How To Pursue The Work That Matters

May 23rd, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Why being busy isn’t the same as doing work that matters.

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

One of the biggest questions that has been swirling about since the release of Minimalist Business is very simple:

How do I pursue doing work that matters?

One of the foundations of my work in Minimalist Business was asking the reader to eliminate everything in their businesses which isn’t contributing to their core business model.

What is important for me to get across in this article is the cost of wasting time doing things that aren’t necessary for your business success.

I’m absolutely convinced that most businesses fail because entrepreneurs insist on spending time on assumed requirements of doing business instead of actual necessities of doing work that matters.

Without doing work that matters, all of the other stuff you’re wasting time on doesn’t matter. My argument is that you only need to do the work that matters, whereas ritual necessities of doing business are basically obsolete in a lot of cases.

A few rituals of the normal business routine which I disagree with are: checking email 35 times a day, holding meetings to make decisions, answering every blog comment whether or not it’s relevant or even requires a response, answering your phone ever, and sitting at a desk from 9-5 even if you got the important work done on Monday in two hours worth of work.

Now, of course I can’t tell you exactly what your personal work that matters is, as important work is specific and different for everyone.

Time spent working doesn’t necessarily equal creating work that matters.

For example, this article will take me approximately a half an hour to write, and another half an hour to do a quick copy edit and schedule to publish in a few days.

Now, I could choose to spend the rest of the day tweaking the article or checking my email 35 times. None of that would matter though. I can tell if the article is good after a half an hour of writing. Eight more hours of fidgeting will not fix it if it is bad.

Eight hours of receiving and reacting to email will similarly not get important work done. When you batch respond to email during fifteen minute intervals once a day, you get less email and also have many empty hours in the day.

Empty hours are uncomfortable, and I’m convinced that most of us are terrified of them. This is why we spend all day hitting refresh buttons waiting to react to messages that don’t matter.

This is why we fill up our schedules with meaningless meetings which ask questions that we already know the answers to.

The secret to concentrating on doing work that matters.

You need to cultivate silence.

The answers you seek, the ones which will empower you to make the work which will fund your very existence on this planet, come to you when you aren’t working.

Clear your schedule until only a void remains, and the ideas that matter will come.

Don’t do anything for a week, and see how many ideas come to you. Write the best ones down, but don’t do anything with them. At the end of week pick the least complicated idea which resonates most with you and execute that idea and no other.

Work on this idea until you actually finish it.

When you’ve done this, you’ve experienced doing the work that matters.

When you actually empty your schedule and sit in silence until brilliance develops, you will start to make the changes that are required of you to bring you work to the next level.

Why sitting in silence is the hardest thing you’ve ever done.

A meditation teacher once told me that the first month of a teacher/student relationship when learning to meditate is simply supporting them while they slow down.

The people in this world move at a blinding speed. They’re mostly doing nothing, but they do nothing very quickly. Traveling at the speed of silence is incredibly difficult when everyone is running around like madmen.

I’m not saying that you need to meditate, that’s a different element entirely — though it also may be beneficial. Don’t try meditate if you don’t have any experience doing that, instead just sit alone somewhere. Go somewhere quiet, and simply be quiet. Don’t try to not think, just let thoughts come and go as you breathe in and out.

Try experiencing nothingness for 15 minutes today, and slowly work up until you can do it for longer. It isn’t easy, but it is worth it.

Just sit in silence and don’t do anything. The work will come when you aren’t distracting yourself.


If this helped you, I’d love if you’d share it via Twitter or another social networking service that you use. Thank you.

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26 Essential Ways to Achieve Minimalist Freedom

April 14th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

The basics of applied minimalism

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

There’s a reason zombie movies are so popular. They have an uncanny resemblance to modern reality.

People go to zombie movies to stare blankly at a screen for an hour and a half. Occasionally something scary will happen, and they’ll jump out of their seats as another low-dosage bit of adrenalin fed into their systems.

Now they feel like they did something, so they can walk to their cars and drive home without feeling as empty as they did before. They brush their teeth to remove the little bits of popcorn still stuck in between them. Satisfied that they actually did something, these people go to bed.

At least there aren’t zombies in the world, right?

The truth is that there are zombies. Millions of people are delaying their lives for the idea of security that’s been pumped into us by a modern society that wants us to comply.

Think about it. The TV wants you to sit down and buy things. The mainstream media wants you to sit down and buy things. The big food businesses want you to sit down and buy things. All of this combined is an overwhelming message to the people: buying things is what we’re here for.

Being a minimalist and traveling the world just doesn’t fit into the Walmart’s second quarter projections. That’s why the schools don’t teach you to be minimalist — in fact, that’s why schools don’t teach you how to use credit cards effectively.

Because if you knew how much your life should cost (answer: less) when you got out of high school (or college even!), you wouldn’t go out and buy that Prius, would you?

Nope, you’d walk to the farmers market like any individual minimalist who desires freedom does.


Why I didn’t want you to read my blog.

My last post created quite a split in the community.

On the one hand we had the people who are living this life, the ones who are pursuing a minimalist existence. They saw the post as a call to arms, as a message to practice minimalism better, because there are people who aren’t practicing at all.

Many bloggers linked in and retweeted that post because it took courage to say those things.

Then there were the people who felt like I didn’t want them here anymore. They were confused, and a bit hurt. This is understandable, I said some mean things to a certain group of people.

The truth is, I want almost everyone here. Honestly, there’s no way I can keep you out — this is and will always be a public blog.

The point of the post was just to say: I’m writing about being minimalist in order to live and work from anywhere. I won’t write a blog about going to Walmart in the minivan, because that blog isn’t my blog — stop emailing me and asking me to write a minimalist-lite blog where shopping is an okay thing to do.

There’s a reason I tell you not to do things, it’s because you shouldn’t do them.

Far Beyond The Stars isn’t about decaffeinated minimalism, it’s about changing the planet.

These ideas are out there at Walden Pond, and your six-bedroom suburban house with the central vacuuming system that you can’t afford isn’t going to fit on the beach.

One last time: I wanted the people who want me to write a DIFFERENT BLOG to unsubscribe. Not the people who are interested in this life.

Believe it or not, my subscriber count has continued to skyrocket since my last blog post, so I can only imagine many of you are still listening. Good! I won’t be content until you’re actually doing some of these things below though. It’s time for you to start now, if you’re still reading.

