spinach, Onions, etc. There are lots of vegetables that are good for you. Avoid things that are grown in mass by the food industry, such as Soybeans, Corn (which is a grain), and Peas. Also, who gives a crap about iceberg lettuce, or even leafy spring mix? You can eat that stuff, but it’s the true healthy vegetables that rock. You’re already getting plenty of corn from sources you don’t even know you’re consuming. Just stop eating corn.
  3. Eat only free-range grass-fed beef. Cage free chickens, etc. Make sure they’re not being pumped full of antibiotics to stay alive. This will mean that the meat you buy WILL COST MORE. There’s a reason that a steak at whole foods is 150% more expensive than a steak at C-Town. It’s because the cow wasn’t force-fed corn, living in it’s own vomit and shit, until it prematurely reached adulthood and was slaughtered days later. Cheap meat is so terrible for you, we have no idea. You are what you eat, and if you’re eating meat full of antibiotics from sad cows, those meds and that sadness will be in your system too.
  4. Don’t eat in restaurants, unless they’re expensive. I only go out to eat at places that are serving good food, in a great environment. This means avoiding takeout, and after eating this diet I’d probably die if I ate fast food. Subway sandwiches are bad for you too. If you eat at quality restaurants they will feed you quality food. You will enjoy it more, there will be smaller portions, and it will come from sources that aren’t sketchy.
  5. Actually, in general try to pay more money for what you eat. If you’re buying organic food, it’s going to cost more. This is because it’s not being sprayed by chemicals and industrial fertilizers. Chemicals are in these plants, and after you eat them they will be in you. Industrial fertilizers allow plants to grow in soil that’s been depleted of all nutrients. So you’re basically just eating depleted soil and fertilizer. Yuck! That’s not food. By paying more you’re casting your vote for a food system that’s not corrupt.
  6. Prepare every meal at home from raw ingredients. When you cook yourself, it’s almost impossible to cook an unhealthy meal. You simply aren’t going to make the decision to season with monosodium glutamate or to roast your vegetables in partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. If you’ve never cooked before, don’t worry. This is how you do it: get a large frying pan. Pour two-three teaspoons of olive oil in it. Put on medium heat. Chop vegetables. (Onions, Mushrooms, Chard, and Brussel Sprouts perhaps?) Put vegetables in pan. Flavor with a little pepper. Good, now you know how to make a stir-fry. If that sounds gross, there are a million other ways to cook. Just ask the internet.
  7. Eat slowly, appreciate every bite. Did you know it can take up to twenty minutes for your brain to register that your stomach is full? No wonder we’re so fat. Most Americans gulp down a meal in less than 15 minutes, while driving, talking on the cellphone, and watching television simultaneously. Stop everything, this is madness. Give yourself an hour for dinner and prepare your food with love and care. When you’re done cooking, sit down at the table with yourself, or with your family, and enjoy the food. Just eat, slowly. Talk about how good it is. Because it is good, isn’t it? This way you avoid overeating by not cramming your face.

That’s it, so simple right? No quick fixes, just eating like humans are supposed to eat: a diverse diet rich in vegetables. No frozen garbage, no packaged garbage, just vegetables and some meat. I eat whole grain bread, pasta, and rice too, but in small amounts.

I prepare almost all of my meals in my kitchen out of raw ingredients. This makes me feel great, because I’m eating great and healthy. You should try it!

What I’ve said here is just the beginning. To learn more about how to eat right read Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food, and for some history of our crazy food culture, try his An Omnivore’s Dilemma.

An interview with David Damron: Goals, Plastic, and the Freedom of Being Minimalist.

November 18th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

Interview by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

I’m excited to present the first in a series of interviews on being minimalist. Every Wednesday on Far Beyond The Stars, for the foreseeable future, I’ll be publishing an interview with an authority on living the minimalist life.

Next week I’ll be speaking with Colin Wright of Exile Lifestyle about his experiences moving abroad and working from anywhere. The week after I’m totally stoked to be speaking with Leo Babauta of Mnmlist and Zen Habits about his experiences with being minimalist.

Don’t miss out these interviews! You can receive free updates from Far Beyond The Stars by RSS or Email.

David Damron, on one of his excursions.

Today I have the honor of speaking with David Damron. Dave writes about being minimalist at The Minimalist Path, and about living life to the fullest at Life Excursion. He’s also published an excellent free ebook: 7 Steps to a Simpler Life.

I talked with Dave about his minimalist goals, his annoyance over the amount of plastic bags being used by consumers, and easy strategies that everyone can adopt in order to make their lives more minimalist.

I hope you’ll give this a read!

The Interview with David Damron

Everett Bogue: There are a few basic pillars on which rests the philosophy of being minimalist, what do you think is the most important element of being minimalist?

