100 Possessions: Laptop

When you live with as little as possible, every item has to pull its own weight. And the more needs a single thing can satisfy, the greater its value in a minimalist household.

With that in mind, if I had to pick my most “valuable” possession, it would be my laptop. It’s a true minimalist workhorse; not only has it enabled me to purge scores of other items, it’s also greatly reduced the amount of living and workspace I need.

How has my laptop helped simplify my life? Oh, let me count the ways! This one little device has eliminated the following physical things from my home:

1. Books and bookshelves. I now read almost exclusively on my laptop (and iPod Touch), and have replaced most of my physical books with digital versions. I’m grateful to be able to take my library with me each time I move, without the hassle of 20+ pound boxes (or alternatively, keeping them in storage until I settle down).

2. CDs. Gone are my days of accommodating CDs and their jewel cases, or trying to consolidate them in binders. All of my music is digital, and accessible anytime with the click of a mouse.

3. DVDs and DVD player. I never owned many DVDs to begin with, and feel no need to buy any now. Like my music, my movies are digital, and take up not an inch of space in my home.

4. Television. I have to admit, I love not owning a television! Moving is significantly easier, and I never have to worry about finding the proper orientation (or cable outlet) for it in each new apartment. My husband and I have found a laptop to be perfectly adequate for watching movies and TV shows (via hulu.com); this may not work for a family, but can be fine for one or two people.

5. Phone. I no longer have a landline, and simply use Skype for making calls from home.

6. Photo albums. I digitized my physical photos before I moved overseas, and rarely make prints from the ones I take. I find it easier, and more pleasurable, to share (and view) digital pics than those stuffed away in shoeboxes or albums.

7. Filing cabinet. As a writer, I’m often gathering research for various projects. I’ve become accustomed to taking all of my notes digitally, and printing online research to PDF files; in fact, thanks to my laptop, the process of writing my last two books was entirely paper-free.

8. Office supplies. By paying bills and conducting other business online, I’ve been able to live in large part without file folders, envelopes, paperclips, stapler, hole punch, and the myriad other items that accumulate in desk drawers.

9. Home office. Since I don’t need a desk, filing cabinet, or other office furnishings, I don’t need a dedicated room for conducting business—and therefore can live and work in a much smaller space.

10. Car. By serving as my productivity, communication, and storage device, my laptop enables me to make a living from home—thereby eliminating my need for a car to commute to work each day.

Of course, there’s a degree of vulnerability in relying on one device so heavily, and I use multiple forms of backup (external hard drive, cloud, etc.) to insure against data loss. I also need to be vigilant about digital clutter, as it’s much easier to squirrel something away when it doesn’t take up any space. Overall, though, I find these issues to be quite manageable—and certainly worth the ability to eliminate so many other things from my life!

What’s your opinion on technology? Does it simplify your life, or complicate it?

(This post is part of my “100 Possessions” series, in which I explain why each item I own deserves a place in my minimalist life.)

{If you’d like to learn more about minimalist living, please consider reading my book, The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide, or subscribing to my RSS feed.}

62 comments to 100 Possessions: Laptop

  • I agree with you 100% on this one. My pc is the one item I would save from our house if it was on fire!

    My husband and I both work from home and rely every day on our computers. We recently digitized our CD collection and sold them on, then donated every record and cassette we had to charity shops. The sitting room is so much more relaxing now that there is much less clutter in there.

  • Kurkela

    Yes to all that, HOWEVER:
    1) there are movies that must be seen on the big screen to get the full impact of their message, especially historical and epic ones;
    2) digital books are ok, but nothing beats the smell and feel of a favourite book. There is something satisfying in looking at the amount of pages you have read and the ones still left. It is rather difficult to read from laptop while relaxing in bath or on the beach. And one more – there was a time when, because of weather conditions, I had to stay in a country house without electricity. When your laptop dies, oh how grateful you are for a simple paperback and a candle…
    3) There is a direct connection between the brain and hand activity and development. And there are lots and lots of people who can not write by hand anymore, or, if they do, it comes out all crooked. Japanese are all for digital things, however, they know the importance of being good at calligraphy which is discipline, meditation and skill in one.
    4) And, as I said before, it takes one good storm for lights to get out and for people to understand that there is still a life outside a digital world.

  • Tom

    Great article!