I’d love if you’d stay, if you feel these ideas are helping you.


For this post I’d like to go back to basics.

I’ve integrated every single of these things into my life, but I have a distinct feeling that many of you (especially on the ‘up-in-arms’ part of the community that I described above.) aren’t practicing many of these things.

I also recognize that the other half of the blog audience, the ones who have achieved some level of minimalism in their lives, are already doing many of these things. If this post bores you, that’s awesome — I give you permission to go to the beach. I’m so glad you’re practicing minimalism in such an advanced fashion.

Don’t get me wrong, being minimalist is hard work. The rewards are extraordinary though, you will live a freer life and have less of an impact on the planet. Those of you who are doing the work deserve recognition for the difficulty of walking the path.

The most important element of being minimalist is applying these lessons.

Obviously these will not be available to everyone all the time. Some people live in the rest of America where cars are a must-have, I recognize that. Other people will work in a profession where they need to have more than 100-things. That’s okay! 100-things isn’t for everyone. Try instead to focus your life around the things that your profession requires, even if that’s 300-things.

The point is the practice, the practice is the point.

Here are 26 essential ways to start to achieve minimalist freedom.

1. Walk everywhere. One of the most basic things our species can do is walk, but so few of us actually do it. Walking is one of the simpler joys in life, and is completely free. If you’re used to driving 15 blocks to the store, try walking 15 blocks to the store. You’ll burn calories and feel more centered when you return home. For more: The Simple Joy of Walking.

2. Bike everywhere. Biking is one of the best ways to get around quickly under your own power. You’ll lose weight and start to cultivate a sexy body. I realize this is easier in some cities than others. You can get an inexpensive bike in most cities for less than $150 that works amazingly. Wear a helmet. For more: How to Rent a Bike in Any City for Free.

3. Prepare your own food from fresh ingredients. Making your own meals is another one of the habits you can pick up that will change your life. When you buy prepared and processed foods you are filling up your body with preservatives and high-fructose corn syrup. When you make your own food from fresh ingredients, you’re eating what our bodies have been eating for thousands of years — good food that’s made out of real food. For more on preparing minimalist food, I highly recommend Stonesoup: Minimalist Home Cooking.

4. Purchase only things you need. We only need a fraction of the things that we buy, the other 80% is junk that we won’t use. This stuff tends to end up in the dumpster, because once you buy junk it’s value decreases immediately to zero. A minimalist recognizes that we only need the basic necessities of life in order to survive, and so buys less.

5. Buy digital. There are two reasons to buy digital goods over physical ones. 1) They aren’t created out of natural resources. 2) They support the artists more because the cost isn’t being eaten up in the production process. This isn’t to say you should go on a digital spending spree, just that if you have a choice between buying a physical CD and a digital CD you might as well choose the MP3s — you’re just going to MP3 it anyway.

6. Do a freedom test. Test the boundaries of your freedom. How far can you go before you start to feel uncomfortable? Can you take a week off from work and spend it on the beach? Can you do this for a month? A year? Put everything you care about in a bag and just set it by the door until you can’t take it anymore, then just go. If you push the boundaries of freedom, you’ll start to see that there aren’t any boundaries anymore.

7. Connect with less people online. The more-is-better philosophy carries over to the Internet for many people. I see so many people in Twitter who are following 4,534 people. How can you possibly connect with that many people? You can’t. Dunbar’s Law states that we can only connect with 150 people, after that we start to forget names and make mistakes. Reduce your Twitter follow count to less than 150 people and start to grow real relationships.

8. Get off the deferred-life plan. Are you waiting until old to achieve freedom? One of the biggest modern myths is that we need to work whole entire youths away in order to save for a distant future where we’ll retire to a beach somewhere. The problem with this obvious: you can have a lot more fun on the beach when you’re young! Start to rearrange your life so you spend more time not working. Spending 80% of your time being free is more than enough, in my opinion.

9. Go paperless. With technology as advanced as it is now, there’s no reason why you can’t go paperless. I recently stopped using paper completely, which I hope to write an entire article about. Scan all of your important documents into Evernote (which is completely searchable and accessible anywhere.) and keep a separate backup on an external hard drive — then shred them. Opt for paperless statements from your bank and credit companies. Instead of using notebooks to write in, use your computer. I do most of my preliminary writing on my iPhone, which saves directly to Evernote. From there I can do an edit and publish from my computer.

10. Work from home. Commuting takes time and resources. Ask your boss (if you still have one.) if you can work from home or from a coffee shop one day out of the week. Chances are your productivity will improve once you’re out of the office. You’ll also save the planet because you won’t be commuting. Consider encouraging your office to move to a ROWE (results only world environment) in order to separate results from time in order to increase company profits and save everyone time.

11. Focus on what matters to you. It’s so easy to become scattered in our modern lives. Consider writing down three or four focus points for your life. This way you can concentrate your time and resources around what matters to you. My focus points are Writing, Reading, Cooking, and Yoga. For more: The Stunning Truth About Focusing on the Important.

12. Retire your souvenirs. We’ve been told to keep things from our travels, to cherish items that hold memories. The problem with souvenirs is that they take up space and usually serve very little purpose other than to remind us where we’ve been. We know where we’ve been, because we were there. Start to kill the habit of collecting useless things, and begin cultivating a habit of having amazing experiences. You will remember an amazing experience a lot longer than the wooden turtle you bought for $3 in Chinatown.

13. Check your email less. We check our email way too much. Once a day is more than enough to deal with everything you need to in a work day. This way you can spend more time creating work that matters, and less time waiting to receive emails that you have to answer, and getting nothing done while you’re hitting the refresh button. For more: The Indispensable Guide to Timejacking.

14. Downsize to a smaller house. If you move into a smaller house, you’ll be able to fit less stuff in it. This will also dramatically reduce your utility bills. You’ll also have to spend less money on your house, which will enable you to work towards having 80% free time, which I described above. We don’t need five spare bedrooms to store our junk in, in reality, we only need one bedroom to sleep in and a kitchen to prepare our food in. When you have a smaller house, you’ll have more incentive to get out and spend time in the great big world, because you won’t spend all of your time dusting the table you don’t use in the fifth bedroom.

15. Disconnect for a day. We’re constantly connected, which can’t be good for our brains. Give yourself a day (or even a week!) off from being connected. Turn off the phone, unplug the internet, just be a normal person who isn’t jacked into The Matrix all day. For more: 7 Simple Ways to Disconnect.

