In this episode of The Minimalists Podcast, Joshua & Ryan talk about the things they stopped buying as minimalists and why they stopped buying them with YouTuber Shelbizleee, and they answer the following questions:
Will economies continue to survive and thrive if minimalism is adopted by the masses?
How do I better control my spending online where they make it so easy to be impulsive?
How do I stop myself from buying food I don’t need?
We are all writers now. Whether you write books, blog posts, emails, Instagram captions, or text messages, you are a writer. No matter your preferred medium, here are a few tips to help you write more effectively.
Treat text messages like prose. Before hitting the send button, review your text: spelling, content, punctuation. Ask yourself: What am I attempting to communicate? What am I attempting to express? Be more deliberate with your most common form of casual writing, and you’ll automatically become more deliberate in other mediums.
Words are tools. Expand your vocabulary to make your writing more precise. There’s no need to use a ten-dollar word when a ten-cent word will suffice, but having more tools in your toolbox will allow you to select the most appropriate tool for the job. Sometimes you need an ax, sometimes you need a scalpel. Pick one new word each day, and then use it at least 21 times in your conversations with others that day. The most useful words will stick, and your vocabulary will expand over time.
Do it daily. If you want to improve your writing, write every day. Writing is a muscle: if you don’t use it, you lose it. For me, the best way to guarantee consistent writing was to start a blog. (Related article: How to Start a Successful Blog Today.)
Punctuation. Is. Pace. To add variety, velocity, and cadence to your writing, play around with different punctuation: periods, commas, em dashes, colons, semicolons. Short, succinct sentences communicate tension. Longer, run-on sentences, on the other hand, help establish a frantic, hurried rhythm—a feeling that the pace is picking up as the words tumble onto the page.
Avoid throat-clearing. Blogs, books, and social media posts are littered with unnecessary intros, solipsistic digressions, and avoidable drivel. Ditch the nonsense and state your points. When in doubt, delete your first two paragraphs and see whether the writing improves.
Don’t waste the reader’s time. Our time and our attention are two of our most precious resources. It is selfish to force a reader to spend fifteen minutes reading something you could’ve—and should’ve—communicated in 90 seconds. If you want to earn your reader’s trust, don’t waste their time.
30% composition, 70% editing. For every hour you spend writing, spend three hours editing, shaping your work into something more concise, more powerful—more beautiful. Writing truly is rewriting.
Narrative urgency. Every sentence must serve a purpose: Your first sentence must make the reader want to read the second. The second sentence must propel the reader to the third. So forth and so on until the very end. If a sentence doesn’t move the narrative forward—if it doesn’t make the writing more urgent—then it must hit the cutting-room floor, no matter how clever or precious it seems.
Avoid too many adverbs. A sure sign of amateur writing is the overuse of adverbs, especially -ly adverbs. A woman in a story isn’t incredibly pretty—she’s beautiful; the sky isn’t very blue—it’s azure. Find the perfect words to avoid using adverbs as crutches.
Read more about writing. No matter your level of competency, there’s always room for improvement. For daily tips and writing-related articles, follow How to Write Better on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to the free How to Write Better newsletter.
If you’re serious about improving your writing, and you’re willing to put in the time and effort, I teach a dozen new students each month in my four-week online writing class, How to Write Better.
In this episode of The Minimalists Podcast, Joshua & Ryan discuss whether success leads to sadness, whether sadness leads to success, and how to deal with both with singer-songwriter Matt Nathanson, and they answer the following questions:
How do I carve out time to take better care of myself so I can be the best me for myself and others?
In 2016, The Minimalists, alongside our friends Sarah and Joshua Weaver, opened a coffeehouse in St. Petersburg, Florida: Bandit. A year later, we began roasting our own coffee, and until recently, the only places you could get a cup of Bandit Coffee were inside the four walls of our shop or in a handful of coffeehouses that carry it.
But now you can have Bandit Coffee delivered directly to your front door! We just launched “The Minimalists’ Choice,” a rotating selection of our favorite seasonal coffees. You can find our current favorite at TheMinimalists.coffee.
The Minimalists’ Favorite Coffeehouses
No need to limit your coffee consumption to our beans, though. Here’s a list of our favorite independent coffeehouses in the United States and around the world (in alphabetical order).
In this episode of The Minimalists Podcast, Joshua & Ryan talk about their favorite things, why they add value to their lives, why they may not add value to your life, and they answer the following questions:
How much is too much in a collection?
How do I part with favorite items that are simply sentimental?
