7 Ways to Invest Your Time (besides commenting on blogs)

August 23rd, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Why I ‘simplified’ commenting, and what to do about it.

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

We all know that time is your most important asset.

How you spend your time decides whether you actually eliminate your attachment to your many physical possessions, build your minimalist business, or sit in front of the TV.

We also know that the Internet is interactive.

We’ve been told that we need to discuss or contribute to ‘the conversation’. Many blogs thrive on people coming back again and again to be spoon-fed new content.

A good way for bloggers to ‘be interactive’ is to promote commenting, because it asks their reader to invest physical time into a site. This in turn builds a mental connection between the reader and the site, which leads them to come back more often.

When I used to work at New York Magazine we had a number of commenters that, as far as we could tell, spent up to ten hours a day commenting on every single story that the bloggers there put up –and I photo edited an average of 64 blog stories a day at New York, so imagine how many blog comments this was!– I’d obviously never want you to spend your time this way, but yet some people do.

Here’s the thing:

I don’t want to spoon feed you, I want you to create your own work.

You might have noticed that I’ve had commenting turned off for the last 4 weeks. This is partially because I was taking a digital sabbatical, and I needed peace of mind while I was gone.

Well, I’m back now, but comments aren’t.

I realized while I was gone that perhaps the most important thing I could ever do to help you, is to turn comments off on my blog.

Why? Because the comments you leave on my blog are wasting your time — you have better things to do that to comment on my blog.

I might bring comments back, who knows, it all depends on how I feel. I might bring them back once in awhile for a post or two that needs discussion. I just know that for now, they’re going to be off for the majority of blog posts.

Further reasons for eliminating comments on your blog.

  • My average blog post receives 35 comments. That’s around 7% of my blog audience. Most people don’t care that much.
  • Most people don’t read blog comments. How often do you see actual conversations take place? Most skip to the bottom and voice their opinion without regard to what was said above.
  • Most of these commenters fall into three categories: people who have an opinion about everything (but never do anything), bloggers who want to get my attention, or confused first time visitors who want to know why I’m ‘crazy’.
  • There are also spam comments that take time and effort to deal with.
  • The more time you spend answering comments, the more you get. This, like email, is an endless cycle that will eat your time. This is why I don’t answer most blog comments, because if I do, I get twice as many blog comments.
  • Many A-list bloggers choose to eliminate comments on their sites after a certain growth period. Seth Godin has had comments off for years, Leo Babauta opted to remove comments Zen Habits half a year ago (and was still named the top blog of the year by Time Magazine for 2010.) There are others, but those are two of my heroes, so I mention them here.
  • My blog traffic has exploded to 64,000 readers per month while I was not even here to oversee the operation. Obviously being away from my blog encourages growth more than sitting around all day reading comments does.
  • I’m going Vagabonding. I’ll be spending extended periods away from the Internet and computers in the coming months. The last two weeks I was isolated away from the Internet in Wisconsin with my family, and in October I’ll be headed overseas to Peru for an extended period of time. I won’t be able to answer my blog comments from these places, and if I did, I wouldn’t be able to immerse myself in the experience as much as I could if I wasn’t constantly checking blog comments. One of the keys to vagabonding, as Rolf Potts would say, is disconnection.

The most important reason of all:

I believe that every moment you spend commenting on blogs, you’re wasting precious time that you could invest in finding your own freedom. It’s hypocritical for me to continue to teach you how to have a 2-hour workday and continue to have comments on this blog. I want to prove that a blog-based business can work without commenting. I think it will actually work better.

You should spend your time making work instead of getting caught up in the endless cycle of blog commenting.

What are you going to do with your time, now that you can’t comment on my blog?

There are many more important ways to spend your time, other than commenting on my blog. Here are 7 ways that you can interact on the Internet that don’t involve commenting.

1. Write about the blog post that you enjoyed (or hated) on your blog.

Did you hate what I said about not having cars? Write about how much of an obnoxious bastard I am for trying to save the planet and reclaim the streets. Or, better yet, If you really love my post, write about how much it changed your perspective. If you don’t have a blog, the best decision you can make is to start one right now. Go to WordPress.com and sign up for a free hosted blog to get you started.

2. Interview influentials about what they said in their blog post.

Only the most overwhelmed bloggers will say no to an Interview. I never will say no to an interview request — but it might take me some time to get back to you. Text interviews are best, as Skype is difficult to schedule. Interviews are one of the best ways to grow your own blog, get free consulting, and expose your readers to new ideas. A good interview can result in your blog receiving thousands of extra hits per day, depending on who you interview.

For a few good examples of how to do a good Interview see:
C.J. Anyasor interviewed 16+ bloggers about how to create the life you want.
Tyler Tervooren interviewed me about how to start a minimalist business.
I also have conducted interviews with dozens of people who I admire, including Joshua Becker, Chris Guillebeau, Leo Babauta, and many more.

Interviews really are the number one way to grow your blog (if you heard it was commenting, you were lied to.) Get out there and send people good questions to answer! Stop commenting on blogs.

3. Create your own work.

Nothing is a better use of time than working on your own stuff. Every moment you spend commenting is time you’re not making your own work.

How do you create your own work? Well, that’s up to you. Some people paint, some people photograph, some people write on blogs and create e-books, some people negotiate peace treaties between angry nations.

Creating work involves taking an action to create something in this world.

4. Learn.

Another great use of time is to learn new things about the world. Read a book, participate in an e-course, enroll in a college course, read a good blog from start to finish (I did this recently with Sivers’ blog, and I’m currently doing it with Ramit’s blog. I’m learning so much.)

How you learn is up to you, and depends on what you want to accomplish. If you want to learn how to start a simple business, the best way to spend your time might be to actually start a business.

5. Promote work that you believe in.

Instead of blog commenting, why not invest your time in promoting the blog post that you really enjoyed? Sending a blog post into your social media network is a great way to contribute value to the people who follow you on these services.

I commonly retweet 2-3 blog posts that I really enjoyed from my all-star inner circle on an average day. This builds a connection between myself and the author in a much better way than leaving a comment does, because I’m exposing their work to new people. If I’d just commented, I’d simply be taking up their time.

6. Earn money.

Another great way to spend your time instead of commenting is to earn some money. A simple affiliate link to a product that you support can go a long way towards bringing in extra money. Most of the bloggers that you read have digital products that you can earn anywhere from 50%-65% commission selling.

For more information, see: How to Pay Your Fans to Support You or $2,300 in a Day, How to Support Quality Work.

7. Enjoy the sun.

You have finite time on this Earth. Someday you’re going be old and frail and wish you’d spend more time at the beach getting a nice tan, making hot love, or traveling the world.

All of these things are much more possible if you don’t spend all day commenting on blogs, and instead invest your time in the decisive elements that I listed above.

Surprise section! Should you turn off blog comments?

This section for A to B-list bloggers. If you’re not aiming to have a blog that supports your location independent life, you probably don’t need to read this.

No doubt this blog posts is going to shock a lot of people. Bloggers have a love/hate relationship with commenting.

Some bloggers have invested thousands of hours commenting on other blogs in order to try and get people to pay attention to them, others have comprehensive blog post answering schedules that take up hours of time.

One blogger I know sets an alarm in the middle of the night in order to wake up and make sure no one trolled his blog during the night! Yes, this is true.

When to turn off blog comments?

In the beginning of a blog, comments are essential. If you only have twelve readers, chances are you want them to stick around, and blog comments are a great way to do that. You can make every reader feel incredibly special and maybe they’ll write about you on their blog or something, and you’ll get more readers. I met some very cool people in the first month of my blog through comments.

So, I wouldn’t recommend turning off your blog comments until you reach what Chris Brogan calls ‘Escape Velocity.’ This is the moment when you’re able to support yourself exclusively from your blog. If you’re not living a full-time income from your blog, keep comments on until you do. Just don’t spend all day answering comments. Making work matters so much more.