16. Practice saying no. No is one of the most powerful words a minimalist can use. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in projects that we aren’t 100% passionate about. This leads to doing a bad job at a lot of things, instead of focusing our attention on the important. Saying no is hard, but it’s incredibly necessary in the modern age to keep from being overwhelmed. For more: How to Say No Gracefully.

17. Start a blog about being minimalist. There are so many amazing minimalist blogs out there, and I think the more the better. If you’re taking a minimalist journey, consider blogging about it. This will help keep you focused on your goals, and also can become a great way to generate income on the side. When I wrote my last post, someone emailed me to say they were starting a blog about keeping all of his stuff and being minimalist at the same time! Good for him, I think he’s missing the point though.

18. Sell your car. Go Car-free. This is an amazingly simple way to reduce carbon emissions and also get yourself out of debt. One of the biggest myths of the modern age is that we need to have a car to get around. Buy a bike, start walking, you’ll dramatically improve your health and also save a heap of money. For more: Simply Car-free by Tammy Strobel.

19. Make a list of your 100 most important things. One of the most powerful things you can do is identify your top 100 possessions. These are the things that you’d take with you if you were to achieve minimalist freedom. Open a document, start with 1, and recite from memory which items that you’d want to keep. If you can’t remember them, you probably don’t need them.

20. Reduce your possessions to 100 things. Now that you have the list, get rid of everything that’s not on it! Start with things you haven’t used in years, and work your way down to things that you haven’t used in months. Sell things on Craigslist and eBay in order to earn money. Have a yard sale and charge $1 for things that aren’t worth much. Give away everything that you have left. Now you’re free!

21. Observe the 30-day rules. There are two rules you should adopt. The first is getting rid of everything that you don’t use at least once a month. This rule is helping me decide what stays and what goes as I work my way towards 50 possessions. I got rid of my tent and my moleskin, because both of these things I hadn’t used in more than a month. The other 30-day rule is simple: create a list and put anything purchases bigger than $20 on the list — you now have to wait at least 30 days before you can buy these things. Do you still want them after 30 days? Probably not.

22. Destroy your TV. You know how I feel about televisions by now, I don’t like them. TV is passive entertainment in a world where you can choose what to watch. Having a TV in your living room promotes sitting on the couch eating Cheetos. Sell it, destroy it, whatever you need to do to free yourself from the infernal ad-spewing machine. For more: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.

23. Shop at the farmers market. Eating local food is one of the best ways to promote health in your own body as well as save the planet. Walk to your farmer’s market and buy food that’s grown locally. Locally grown food is more expensive, but it’s also a lot more nutritious because it hasn’t been frozen and shipped halfway across the country or the planet. For more: The True Food Diet.

24. Have opinions about things that matter. Life’s too short to not have opinions. If something angers you, it’s your job to speak out. Don’t be a sheepwalker, towing the middle line between mediocrity and normality. Instead, be a leader, make a difference, start a movement, and start to bring change to yourself and this planet.

25. Learn to entertain yourself for less. Entertainment doesn’t have to cost money. There are many ways to have fun that don’t involve spending lots of money. Go for a walk in the park. Sit on a bench and watch the birds. Cook a healthy dinner for your friends or family. For more: Minimalist Fun

26. Get on a plane and go somewhere. Ultimately, the best way to become minimalist is to just drop it all and get out of town. End your lease, put all of your stuff on the side of the road, jump in a plane and get out of town. When you leave the comforts of home, you will start to learn amazing things about yourself and begin to have new experiences that you never thought were possible while you were sitting on the couch.

The possibilities are endless, so get out there and explore. Don’t wait until your old and wrinkly to have a life. Two weeks of vacation a year is a crime, and you deserve more than that. Use the skills that I’ve taught you, start building new income streams, and declare independence from the zombie-state.

The reason you should do this is not because it’s the only way, and it’s not because I told you to. You should do this because it’s possible.


If this post was helpful to you, share it with as many people as you can. Retweeting is one of the best ways to share my work with other people.

Don’t Read This Blog If You Want To Be Ordinary

April 11th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Defining the reason I write Far Beyond The Stars.

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

There comes a point in every movement when you have to tell certain people they can’t come along for the ride.

I think it’s time I set some proper expectations about who Far Beyond The Stars is being written for.

The reason I’m doing this is simple:

I’m becoming tired of receiving e-mails and comments from people who want me to stop telling the truth. These people want my blog to be something other than it is.

These people want me to write a safer, cleaner, more picturesque idea of what reality actually is.

I won’t change my blog to cater to these fantasies. The harsh reality is that being minimalist can free you. You can’t have the McMansion and also do what I’m doing, it’s just not possible.

So, I’m sorry, I’ve got to establish some limits. I can’t cater to these people and still make meaningful change. So, at the end of this post I’m going to do the unthinkable, I will ask these people to leave.

I don’t care of my subscriber count goes down. I don’t care if less people buy my book.

The most important thing is that we weed the naysayers and the dream zappers out of this movement, so we can focus on the ultimate goal for everyone involved: being minimalist in order to live and work from anywhere.

This is where I’m coming from.

I’m writing this from the perspective of how I’m actually living my life. I know it’s possible because I’m living the life that I write about.

It’s my fault, it’s not very clear when you come on the site what I write about. The internet is a big place and there are a lot of different people (with different goals) who may stumble across my blog. I’m going to make some changes to the layout so my purpose for writing is clearer.

I borrowed the above headline from Jonathan Mead’s Illuminated Mind (a blog which I highly respect), because I think it is the best way to describe the way I’m feeling. I hope you’ll agree, or stop reading this blog.

Far Beyond The Stars is about being minimalist in order to live and work from anywhere.

What Far Beyond The Stars is not about:

  • Being happy at your day job until you get old retire and die.
  • Purchasing heaps of disposable goods because the TV told you to.
  • Buying expensive handbags and reading fashion magazines.
  • Having babies, getting a minivan, and going to soccer practice.
  • Being content with having a dull and stupid life.
  • Settling for less for the best because you think you aren’t good enough.
  • Accepting the status-quo and embracing mediocrity.

Why am I saying this?

The comments and emails are from people who want to live safe lives buying too much stuff, instead of pursuing their dreams until they get old and retire and then die.

I’m challenging their perception of how they live their lives. It makes these people scared, because I’m different.