    I have to ask: What do you think about e-readers? For example Kindle?
    Does it simplify or complicate?

    • Anne C.

      For me, my Kindle simplifies my life tremendously. You can do more with it than just read books. I have apps from 7 Dragons like Calender, which I use to track appointments and what bills I need to pay, Notepad, Calculator, and Address Book. I’m not really trying to plug 7 Dragons, their apps work well, though. My Kindle stays in my purse and I’m pretty vigilant about keeping it charged. I have thought about the fact that I’m dependent on one device for so much, but the advantages out weight the risk.

    • Brenda

      I have an e-reader which I find is VERY convenient. I know it’s yet one more electronic device, but I find that reading off a computer screen for a very long time hurts my eyes. Reading off an e-ink screen is like reading print! Plus, it can replace scores of books that take up a LOT of space and practically weigh a ton when trying to move them. Of course, they have yet to replace books with colorful illustrations but for reading just text, e-readers are great.

      And Kurkela: yes, you make a VERY good point about these devices depending on electricity. It was one of my caveats when I considered purchasing an e-reader and it’s still something to think about…

  • I have a fairly new laptop and am trying to take advantage of the things it can do. I have been digitising several decades worth of photographs recently, but, oh, how boring it is! I have resolved: no more photographs! I dont own a camera. My “reward” has been to go home and shred all the photos I have digitised that day and I have gained space by giving away the boxes that stored them. The family ones I have passed on to my brother. That has been a very real use I have found for my laptop. I do agree with Kurkela however about books. I have downsized my collection considerably and mostly borrow from the library. But I do really, really like physical books! I can see that in Francine’s case, being on the move a lot, that a Kindle reader comes in very handy but as I am settled I think I shall stick with books!

    • Kurkela

      My sentiments exactly. By the way, the original creator of the 100 thing challenge counts his library as one thing :) There must be a line somewhere, and for every person it is different. There are lots of occasions when digital = dead. Just imagine a letter from a person you love, be it your family member, lover or friend. Imagine it in digital format – or written by hand on a good paper or a beautiful card chosen especially for you. The same goes for books. As to photos – yes, I have lots scanned in. Do you think I look at them often? Guess again. Don’t know why I bothered.

      • Absolutely, even as I scan the wretched photos in and then painstakingly copy them over to Skydrive I know I am never going to look at them! Sometimes I wish I had the courage of my convictions and could just bin the lot and have done with it! But I can’t – the dreaded words “what if..” always occur to me.

  • You are a minimalist genius. Everything I read by you I absolutely love. Your whole approach, ethos and reflections rock my world and inspire me so much. Thank you for being my mentor !

  • Mami

    Another great article Francine! :-)
    I may relocate next year (possibly to another country) and I agree with what you wrote in the article.

    EBOOK:
    I don’t mind having most of them as e-book format and do not miss the physical books as much as I initially thought I would.
    However, I just can’t read book on my laptop and I prefer to hold something when reading.
    I bought my Kindle last year and loving it. In fact, “the joy of less” book was my very first kindle book purchase, which I enjoyed very much :-)

    I’m currently in the process of digitizing my book collection. Although I have downsized a lot over the past years, I still have some books that I don’t want to give up. I wish I could simply replace them by buying the e-book versions but the most books I want to keep are non-English and they are not yet available in e-book format and/or are impossible to find them again in the U.S…

    There are titles that I will keep as the physical books depending on its purpose.
    Since my Kindle3 purchase, I found that I prefer having reference and graphical (color) books as the physical books. This is simply because Kindle3 is not made for this purpose due to its B&W screen and how it’s functions.
    I prefer keeping books that consists mostly of letters (e.g., novels) as e-book format and Kindle is perfect for this purpose.
    I’m thinking of getting a tablet soon so that I can also digitize those books I currently keep as physical books.
    I would OCR them so that I can easily find the necessary contents much faster.
    It’s true that there will be one more devise to possess. But it’s so much less compared to “hassle of 20+ pound boxes” as Francine put.

    TV:
    As far as TV goes, I think I don’t mind owning one if I live in a place where I plan to stay for a long-term.
    As Kurkela mentioned, there is something about watching certain movies on a big screen that you just can’t get the experience from smaller laptop/computer screens. However, I wouldn’t get one if there’s a possibility of relocation in the future.
    Although I love my 46 inch HDTV, I might give it up when I move next time. I can’t even lift the thing by myself! I think it’s generally not a good idea to own a device that you can’t move around when you live by yourself :-P

    I love reading your “100 possession” category and hope more is coming very soon!