Will my blog DIE if I turn off comments?!?!

As I said above, commenters are only a small percentage of your audience. That being said, it might be a good idea to give people an alternative call to action. Make it clear to people that instead of commenting, they can help you by spreading the word or doing an interview with you.

Paradoxically enough, having 35 people interview you about your blog post every time you post might take a lot of time, but your blog growth will explode. 35 comments won’t make your blog explode, it’ll just take up more time.

Turning off blog comments isn’t for everyone.

If your blog is built around the idea of a conversation, I’m not kidding, if you turn off comments everyone will probably leave.

However, if your blog is built around your ideas, if you’re a leader, if you’re a change-maker in your space. Chances are you’ll instead be able to dedicate 25% more time to creating great work.

I imagine because I won’t be spending time moderating comments, I’ll be able to double my blogging income over the next few months. I can probably write another whole e-book that helps a lot of people in the time that I used to spending making sure that people weren’t trolling my comments.

The most important part of this whole post is that I believe wholeheartedly that you can probably double your income if you stop spending so much time on comments. Stop commenting on blogs, start focusing on the important.

There are better ways to use your time, and now is the time to change the way that you invest.


If you haven’t already, or didn’t even know, you can sign up to receive Far Beyond The Stars in your email box for free. Or you can sign up via RSS.

How to Reduce Your Email Checking to Once A Day

June 30th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

The Simple Way to Save Hours of Your Time

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

A number of people emailed me after the last post to say that there was no way for them to stop checking their email 35 times a day. I hope this follow up blog post can help.

I’ve been using these strategies for years in order to lower the amount of time I spend on email to good effect.

Why check email once a day?

  1. Incoming messages distract, if you ignore them you’ll get important work done.
  2. So you can spend more time enjoying your life, learning, or simply sitting in the sun during this gorgeous summer.
  3. You spend less time reacting to other people and more time on your own work.
  4. Because your productivity will skyrocket when you aren’t flipping back and forth between email every five minutes.

Email is a non-urgent form of communication that’s weaseled it’s way into becoming a daily obligation for the entire world.

I’ve seen people out at bars at night frantically checking up on their emails between drinks, how silly is that? I’ve seen people sitting on the beach flipping through their email.

Stop! Enjoy the life you have, because eventually you won’t have it anymore.

The funny thing is, when you make people aware of the fact that you only check email once a day, in most cases they’ll understand wholeheartedly. Most people don’t make the decision to define how often they check email, so they end up spending most of their lives checking it.

In most cases it’s essential to give important people a way to get in touch with you for emergencies. Most of us have cell phones, so give your most important clients and family your number and make it clear if there is a real emergency to get in touch with you there instead of over email.

Here are five simple steps to work towards checking email once per day.

1. Set a time to check your email. I check email around noon, after I’ve completed all important work that I had to do during the morning, such as writing this blog post. If you want to start checking email twice per day first, check again at 4pm to make sure everything is taken care of. I used to do this two-pronged approach earlier in my business, but have recently stepped back to checking once per day.

2. Filter all unessential email to the archive or trash. We receive a lot of junk mail. Most people just read it mindlessly. Don’t be a zombie, filter that junk out! If a message you never want to see again comes into your box, create a filter (this is easiest with gmail) to automatically archive similar messages. If you really never want to see it again send it directly to trash.

3. Process all emails to done in one sitting. Sit down, open up your email box, and process the whole inbox until it’s empty in one sitting. This means you have to make judgement calls: can you act on this immediately? Do you need to act at all? If the answer is the latter, archive now! If an email will take up a few hours of your time, set it aside on your to-do list (if you have one.) and continue down the list. Your inbox needs to be at zero after you’re done.

4. Respond to most emails with 2-3 sentences. I get a lot of emails that are written like novels. I’m very grateful for the fan mail, but most ideas can be condensed down to a paragraph or less. The problem comes when you respond. We humans have a tendency to respond in equal length to long messages, this is the wrong approach to take! Respond to every email in less than 3 sentences and you’ll save a ton of time. Yes, some people might get annoyed, but that’s life.

5. Make it more difficult to contact you. Most people put their email addresses out in the open for everyone to see. Don’t do this if you want to check email once per day! You have to install barriers of entry to your email address, or only give it to people who you want to talk to. For instance, my contact page has a list of requirements to read over before sending email (because I got a lot of it otherwise.)

If you follow these instructions, eventually you’ll be able to reduce your email checking to once per day. Good luck!

Gwen Bell also uses this email strategy, and she’s one of the most influential women in technology!

13 Hidden Timesucks You Can Eliminate to Focus on the Essential

June 28th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

The surprising truth about not doing things that don’t matter

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

A few days ago I read Glen’s post on Viperchill about how he passed 10,000 subscribers by choosing what not to do with his business.

I’ve taken a very similar approach to building my own minimalist business, so I thought I’d share what I’ve discovered.

As a benchmark for the success of these strategies: my business revenue this month broke into the low five-digits, recently this blog passed 4,000 subscribers (not quite Viperchill benchmarks, but I can’t pretend to be as brilliant as Glen), and 50,000 monthly visitors.

That being said, I don’t really pay attention, or put any stock into statistics like subscriber counts and visitors and you shouldn’t either. I’ve seen plenty of 4,000+ subscriber blogs that weren’t saying anything important or making any change in the world.

I just thought I’d share these strategies for success anyway in the hopes that it can help you grow your blogging platform as well.

Why what you don’t do is more important than what you do.

I’ve become convinced that what you don’t do with your time is a lot more important than what you decide to do with it.

Empty space in time is a lot more useful than a frantically booked schedule.

As Derek Sivers said on this blog, if you aren’t “HELL YEAH” about something, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it. Because if you don’t, you’ll have time to do something you really care about.

The reason I’m doing this is because I see a lot of people who are also building minimalist businesses who are also doing a lot of things that they don’t need to do.

The irony is that by choosing what not to do you can enjoy a lot more success than if you try to do everything.

When you run around frantically trying every strategy in the book in the hopes that something will work, inevitably nothing will actually work.

All of these strategies may not apply to you, but I hope that one or two can inspire you to save an additional 2-3 hours a week while conducting your business.

Here are 13 things that I’ve decided not to do in order grow my minimalist business.

1. Write about topics I don’t care about.

Many people create content about subjects they aren’t really passionate about. The problem with that is we can tell you don’t care, so we tune it out.

In the digital world there’s plenty of useless noise already, why should we listen to something that you’re saying but don’t care about? So we tune it out.

I decided early on with my minimalist business not to write things if I wasn’t 100% passionate about what I was saying. This means I post a lot less than other people, but it also gives me a lot of free time to do important things like sipping coffee and thinking about what I’m actually passionate about.

2. Write long responses to everyone who emails me.

As your business grows, you start to get incredibly large amounts of email. Most people choose to spend incredible amounts of time responding to all of this email, I’ve decided instead to not do that.

This frees up another 2-3 hours a day –and that’s current estimates, imagine if I had twice as many people reading and sending me emails?

I still send 1-2 sentence responses to most people (and if you get more, that’s because what you said really made me want to help you individually.) Instead of spending 2-3 hours responding to every unsolicited message, I spend my time helping people who I really care about grow their own business.

Bonus: When I first started receiving large amounts of email I added a list of requirements for people who needed to contact me on my contact form. This helped cut down the noise considerably.

3. Respond to every comment.

I decided from the start of this blog that every comment I receive doesn’t necessarily need a response.

This isn’t because I don’t care, because I really do, it’s just that when you focus all of your attention on making a relatively small pool of readers (I estimate 5%) feel appreciated, you end up spending a lot of time doing it. When you put a priority on responding to every comment, you just end up getting a lot more comments.

That’s one way of measuring success, but I personally don’t think it’s a good one. When you spend all of your time waiting around for a new comment to drop in your cue, you end up not doing important things in your life like reading books that blow your mind, creating content that matters, or simply enjoying life.