I’ve found a way to live free in a society that wants you to conform, spend more money than you make, and settle for less than the best.

It’s no wonder people think I’m wrong. These ideas destroy the notion that a safe, secure, and incredibly expensive future is what everyone wanted.

The American Dream is dead, there are now millions of American Dreams. This is simply one dream.

A brief definition of being minimalist.

Being minimalist, for me, is about living with less than 100 things so I can move wherever I want. This allows me the freedom to move to San Francisco Bay in May for literally $125 (plane ticket!) + costs for new housing.

I can do this because I am not moving a huge U-haul full of junk across the entire country. All my stuff fits in a backpack.

This doesn’t mean your definition of minimalism can’t be different. Joshua Becker is one of my favorite minimalists, and his e-book Simplify is about applying rational minimalism while living in the suburbs with a family of four. If y0ur definition of minimalism is closer to Joshua’s, I definitely suggest reading his blog (maybe even instead of mine.)

I define minimalism for myself and for my blog as reducing your possessions to make it easier to live and work from anywhere.

There are many ways to apply minimalism, mine is simply one way. It is not the only way.

The benefits of being minimalist.

Being minimalist, as I’ve defined it above, also means that my life-overhead is only food + housing. For instance: last month I spent $750 on rent in Brooklyn and $350 on food. I had a few beers with awesome people. There are a few other costs, but it’s not uncommon for my life in New York of all the most expensive places to cost less than $1500 because of the life choices I’m teaching you to make here.

When I tell people to move to Portland, it’s because your rent will be $350 and your food costs $200. I know because when I lived in Portland these were my expenses.

The reason this scares people is simple: If your life can cost less than $1500 in New York, why aren’t you here if you want to be? It’s a myth that living in a city has to be more expensive. It can be, but it doesn’t need to be.

This freedom from cost enables you to build a better life.

It’s a myth that our lives should cost so much. This lie is perpetuated by advertising and a dying factory culture that dominated our society for the last 150 years.

If your life costs $5000 a month and you’re struggling, it’s because you’ve been lied to by society. Not because I’m writing things that aren’t true.

I assume that everyone reading this blog is somewhat into the idea that being minimalist leads to having more freedom. This is what the blog is about, this is what The Art of Being Minimalist is about.

A brief definition of working anywhere.

The Internet has fundamentally changed the way we do business. People who bought things in a physical form and in physical stores (except for food, which will eventually all be locally grown) are becoming a dying breed.

I’m 25 years old, and my generation is revolutionizing the way we learn and the way we consume information. We do not listen to what the TV tells us to buy. We get our information online, and for the most part we don’t pay for it — unless it’s incredibly good stuff.

What does this change mean?

The reason you hear about newspapers dying, bookstores struggling, and the car manufacturers filing for bankruptcy is all connected. It’s all one big conspiracy that almost everyone doesn’t know about yet.

Everything is changing because of one simple fact: everyone can make a difference.

Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist, wrote about this redistribution of power and influence on his blog a few days ago.

The democratization of everything.

The Internet has enabled every single person in the world to be a creator. Previous to this only the people who could get on TV could create things — which led to 150 years of big business domination.

This is why I keep telling everyone to start creating online. Because now, right now, is the moment in time when it is actually possible to create amazing work, start a movement, and make a difference while supporting yourself online.

I don’t think it’ll get any harder to create a movement online, but you might as well start now. You could have 2600 subscribers after 6 months of blogging, like I do. This is plenty of subscribers to support your life without a day job if you apply minimalism the way I do.

How are being minimalist and working anywhere connected?

It certainly isn’t easy to strike out on your own and start creating your own movements in order to work from anywhere. This is why I combined the idea of being minimalist in order to live and work from anywhere.

If you have less stuff, if your overhead is low, you give yourself permission, funding, and time to pursue your goals.

If your life costs $500 a month, you can do almost anything.

If your life costs $5000 a month you will be a prisoner to the dying corporate system until someone decides you aren’t needed 5-10 years down the road. Then where are you? Out on the street because society changed while you were working under florescent lights.

This is what happened to the people who lost their jobs (and the ones who still don’t have them) when the great recession happened. They woke up one day to a world that was vastly different for the one they thought they’d signed up for. Then they were asked to pack up their stuff and leave their cushy cubicle chairs.

Big business cares about you until the moment they don’t need you anymore, and then that dream you have of retiring to the beach dies with your job — this happens far more frequently in the velocity of the modern world. Besides, waiting until you’re 65 to have fun is a silly way to live your life.

When someone tells you it’s safer to be a career employee at a company (or in education for that matter,) they are the ones telling lies to you.

Be free now, stop waiting for when you have arthritis.

Why I write Far Beyond The Stars.

Far Beyond The Stars is written to teach people, who want to change, how to make the transition to the life that I’ve described above.

This movement is training people to live a minimalist freedom lifestyle like Karol Gajda and Cody McKibben are in Asia right now. To live like Colin Wright is living in New Zealand right now.

Far Beyond The Stars is not being published to teach you how to be ordinary and to settle for having a boring life where you don’t push your limits.

I’m actually living this life. I’m a minimalist, I live and work from anywhere. It’s possible.

So, please stop emailing me and asking me to write a blog about being conventional. You don’t need to read a blog to learn how to be normal, it’s easy enough to do what everyone else is doing. The hard part is making a meaningful change in your life in order to make a difference in the world.

I hope that wasn’t too much to handle, I hope it didn’t blow any minds.

With all of that being said, I have one request of you:

  • If you aren’t interested in living a minimalist life.
  • If you aren’t interested in working for yourself.
  • If you aren’t interested in living anywhere in the world.
  • If you don’t believe what I’m saying is true.

I want you to unsubscribe from this blog. Because Far Beyond The Stars isn’t being written for you.

The ideas that are put forth on this blog are different. I believe this movement is nothing short of a revolution in the way we consume and the way we live our lives.

I have a feeling that this minimalist movement will go down in history. A generation of influential people are rising up, saying no to stuff, and they’re starting to live their lives in freedom. Now that is change happening.

Thank you to those who believe in what we’re doing here, and I appreciate your help and I love hearing stories about how you’re changing your lives.

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.” -Henry David Thoreau

Bonus: Sam Spurlin interviewed me at The Simpler Life. Definitely worth checking out — forgive the fact that it was my first time doing a video interview, it’s a little awkward.

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.

When You Take it All Away, What Are You?