  • Out of curiosity, where do you sit when you use your laptop? Dining table? Floor? Bed? Or do you just sit in a chair and actually use it as a LAPtop? :)

    Karen

  • anna

    A word of caution about digitizing copyrighted media. It’s illegal to copy CDs, DVDs, mp3 files, records, art, and books, and then sell either the originals or the copies. Lots of people do it, (so much so that I don’t blame young people for not understanding how copyright laws work), but if you are the type of person who likes to stay legal, you will want to avoid this temptation.

  • Brenda

    I agree that for the most part, the laptop is an excellent portable, multi-purpose device that has made things very convenient for me. But as you mentioned at the end, one has to be mindful about not accumulating “digital clutter”. When I got a new laptop (to replace my old one that stopped working), I was going to just dump all the files I accumulated over the years on it, but it’s been so nice working on my new laptop’s “clean” desktop that I’ve held off on transferring my old files, which are currently just sitting there on an external hard drive. I used to think that most computer files should be saved, but now I’m seriously considering doing a digital decluttering.

  • Caroline

    What photo storage / sharing system do you prefer? I haven’t been able to commit to one yet.

    Love my Kindle, but keeping my Harry Potters in physical form. I use my Bank of America credit card rewards to get ebooks on Amazon. (And of course, the library – even there you can use Overdrive for ebooks).

    I use my Discover card rewards to get Amazon mp3s.

    Can’t decide between Google docs and Evernote to organize my class notes. Do you prefer a certain system for storing notes or are you old fashioned (just computer folders)?

    I remember a time (1999) when I thought I would never be able to afford a laptop. Back when they were soooo expensive and I was still in college :) I didn’t have a cell phone back then and there were no mp3 players or ebooks (as far as I knew). I accumulated a lot of crap then. Things would have been different if I was naturally very minimalist, but I’m still sentimental. Electronic storage means I can be sentimental without using physical space. I’m getting better!

  • Jonathan

    I have to wonder if using such a multi-purpose device is true to the idea of minimalism. True, the laptop allows you to have less physical items. You still rely on the functions of those items, however, so can this really be minimalist?

    This comment is really meant to just spark thought/discussion. I’m not really suggesting that using a multi-purpose device is the same as having several separate devices.

    • Brenda

      I find no problem with the device itself, especially if you use it to do important work or to find information. The problem is how much is on there and if it’s stuff(files) that you get use out of…it becomes the same issue as physical clutter. There’s also the issue of how much TIME one spends on the laptop, but that’s a whole other can of beans… ;-)

  • I completely agree with this article and have complete and utter admiration for my own laptop. It enables me to work absolutely anywhere and gives me an enormous sense of freedom. I love to travel around a lot and stay at friends houses across the country and my laptop allows me to carry with me my academic work, my books, my music and my films around with me.

    I do worry slightly that I rely on my laptop a lot though. It’s practically my world. A couple of my friends have commented on how non-minimalist I’m being by owning a laptop and sometimes I agree with them, but I think it’s important to scale down to what works for us and realise that we must enjoy some of life’s pleasures from time to time. I definitely could not live without my laptop! Wonderful article, Francine :)

  • Francine, you continue to inspire. I am digitizing my music now — but find myself keeping “just a few special” CDs. I digitized my extensive photo collection — except for “just a few special” photos. I can see I need to be tougher! Love the idea of using Skype over a landline.

  • I love that you are able to utilize every square inch of your laptop … unfortunately, I can only do what I absolutely need to do. All that technology is just too hard for me to comprehend!

    And I’ve discovered that over time, it’s just so easy for me to get absorbed and addicted to the computer every waking minute – reading, writing, trolling around, checking just one more thing out. And in that process getting brain dead, less creative, with less energy and focus to do what I really need to do and to be face to face with the people I love.