This is why A-list bloggers eventually turn off their comments, because it isn’t a necessary metric for success.

Obviously take this with a grain of salt, as many other people do build successful blogs around conversations, I’m just mentioning it here because I estimate it frees up 2-4 hours a day that I’d otherwise spend reacting. This allows me to create work that I think really helps people instead.

4. Debate topics with a non-committal devil’s advocate perspective.

Many people debate things just because they think they should, not because they really care.

For example, sometimes I see people arguing that cars are necessary to human life, even though for millions of years we didn’t have cars and millions of people do just fine without them. It just doesn’t make sense to debate that any longer, these people need to sell their cars and start making the world a better place to live in — they’re just afraid to do it, or aren’t making the easy choice to move to a walkable city.

When you take an oppositional perspective, even if it’s not what you believe, you’re mostly just wasting people’s time. Speak from what you believe, and you avoid that situation.

Try starting your argument the sentence: “I believe that…” instead of “I’m just being annoying but…” The first is a much more productive and healthier way to approach a conversation, it also makes people like you more — because it makes you more believable, as you’re talking from your heart instead of some weird hypothetical place that even you don’t care about.

There are obviously so many other opportunities to play devils advocate even if you don’t care or you aren’t right. Why argue about something even if you aren’t right? Spend that time enjoying the day instead.

5. Post twelve times a day.

Some bloggers think that in order to grow their business they need to post once a day, some even think they need to post twelve or forty times a day. This is silly, because if you post that much you end up just annoying people with information that isn’t important.

Filling quotas is filling quotas, it isn’t doing work that matters. If I don’t have something important to say that will help people, I simply don’t write anything. This means eventually I might go for weeks at a time without posting to the blog, because I have more important things to do –like taking mini-retirements.

6. Check email constantly.

There’s been a lot of debate about the idea that we need go check our email constantly in order to stay on top of things.

I made the decision to not check my email more than once or twice a day, and this frees up another hour or two that I’d spend hitting the refresh button on gmail.

By not checking email, I have additional time to create scalable works that really help people, and then I can spend the rest of my time pursuing quality free time like learning to sail on the bay, or reading books on how to live aboard a sail boat and sail around the world.

I know a lot of people disagree with me, they think that spending 8 hours a day hitting the refresh button on their email is important. I really think this is a personal choice, one that I’ve taken because it inevitably leads to my work being greater. Some people are different, other businesses are based around reaction times, to each their own.

This strategy simply works for me. If you haven’t tried it, I’d suggest giving it a shot for a week and you’ll see your ability to make work double or even triple in the same amount of time.

7. Work more than two hours a day.

Many people think that working a lot will earn them more money, but I’ve found this is the opposite of true.

Yes, I realize that some jobs pay by the hour, but I’m convinced these are designed to keep people down. When I used to work 60 hour weeks, I could barely afford to pay my bills.

When you’re super-tired you want to spend more money to make you happy, and also when you’re tired you can’t come up with ideas that create huge amounts of revenue. I realize that this isn’t a strategy that works for everyone, but working less than 2 hours a day works for me, so I do it.

Eventually I hope to scale this down to 4 hours or less of work a week as I develop more passive income sources. This will allow me to spend more time doing what is truly important to me, like cooking good food for dinner. The bonus of working less is that you can get paid more per hour.

For instance, this month I just worked out that I was paid approximately $250 per hour of my time that I spend doing real work. That doesn’t happen if you spend all day working, because productivity has diminishing returns as time goes on.

8. Write something just because it will be popular.

Many people create with the idea that it will be popular with the world. This means they end up creating something they aren’t truly passionate about, which ends up not impressing anybody. This isn’t high school anymore, you don’t need to pretend to be like everyone else.

Because the Internet destroyed all of the boundaries between people in time and space, there’s no reason to create something you aren’t 100% enthusiastic about. The funny thing is, creating junk you think will interest people generally ends up interesting no one.

9. Sit at a desk.

A lot of people think that sitting at a desk for twelve hours a day is the solution to paying the bills.

I never sit at a desk, in fact, I don’t even own one! I find all sorts of nice places to sit down at, such as many of the local coffee shops in Oakland and San Francisco. Sometimes I sit at the bar in my kitchen and work while I’m sipping coffee I just made for myself. Sometimes I even work in bed! You can’t do those things if you’re sitting at a desk under fluorescent lights.

10. Follow everyone back on Twitter.

When you start to build a popular platform for getting your message to the world, you’ll eventually start to get lots and lots of followers on Twitter.

The thing is, if you follow all of these people back, it’s impossible to hear the important stuff coming from people who matter to you.

I only follow people who I really care about on Twitter, people who are doing work that I want to read. Yes, this means that I miss out on some stuff, but instead of spending all day reading tweets (which I’d have to do if I followed everyone back.) I can focus on the work that matters.

11. Respond to angry haters.

When your work becomes more popular, if you’re saying anything important, you’ll inevitably have haters. For everything I write at least 10% of the reaction is people telling me that I’m crazy. Now, I could spend all day responding to crazy people (most of whom are wrong) who think I’m nuts, or I could get real actual work that matters done. I choose to tune out the haters and focus on the important. This strategy works for others as well.

12. Try every strategy on Problogger.

If you read popular blogs such as Problogger, you begin to realize that there are 235,654,434 different strategies for growing your blog.

You can’t try them all, or you’ll end up doing one thing every day until you die and nothing will ever work. Instead, you have to test out a few of the best strategies and stick to them until they show results (or kill them off if they don’t.)

For instance, I’ve found that guest posting doesn’t really work as a way to grow my blog. Maybe it works for you, but it hasn’t for me. I’ve found that doing Interviews is a good way to grow my blog, so that’s an approach I take. Try things out, if they don’t work don’t do them.

13. Consume unimportant information.

The Internet is filled with unimportant information that people really want you to read right now, this moment, or you’ll be missing out. Well, the thing is if you spend all day reading everything you come across on the Internet, you end up not doing anything important at all. There is infinite data out there, and you only have finite mind-space. It’s important to realize that you can only consume so much, and so you need to focus on what you’re truly interested in. Subscribe to only the blogs that really help you. Learn to stop reading things when you aren’t getting any real information.

My real goal for writing this post.

I could go on and on about how not to spend your time. In fact, I had twenty-seven more bullet points ready to go that I just deleted — because I want to save your time and mine.

The point is that building a platform for your business is about focusing your attention on what is important to you. A huge part of that is eliminating the unnecessary and focusing on the essential.

This are just a few ways that you can do that. I admit they aren’t for everyone, and some of them are very difficult to fit into a modern workflow, especially if you work for someone else.

If you find you’re doing something that takes up 2-3 hours of your day, take a moment to justify whether or not that activity is really giving your business the return on investment that you need. If it isn’t bringing in money, you might be better off not engaging in the activity.

Everyone needs to decide for themselves what is important.

Be decisive with your time, and you’ll start to find that you only need to work 10 hours or less a week to bring in the same amount of money that you do working 50 hours a week right now.

Minimalist Business: How to Live and Work Anywhere

June 15th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Create a zero-overhead simple business to support your freedom lifestyle

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

A brief history of being minimalist.

In September of last year I quit my job, and hopped on a plane to Portland Oregon in search of freedom. In order to survive, I had to make a choice that many people are having to make in this economy:

I had to embrace minimalism in order to pursue what was important to me.

I started living with less than 100 things, biked and walked everywhere, survived on less than $3,000 for three months, and practiced time management techniques to spend less time doing work and more time making work that matters.

In February of this year I launched The Art of Being Minimalist, a little e-book with a powerful message: what would you be able to accomplish if you lived with less?

What really surprised me, is that a little e-book about being minimalist could completely support my lifestyle. I could move anywhere (and I did, traveling from Portland to Chicago to New York and then relocating to San Francisco last month at limited expense.) I also didn’t need to have a day job, which was the most important element for me.