How do I part with favorite items that no longer add value and now function as distractions?
Whenever we fail to make a decision, we fail to grow.
As we approach each of life’s proverbial forks in the road, we are not faced merely with two potential courses of action; rather, as many as four choices appear at each fork.
The right path. Often the correct decision is glaring: the right path is illuminated, clear for miles, obvious to everyone. Whenever this is the case, seize the opportunity—take the right path.
The wrong path. Some paths are blatantly incorrect, crammed with unnecessary obstacles and venomous creatures. Avoid these routes, even when they seem beautiful, tantalizing, or easy.
The left path. Sometimes the fork presents two equally viable options: the right path is right, but so is the left—or maybe you cannot tell which path is correct. In these instances, it is most important to simply pick either path, using all available relevant information, and keep moving forward. Even if we pick the wrong path, we grow from the failure.
No path. When faced with two unknown paths—left and right—we often freeze with indecision, and then we stay stuck with decision-making paralysis. This is the worst option of all: not deciding is always a bad decision.
Read this essay and 150 others in our book, Essential.
In this episode of The Minimalists Podcast, Joshua & Ryan discuss freedom, travel, an introduction to minimalism, and the new American Dream with author, podcaster, and intrepid traveler Colin Wright, and they answer the following questions:
Is homeownership still an ideal goal?
What is considered freedom today, and how do we gain more freedom in our lives?
How have your social interactions during your travels enriched your worldview?
Are you prepared to walk away from everything? This rarely asked question shapes one of the most important principles in my life.
We are all familiar with the age-old hypothetical in which our home is burning and we must grab only the things that are most important to us. Of course, most of us would not dash into the inferno and reach for material items first—we’d ensure the safety of our loved ones and pets. Then, once they were safe, we’d grab only the irreplaceable things—photos, hard drives, family heirlooms. Everything else would be lost in the conflagration.
I like to look at this thought experiment differently, though, taking the theoretical a bit further.
There is a scene in Heat in which Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro) says, “Allow nothing in your life that you cannot walk out on in 30 seconds flat.” Although my life is nothing like McCauley’s (he’s the film’s bad guy), I share his sentiment. Almost everything I bring into my life—possessions, ideas, habits, and even relationships—I must be able to walk away from at a moment’s notice.
Many readers will disagree because this credo sounds crass. But I’d like to posit that it’s the opposite: our preparedness to walk away is the ultimate form of caring.
If I purchase new physical goods, I need to make certain I don’t assign them too much meaning. Being able to walk away means I won’t ever get too attached to my belongings, and being unattached to stuff makes our lives tremendously flexible—filled with opportunity.
If I take on a new idea or habit, I do so because it has the potential to benefit my life. New ideas shape the future Me. Same goes for habits. Over time my ideas change, improve, and expand, and my current habits get replaced by new ones that continue to help me grow. Our readiness to jilt ideas or habits means we’re willing to grow—we’re willing to constantly pursue a better version of ourselves.
If I bring a new relationship into my world, I know I must earn their love, respect, and kindness. I also expect they, too, are willing to leave should I not provide the support and understanding they require. Thus, we both must work hard to contribute to the relationship. We must communicate and remain cognizant of each other’s needs. And, above all, we must care. These fundamentals—love, communication, understanding, caring—build trust, which builds a stronger connection in the long run. It sounds paradoxical, but our willingness to walk away strengthens our bond with others. And the opposite stance—being chained by obligation to a relationship—is disingenuous, a false loyalty birthed from pious placation.
There are obvious exceptions to this rule—efforts we cannot easily abandon: a marriage, a business partnership, a career, a passion. The key is to have as few exceptions as possible.
Crucially, even these exceptions aren’t exceptions. Marriages often end, as do businesses. People get laid off, and passions change over time. Even though we might not be able to walk away from these endeavours in “30 seconds flat,” we can ultimately decamp when these situations no longer serve us.
Everything I allow into my life enters it deliberately. If my home was aflame, there’s nothing I own that can’t be replaced: All photos are scanned. All important files are backed up. And all the stuff has no real meaning. Similarly, I’m prepared to walk away from nearly anything—even the people closest to me—if need be. Doing so safeguards my continued growth and improves my relationships, both of which contribute to a fulfilling, meaningful life.
It was C.S. Lewis who, 50 years ago, eloquently said, “Don’t let your happiness depend on something you may lose.” In today’s material world, a world of fear-fueled clinging, his words seem more apropos than ever.
Read this essay and 150 others in our book, Essential.