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, andprinting 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.)