March 21st, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

One simple exercise that will make you think.

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

Here’s a simple meditation:

Imagine or actually do this.

Take everything that you owned away from you. You can do this by going to a park for a day and sitting under a tree, go to the beach and lie on a towel, or perhaps by hopping on a plane with a backpack for a month or two.

Now take a look at what’s left. Contemplate the remainder, without the stuff. The essence of what you really are without all of the junk.

Whatever is left when you get rid of the stuff is you.

When you take away all that you’ve bought, what have you accomplished?

Write this down.

Now write down what you want to accomplish.

Perhaps you still have a small creative empire working without you or within you. Good!

Or perhaps you’ve just been surrounding yourself with distractions in order to forget that nothing you’ve ever done means anything.

Perhaps you’re somewhere in-between those extremes.

Everyone reaches a point of no-return with their stuff.

We humans reach a tipping point, when we’ve accumulated so much meaninglessness in our lives that there’s no going back. The form that this meaninglessness comes in is different for anyone. For some it’s buying the entertainment center, for others it’s their first house, for some it’s drinking every night to make the pain go away.

From that moment forward, every dream is just a dream — they can never become reality.

The dreams become so hard to make reality when you have to pay someone to move the entertainment system.

So you sit around dreaming about visiting Bali for the rest of your life. But you never actually go — except maybe for an extended weekend.

How can you replace your junk with real, meaningful, challenges and experiences?

How to Achieve Freedom At The End of the Television Era

March 16th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Predictions for your future in the information age.

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

20 years ago it was incredibly difficult to create a reality that you could effect.

You had control over the people you came in contact with. You could reach out to anyone who you could look up the phone number too.

In order to build anything, you needed to pander to the established media. They thrived on this, of course, because no one had a choice but to talk to them.

Now no one needs the media, and you can see how much of an empty shell it was –reality dumbed down to fit into 20 second sound bites. A 24 news-cycle thriving on the degradation of others. I know first hand, I’ve worked for the media.

For 50 years we sat idly by and watched “Lost”, now it’s time to reclaim your time.

Television domination is over now. Anyone can publish what they believe in. It is fairly easy to gather followers who will support your cause. This blog proves this, and so does every other blog out there with a following.

There is no longer any excuse to not do what you love. Seriously, create your own movement.

There are millions of things you could be doing tonight instead of watching TV. In fact, I’ll go as far as saying that you should destroy it entirely.

If you must watch something, watch TED. Ideas are far better to fill your brain with than the emptiness of the airwaves.

Here are a few of the changes that I see coming in the next five years because of this change:

Everyone will be supporting a community of minimalist businesses.

As business diversifies, so will the support. Twenty years ago big business dominated because they could buy many more television ads than the rest of us. This is why there’s a Burger King in every single town.

With the rise of social media, everyone now has a chance to find their true following.

As society moves away from that drudge and start appreciating quality hand-made work again, we will start to see consumer support move in that direction. Everyone will be the business owner, the marketer, and the consumer. We will support individual’s single-operator businesses from across the globe.

It will become much easier to rise to the top at what you’re passionate about.

It’s already so easy to Gatejump your way to success, and it will become even easier as good ideas float to the top of the cloud faster. All you have to do is create exceptional value, which isn’t actually that hard. Yes, you’ve been trained to do nothing by the TV in your living room for the last 50 years.

You need to destroy it now, and start working on your own projects every single night until an idea worth spreading appears to you.

Go on walks. Get in touch with nature. Start drawing. Get a camera. Take a dance class. Eat new foods. Write something that means something. Finger paint on your wall. Do something that will make people look at you weird, because the weird people are kicking your economic butt in it’s fluorescently lit chair.

Everyone will have to unlock their inner creativity.

Robots, computers, and outsourcing are quickly replacing cubicle drones. If you have no talents and no inspiration in your daily life, you need to up your game. The robots are coming for you.

Anything that can be done better by a computer is not a good career aspiration.

You are an individual, and it’s totally your fault if you continue to take orders and do repetitive tasks all day, and then go home and watch CSI. Make a change, start to design your freakin’ life, and get out of there. You need to become an artist, a creative, and an original thinker if you’re going to get out of the unemployment line.

A college education is quickly becoming less needed.

20 years ago, the only way to access information was through teachers at a school. This is no longer the case. Many universities are at a major disadvantage in the chain of information distribution, because they’re a bottleneck. They contain numerous teachers who haven’t seen the light of day since 1982.

The world has changed a lot since many of the teachers got to these schools, it also moves a lot faster. The real time information available on the net and through recently published books far exceeds the educational ability of larger institutions.

School teaches you to be good at school.

It’s not to say you won’t learn something there, and I did go, but is it worth $150,000? You have to ask that question.

Don’t go to business school, get a Personal MBA. Read business books, like Jason Fried’s Rework.

You will have to figure out what you’re passionate about.

If you’re stumbling around wondering what you’re actually interested in, that’s okay for a bit. Eventually you need to start doing something though. Sit yourself down and contemplate: what do I really enjoy doing?

If you don’t have an answer, here’s another solution: Stop doing everything you hate doing and see what you’re left with.

The silence of emptiness can be a huge motivator to finding your true calling. Stop running around, start silently contemplating what you want to do for the rest of your life. Once you find that sweet spot, you’ll actually be happy.

What else can you remove to free yourself further?

Once you know what you care about, you have to go further. What ballast do you need to throw overboard to get to the next level? The more junk you remove from your life, the more time you will have to pursue your goals. You will reclaim your dreams. As you remove each task that you hate doing, you will free yourself to make positive choices towards creating great work.


What predictions do you have for the future of the information age?

What steps are you taking to take advantage of the changes?

If this made you think, share it with 5 people. Thank you.

How to Live Before You Die

March 14th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

You’ll be dead sooner than you think. No kidding! Really! What are you doing with your life until then?

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

A few days ago I had a brief muscle spasm in my left arm. It stopped after a short while, but not before I remembered Jill Bolte Taylor’s Stroke of Insight. I’m having a stroke (I thought!)

Anyway I’ll spare you the imagined details, but I’d momentarily convinced myself that I was probably going to die mere days after my 25th birthday.

Well, I’m still here and have regained a normal feeling arm, but there is a way that thinking about your own death can stick with you for a few days.

You can die at any moment, and it could happen at any time.

Here are a couple of meditations on death, in regards to the topics that I write about here at Far Beyond The Stars.