    I mused on this recently in WE ARE SO OUT OF CONTROL …
    http://creeksideministries.blogspot.com/2011/07/we-are-so-out-of-control.html

  • I have a love/hate relationship with technology. I love that is keeps away a lot of physical clutter. However, all it does is digitize it. Also, we are now becoming so reliant on technology for everything that should it all go down the tubes, we’d be lost. We spend more time trying to stay up to date with the latest software program and gadgets, that we forget how to do ordinary, every day things. Often, I just wish that all this technology could be shut off for everyone for a full 24 hours. I think we need to remember to put down the gizmos and learn to do REAL things. Find ways to continually connect with humans face to face. Learn to cook more. Learn how to fix things. Learn to do physical labor ourselves. The more I watch Wall-E, the more I’m inspired to do things for myself without the aid of technology.

    • Kathy

      I love Wall-E and there are a lot of good lessons in that movie. One of my jobs I’m a horse show photographer & it requires a lot of technology. My other job though, my husband trains show horses & other than me doing his billing & website, we do nothing but physical manual labor all day, every day. So between the two, I think we have a pretty good balance. Although I admit when I get home tired at night, it’s way too easy for me to veg out on the couch with my laptop.

    • liz n.

      i have to agree about the love/hate feelings for technology. Take for example phone numbers: could you recite all of your family members phone numbers? I can’t. To me, that’s an example of a little thing tech is good for as well as bad. It’s nice to just push a button – but I think it also makes us lazy. Perhaps I should challenge myself and learn core 20 phone numbers.

    • Karen T.

      You said it!!!

  • Kathy

    I had digitized my photo collection & backed up online a couple yrs ago as we live in tornado alley & it’s the one thing I’d have no way to replace if hit. Thanks to your writings I’m working on digitizing all my old office & financial papers. Sure wish I had a scanner with automatic document feed because it’s tedious work, there’s tons of receipts, and I’m short on time usually. When I got my first iPod I made all my music digital & started buying only digital music. I got a Kindle for Christmas & all my books are now digital except the Harry Potters & a very few others I deem worthy to keep but e-book versions aren’t available.

    My question: can someone PLEASE recommend a good program to rip “protected” DVDs to computer? We have a lot that I can’t rip because they are protected. I have no desire to copy for others or sell the original DVD, I’d just like to have some on laprop for the kids when we travel so as not to have to carry a case of DVDs too.

    • Kathy, the best possible program you could use is HandBrake. It’s pretty easy to customize the quality and size of the rips. If you are even slightly technologically inclined, it will probably be easy for you to use, but if you need further assistance, I would be happy to guide you through! Below is a link to the program. Follow it and select the correct download for your system. Feel free to reply!

      http://handbrake.fr/downloads.php

      • Kathy

        Thank you so much Blake! I’ll be downloading & trying that this evening. I’m fairly technical, I just never dug deeper after the discs said “protected.”. I just want something people have actually used & got good results with rather than a sales pitch from a website & waste my money on a program that doesn’t work. Thanks again!

        • Also Kathy, it is perfectly legal for you to rip your personal physical copies of DVDs for private in-home use. The place where the law would be broken would be if you ripped a DVD and gave the file to someone outside the household or if you did away with the physical disc, then you should delete the file. Just an FYI, in case you were wondering.

    • Anne S.

      Fujitsu SnapScan S1300 is a great document scanner. It’s small, scans directly to PDF (if you want), and used on a PC it allows you to create a filing cabinet with folders. (Works slightly differently on a Mac.) SnapScan will automatically scan color double-sided, and you can do multiple sheet documents. I got mine from Amazon. It also has a feature that allows you to scan business cards.

      For DVDs, if you are using a Mac, Ripit works well. As with all copyrighted media, you need to keep the discs if you rip them.

      I’m scanning my old negatives and photos using a Canon photo/negative scanner. We bought it years ago to digitize our stuff. Unfortunately, hubby got to it first, so I still need to do mine.

  • Betty

    I’m in the process of digitizing my slides and photos. It is slow but fun and will eventually allow me to get rid of the originals.

    I love my Kindle, it is small, simple and easy to read but I do have a number of books I will always keep.

    My husband loves TV or I would do away with mine and use my computer.

    Francine, you are an amazing writer!

  • My laptop is a huge TIME saver! I’m an English teacher in Brazil, and I sometimes have to commute an hour each way just to give one 90-minute class… which halves my effective hourly rate. With my laptop, I can do Portuguese-to-English translation work at home and get paid 5x as much per hour for my time.

