Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Brian Gardner of No Sidebar.
I used to think that minimalism was limited to an overabundance of tangible goods and removing unnecessary things from our lives. There was a part of me that thought getting rid of everything you don’t need or use inside your home was the definition of being a minimalist.
But then I started to challenge that line of thinking, and came to the conclusion that while it’s partly that, it’s also more than that.
I began to do a lot of reading on the subject, from Zen Habits to Be More With Less, to The Minimalists and Rowdy Kittens. Most of what I read I agreed with, but not in the obvious context.
What I found myself saying “Yes, THIS!” to were decisions made by others, but to me they resonated on an intellectual level. In other words, I found myself agreeing to the “why” behind the choices, and not so much the “how.”
Around this same period of my life, I was doing a lot of web design, which meant I was spending (and still am) a tremendous amount of time online. I started to notice websites that were filled with clutter, which looked a number of different ways.
Some websites had too many distractions and some offered too many options for places to go. Click here, follow me, share this. Stuff like that.
What I really wanted to do is read their content. I was more interested in the words on the page and what they were saying, but I was constantly bombarded with things that took me off course.
As I continued my way through this journey, I began to make choices to eliminate some of these symptoms on my own website. I removed a few things that I thought took people away from the primary goal.
And this included no sidebars.
When I was finished doing that on my own website, I slowly incorporated these types of choices into the themes I designed for my company. I felt as though I could make a difference on the web, and this was my way of suggesting that others follow suit.
If you have a blog or website, I highly encourage you to take a long hard look at what’s on your page. Is it there because it should be there? Or is it there because you’re told it should be, or simple want to fill up space? Do you really need that widget in your sidebar? Is it really an effective use of your online real estate?
There’s a chance that over time, you’ll continually pack on the pounds of excess “stuff” on your website, much the same way we gain weight during the holidays. But these items often stand in the way of accomplishing your goals. Taking the time for spring-cleaning is definitely well worth it.
I think it’s time we look inward and identify what’s really important online and deliberately invest our time there. Maybe it’s a community, or a blog that really tugs at your heart. Perhaps your efforts are better spent in one place, rather than many places.
Social media is another example of feasting. I try my best to limit my primary activity to just Facebook and Twitter, because that is where my audience resides and where I see the most benefit. Anything outside of that is potentially time wasted, which results in a lack of productivity.
The less time I spend on social media, the more time I have with my family or doing other things that I enjoy. This allows me the opportunity to pursue things I’m passionate about, and relationships that can make a difference.
I love how The Minimalists define minimalism:
Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from overwhelm. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from depression. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom.
I’m a firm believer that far too often we overproduce and overindulge — and this includes the life we lead online. I think our productivity is stifled by the “too many-ness” we encounter on the web, which results deep down in a lack of satisfaction.
In my opinion, minimalism isn’t just limited to the consumption of goods and thoughts.
Minimalism is a mentality of being intentional with our everyday actions, and removing the noise that gets in the way. (tweet that)
For some that means getting rid of personal belongings, for others it’s the removal of a sidebar on their website. Either way, we are all on a similar journey — one of intentionality and a search for happiness.
No Sidebar is a weekly email newsletter from Brian Gardner that helps people identify the things that stand in the way of building their business.
Kodey WhiteWolf says
Have felt that as I went thru different stages of decluttering Lighten the load of stuff …ahhhhh. Freedom. Love it
Good post. I learn something new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon everyday.
It’s always interesting to read articles from other writers and use
a little something from their web sites.
Fiki Firmansyah says
Been removed all unnecessary links & sidebar on my own personal website, it looks way much better, now I just have 3 links menus & one copyright footer, no images at all.
This is exactly what I needed to read to give my blog a good clean-up. I think it turned out pretty well, but I suppose I’m a little biased. :P
Thanks so much for this article. After about six years of “Yes, THIS” moments, 2015 is going to be my year for embracing minimalism in all areas of my life, and not just inside my head. My blog was only the beginning!! :D x
Tony W says
I believe I need a “No Sidebar” intervention, literally and figuratively ;-)