David Damron: The most important element of being a minimalist, for me, is determining what is most important in my life. Simplifying and reduction is key, but knowing what is important is the best reason to become a minimalist.

Over at LifeExcursion recently, I wrote an article entitled The Hypocritical Minimalist where I detail my non-minimalist action and why it was right for me. Focusing on simplifying the things that don’t matter and putting 90% of your energy what does is the best reason anyone should become a minimalist.

It all comes down to this for all of us minimalist-hopefuls: Minimize the stuff that doesn’t matter and focus on the elements in your life that are truly important.

EB: Do you have an minimalist goals that you’ve set for yourself recently?

DD: This is probably the most asked question I get at The Minimalist Path.

I have a few goals: I am trying to minimize my attention towards statistical data and focus on content production for my sites. Another is looking into more wireless capabilities for my crazy amount of technological gear. I want to be more wireless,  but I need to eliminate as many gadgets as I have. I am not sure if a smart phone, like an iPhone or Droid, would be great for me. But I realize that may be the case with my online and social media growth. With that, I also need to minimize the use of those technological items and bring more simplicity to my life.

Last, I am trying to decide if I love my books enough to keep or minimize them. I am leaning towards keeping them as they are a great source for me and are one of the few non-minimalist items I have, but I’m still on the fence.

This is a great question and I think everyone should think of a minimalist goal they want or need to set up for themselves.

EB: What steps have you set for yourself towards achieving those goals?

DD: I knew this one was coming and it’s only fair to answer honestly.

Well, I try not to check my websites stats more than twice a day (once in the morning/evening). I have not put in as much effort towards looking into and pricing the wireless capabilities out there. So, I am definitely not living as I preach on that one. As for the books, that one is still up in the air.

The biggest problem with goals in today’s society is not that we don’t set them, it’s that we do not work towards them. Minimalism is tough, no doubt about that. There are many things I wish I would have kept, but then realize it wasn’t worth sacrificing the anchor of stuff to keep it all.

When it comes to a minimalist goal you set, I suggest doing something about it immediately. The less you waver and regret, the more success you will have.

To all of your readers: I suggest setting goals, write them down now. Immediately after write down 10 things you will do to achieve your goals, then act on them. The more you and your goals sit stagnant, whether it be with being minimalist or other aspects in life, the more likely they won’t become a reality.

EB: There are a lot of ways that society at large can benefit from becoming more minimalist, could you recommend one habit that you believe would broadly effect the sustainability of society today?

DD: This answer is going to come out of left field, but one I feel strongly about and I am personally not doing enough to change.

Minimize packaging. Packaging is a huge waste and brings about more pollution than vehicles. One major packaging item we use more than we realize is plastic. Plastics are made using oil and end up sitting in a landfill or ocean not decomposing. I worked at a grocery store for four years and saw people just blatantly use plastic bags for one or two items.

I wish it was mandatory to use reusable bags while shopping everywhere. Another positive side to minimizing packaging is that it influences everyone to go to this unheard of section of the grocery store called the produce department.

If you and I use less packaging:

  • the less pollution we create
  • the less foreign oil we use
  • the less items will cost
  • the less persuasively we will be influenced by consumerism

There are many other minimalist aspects I wish others would focus on, but since no one ever talks about these topics, I think it is great to bring to light.

EB: Could you describe one simple step that our reader’s could employ to make this habit part of their lives?

DD: Do not allow yourself to grocery shop without bringing or purchasing a reusable bag. They are a $1. Seriously, no one I know shopping at American grocery stores does not have $1 to spend on a reusable bag. Yes, everyone can afford it. You may have to skip the box of cookies, but you can afford it. If you forget your reusable bag at home, buy a new one. Force yourself to do this. Stop making excuses. It’s simple, cheap and smart.

EB: Is there any element of being minimalist that you struggle with? –Mine is that I haven’t given up eating meat (yet?,) even though I know how big of an impact this has on the environment.

DD: I am a horrible minimalist when it comes to working on the computer. I rarely focus on the task at hand and this is a huge problem for my productivity. Right now I have seven tabs open on Firefox, I am running my Thunderbird email on the other screen (yes, I have two screens), I have numerous windows tabs open. Having this many tabs open is actually (sadly) not a lot for me.

I like to think I am more productive this way, but don’t really know if I am. I’m aspiring to be more like the Leo Babauta’s of this world and be a whole lot more productive while on the computer.

EB: And last, can you think of one unexpected reward of being minimalist that you’ve discovered on your minimalist journeys?