    Suggestion for a post – Tips for minimalist computer use. As others have pointed out, digital “clutter,” though it doesn’t take up physical space, can create stress as well. My computer is sort of organized, but there’s a lot of room for improvement.

  • Great article. I digitised my music and got rid of all my CDs years ago and don’t miss them at all. Earlier this year I did the same thing with my DVD collection, but it required getting two external hard drives for the extra storage needed (two, one for backup ). For me the trade off was a no brainer.
    I’ve been paring down my books, using the kindle app on my phone to read. I find the screen quite comfortable to read (with the added bonus that you don’t need the lights on in bed to read). Speaking of which my smart phone really has replaced quite a few things from my ipod, alarm clock, e-reader, radio to name just a few.

  • Linda Sand

    I’m now using my iPad2 to do most of what I used to do on my laptop and eReader. With iCloud becoming available yesterday I can do even more so I might soon be able to do without the laptop at all. I’m getting lots of tips from a blog called livingwithanipad.com. I have no vested interst in that blog, I’m just a grateful reader of it just as I am here.

  • Sarah

    I’m honestly thinking about getting rid of my laptop in the coming years. My smartphone is perfectly adept at visiting blogs and checking email. As far as music is concerned, I’ve digitized it all and now I don’t listen to very much – when I get a craving for music, my phone has a huge range of “radio” stations for me to enjoy. My partner is much better with technology than I am, and enjoys it more than I do, so I can leave all the home theater stuff to him. And I’ve turned down a Kindle or similar device for 3 Christmases in a row now – I prefer the library or the used bookstore, and donate when I’m done with a book.

  • runi

    I’m an old minimalist who formed her habits long before personal computers/macs–to say nothing of laptops. I love the techno capability we have now. Even when the devices fail, they have taught me valuable lessons. For example, I got a Sony e-reader several years ago and promptly filled it with “books”. When it failed, the books were not retrievable. But you know what? I learned I didn’t miss them.

    Similar failures over the years to computers, etc. taught me essentially the same thing about different aspects of the stuff we store–digitalized and hard copies. I didn’t need it. Now I keep 4 thin essential paper files, and update them periodically. If I take a picture, I take it with my cell–and store it on my cell. If there’s a movie I want to see, I download it, enjoy it and let it go. (I know I can reread the e-version of the book, or see the e-manifestation of the movie again if I really want to.)

    That is one of the nicest aspects of technology–you don’t have to be afraid to let go. And if you want to– or have to–let go of something, you don’t have to worry about taking it somewhere. You just let it go.

  • I am DAZZLED and inspired, as always. Thank you so much for posting this, Francine.

  • Honestly speaking this time post is interesting and comments are more interesting. I must agree with Francine that laptop really help us to own many book, music, movies, photos etc and also do not take any space. We don’t need to clean huge book shelves, CD-DVDs, protect photos from getting withered and so on. But I must agree with point mentioned by Kurkela about electricity failure.

    However; whenever there is no electricity and my laptop dies; I just take that as opportunity to sit back, relax, enjoy the darkness, listen to the sound of some sort of insects make in the night.

    And if it is day time electricity failure, I run errand, de-clutter, do yoga or meditation, take a stroll in park and so on.

    So at the end I still feel that laptops/ PCs /Macs are all indeed the most helpful devices for minimalist.

  • dianon

    having a laptop and kindle has minimized my physical belongings, yet has made me grow in so many other ways. i watch movies now that i never would have been able to afford. i do my daily yoga class from my computer. read about events i would never bother with through a newspaper, and have talked to people on forums and chatrooms from other parts of the world i’ve only dreamed about. i have also been able to find alternatives and solutions to family health issues. my kindle gives me access to many free books either from new authors or classics that i thought i’d get around to but didn’t want to spend money on versus a new bestseller. well, you get the idea. sure i could give them up but on the other hand they have made my life richer.

  • Martha

    Your laptop post was absolutes true in terms of reducing clutter. Everyone needs to find his own best balance when it comes to replacing the tangible with the digital. For many people, their computer is the hub of everything they do.

    However, for me (maybe because I’m in my 50’s??), while it’s an amazingly helpful tool, it’s also very COLD. I find I really need the tactile experience of doing some things by hand. For example….