1. You can’t take it with you.

It’s a well known cliche at this point, when you pass on most your stuff goes in the trash. No one cares anymore.  I know some people will disagree with me on this, and have stories to prove me otherwise. There will always be someone who will save a dead person’s stuff, but the majority of everyone won’t.

I’ve seen the stuff that people leave behind. Most of it only has meaning to the deceased.

2. Being safe won’t save you.

So many people live their lives in fear of dangerous things happening to them. In some cases this is justifiable fear, but in a lot of cases it’s not. Staying inside your house won’t save you from death, it will lead to you dying inside from not seeing the world.

Get out and live your life, every single day.

3. Do the best with the time you have.

You only have so much time, do your best with it. If you aren’t happy with your situation, you need to start making a change. Sitting around complaining about it won’t make a difference.

Try to spend every day working toward your ideal reality.

4. Buying stuff is not living your life.

I know, the advertisers tell you otherwise every single day. This is why you should destroy your TV, because the ads are making you feel inadequate, so you go out to the store and buy another pair of shoes. You only need one pair of shoes, make it a good pair and they’ll last you three years. In truth, your consumption is destroying the planet, so stop doing it.

Going to the store does not equal living your life. Instead, seek experiences over consumption, and you’ll be much happier with your life.

5. What would you do if you only had a week to live?

I love this exercise, even if it’s so morbid. Steve Jobs lives his life as if every day is the last, and look at what he’s managed to accomplish.

Take a moment and dreamline what you’d do, if you had only a week to live. Actually write this down. Chances are it won’t involve sitting at a desk waiting until 5pm. Can you make every day into your last week? Imagine how much happier you’d be.

6. Having less can encourage you to find peace and happiness inside yourself.

When you remove all the clutter, you have a huge opportunity to search for the depth of ordinary existence. Many people fill up their lives with junk, because we’ve been taught by advertising that buying stuff will make us happy. It doesn’t do anything but give you a momentary spark of adrenalin.

When you remove all the nonsense, you start to see the wisdom at the basis of reality. This is very hard work, but I believe that every has the ability to ask these questions of themselves. Trust me, the answers are worth seeking.

As for me, I’m going to do my best to create my ideal reality every day.

At the moment, I’m listening to a live string quartet at Tea Lounge in Brooklyn. It’s beautiful.

Today might be my last, I want it to be a good one. Don’t you?

Ash has thoughts on this as well.


Write a few sentences about your last week on earth and leave it in the comments, if you feel comfortable. I’d love to hear how you’ll spend it.

Retweet this story if it helped you. Thank you so much.

Tammy Strobel: Attain Financial Freedom by Going Car-Free

March 1st, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Did you know you can save $8,000 a year by not having a car?

Interview by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

If you don’t know Tammy Strobel already, you should get to meet her. Tammy blogs about social change through simple living at her blog Rowdy Kittens. She is also a photographer, and gives away all of her photos under an Uncopyright license.

Tammy and I first met months ago, when I was living in Portland and she in Sacramento. It was my first week publishing Far Beyond The Stars, and she emailed me and basically said: “your blog is awesome!”. I emailed her back and said “no! your blog is awesome!” Since then we’ve kept in touch almost every day over Twitter.

Truth be told, this blog wouldn’t be anywhere without Tammy; the inbound links from her blog drive almost as much traffic as a guest post on Zen Habits. Why? Because she only delivers remarkable ideas.

I’m happy to announce the release of Tammy’s first-ever e-book, Simply Car-free: How to Pedal Toward Financial Freedom and a Healthier Life.

Tammy sent me a preview copy last week, and I’ve read the entire book cover-to-cover. It’s one of the best resources on quitting the car-addiction and discovering the liberation of riding a bike.

There’s also a guest chapter by me! I wrote a little lifehack on how to rent a bike in any city for free, based on my experiences buying and selling a bike in Portland. Tammy included it in her book, and on her blog, which is just awesome!

I made the decision to ditch the idea of ever having a car and moved to New York City almost 7 years ago, so I had no idea that I was saving around $8,000 a year by not having one! It’s true though, cars are expensive. I never want to have one.

Well, anyway, enough of my fawning over Tammy’s awesomeness, and onto the interview:

Tammy Strobel on how going car-free allowed her to quit her job, start her business, and gain financial freedom:

Everett Bogue: Tammy, going car free was a big decision for you. What inspired you to make this choice?

Tammy Strobel: Dee Williams’ tiny house and the idea of a simpler life inspired us to try something new. Simple living challenged us to eliminate our unnecessary stuff and to prioritize our life goals.

Selling the cars was a big decision for us because we were afraid that our dependence on cars was actually an essential need. By going car-free we realized we didn’t need to depend on cars and we were able to save money, improve our health, and gain the freedom to pursue our life goals.

Everett: By going car-free, you saved a huge hunk of money. How much do you estimate you save by not having a car?

Tammy: By selling both of our cars we save, on average, about $15,000 a year. It’s amazing how much money and time cars suck up. You have to deal with car payments, insurance, fluctuating gas prices, maintenance issues, parking or speeding tickets and the list goes on and on.

We also saved a lot of emotional and financial strain. Owning two cars resulted in strain because we were always short on cash after we were paid. We couldn’t figure out where all our money was going and didn’t realize it was being poured into our cars. Owning a car was something we felt like we “needed.” It turned out we didn’t “need” a car and we wasted an incredible amount of money on non-essential assets that depreciated over time.

Thanks to selling our cars we were able to pay off all our debt, which added up to $30,000. If I still had 2 cars, I don’t think we would have paid off our debt or saved any money. The average American spends $8,000 a year on one car. Imagine what folks could be doing with that money instead of spending it on a car!

Everett: How has that enabled you to do other things with your life?

Tammy: I have the money and freedom to focus on my dreams. I don’t say this lightly. We exchange time and life-energy for money. Time and energy is non-renewable resource in our limited life-span. It’s something we never get back.

I’m using my extra time to volunteer and connect with friends and family members. Also, I was able to start my own small business, a dream that I thought would never come true. I believe going car-free is one way to find freedom from the burden of debt, poor health, and transition to a new career. I’m extremely grateful for the time I’ve spent doing non-profit work, but I knew I had to escape my cubicle. I wanted freedom. Freedom to focus on my writing and photography full time.