These reasons form the basis for the work I’ve put into Minimalist Business:

  1. Your business doesn’t need to cost as much as you think.
  2. If you opt-out of physical media and avoid gatekeepers, you can keep 50-100% of your profits.
  3. If choose to automate your business, you can create passive income, which means you don’t have to work so much anymore either.

The number one reason for creating Minimalist Business is to help you create one too.

When I started writing about the success I was having with my minimalist business, I began receiving a flood of emails asking me how I was able to do it. The problem with answering emails is that it only helps one person, and the strategy isn’t scalable.

I hope Minimalist Business answers any questions you have about creating a zero-overhead business to support your minimalist lifestyle anywhere in the world.

Why create a minimalist business?

We live in interesting times. The economy still hasn’t recovered from the greatest recession since the great depression. This means that there aren’t a lot of fulfilling job opportunities out there anymore.

People (like Jeffrey F. Tang) are waking up and realizing that in order to create a fulfilling job, they have to design that life for themselves.

We have to change the way we create businesses, and how we do important work, if we are going to design lives that are worth living.

Job security in the modern economy is a myth that we’ve been taught to accept by corporations who are forced to only care about the bottom line because of endless bureaucracy. People are beginning to realize that the best job security is the work you create to support yourself.

A minimalist business can help you achieve what Chris Brogan likes to call “escape velocity” and enable you to build recurring income outside of your day job in order to free yourself.

Or you can just jump head-first like I did, live with less, and do the work that matters.

Why Minimalist Business isn’t for everyone.

This work isn’t meant for everyone. It takes hard work, dedication, and most important, the will power to opt-out of assumed systems and methods for doing business.

No one is going to force you to reign in your spending, reduce your business overhead to zero, or stop checking your email 35 times a day in order to do work that matters.

Some people are better off with 9-5 day jobs. In a lot of ways they’re much easier (though definitely not safer.) Some people like living in the same city, commuting to the same job every day. You can just sit there and do what you’re told, for most people that’s a perfectly acceptable way to live until they retire. If you’re one of these people, Minimalist Business isn’t really meant for you.

The Forever Guarantee on Minimalist Business.

Because Minimalist Business isn’t for everyone, I’ve decided to offer a Forever Guarantee.

If at any time in the future you feel that Minimalist Business isn’t living up to your expectations. If you put in a decent effort and your minimalist business tanks. If for some reason you thought this book was something else and you ordered it anyway. If you for any reason at any point you’re disappointed.

Paypal only allows for refunds up to 60-days, but I don’t care. I’ll send you a check if I have to in order to get your money back to you.

The importance of a Forever Guarantee in a digital world.

Because there are no gatekeepers in the new world of digital media, and distribution is free, it can sometimes be hard to tell the difference between a product that’s all hype and a product that provides value. Long-time supporters of my writing can vouch for the quality of my work, but it’s a big internet out there — inevitably some people will purchase my work and realize that it isn’t for them. There are many reasons for this, and I choose to not ask questions and simply give refunds.

That being said, refund rate is less than 1% of sales. I hope that speaks to the quality of the work, but it also can help you decide if you aren’t sure whether or not Minimalist Business is right for you.

At any time in the future, if you feel that Minimalist Business isn’t living up to it’s promise (or if you fail horribly with a decent effort) simply drop me an email and I’ll do everything in my power to get your money back to you.

How to purchase a copy of Minimalist Business.

There are only two models (but many copies) of Minimalist Business:


Features: 125-page Minimalist Business e-book on creating your own minimalist business in order to live and work from anywhere + free updates for a year.

Minimalist Business features:

  • Strategies for minimalist business success
  • Time management techniques I’ve developed to focus on the important
  • How to work towards making your entire living while working less than 10 hours a week
  • How being minimalist makes minimalist business success so much easier
  • The tools you need to start a zero-overhead business over the Internet
  • How to separate your income from location so you can live anywhere
  • Short articles by small business owners such as Leo Babauta, Tammy Strobel, Karol Gajda, and Colin Wright on how to effectively create a successful minimalist business.
  • and much more…

Add to Cart

You can preview the first 37 pages of the e-book here.


Features: 125-page Minimalist Business e-book + The 30-Day Quick Start Guide to a Minimalist Business + free updates for a year.

This additional quick start guide features a tip-a-day that will help you build your minimalist business. Is it a sure-fire path to success? No. Do you have to do it over 30 days? certainly not.

Take your time, apply the action steps when you need them.

Readers have asked for me to break down the book into simple action steps that can be taken in order to build a minimalist business, so I created this quick start guide to try and address the actions you need to take to build a minimalist business. It isn’t a silver bullet, but if you’re the kind of person who likes day-by-day instructions, this can help.

Add to Cart


Minimalist Business isn’t a magic cure-all guide with all of the secrets that will let you sit back and make millions without any effort. If anyone tells you this is easy, they’re lying to you.

In my experience magic doesn’t exist, only hard work and practical strategies for doing work that matters.

This guide describes how I was able to make smart choices about business spending (i.e., not spending much at all) in order to build a business that supports my minimalist lifestyle (which doesn’t cost much at all.)

I hope this guide helps you create a minimalist business, or reduce the costs of your existing business until it’s profitable for you.

If you have any questions before making your final decision don’t hesitate to contact me.

Thank you for your time,

Everett Bogue

P.S.: Just for fun, here are 10 reasons why you should buy Minimalist Business.

  1. You’re looking to make a change in the world, but you don’t have the money to do it.
  2. You want to quit your day job in order to pursue work that’s important to you.
  3. You really enjoyed The Art of Being Minimalist, and want to know what comes next.
  4. You want to create passive income in order to live anywhere on the planet.
  5. Two weeks of vacation a year is not enough for you.
  6. You want to save trees (Minimalist Business is all digital.)
  7. Someone told you there was more to life than buying things, and you want to know what that is.
  8. Join the affiliate program and you can make your investment back by selling two copies.
  9. You want to be on the cutting edge of creating a freedom business.
  10. Why not? If you don’t like it you can always get a refund.

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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The Indispensable Guide to Timejacking Your Way to Success

March 3rd, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

How to manipulate your use of time to focus on the important.

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter

The idea that time is your most valuable commodity is not new, but it is often overlooked. I’ve done a lot of research on the importance of focusing your attention in the last year.

There are a number of very successful people, such as Timothy Ferriss, Seth Godin, and Leo Babauta who use their time very effectively in order to accomplish greatness.

I call this emerging science Timejacking.

The idea is that you don’t exist within the accepted constraints of time as other people in the world do. These people don’t let the unimportant eat up their time.

When compiled, designed, and published The Art of Being Minimalist in under 2 weeks, I also employed a number of Timejacking techniques for greater effectiveness. I plan on writing at least one more ebook in the next two months, so Timejacking is on the forefront of my mind.

Many people choose to spend their time in ineffective ways:

  • Watching TV
  • Paying off bills they shouldn’t have acquired
  • Working at low-paying jobs
  • Multitasking
  • Checking email every 35.5 seconds
  • Reading information that doesn’t matter out of obligation

I could go on forever about the ways you can spend ineffectively spend time, but that wouldn’t be an effective use of my time.

The Timejacking manifesto is simple:

  • I will value my time to the highest potential.
  • I will not engage in activities that do not contribute value to my life.
  • I will focus my attention on creating great work which changes the world.

Here’s one Timejacking case-study:

When I was living in Portland, there came a moment in time when I didn’t have any money at all. I had moved there with $3000, and around November 1st I realized that I had reached bottom. I had very little income coming in at that time, and none of it automatically, like it does now.

Then I walked by a Starbucks, and they had a help-wanted sign up in the window.

For a brief moment, perhaps 17.7 seconds, I considered taking that job. (I’m confident they would have hired me, because I’m badass.) It probably could have been paid fairly well for what those jobs pay, around $11 an hour I imagine. I could have made just enough money working part time to pay rent and buy food in Portland. I would have been ‘set.’