DD: Freedom. I recently lived overseas for six months. I was able to do this because I eliminated any and everything that did not lead to the simple life. Living abroad requires this level of simplicity. I never thought getting rid of most of my possessions, limiting my financial liabilities, and simplifying my basic lifestyle would lead to such freedom, but such was the case.

If you or anyone you know is feeling trapped by life and not venturing to do what they love, I strongly suggest becoming a minimalist. Becoming minimalist has opened so many doors for me and I think the same can be done for millions others.


Be sure to check back next week for an interview with Colin Wright, and the week after for Leo Babauta.

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The Minimalist Week: 5 Days 5 Ways to Apply Simplicity

November 16th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

Writing and photography by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter

It’s almost Thanksgiving! Wow, crazy, this year flew by. To clear time for all of the festivities, –so I can spend time with my family during the holidays without constantly thumbing my iPhone,– I’m trying to wrap up as many projects as I can before I can dig into the turkey –or tofurkey, whatever you’re into.

I like to up my dosage of simplicity for the week, when my life is busier than usual.

One way that I do this is by setting daily goals for myself.

Here are five minimalist goals that I have set for myself for the week. I hope they’re helpful to you. If you’re interested, maybe follow along with me. Let me know what you think in the comments or on Twitter.

If you apply these daily goals, and they work for you, let me know how it went!

Monday: Start the week with a simple and healthy breakfast.

Beginning your week with a healthy breakfast is so important, I can’t stress this enough. On the days that I skip breakfast and just drink a coffee, I get less accomplished and feel drained. Maybe you’re already doing this, I know I am, but take a moment to consider what you’re eating this morning.

I suggest whole grains, a fruit or two, and some protein. Peanut butter on whole wheat toast, and a banana, could be one option. Another, two eggs, an orange, with whole-bran muffin. Perhaps drink some orange juice with that coffee. Yum! I’m going to be sure to shop on Sunday (tonight, when I’m writing this) so I don’t have to go out to get breakfast.

Tuesday: Take time to think before checking email in the morning.
When you take the time to have 30 minutes to an hour of genuine time to contemplate before you delve into the morning pile of email, the pieces just come together smoother.

I’m really aiming to do take time in the morning more regularly, since the days that I roll out of bed and start tapping my iPhone immediately are always just a little bit more overwhelming. I like to start the day either with yoga, or if I’m not feeling it, just brewing coffee and spending some time waking up before I start working. –I’m a freelancer, so I have no commute. It’s just me and my desk, or me at the coffee shop.

Wednesday: Write a hit-list of work priorities to complete.
Lay out your schedule in a minimal manner, so you know what needs to be done. Isolate yourself and then do these priorities.

I like to take a pad of paper, or Evernote on my iPhone if I can’t find paper, and list the five priorities that I have to knock down during my work day. Instead of meandering through my work day not knowing what I’m doing next, I’ll work on one priority until it’s done. I won’t work on anything until I’ve finished a priority, because that would be splitting my focus and I won’t get as much work done.

Try setting your own priority list. List the five goals you have for a day, and block out the rest of the world. The world can wait, your priorities can’t. Once everything is done on your list tell yourself that you’re done for the day, don’t just keep needlessly busy with tasks that you don’t really care about. Your work day is for getting important priorities done.

Thursday: Take a break from work to study of an unrelated subject.
I like to get away from my work for at least a few hours a day and study something unrelated to the material that I’m working on. Like pick up a book on a subject that interests me, or do some research on a project I’d like to start someday.

On Thursday, after I get my work done, I’m going to be alternating between reading An Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan and Permission Marketing by Seth Godin. These are two books that I’ve been dying to read, but haven’t had time. I’m also going to be on a train to Chicago, at this point, so I’ll have a lot of time to do reading.

Make time for your own independent reading and research. It’s important to minimize your work schedule in order to take time to explore subjects that you’re interested in, and have quality time to generate big ideas.

Friday: Check out from work early.
I’ve been reading a lot lately about four day workweeks lately (no, not Four Hour Workweeks, though if you can get there, good luck.) and it seems to be that it might be a good idea to start trying to get all of my work done in four days. Do you think that’s possible?

One aspect of being minimalist, at least as far as I see it, is optimizing your work week for maximum potential.

I’ve observed that a lot of people just go to work, they work eight to ten hours a day, and they just keep busy most of the time. Either that or they’re checking blogs repeatedly every five minutes and hopping back to the spreadsheet when their boss is looking. Have you noticed yourself doing that? I know I did when I was working a full time job. Just getting by, waiting until the day is over.

On Friday I’m going to skip work, if all my work is done.

So on Friday, I’m hoping to have all of my work done for the week.  I’ll just be able to spend time doing what I enjoy. I figure if I work at 100% during the week, I should be able to finish my projects and be ready for the weekend a little bit ahead of time.