I have also improved my health. I used to spend a lot of time in the gym, but wanted to get outside more. Even with all the time spent in the gym, my waist line kept getting a little larger. Spending time sitting all day, then driving home from work and sitting more didn’t help. An hour or two a day at the gym wasn’t cutting it. By selling the car, I’ve literally pedaled toward good health and lost about 15 pounds too. :)

Everett: What was the biggest obstacle that you had to overcome when you first decided to give up your car?

Tammy: Fear. We kept imagining: “What if a family member gets sick? What if we get sick? What if the cats get sick? How will we do basic errands, like picking up groceries?” I could go on and on with the list of fears.

All of the “what if” scenarios we worried about never came true. In fact, the opposite has occurred. We’re living our lives with intention and awareness.

Everett: Going car free is definitely a huge decision for most Americans. How can they test the waters before they give it all up?

Tammy: Change is scary and uncomfortable, but being uncomfortable leads to growth.

If you’re on the verge of going car-free or car-lite you can do a number of things:

  • Write down a list of your fears. Ask yourself, why you’re scared of being without a car. And if you went car-free, what is the worst thing that can happen?
  • Don’t drive your car for a week and see how it feels. Go grocery shopping by bike, meet your friend at a coffee shop, and start taking notes on your observations.
  • Connect with your local biking community in your neighborhood and online. Even if you don’t think your community has a local biking group, I’m sure they do. More and more grassroots biking organizations are popping up in towns across the country. Seek out your community and they will help you make the car-free or car-lite transition.
  • If you don’t have a bike, buy or borrow one that fits. If you aren’t sure what kind of bike is right for you, ask for help from your biking community and you can always send me an email too. :)
  • Look into alternative transportation options, like walking, riding the bus, or taking a light rail train.

Everett: I’ve lived in Portland, you’re living in Portland. It’s one of the greatest cities on earth. How does living in Portland make your car-free life easier?

Tammy: I agree! Portland is amazing! We’ve been in Portland for about a month and it is an incredible city. Free city bike maps, ample bike parking, bike lanes and accessible public transportation makes being car-free very easy. Additionally, Portland is very walkable. I’ve been walking, biking and riding public transit to all my destinations with no problems.

It’s my hope other U.S. cities will follow Portland’s lead regarding sustainability policies. If cities don’t make it easy for people to get around without cars, they will continue to drive.

Everett: If you could wish for one fundamental change to occur because of your e-book, what would that be?

Tammy: My wish is to address the fear of change on everyone’s mind. It’s so easy to be hindered by fear. I think it’s important to remember that anything is possible. When we sold our cars we didn’t get much support from friends and family members. We were told that our decision was crazy and austere.

After seeing the great outcome of our decision many of these same people have complemented us on our courage. Questioning the status-quo and what it means to live the good life is challenging. However, the end result is worth it. You’ll have extra money in your wallet and your heart will thank you. Reducing your dependence on cars yields tremendous results. With this e-book I want to share our wonderful experience with car-free living and give people a tool to help them start pursuing their life goals.

Everett: Thank you so much for talking with me Tammy, I’m so excited for people to read this e-book!


You can preview the first three chapters of Simply Car-free: How to Pedal Toward Financial Freedom and a Healthier Life here.

Don’t forget to check out Tammy Strobel’s blog, Rowdy Kittens.

The Dreams of a Minimalist Army

February 24th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Why Minimalism is About Your Journey.

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

The last few weeks have been quite a whirlwind of activity. I’ve released an e-book, I’ve had the honor of being featured on a number of amazing blogs, such as my article on creative flow at Zen Habits recently.

I love reading the links that people send to me offering their opinions on what I’ve created.

The experience has been amazing. I’ve received many emails asking me how I did it. I’m not entirely sure, but I’d love to try and figure it out.

I like to think that it’s just writing quality work every single day. Creating value, in order to help you, is all that I think about.

I started out with a small idea: what if I quit my job, gave up everything but the essential, got on an airplane, and went for a trip. I came back with an inspiration that’s sweeping the imagination of an amazing group of people.

It’s becoming so abundantly clear that this isn’t about me at all, it’s all about you.

The dreams of a minimalist army.

The truth is that I’m just one of the many amazing people who are leading this revolution — for more of the talented folks who are blogging about being minimalist, see my blogroll.

I’ve also compiled a list of some of the newer bloggers below. Check them out! If I missed you, leave a comment and I’ll add you to the list.

Do you want to join the minimalist army?

It’s not easy to succeed on the Internet (or in anything) alone. I need your help to spread the idea of being minimalist to as many people as possible.

The easiest way is to sign up to receive free updates via Email or RSS.

If you want to get in touch, drop me an email or follow me on Twitter.

You can start your own minimalist blog, like the list of people below.

You can help support my writing, and also earn some money yourself by signing up for the Art of Being Minimalist affiliate program.


You are the inspiration for the freedom of the life I’m living. You are the reason that I keep pushing for this change.

I can see this in every thank you letter I receive. I can see this in every helpful comment, and every amazing retweet of a post. We all wanted this change. We all needed to know that it was possible.

It is possible.

A list of new minimalist bloggers.

I want to give a brief shout out to some new minimalist bloggers. If I forgot you, I’m so sorry (there are so many faces to keep track of.) Please add your name in the comments and I’ll be sure to put you on the list.

This may seem like a lot of people, but remember: we’re in this together. Every person who takes the time to share their opinions, their dreams, their goals, their knowledge, is incredibly valuable.

Sam is blogging over at The Simpler Life.

Chris is blogging at Tiny Simplicity.

Someone without a name is blogging at The Modern Minimalist.

Someone without a name is blogging at Minimalist Thought.

Pawel is blogging at Minimalist Business.

Jonathan is blogging at We Live Simply.

Jesse is blogging at A Life Reinvented.

Vehmas is blogging at Vehmasassembly in Finnish.

Tonia is blogging at Itty Bitty Impact.

Luke is blogging at

Josie is blogging at Pure Minimalist.

Jesse is blogging at Minimalistme.

Tyler is blogging at Simple Minimalism.

Karo is blogging at Aspirant Sutra.

Stormbringer keeps a list of minimalist links.

Blog on minimalist fitness + food here.

Url is blogging at Mnmal.

Naomi is blogging at The Minimalist List.

Meghan is blogging at Sanity in Simplicity.

Del is blogging at The Minimalist Oxymoron.

Greg is blogging at Prosta Droga in Polish.


New e-books on being minimalist.

