By Thom Brown
A messy and disorganized office is a leading cause of wasted time, with some studies suggesting that 1.5 hours day is spent just looking for items. That’s a full workday each week. In an attempt to find success through improved focus and productivity, many digital nomads are adopting a minimalist lifestyle. From the greatest tech entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs to brand new tech startups, minimalism is a tool which is helping to redirect attention towards business success.
If you are a location independent entrepreneur, looking to travel full time, then some form of minimalism is probably already a part of your life. The average American home contains 300,000 items, which is significantly more than you’d fit in even the largest suitcase or backpack. However, most people are still bringing far more than they need, which is sapping time and energy away from focusing on your business. If you want to give yourself the best chance of success, then jump on the minimalist bandwagon and experience for yourself how liberating it can be.
A Way of Life as Old as Mankind
The very first human tribes were nomadic in nature, drifting from place to place in search of food and water. In many ways, location independence is the natural state of humankind. However, with the invention of agriculture, it became essential to settle down, tending your crops and looking after your sheep. Thus marked the end of nomadism and the beginning of location dependence.
When travelling non-stop, humans were forced into minimalism. Only that which was useful for survival would be carried by the tribe. However, by creating settlements and working in the same place for a lifetime, it became all too easy to gather unnecessary belongings. Storage space was built into caves, out of wood, or dug into the ground. The introduction of currency as a replacement to bartering meant that people could now buy useless junk; a tradition that continues to this day.
This location-dependent lifestyle has been a part of human life for 99% of our existence as a species. Before agriculture was developed, food was acquired through hunting animals and gathering nuts and fruit. This meant constantly being in motion, hoping for a greater abundance of food just over the horizon. Once a stable source of food became available through the establishment of farms, it was no longer efficient to move. Instead, animals and crops could all be gathered into one place to serve the community.
This was followed by specialization. While some farmers raised the cattle, others would tend to the crops. This rapidly increased efficiency, meaning that people were able to dedicate their time to other tasks, such as clothes making or boat building. This was the foundation of specialized, location-dependent careers that was established 10,000 years ago. Since then, communities have been built around a single location and therefore nearly all jobs have been located in that one place.
However, the internet and smartphones mean that location independence and the tribal nomadic existence is once more accessible for the first time since the dawn of agriculture. If you are part of the now 70% of workers globally who work remotely at least some of the time, then it is time to think back to your tribal origins and consider adopting minimalism. Buying and selling can now happen online rather than in a shop, while creative teams can work together on their project using a group Skype call rather than all having to turn up to a meeting room. With this newfound location independent career option, all that is needed to earn a living is a laptop and an internet connection, allowing the freedom to adopt a minimalist lifestyle.
Successful Entrepreneurs and Minimalism
Minimalism is one thread that seems to link all successful entrepreneurs. If you do a Google Image search for Mark Zukerberg, you will see him basically wearing the same gray or blue top in every photo. Do the same for Steve Jobs and all you’ll get are black turtle necks. This is no coincidence. In order to be hyper productive in the competitive tech industry, business leaders don’t want to waste time deciding what to wear each day. This can lead to decision fatigue and inhibit your ability to come up with creative ideas and make smart business choices.
Steve jobs took this commitment to minimalism to the design board, coming up with a phone which had just a single button. This made the use of such a device so much easier for the user, much in the same way that Will Ford and Felix Kenchington, co-founders of Arcido, are promoting location independence and minimalist one-bag travel with simple and cleverly designed backpacks. Their product range is narrow, but focused to improve quality.
This is similar to the approach taken by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, who have proved the success of minimalism, having built a business with millions of customers. By putting all of their attention into just one project a year they ensure that they carry out their work with joy and dedication. Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook from his college dorm room and has stuck with it ever since, showing that committing to one thing and one thing only can lead to unbeatable levels of success.
Compare this to Elon Musk, who – although admittedly highly successful – has taken on many projects at once, with each one arguably failing to meet expectations. Had he just focused on Tesla, they may not be experiencing the production problems that cost them $700 million in their first quarter. Had Musk committed solely to SpaceX, humanity could already have reached Mars.
Minimalism is a broad lifestyle that means different things to different people. Steve Jobs has described simplicity as “the ultimate sophistication” and minimalism as a tool for digging through the complexity of everyday life and understanding the true essence of something. Some minimalists will remove every item that doesn’t serve a specific purpose, while others will embrace clutter, but ensure that they don’t get attached to material possessions. In essence, whether you own 300,000 items or 30, minimalism is a way of viewing the world that allows for freedom and focus.
At its core minimalism is a refocusing of your attention onto life’s most meaningful aspects. These are more likely to be experiences, travel, relationships, and your business success, rather than material objects. Some of the world’s most productive and successful people are embracing a simple way of living. It isn’t the only determining factor in achieving success or finding happiness, but it can be a powerful tool for increased focus and productivity. At the very least, you will be lighter on your feet and ready to take advantage of your location independent lifestyle. With just a small backpack and a laptop, you’ll be ready to hop from country to country, living your dream life while you work.
Branded content: This article is a collaboration between Tribe Theory Media and Arcido.