If I had taken this action, it would have ended my writing career before it began.

By putting that safety net in place, I would not have had the incentive to start growing my small business online. I would not have hunkered down and spent a number of months banging out valuable content for my e-book.

Anyway, I don’t mean to say this to put down people who are working for 11 dollars an hour. For me, it just doesn’t make sense. It is a very safe way to live, you can pay the electric bill. However, it isn’t a way to be find artistic success.

The rationalization for me was simple:

If I spent the next two months working on creating what is essentially, a digital work of art, it will pay me indefinitely. The truth is that my e-book made far more money in the first month of launching, than I ever would have made working at Starbucks for the last four months.

I had timejacked my way to success, and I want to help you find the skills to do that as well.

I’ve written more about my success through minimalism in my e-book The Art of Being Minimalist. I highly recommend reading it, if you haven’t already.

The nearly complete Timejacker manual for success.

1. Reduce your email usage.

Internet communication is one of the biggest problems manifested in our era. Everyone feels they need to be on the internet all day long answering stupid requests and keeping in touch. The problem is, when you’re on email all day, you never get anything done. If you sit at your computer all day, hitting the refresh button your gmail, you will never get anything important done.

Stop checking your email please. I know, this is one of the biggest crimes that I commit as well. I’ve wasted countless years of my life checking email, and I’ve made the resolution recently to make it stop. I value my time too much to waste it the endless time-vortex that is email.

This should be a separate article, and I’ve written about a healthy approach to email before. But, here are a few basics:

Do not check email first thing in the morning.

This can ruin your whole day, because you might get an email criticizing you, or requesting a massive amount of information. Suddenly, it’s all you can think about.

You know what I’m talking about, right? It’s so easy for email to take control of your life.

Start by checking email twice a day.

Set two times per day that you check email. The 1st time should be around noon. I’m doing 2pm today, because I woke up at 10am, and I need at least 4 hours to write at least 4000 words of content. The second time is around an hour before the end of your work day. Anywhere from 4pm-6pm, depending on how long you work.

If you have a boss, which I know many of you still do. (You won’t for long if you start to apply these techniques.) Explain to your boss that you will see a huge productivity bump if you start to adopt these techniques.

Offer to do a trial period, where you check email twice a day for one week. Present evidence to your boss that your productivity has skyrocketed. If it hasn’t actually boosted your productivity, be sure to prepare enough material in advance so that you can successfully demonstrate that it has.

A Timejacker isn’t afraid to fake the evidence. It might take up to 4 weeks for you to see the results of this experiment, so it’s important to have enough time to see actual results.

Compose an auto-response to train the people who email you.

Write a very nice formal message explaining to the people who email you that you’ve started a Timejacking experiment. You’re free to copy and paste this one, if you need.

Dear friend,

In order to produce the best possible results in my work, I’ve adopted a policy of only checking email once per day at 12pm EST. Email is a huge time-suck and I’ve discovered that by not spending all day checking it, I become a much more effective individual. If this is an emergency, please contact me at my phone number 555-555-1212. I hope you understand.

Thank you for your time,
Insert your name here

Quickly move to checking email once a day.

Once you’ve established the barrier of only checking email twice a day, move as quickly as possible to a schedule of checking email only once per day. This will double your productivity instantly. Choose the middle of the day option, because it will give you time to respond to email that require action without spreading over into your off-time.

2. Automate social media.

I do NOT use Facebook or LinkedIn, but I have a presence there. Because of my work, it is absolutely essential that I have as many outlets as possible for people to find the work that I’m doing. However, this doesn’t mean that I spend endless hours poking around on Facebook.

How to automate social media:

  1. Turn off all notifications except incoming personal messages from real people.
  2. Make the Wall on Facebook 1-way. People often leave messages on your wall, and you don’t want to have to spend time policing that location. My wall is one way, and only displays my blog posts. This way, anyone who visits my Facebook page is almost guaranteed to read my blog, instead of interacting with me on Facebook.
  3. Program LinkedIn to pull in your Twitter feed and your blog feed. This will funnel people into interacting with you at your blog (your home base) and your Twitter, which limits their ability to write you five paragraph long emails that don’t say anything.
  4. Delete any profiles that you have to work very hard to find value from. There are a million social networking sites out there, if you’re not seeing significant returns from them, you need to delete your profile. For instance, I used to be on a photographer forum/social network called Lightstalkers. I recently deleted my profile because it wasn’t contributing any value to my life. Stick to the powerful social networking sites that give you results.

3. Value your time properly.

A Timejacker doesn’t do work unless they’re being paid at the absolute highest rate. This might sound like laziness, but it’s not. A Timejacker isn’t using their off time to watch TV or eat chips, instead they use the time when they’re not working to train, learn, and grow their strengths.

For instance: I value my time around $100 an hour. This means I can do ‘work’ around 10 hours a week an make at least $1000. This is more than enough to cover all of my expenses for that week. I plan to grow this amount until my time is worth at least $500 an hour. This way I can earn around $5000 a week for 10 hours of work.

In the above mentioned Starbucks story. No matter how hard you work, you can never reach the potential of earning $5000 a week. Pushing the Frappachino button just doesn’t scale into high-impact income.

4. Don’t do meetings.

Once you interact with more people than yourself, you introduce the concept of bureaucracy. This is why many bigger organizations have a hard time maneuvering and growing, because you need to sit a committee down on a Friday night for four hours in order to endlessly debate whether or not to order a new snickers bar.

Simply avoid interacting with other people when decisions are being made. The section details how to solve this problem:

5. Make decisions on your own.

Take initiative and make important decisions for yourself.

The reason for this is one of a Timejacker’s biggest strengths. If you introduce an idea to another person, they will almost always have some reason to argue about how it can be done better, or how they think it will fail.

For most average decisions, you can reasonably assume that you can make the logical decision yourself, and get the minor decision done and out of the way. This way you can move on to the next decision. For important decisions, or ones that might potentially lose a lot of money, you may need to interact with other individuals if you’re working in an organization.

Knowing the difference between important decisions and squabbling over stupid decisions is one of the most important elements of any successful Timejacker. Act on decisions that have simple answers without asking for an opinion.

6. Eliminate as many unnecessary tasks as possible.

Many people simply do things because someone told them to. Don’t accept the status-quo; if you can eliminate or automate a task you must make the decision to do so.

For instance: if you’re still updating a spreadsheet that lists all of your business expenses manually, you must stop doing this and outsource it to an automated financial program.

I don’t care if you really enjoy the task of reading all of your receipts for coffee last week and typing them into Excel, doing this is effectively killing hours of your time. Use an account at Mint.com for your personal finances, and Outright.com for your business expenses. These services automatically keep track of cash flow and budgets for you, and you can see your exact net worth in a matter of seconds.

This can apply to any number of tasks though. Do an audit of your time and see where you’re wasting it, then destroy those time wasting elements. I did this with email, and it’s helping my ability to focus on the important immensely.

7. Focus on your strengths.

A Timejacker acknowledges that they cannot be good at everything.

Many people spend their entire lives trying to be as balanced as possible. We’re encouraged in schools to get high math scores, even though 80% of us will never have to do algebra again after high school. Why are we wasting all of this time learning math, when our cellphones can do it for us?

Focus on becoming the absolute best at your good abilities, and stop focusing on fixing your problems.

We all have problems, and I know we can be very insecure about them, but it’s okay. There are other people who are better at these things.

If you’re bad at giving haircuts, don’t try to fix your hair-cutting ability, instead find someone who can cut your hair for you. There are a million other ways that people focus on fixing problems instead of focusing on becoming the best at their strengths.

All of this is wasted time. You could pay someone to do the little things, or not do them at all.

