Over the past few years there has been an overwhelming phenomena of living with less. From tiny homes to decluttering to becoming full-on “minimalists,” it’s a concept that everyone has thought of. It’s certainly not for everyone but you may be already implementing minimalism into your lives without even knowing. Technology itself has helped us ditch a lot of “stuff.”
You’re Already a Minimalist
That’s right. You may not see yourself or your household as being a minimalist, but if you listen to music on your computer, iPhone or iPod, you’ve already ditched CDs and most likely don’t buy every song on vinyl. Do you watch movies on Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Hulu? You’ve already limited your Blu Ray or DVD purchases (what are DVDs?). Most new video game systems don’t require you to own anything physical. With a digital book shelf on your Kindle, iPad or other mobile device, there’s no need to stress about how to fit another novel into your already-full shelves.
How else can technology help you declutter? Take a look at some of these neat ideas from some awesome minimalist contributors!
Your Trash Is Someone’s Treasure
There are several websites, Facebook and Yahoo Groups that are dedicated to finding a new home for all sorts of things that you are ready to ditch. On Facebook, neighborhoods across the country have a Buy Nothing Group. This hyperlocal group, and I mean hyperlocal by street name, encourages and enables communities to “commit episodic acts of daily good together.” You can give and find anything from clothes to home cooked meals to cement blocks to plants to rabbits to snakes to rabbit-eating snakes (don’t get those confused) to kombucha to pretty much anything.
Yahoo’s Freecycle group is very similar. Someone shared a story:
I used to save shoe boxes for school projects, and then one day I realized that my kids were too old to need them, so I posted on Freecycle that I had 40 shoe boxes. A woman who was a kindergarten teacher contacted me and took them off my hands.
Digital Gallery and Scrapbooking
Some of the hardest things to let go are personal mementos that one day you will want to look back at in nostalgia. Whether it’s ticket stubs or your child’s artwork, some things are just so hard to throw away or even recycle. Unless you have an attic the size of the National Gallery, there will never be enough space to house your child(ren)’s 20 years (or more) worth of artwork. If your son or daughter become an artist, you will certainly want to show off their earlier drawings to family and friends. What do you keep?
One option is to take pictures of your children’s artwork and create a digital gallery. Joshua, of Howard Tech, told us how his family makes this “an event:”
With four children, we have a LOT of artwork in our house. We hold regular ‘art shows,’ where each of our kids lays out there favorite pieces of artwork in their
rooms. We take pictures of all they put on display, since they are most proud of them. If there are any that they don’t want to let go of, we keep. The rest gets recycled. That makes it really easy to label, with the appropriate artiste and date. We keep a digital art gallery by child and year. Simple and no need to worry
about their future artist self ever losing anything.
You can also photograph concert tickets, Playbills, mini golf scorecards, menus of your favorite restaurants, post cards, birthday or holiday cards and make a digital scrapbook of each year, child, vacation or event. Then you can recycle all of the paper and donate the filing cabinets.
Keeping Lists and Notepads
It’s time to throw out the notepads, planners, and PalmPilots (remember those?). You can keep all lists, appointments, and notes on most phones. With apps like Google Keep or Apple Calendar (in iCloud), you can share lists and calendars with family, colleagues, and friends when needed. Even better is when you have a virtual assistant, such as Alexa, to help keep you organized. Simply tell Alexa to add items to a grocery or To Do list, and any member of your family can see what needs to be restocked in the fridge while at the grocery store.
Other ideas for shared lists include:
- Recycle your menus and store your family’s favorite restaurants and each member’s favorite dish for easy “to go” ordering,
- Medical information, including doctors’ names & numbers, pictures of prescriptions, vaccinations, insurance cards, and anything you may need to answer a doctor’s question while at the office.
Note: Apple just released a new feature that allows you to store health information in the phone in case of an emergency. Read more here.
Carry Less in Your Wallet
With apps like Apple Pay and Google Pay (formerly Google Wallet and Android Pay), you can store your credit cards digitally. That means you can leave your CC at home. If you have bonus cards for pharmacies, grocery stores, or anywhere, you can usually download their native app or Key Ring which allows you to store all of the bonus cards in a single app.
If you’re like me, tired of receiving so much junk mail, there’s an easy way to opt out of mailings. If you go to DMAChoice.org, you can sign up to opt out of many physical mailings. This will leave your recycle bin a bit more empty and available for things you cannot opt out of.
How are you using technology to minimize “stuff”?
Let us know if you have successfully used a site, app, group, or other technology to downsize your footprint. Email Michelle@howardtechadvisors.com and we’d love to share your story to inspire other minimalists.
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