    A fountain pen (just one) and a box of cream stationery (got rid of all my others) is the way I want to write a letter to a friend. I love the scratchy sound the pen makes, and the handwriting that is MINE and no one else’s. And I would never think of sending a condolence note by email.

    I love my real paper books. A newspaper on my Kindle is super (no more mountains of back issues) but a Jane Austen novel, or a book of poetry, is meant to be held, and curled up with, and the smell of the paper and the typeface design is part of the experience. Also, I agree with others that reading on a computer, scanning its back-lit type, hurts my eyes after a while. At least the Kindle isn’t back-lit, so it’s an extra possession that I allow myself.

    I treasure our old family photos (carefully culled to a precious few), but looking at those sepia prints of my great-grandparents online isn’t the same pleasurable experience. I concede that backing up photos digitally in case of fire is an excellent idea, however, and recent vacation pix are fine to view online.

    I’m 110% with you on your minimalist mission, Francine, and I adore your inspiring book (printed version for me, of course!) But when it comes to technology, I am resisting the urge to do everything on my computer just because I can. And I suspect that it’s not good for our collective brains to do so. As the saying goes,”Wonderful tools, terrible masters.”

  • Great observation. Having a laptop is the single most freeing piece of technology I own as well, for all the reasons you mention.

    As some have stated, sometimes the tactile feel of writing or regular books is needed.

    If you live in a big enough city, ditching your car is a huge expense saver also.
    I write this as I’m working (from my laptop), at a Tea house, so I can’t complain! :)

  • jld

    Yeah! And if you drop it and crash the disk you’ve lost everything

  • Hello Francine. I too have found many benefits from putting my laptop to use in a myriad of ways. Using it makes life much easier and definitely more efficient.

  • Erica

    A few things to add to Francine’s suggestions: 1.You can use your computer to watch tv. I have a device about the size of a pack of cards that connects your computer to the cable. 2.If you digitized your photos, set them up as your screen saver. Mine plays in random order with titles. 3. Although I have a large collection of music, I find myself using spotify almost exclusively. No cd’s to worry about and all the free, legal, music you want. 4. For reading, overdrive through the library is fantastic, though I didn’t start using this wonderful service until I got my ipad which i find to be the ultimate reading device (until the computers on contact lenses or glasses comes out). I have an allergy to paper mold which all books have, so getting rid of paper has been wonderful.

  • Katy

    I haven’t read through all of the comments. One thing to be careful of, for all of you who digitise your CD collection and then sell on the discs themselves, keeping the digital copy is actually illegal because you sell on the right to the music when you sell the disc.

  • I like this post a lot and i agree on a general basis. I, too, try to optimize and do everything on my laptop. i love the convenience of it and it does make me feel more “organized”, albeit perhaps only seemingly. what i have found though, is that it is hard to draw a line between technology that makes our lives easier and the internet, accessible through that technology, that has the potential to make our lives more complicated. Though I learn immensely from browsing the internet everyday, i also feel like it inspires a million different things and can leave me with endless to do lists and reminders that i never get to. I sometimes feel, by successfully minimalizing the physical objects and world around me, i sometimes feel like the opposite is true for my mind. I find that disappointing because ultimately a minimalist lifestyle is meant to heal the mind. i’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Thanks!

  • creed

    love this post! the only thing i would consider: having a dedicated work area (i.e. “office”) may be desirable for tax reasons. be sure to check the IRS requirements for the deduction(s), and it may not work for your situation, but if you dont do this already but can, it could be financially worthwhile.

    cheers

  • Virginia

    Music & video: you paid for the digital versions, right? I’m a huge fan of the fair use doctrine, which (at least theoretically) permits converting hard copies into digital copies for back up or alternative uses, so long as one retains the original hard copy. So we’ve ripped all our CDs, but since that was the original source of the file, we put them in the back of the closet. If we get rid of the hard copies, we no longer have a right to own the back up digital copy… There’s minimalism and then there’s stealing…

    As we buy digital copies (usually through emusic.com), we let the CDs go.

    I’m about to start ripping our DVDs to create a digital library, but again, we’ve got to hang on to the hard copy…

  • I love very much simplicity, but… I love even more physical books, I’m in love with them since I was a child. The PC is very, very helpful, but I don’t love it.