A number of fellow bloggers have published, or will publish, e-books recently.

It’s not easy to take the time to write and publish an e-book. I hope you’ll consider supporting these people.

David Damron of The Minimalist Path recently released his second e-book, Project M-31: Simplify Your Life in 31 Days.

Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist recently released his first e-book, Simplify: 7 Guiding Principles to Help Anyone Declutter Their Home and Their Life.

Adam Mayfield released a free 11-page e-book on minimalism yesterday.

Tammy Strobel of Rowdy Kittens is releasing her first e-book, Simply Car-free: How to Pedel Towards Financial Freedom & a Healthier Life on March 1st — I’ve already read it, it’s an amazing resource for anyone who is thinking about making the transition to a car-free life.

On Monday I have an interview with Tammy about her car-free experience. Don’t miss it! Sign up for free updates via RSS or EMAIL.

The Freedom of Living with 75 Things

February 19th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

I used to have 97 things, now I have 75. Here’s why.

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

It’s been awhile since I counted how many objects I own, so I was surprised when I got everything out today.

I only have 75 things.

This is excellent, I was pretty sure Christmas had run me over 100, but apparently I’ve cultivated a natural habit of reduction. For every object I acquire, I lose two.

If you think 75 things seems like not a lot of stuff to have, Leo Babauta is now living with 50 things. I’m envious.

Where my stuff went.

I probably got rid of 15 things when I left Portland for Chicago. I gave away some stuff in Chicago to my siblings. When I moved out of my old apartment in Brooklyn to the one I’m staying in now, I also gave away a bunch of stuff that I realized I didn’t need.

Giving away my stuff is very liberating.

The reason I gave everything a count today was because I’m guest starring on my friend Rachel Solomon’s personal finance show on Plentii, Always: Money (first stop Plentii, next stop …Oprah?) They asked me to bring all of my stuff into Rachel’s home studio today at 1:30 (which, granted is only 10 blocks away, or I wouldn’t have agreed to haul my stuff.) I’ll be sure to let you know when the segment goes live. I’m really honored to have the opportunity to do this video, as I’ll be able to share with more people how to live with less.

When you have 75 things, you can move your home in fifteen minutes. Isn’t that cool?

The shape of things to come.

This is also good to know, because I’m moving again soon. My girlfriend and I are taking off to San Francisco Bay on May 15th, where we’ll probably get an apartment in Oakland or Berkeley (leaning towards Oakland.) The original plan was to move to Seattle, but after a lot of thought and discussion, we decided that SF was more our style right now. Of course, if we end up not liking it, we’ll just move somewhere else!

Because California is warmer, I anticipate being about to get rid of many of these winter-specific items in my wardrobe. I can’t wait to say goodbye to winter.

I should be able to cut down my possessions to less than 50 things before we relocate to San Francisco in May.

My 75 things.

Please note, I do not count books. As you may already know, I read a book a week. I have around 15 books at the moment, which I try to get rid of as soon as I read them.

I’m also not counting shared items such as cooking stuff, furniture, etc. We don’t really have much shared stuff, and we’re going to sell most of it before the move.

I also don’t count electrical cords and USB cables as things. I kind of wish technology would power itself and connect wirelessly actually, because cords are annoying.

I also still have my old Macbook that died two weeks ago (I had to buy a new one.) I’m going to try and sell it for spare parts next week, or recycle it.

Here is my list of 75 things:

  1. Frye Boots
  2. Dr. Martin Boots
  3. Winter coat
  4. Jeans
  5. Tweed jacket
  6. Army jacket
  7. Black jacket
  8. Leather jacket
  9. Jean jacket
  10. Grey hoodie
  11. Pink hoodie
  12. Grey sweatpants
  13. Brown sweatpants
  14. Hiking socks
  15. Hiking socks
  16. Hiking socks
  17. Hiking socks
  18. Hiking socks
  19. Ski socks
  20. Wool Socks
  21. Socks
  22. Socks
  23. Grey underwear
  24. Grey underwear
  25. Grey underwear
  26. Grey underwear
  27. Grey underwear
  28. Red underwear
  29. Red underwear
  30. Blue underwear
  31. Black underwear
  32. Brown T-shirt
  33. Blue V-Neck
  34. Grey V-Neck
  35. Grey V-Neck
  36. Grey T-Shirt
  37. Black V-Neck
  38. Green Longsleeve
  39. Grey Longsleeve
  40. Grey Longsleeve
  41. Purple Longsleeve
  42. Soft grey shirt
  43. Long underwear
  44. Long underwear
  45. Scarf
  46. Gloves
  47. Everest Hat
  48. Green tank
  49. Purple tank
  50. Black tank
  51. Grey tank
  52. Grey tank
  53. Swimming Trunks
  54. Tent
  55. Sleeping bag (In Chicago)
  56. Travel Towel
  57. Yoga Mat
  58. 1 TB Harddrive
  59. 500 GB Harddrive
  60. Macbook Pro 13inch
  61. Canon Digital Rebel XTI
  62. 16-35mm 2.8L Lens
  63. 50mm Lens
  64. Off-camera Flash
  65. Headphones
  66. iPhone
  67. Moleskin
  68. Small Sewing kit
  69. Flashlight
  70. Business cards
  71. Silver pen
  72. Camera bag
  73. Laptop bag
  74. Backpackers pack
  75. Bike lock

How did I start living with 75 things?

I get a lot of emails from people saying ‘wow, how did you start living with so little?’ The answer is simple: I wanted freedom. I want to be able to move whenever I feel the need. I wanted to quit my day job and work for myself. I did this in August of last year, when I jumped on a plane to Portland. I discuss a lot of the details earlier in this blog’s history, and also in The Art of Being Minimalist.

There are so many advantages of restricting yourself to less than 100 things.

  • Freedom to move whenever you want.
  • You can opt out of the endless cycle of consumerism.
  • People give you wine as gifts, instead of stupid plastic thingies.
  • You have less impact on the planet.
  • You can focus on the important, instead of doing housework.

There are obviously many more reasons why it’s a great idea to live with less. Can you think of any good reasons? Leave them in the comments!


I have an interview coming up on Monday with Chris Guillebeau of The Art of Non-Conformity. We talked about strategies for running a Very Small Business. I’m really excited about this interview, Chris is a brilliant writer and businessman. Don’t miss it! Sign up to receive free updates via EMAIL or RSS.

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