8. Use existing infrastructure.

I went over this in depth in my article on simplifying your start-up. It got a huge positive reaction, and I can understand why. Everyone thinks they need to reinvent the wheel, but the truth is that making that decision can keep you in Starbucks-land for a very long time.

Be aware of the applications and services that are available to you, and use them to Timejack effectively. One way that I do this in my business is by using e-junkie to handle all of my transactions. My digital goods are transmitted, and payments are received instantaneously with no interacting from me. I can simply check my cash flow every night and adjust my strategies properly if I need to.

The old way to do this would be to rent a space in the real world, hire someone to run your cash register, and have them manually handle all transactions. This is costly, and ineffective in the modern world. A Timejacker doesn’t do brick and mortar unless absolutely necessary.

9. Make it hard to contact you.

With my new-found minor fame over the last month, I started to receive a huge amount of email every day with questions from readers. I love interacting with readers, but many of these questions could have been resolved by the person if they had just sat down and thought for 30 seconds.

In order to cut down on the amount of email I received, I installed a ‘contact me’ form that lists a couple of expectation that I have for incoming messages. For instance: keep it short. Don’t email me asking me to promote stuff. Contact me on Twitter first.

I plan on writing a brief Q&A for some of the most frequent questions that I receive.

If you make it more difficult to reach you, it will make sure that only the people who really need to contact you will. This way you can get more important work done, and spend less time answering mundane questions.

10. Avoid consuming information for information’s sake.

The majority of the information on available, especially on the internet, is valueless. Do not consume it for the sake of feeling like you’re reading something.

You are not reading anything of value.

Chances are you won’t remember what you just read. I only subscribe to 15 blogs, and these are the blogs that contain information that is incredibly valuable to me.

I suggest, as I did in my article on focusing your digital attention, unsubscribe to as much information as possible. Do not follow people on social networks just because they follow you. Focus your digital attention on only the sources that create worth for you.

How to stop reading newspapers (they’ll be dead in two years anyway.)

I recently stopped reading newspapers entirely. I used to have a sizable New York Times addiction, because I felt like I needed to read that information.

I did a month-long experiment in order to see if the information in the New York Times was really contributing to my life. I simply stopped reading it. After a week, I no longer missed reading the endless flow of useless information that comes out of the Times.

Instead I dedicate this time to reading books, because the level of information contributed is significantly higher in value quality.

I found that when important things happened, like the quakes in Haiti and Chile, my Twitter friends did their best to notify me. If something happens that actually effects me personally, I imagine I’ll be able to walk out my front door and ask a bystander what’s going on, and they will tell me.

I think when the New York Times puts up their pay wall, they will see just little society values the information that they contribute. Which is to say, not very much at all.

What information are you consuming that doesn’t contribute value to your life? Turn it off.

11. Only work when you want to.

A Timejacker doesn’t work for the sake of working. They focus their attention on activities that are incredibly important. If you find yourself sitting at your computer, and no ideas are coming to you, stop sitting at your computer! Go read a book. Go outside and sit in the park. Go to a yoga class or to the gym and exercise your body. Cook yourself a healthy lunch.

There are a million things you could be doing besides sitting in front of your computer with a glazed over look on your face waiting for ideas to come. In fact, I’ll go as far as to say that the ideas won’t come in when you’re in front of the computer.

I wrote this entire article in my brain yesterday as I walked down west side of Prospect Park. I stopped at the bookstore and pursued the stacks. I got a cup of coffee and watched people do what people do.

I decided that Timejacking was the most important element of success as I was NOT sitting in front of a computer. The next day, I simply sat down and wrote a nearly 3500 word article in an hour. Because this article is so valuable, it will no doubt return an incredibly high value to my business.

If I had spent yesterday staring blankly at a computer screen, I never would have written this article. Take this to your own life though; how often do you sit at a computer screen just waiting for ideas to come?

Go out into the world and experience what it is to be alive.

12. Don’t do things you hate doing.

A timejacker doesn’t do things out of obligation. If you’re sitting at your desk right now, just waiting for the clock to strike 5pm. Stop, get up, go outside. The best decision you could ever make is to stop doing anything that you hate doing. Especially for a pay check as small as $11 an hour. If you hate your job, you should be working towards finding a way to leave your job, instead of just being a zombie.

13. Focus only on what is truly important to you.

A timejacker recognizes exactly what activities are important. Almost all of my income comes from writing professionally at this moment, so that is one of the most important activities to me.

Take a moment and determine exactly what is important to you. I like to pick four areas of my life which are most important. Right now I’m focused on writing, cooking, yoga, and reading.

Make a resolution to only focus on your areas of interest on any given day. Many people choose to spend their days focusing on many different things. Like they spend five minutes tinkering with an art project, and then they spend five minutes shopping for shoes, and then they spend five minutes thinking about philosophy. This leads to a day worth of little useless activities.

A timejacker focuses only on the important, and harnesses their strengths in order to become incredibly successful.


If this helped you, the most important thing you can do is to hit that retweet button, so more people can be helped by this information. Thank you.

The Stunning Truth About Focusing on the Important

February 28th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

9 Ways to Focus on your Priorities

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

It occurred to me yesterday, as I was doing the laundry (slowly, without rush, because I didn’t have to be anywhere), why minimalism is becoming so popular:

Minimalism is the ultimate lifehack.

For those who aren’t familiar with the term: lifehackers find little ways to make their lives more productive. The idea of lifehacking has spawned thousands of blogs, sites, books. Lifehacker is one of the most popular lifehacking blogs. Getting Things Done is one of the more famous lifehacking books.

Being minimalist trumps all of the little stuff. Minimalists don’t have to figure out how to do more stuff quickly, because they have no interest in doing more stuff.

The average person has lots of things to do every day. This leads to stress, pain, anger, and frustration, because they can possibly get it all done. Then they go shopping to make themselves feel better.

Being minimalist is about focusing on the important.

A minimalist says: I’m going to do three (or even one) things today. I’m going to focus on them completely, and I’m going to do them well.

You don’t need a personal organizer, personal assistant, super-productivity system or whatever to do three things well in a day.

The magical thing that happens, when you concentrate on very few projects per day: you start to make great work.

Once you get to that point, you can unsubscribe to all those little lifehacking sites, with their little tips. You can throw out your personal planner. These things just aren’t necessary anymore.

You can stop spending hours looking for ways to be more productive, because you’re simply not interested in “being productive” anymore.

When minimalism is applied correctly, you actually have all of this leftover time. For instance, all of my work is done fairly early most days, so I spend the rest of the day reading books. I have so much time to read books, that I’m finishing way more than my original goal to read one book a week.

All of the books lead to big new ideas, which positively effects my writing. I can contribute more value to you, the reader, which in turn makes more people interested in reading me.

Here are 9 ways you can focus on the important

1, Identify the four areas of your life that are most important to you.

Simply write them down. It can be powerful to know what is most important to you, because then you can begin to focus on only the essential.

My four priories are: Writing, Yoga, Cooking, and Reading.

I find it helpful to only do one of these things professionally at one time: right now I’m only a professional writer, and nothing else. You might notice that photography is no longer on my list of important things. It’s been replaced by cooking, which dominates my thoughts whenever I’m not writing. What does that mean? I’m not sure yet, but it might mean I’m not interested so much in doing photography anymore. What do you do that doesn’t interest you anymore, but you keep doing because you thought it was your identity?

2, Learn to say no to requests.

Once you’ve identified the essential, you have to start saying no to things that come your way which don’t coincide with your interests. It can be easy to say yes to a lot of projects that are all over the place. We all want to be helpful to as many people as we can, but inevitably we get involved in projects that we aren’t any good at. This just frustrates people, and wastes a lot of time.

3, Start to eliminate things you don’t care about.

Stop doing things you’re doing just out of obligation. Abandon the busy work. Stop going to that book club that you dread going to. There are a million obligations that we get ourselves into over the years. These obligations keep piling on top of one an other, until you have no time for yourself anymore. Gradually stop working on projects you don’t care about. Tell people you quit the book club. Eventually you will have time for yourself again.