  • Moira Moreira

    Even for religious purposes a computer can help. I keep a folder with pictures of my favorite saints and pictures of flowers I give them. And I light candles virtually:
    http://www.gratefulness.org/candles/enter.cfm?l=eng

  • William Kraft

    My rule for gadgets is are they simple, what do they do, how well do they do it, and does it have a positive effect on my well being. I have a company supplied laptop, iPod Nano, iPad, a Blackberry phone, and Bose noise canceling headphones. With the exception of the iPad (which is a first gen) all are the latest generation products. Yes I have overlap, but I wear the iPod on a watch band and leave the phone put away when traveling. iPad is great for technical pubs, movies, Netflix, reading and DELETING emails, and magazines. I haven’t purchased a paper magazine in over three months. Oh, I am using it for this.

    I was debating on spending $300 on headphones. They offered a thirty day trial. So I splurged. They are worth every penny. I get off of planes feel rested and relaxed. When I need a break from the hustle and noise of the day, they are there for me. Even if it’s just a 10 minute escape.

    I know it sounds like a lot, but they are simple to use, bring peace and harmony (laptop helps bring in a paycheck), have a definite purpose, and they all fit in a messenger bag.

  • RachelH

    I am really on the fence about relying so heavily on technology. I rely very heavily on my iPhone, though. I use it for blog reading, looking up random stuff, Netflix streaming, emails, my daily podcasts, iPod, shopping lists, the Kindle app, bill paying. It doesn’t have phone service but boy is it a workhorse otherwise! I also have ditched most of my books and the ones I really want I will buy for my Kindle. With a couple of exceptions, for example I have a hard copy bilingual dictionary, a few ATK cookbooks and a couple of Bibles.

    There is part of me that feels like it’s cheating if it’s technology. Not sure why. If it broke, I could either replace it or do without. But still, the suspicious feeling lingers…

  • AJ C

    Its not really minimalism if you own a laptop full of mp3’s, ebooks and films. Its just changing a physical clutter for a digital one!!! We are kidding ourselves that we own less than 10 years ago because we actually own a lot lot more. We have simply changed the way we own it!

  • Rob

    While I love and use my laptop in similar fashion, I still question it and the pros/cons it implies. In effect I’ve just moved everything from the physical world to the digital world. Ok so it reduces clutter, but as others mention you lose things such as the true feel of a book. I still have 22,000 music tracks regardless though so my music collection is still cluttered. In fact having a laptop has encouraged me to buy more digital books, movies etc because you don’t perceive it as additional clutter. Therefore I do still enjoy my laptop (I’m a programmer after all) but I take it with a pinch of salt in terms of its decluttering abilities.

  • technology has both complicated and simplified my life. I need a sense of place, and do not find my place in a screen, but the screen is a place to visit often within my real world place.
    Information is much like cells, it takes a certain amount to be “aware”, and too much makes you fat. The right amount of technology is to have the ability to live and do, not too much to overdo and leave the walk around world that is real. The reason we move information around is to advantage ourselves in the food chain and have enough. When someday all are equal in this there will be no advantage and new technology will have to give early adapters new advantage. Whether you have too much stuff or too much technology is not a real question, but does either make you live a happy life. Happiness and comfort are often just a choice you make, events can alter that,but still you must choose how you feel about what you use and do, and if it makes you happy then there is no measure of how much, just how well.

  • Dylan

    I had a hard time getting rid of my paper books so I started by donating the fiction books, which can be found in any library. Nonfiction is more difficult for me. I have many out of print books and books from my parents’ collections that I am loathe to get rid of and probably never will. But I’m working on it. Books are the largest “item” in my house right now, I’ve pretty much pared everything else down to the bone. I have plenty of bookshelves but I’m working hard to pare the collection and not replace them with more books.

    My local library (San Francisco Public) is a LINKS member, which means there is probably no need for me to ever buy a book again. We can check out books from many academic and university libraries all over the West Coast. LINKS is a gold mine for someone like me who loves nonfiction and history.

  • Tina

    I have a pad and a phone. We don’t even have laptops anymore. Since there is Google, Wikipedia and the like, the answers to puzzles are always available. Books are at the library, as are DVD’s . We have more available than previous generations could only dream of.

  • Tina

    When I told someone I didn’t own a laptop, just an I pad and a phone and I went to the library to print things out, they were surprised. We moved next to a library on purpose. There are classes, meetings, and they have lots of books and magazines so I don’t have to.

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