I won’t need to do anything. I won’t need to answer emails or calls, because everything will be done. I’ll talk more about my progress, and the steps I’m taking to achieve this, as this blog progresses.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to achieve this, and sometimes goals aren’t achievable.

Maybe you can try it too?


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The Minimalist Diet: How to Eat Real Food

October 12th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

Post written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter

I went for a hike in the forest on Mt. Hood yesterday, where I learned how to find, identify, and harvest wild Chanterelle mushrooms. It was such a great experience, that I thought I’d share it with all of you.

To the right is a photo of the actual mushrooms that I harvested.

I’ve never harvested food from the wild before, and it reminded me of just how important the food we eat is, and how terrible most of the food available actually is. We go into the supermarkets and we’re confronted by all kinds of concoctions born from laboratories, claiming to be food. Vitamin infused wheat cakes. Rows upon rows of bottled bubbly corn syrup in plastic jugs (translation: coke, pepsi, yes, that crap.) Soy-pulp mush.

It’s difficult and time consuming to find and eat foods grown in the wild, but the benefits are worth the effort. Food grown from the forest floor is full of nutrients that over-cultivated soil just doesn’t produce.

A lot of us don’t eat real food anymore, and by doing that we’re alienating ourselves from our potential, and quite frankly killing ourselves.

This summer I read Michael Pollan‘s illuminating book In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, which delved into a lot of these topics with a lot more depth, knowledge and research than I ever could offer. I strongly suggest you pick up a copy.

Mushrooms taste amazing, harvesting them myself was an incredibly fulfilling experience, but there are ways you can improve your diet without driving up Mt. Hood and romping around the woods, here are some that I use daily.

Rules for the Minimalist Diet:

1, Eat only food that will spoil.
If it won’t go bad, it’s probably bad for you. Vegetables spoil, meat spoils, bread that is good for you will go bad. These are both real foods. Buy them and learn to cook them.

I commonly only buy food that I’m going to eat that day. This way I can really listen to my body and see what I’m craving. Is today an Avocado day, or do I need mushrooms? I don’t eat meat often, but some days after a really hard workout my body will literally be crying for a piece of chicken.

By shopping for what I’m going to cook that day, I can answer these questions, and also eat fresher food.

2, Shop the periphery of the supermarket.
Most supermarkets are designed with the produce on your right as soon as you walk in, hit this are first. Fruits and vegetables are some of the most wonderful foods on earth, we should all eat them. Meat will be at the back, so that’s safe too.

Avoid the middle of the supermarket, that’s where the food products that last forever and thus are full of preservatives and crap food science.

3, Don’t buy anything that claims to be healthy.
Vegetables aren’t part of organizations, they don’t have public relations departments. This might be confusing, because there are a lot of products in the store proclaiming to be the solution to all of your problems. Like Froot Loops!?

4, Eat mostly vegetables.
Vegetables are truly amazing, they’re incredibly complex organisms that we’ve been thriving on for centuries, but modern food science has coaxed us away from them by tricking our senses with sugars and false promises.

I’ve been eating mostly vegetables since reading Pollan’s book, and the results have been amazing. Before I was constantly struggling with wildly fluctuating weight (mostly my tummy) and energy levels that just didn’t make sense. Now I feel healthy, and most importantly, I look healthy!

Not only are vegetables good for you, they’re also the simplest diet you can eat. There are no wrong choices in the produce section. The biggest challenge for those of us born in the modern age is learning how to cook them properly, but that’s the adventure. And that brings me to my last point:

5, Cook your own food

The best thing you can do for yourself is to prepare all of your food from raw ingredients. Not only is this the most fulfilling wait to eat, it’s also the healthiest, and the cheapest. I do this for almost every meal, unless I’m away from my house.

When you eat food from random places (NYC bodegas come to mind, but also like everything) you have no idea where the food came from. Can you identify all of the ingredients? Probably not. Good food at restaurants is expensive, and most of us can’t afford to eat good food for every meal if we were to eat out.

I’ve found that I really enjoy cooking my own food. Last night I made a stir-fry with ingredients that I had harvested from the forest floor. Can you imagine how thrilling that was? And best of all, the main ingredient cost only $5 (and I still have a HUGE bag of mushrooms), that I put towards carpool gas. The rest of the ingredients cost me under three dollars, and I was cooking for two.

So cheap, so awesome. Go forth and eat well!


You might have noticed that I don’t have comments. It’s not because I don’t love you, it’s part of the minimalist approach. Comment systems have their upsides and downsides, and I’ve weighed both of these and come to the conclusion that I don’t want to spend time moderating comments on my website. But you can still comment: if you want to reply to anything that I write here, hit me up on Twitter!

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