4, Give yourself huge blocks of time to work on one project.

Give yourself five hours to work on one project, and do nothing else. Spend all of your time concentrating on the work involved in this project. Make mistakes, and then make breakthroughs. Most of all, make progress. When you feel your attention wandering, slow down, and continuing working on what is important to you, until it’s done.

5, Turn off distractions.

Nothing is worse than trying to get work done with the TV on in the background. You might think that it’s helping you work: it’s not helping you. Seriously, these distractions sabotage everything that you’re trying to accomplish. Turn off your phone, power down Twitter, destroy your TV, and eat your lunch before you sit down to focus on the important.

6, Don’t comment on things that you don’t want to be involved in.

We all have opinions, but we need to consider whether we’re most useful to people if that’s all we’re giving. It’s so easy to offer an unsolicited critical opinion on the work of someone else, especially in this age of Internet anonymity. What you’re saying might hurt people, and it might not have any grounding in reality anyway. When you’re a critic your own work can also suffer from your own negativity. So, next time you’re tempted to tell someone that what they’re doing is wrong, maybe consider first: are you willing to help them do it right?

7, Make time for important things.

Many people spend less than 2 hours a week on their important work, and the rest of the time they’re distracted or at a job they don’t enjoy working at. You have to make time to work on what you’ve determined is important to you. If you want to be a writer, you have to write every single day for at least a few hours (if not more.) If you want to be a photographer, you have to shoot every single day for at least a few hours (if not more.) You can’t expect to get good at anything if you’re a weekend warrior.

8, Tell people about your priorities.

Make it clear what your priorities are to everyone you know. Tell your best friends, your significant other, your kids. Start a blog and write every single day about how your priorities are being accomplished. By telling people, you can hold yourself responsible. You can also compare notes, if your girlfriend thinks your priorities are beer, xbox, belching and sleeping, and you think your priorities are painting, productivity, cleaning, and thinking… well, you might be doing something wrong. Live and breathe your priorities, and they will become what you are.

9, Learn as much as you can.

You have to study your priorities in regularly. If you’re a creator, read as much as you can about creativity. If you’re a cook, read as much as you can about cooking. Subscribe to blogs that share common interests with you. Read real books! Books are amazing creatures full of ideas; they will cause you to grow. Investigate whether there are classes you can take in your area, or online, which will help you learn more about what is important to you. You will never stop learning, so keep consuming information that will help you. I promise you, it is the most important element.


How do you focus on your priorities?

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14 Simple Ways to Stimulate Creativity

February 16th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

How to banish the resistance and harness creativity

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

One of the hardest battle any of us will fight is the battle for creativity. Countless books have no doubt been written about the war of making art, and many more will be written in the future.

It will never be easy to be a creator.

I’m noticing this, as my subscriber count has skyrocketed over the last few weeks. The Art of Being Minimalist just keeps selling a number of copies every day. But, with all of this attention comes an added pressure.

It will always be easier to write for your one adoring fan. It will always be harder to write for a larger audience. To stand on this Internet stage, my blog, and project new ideas into the ether day after day, is difficult.

The battle for creativity.

I have no doubt that you’ve fought this creative battle too. We all have. The bravest of us choose to fight what Seth Godin calls ‘The Resistance‘ every day.

This is a battle worth winning, and one that you should never give up fighting.

The world has a surplus of mediocre people who are unwilling to take on this challenge, and a great need for artists who will take up the call to create greatness.

But there will be times when you don’t feel like fighting anymore, when it’d just too challenging. During those times you must keep fighting. You must keep creating.

For what other good reason is there to live but to make greatness every day?

For this reason I’ve developed a series of strategies to stimulate my own creativity, I hope they can help you with your own creative battles.

14 ways to stimulate creativity and banish the resistance.

  1. Change your surroundings. Sometimes you can just get bored of working at your same desk every day. That’s okay! Go work somewhere new. Maybe this is the back porch, or perhaps it is the coffee shop. A change of location can do wonders for your creativity.
  2. Turn off all distractions. I speak or this often: work doesn’t happen on social networking or email. Turn these off. Hitting the refresh button on your email won’t stimulate ideas.
  3. Ignore the metrics. Sometimes we try to constantly evaluate our success. How good did I do today? Ignore your success, it will still be there when you find it, trust me. Don’t count your blog hits or how many people answer your emails. None of that is as important as creating good work.
  4. Give yourself no other choice. This won’t be a good idea for everyone, but sometimes my best creative moments come when I have no other choice. For instance, I jumped onto a plane to Portland with no job lined up and no expectation of success, I came back with an idea for an e-book.
  5. Go for a walking meditation. Leave your cell phone, leave your to do list, and just go for a walk. Walk slowly and with no destination. Be aware of the pace of your feet. Look at the trees. Watch the people. Smile. Breathe. This can be very relaxing, and is worth daily practice.
  6. Cancel all obligations. Stop being so busy, you’re distracting yourself from the real work. Take out your meeting planner, put it in a bucket, and burn it. Delete your Google Calendar. Good, now you have nowhere to be, perhaps now you can get some real work done.
  7. Ignore the critics. If you’re brave enough to make a powerful work, you will inevitably attract attention. With this attention comes the critics. You know them, these are the obsessively negative people who’s only mission in life is to tear you down. Ignore them, block them, do anything in your power to stop them from entering your consciousness.
  8. Get some exercise. Practice Yoga, go for a run, go to the gym. A lot of toxins build up in our system as we interact with the world, exercise is the single best way to cleanse your body, release stress, and center yourself.
  9. Drink a tea or coffee. Take 15 minutes to make a tea or coffee. Make every action you take have intention –a beginning, middle, and end. Be aware of every action you take. Breathe. Then sit and just drink your coffee or tea — no, don’t check your email — just drink until you are done. This is a very rewarding experience.
  10. Take an hour to cook a meal. I find cooking very relaxing, so when I’m having trouble stimulating my creativity, I’ll take an hour break to make a good meal. Don’t just microwave something, that won’t help. Prepare this meal with fresh ingredients from the market. It will taste good, and give you energy.
  11. Allow yourself to have bad ideas. It’s okay to pop out a junker once in awhile. There is always the idea that every idea must be better than the next, but that isn’t always true. Let go of your expectations and just make something. Who cares if it’s not the best thing you’ve ever made in your lifetime. It’s something, and that’s more than most people are making.
  12. Read a good book. Many books are filled with good ideas that will stimulate your own idea flow. Take some time and just read. If you’re interested, take a look at what books I’m reading now — I’m reading a book a week in 2010. Sit down, pick up a good book, and just read. Have no other expectations for yourself.
  13. Give yourself some time off. Maybe today you’re just not going to make anything. That’s okay, give yourself permission to take some time off. Go watch a movie, go walk in the park. We are so hard on ourselves all the time, I know I am. It’s okay to take a moment and just breathe in and out and exist without the pressure of making.
  14. Just start creating. Sometimes the act of creating can stimulate creativity. Isaac Asimov wrote over 500 books in his life, just by sitting his butt in a chair and starting to write – he did this every day. It doesn’t matter if what you’re creating is junk, the simple act of creating can start the creative juices flowing.


How do you get the creative juices flowing?

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Minimalist Google Buzz: How To Simplify Your Social Networking

February 12th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

9 Ways to Apply Simplicity to Google Buzz

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter or Google Buzz

It’s been a few days since the release of Google Buzz, but it’s already very clear that the way we interact with each other on the Internet has changed on a fundamental level.

As with any time of change, we must tread carefully. Social networking can be a dangerous way to waste time online. If we’re not careful, Google Buzz can become the quickest path towards wasting another hour or two of your day.

Google Buzz is different from Twitter and Facebook in a lot of ways. In some cases it’s a far more complicated platform. In other ways it is easier to use than both of the other services.

