Downsizing to 4 Boxes : An Experiment in Minimalism

an experiment in minimalism

I spent the past 10 years wanting to travel. I spent the last 10 years accumulating stuff. Finally, I drew a line in the sand. I was going no matter what. Not an easy decision and something in need of planning but well worth the effort.

I decided to reduce my life down to FOUR BOXES. I had two houses, a car, a cat, a relationship, tenants, a business, a job, a car, a social life, photos, cd’s, DVDs, furniture, paperwork – you name it!

What I decided to do was make a list of the things that were most important to me and what I couldn’t do without. Then, I decided to get rid of everything else. It’s unbelievable how much ‘stuff’ we can build up! After simplifying my life and liberating myself and reflecting, I really don’t know how or why we do it. Of course there’s the old “keeping up with the Jones’s” or simply adding more things for the space we have available. Either way, it’s not fulfilling and somewhat narrow minded. To release yourself of the ‘ties’ we have, whether real or imagined, is quite the freeing experience.

My list:

  • Picture albums (with a backup digital copy)
  • Legal paperwork for house / business / etc
  • Precious items that were gifts or could not be replaced

Really that was about it. I had two houses at the time and I made a plan to sell the first one. It took 3 and 1/2 months but finally after cleaning, prepping, and marketing it sold. Huge check off the list!

minimalism experiment four boxes
That’s it! Can you believe it?

What next?

My job. My car was easy, I got in a small bumper crash and it decided no longer to run. So, I invested in the city bus. I had a heart to heart with myself. In another post I talk about the loathe I have for the corporate world, and although a great opportunity for me (there are many if you are a glass-half-full person), I released the chains and gave my notice.

Everything else was easy. Several trips to Goodwill, many posts on Craigslist, happy and willing friends to offload stuff onto, digitizing all music and movies, and online storage for everything that was important to me (with backup).

I’ll go through little by little what I use for tools to help me be mobile and work virtually.

I wasn’t able to sell my other house since, as we all know, the market went South. But it still feels good to have a place to call home and go back to. For several months I tried to find the right tenant to occupy my home. Giving them a few deposit slips and contacts in case something goes wrong or needs fixing and voila! Off to Central America to prove that living and working abroad can not only cost you less in stress and also in the dollars you spend.

Digitize Everything! How to Simplify Your Life by Going Digital

Digitize Everything! How To Simplify your Life by Going Digital Live Work Anywhere

This is a follow up post to my posts about 4boxes, Dropbox, and Google Apps.

One of the most surprising facts is that even in the digital age, many individuals have drawers, cabinets, and shelves filled with technologically obsolete items such as, CDs, DVDs, photo albums, and others. So if you belong to this category, first and foremost you can rest assured in the knowledge that you’re not alone. However, if you’re looking to make a change nonetheless, to simplify and become more mobile, it’s time to go through those old photos, CDs, and other types of analog items and convert them into a digital format. The easiest way to downsize today is by DIGITIZING everything!

CDs became mp3s.  DVDs can now be streamed by using a Netflix or iTunes account. So why not digitize and minimalize? Not only are these items outdated but they also take up a lot of space. So transferring the data from such devices to digital mediums can also help you de-clutter and stay organized. Even if you don’t want to cut down on the number of things you actually own, it’s easy to streamline things. 

However, as you begin the process to digitize everything and minimize “things”, remember it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work it may seemingly involve. But you don’t have to be. LiveWorkAnywhere has got you covered with these simple but effective tips on ‘How to digitize your life”.

CDs and DVDs

You can import CDs into an iTunes Library. Then back up that library using Dropbox. Then do the same with your DVDs. Transferring the contents of CDs and DVDs into your digital library will be easy. However for cassettes and records, a little more effort would be necessary. If it’s too much for you to handle, consider getting professional help. You can then donate all the physical media to Goodwill (if they’re still accepting these types of media!), or get money for them using CD Exchange. Think of the amount of space you’d be creating in the process. Moreover while you’re digitizing everything, you also get the opportunity to reconnect with some old tunes – added bonus! 

Photo Albums

How to digitize your life? The answer is simple: digitize your photos! While all photo albums are precious, especially those dating back to those times when Smartphone cameras were not in use, are even rare. So why not scan them to transfer them into a digital form that is not prone to fading, tearing, yellowing, or scratching, as paper-based photos are? The best part about scanning is that it’s easy to do.

Using a service like ScanCafe, you can have your photos scanned into a complete digital format. Use services such as Picasa, Lyn, or Flickr. Lyn offers great desktop-based photo management for Mac OS X but it’s a paid service after the initial free 15-day trial period. However if you’re looking for free service, then even Facebook can be useful in showing photos online efficiently. My suggestion, however, would be to always have a backup on a file storage service (like Dropbox), then select and showcase specific photos online.

Using a photo management program like Picasa or any other not only allows you to neatly organize your photos but also helps put them in one easy location from which they can be easily retrieved and viewed. And you can share them online with friends and family whenever and wherever they may be based. 

To-Do Lists and Notes

How to digitize your life, especially your professional life? If you want to make living and working from anywhere a reality with Live Work Anywhere, digital to-do lists, post-its and other notes can help facilitate your transition. Imagine having all your work-related notes accessible in a digital form that you can access from anywhere! 

No matter where you’re based geographically, all you have to do is switch on your PC or tablet to get started with your scheduled tasks for the day. Traveling someplace? Or feel like working from a café? Or perhaps you’d like to move your work desk outdoors for a day – to a park maybe? 

Use digital managers like Evernote, Zenkit To Do, or any other to-do management program or app – there’s a plethora of apps to choose from, based on your specific goal – to organize your pending tasks and keep track of your progress.

It feels great to simplify and digitize your life and of course another benefit is that everything stays with you, no matter where you are in the world. Additionally it just makes everything so much easier to share with your near and dear ones and life so much easier to enjoy!

Also by digitizing your life you minimize and clear clutter, which is very rewarding – and allows you to get up and go more quickly! 

How are you planning to downsize this year?