Here are a few observations of Google Buzz:

  • You can now network with people near your location.
  • You can feed a lot of information into Google Buzz, such as our Twitter streams and Flickr photos.
  • What you publish to buzz influences search rankings.
  • Buzz stimulates conversations very easily.

We’re becoming the digital curators of our world. Each and every one of us has the power to use this new medium for very powerful actions.

I’ve only been on Google Buzz for a few days, but in that time I’ve started to apply some minimalist rules towards using it. I hope these ideas can help you save time, and also use Google Buzz more effectively.

How to stop Google Buzz from putting Buzz replies in your Inbox.

The first thing any minimalist needs to do is stop Google Buzz from putting replies in your Inbox. We get enough messages as it is, we don’t need more incoming messages.

Visit this tutorial at Lifehacker to learn how to stop Google Buzz from putting messages in your inbox.

Here are 9 ways to simplify your approach to Google Buzz.

1, Follow less than 100 people.

You can’t realistically keep track of information coming from more than 100 people. Don’t try to, you’ll end up spending all day reading Google Buzz, and it will destroy your productivity. Right now there aren’t a lot of people on Google Buzz, but I predict the population will explode over the coming months. If you’re contributing useful information, you will inevitably have more people following you than you can follow back. That’s okay, you can’t keep up with everyone.

2, Only publish useful information.

The first instinct for most people on Google Buzz is to publish as much information is possible. I’m not sure this is a great idea. Make sure you’re only transmitting information that helps people. Just like on Twitter, no one wants to hear you talk about your cat. We’ll quickly see people who concentrate on usefulness start to dominate the follower counts on Google Buzz.

3, Only connect programs which contribute useful information.

It’s tempting to just add all of the applications that you use online. Recognize that if you do this, you will create a lot of noise for the people who follow you. Pick one or two ways to contribute information, ignore the rest. I’ve decided, for now, to exclude Twitter and Flickr from my Google Buzz feed, because they’re just filling it with redundant information that isn’t necessarily important.

4, Comment only when you have something to contribute.

It’s very easy to weigh in with an opinion on Google Buzz. Make sure what you’re saying is useful, helpful, and positive. If you’re just posting a comment like “cool!”, that’s one comment that didn’t need to be written. Be useful, or be quiet. Use the ‘Like’ button instead of saying ‘cool!’.

5, Use the ‘Like’ button early and often.

Vote up the best content as much as you can. In fact, if you’re reading this on Buzz, I encourage you to ‘Like’ or ‘Share’ this post right now. This will help other people see it, and it can help more people.

6, Unfollow anyone who isn’t contributing useful information.

Google Buzz automatically follows people who email you often. That’s cool, but make sure you actually want to hear what these people are transmitting on Google Buzz. Unfollow people if you find you don’t want to read what they have to say, this way you won’t have to spend time sorting out their information every time you open Google Buzz.

7, Report spammers.

If someone is annoying you, report them as spam. Keep Google Buzz clean, take out the trash.

8, Keep your buzzes short.

You can publish long articles out to Google Buzz, and some may choose to do this. Recognize that it may be best to keep your material simple and direct. Publish what you need to, but no more than necessary. I suggest keeping extremely long articles on your blog, and use Google Buzz to as a funnel to direct people back to your blog.

9, Turn Google Buzz off once in awhile.

Like email, Twitter, and Facebook, you can’t spend all day buzzing around. Learn to step away from the stream of everyone’s consciousness and live your own life. The time you spend on Google Buzz will vary, depending on what you want to accomplish with the platform. Learn to hit the off switch as much as possible. Have a cup of tea, enjoy your tea. Go out side, take a walk, enjoy your walk.

The world doesn’t revolve around Google Buzz, it’s simply a tool.


How are you using Google Buzz?

You can follow me on Google Buzz here.


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8 Ways to Focus on Minimalist Income

February 8th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

In Your Minimalist Business, High-Impact Income is Everything

This is the first of a three part series on my experience starting a minimalist business. Don’t miss anything! Sign up to receive free updates via RSS or Email.

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

The difference between high-impact and low-impact income.

The most common way of working, and the one that most people choose, is low impact. You trade an hour of your time for a little bit of money. After a day, you’re a little older, but you’ve made enough money to pay your electric bill.

These jobs are very common. In most cases the employees are highly replaceable and the pay is just enough to survive.

I’ve worked a few of these jobs, up until August, when I decided to break out of the 9-5 and start exploring new ways to make a living.

So far the decision to do this has been very rewarding.

How I chose to create a high-impact minimalist business.

I decided early on that I wanted to start earning a high-impact living. This is the opposite of the direct trade of time for money. The results are a lot less tangible, but far more rewarding.

This is a minimalist way of working. I spend most of my time doing complex creative tasks. Seth Godin refers to this as emotional labor. I read a lot of books. I research better ways to help my audience. I try out new tools. I make all of the calls on which stories run and which don’t.

To generate high-impact money, you have to create something that is actually valuable. There are no buttons to push. There is no boss to blame the failures on. You are responsible for your own success.

Actions that generate high-impact income may not pay off immediately, the key is that they are scalable in the future. Your 40 hour week today, might bring in $1000 in three months. Your one hour workday might bring in $1000 because of work you did in the past.

I don’t recommend this way of working for everyone. It’s much easier to just sit down and be told what to do. It’s so much harder to trek through the woods, searching for your legacy project.

But, as I said, eventually the rewards are greater.

Here are 8 ways to pursue high impact income.

1, Explore uncharted territory.

High-impact income doesn’t come from well trodden paths. No one can give you the magic combination which will lead you to success. You have to trust your instincts, and most importantly, your heart, and travel to uncharted territory.

2, Follow your passion.

Everyone has there one super power. This is the one thing that they are so much better at than everyone else. You need to put all of your resources into that passion. We are witnessing a point in time when everything is changing. You have the power to build and market the one thing you always wanted to create. Focus on that, nothing else.

3, Ignore everybody.

There’s no payday if you follow everyone else. You can’t ask your mom or your best friend for permission before you start exploring uncharted territory in search of high-impact income. Why? Because no one has done this before. They won’t be able to consult their past experiences to tell you if it will work. If you wait until you get approval from all of society before you take a risk, you’ll be waiting a long time.

4, Focus on your priorities.

When you pursue high-impact income, there will be tasks that yield more than others. Focus on the important moves, and spend less time with unimportant ones. For instance: I know that this blog only works with insanely helpful content. So, I spend 80% of my time developing helpful content. Everything else can wait until I have awesome content for the week.

5, Minimize your expenses.

You cannot start your own high-impact business if you still spend like you’re working a low-impact 9-5. Eventually you will earn a lot more money, but for now you don’t. You need two things: food and shelter. All else can wait until your first payday.

6, Watch your metrics (but not too much.)

At some point you have to check to see if you’re making any progress. Find a way to measure your high-impact income. I do this by tracking your blog visitors and book sales, but this will change depending on what you’re doing. The trick is not to check all day long though. After the first two days of excitedly tracking sales for The Art of Being Minimalist, I finally had to just archive all the emails I was getting. I was spending 80% of my time waiting for new emails, instead of working towards actual goals. Now I check once a day to see how sales are going. Eventually I’ll move that to once a week.

7, Learn when to quit.

If a project isn’t working after a month or two, you need to be able to kill it, or at least approach it from a new angle. Obviously this depends a lot on the business. I stop writing about subjects that don’t resonate with people, and direct my attention towards ones that do. This is about refocusing on what works, and killing what doesn’t. Don’t cling to a topic you love if no one cares about it.

8, Don’t stop doing the work.

No matter how much temporary success you may achieve, or how much failure you are forced to endure, don’t stop working. It’s so easy to just give up, and believe me, many people will tell you that you should. “You’re going to fail, go do something that is normal.” Don’t stop, don’t give up. Do what you have to do until you find success. Eventually you’ll get there, trust me.

How do you pursue high-impact income?


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