How cluttered is your life?

The BBC and Boing Boing recently profiled Kelly Sutton, a 22 year old Brooklyn software engineer, whose goal it is to live with as little “stuff” in his life as possible.  According to the Boing Boing article:

He says he has gotten rid of all of his possessions, save for his laptop, an iPad, an Amazon Kindle, two external hard drives, a ‘few’ articles of clothing, and bed sheets for a mattress that was left in his newly rented apartment.

Interestingly, this doesn’t appear to be a kind of 1970’s era “back to the earth” ascetic impulse.  While it is an attempt to have less “stuff” to worry about and take care of, one of the real reasons this is possible is because so much stuff has become digital.

A Kindle is one thing, but can display an unlimited amount of books.  Or here is another personal example: I have a library of over 214 audio books through The books are stored on the servers, and if I want to listen to one, I just download it to my mp3 player.

This kind of minimalism appeals to me to a degree.  I already feel like my “office” is really the backpack where I tote my laptop, headset, webcam, and a few other essentials.  Whether I sit at a desk, a table, on the couch, or in my truck, I have my office with me.

Here are a few interesting sites:

  • “Unclutterer is the blog about getting and staying organized. A place for everything, and everything in its place is our gospel.”
  • Tiny House Blog:  There is something appealing about the idea of a tiny house.
  • The Fly Lady: She’s been doing this since 2001.
  • And on the opposite end of the spectrum: A&E Hoarders

3 responses to “How cluttered is your life?

  1. I have been a fly-lady follower since 2003 when I was at home with a newborn. Upon returning to work I went on a brief fly-lady hiatus when my life got too busy (big mistake!). However, I’ve been trying to simplify things once more, and just went back to the flylady website about 3 weeks ago to help me get back on track. I highly recommend it to those of us that are working out of our homes, trying to maintain a schedule so that the time doesn’t just slip by! One of her methods is to divide your house into zones that you tackle each week in short 15 minute sessions – if you can stick to it, it works!

  2. Jonathan Groves

    Laurie and Will and others,

    Neat article! An office in a backpack, eh? Not what my office is like, that’s for sure!

    Unfortunately audio books like that don’t work well in mathematics. To see what I mean, try imagining being in a math class where you can hear the lectures but can’t see anything except maybe your ordinary surroundings.

    However, audio books can work with certain books in math or math education that do make perfect sense hearing them rather than seeing them.

    Maybe I ought to switch to literature to solve this problem of books taking up lots of space and still having books that make sense to listen to. Shakespeare, anyone?

    I’m also the type of person who works best or at least most comfortably in a place I can call mine. Sometimes there are exceptions, but that’s the general rule that applies to me. I reckon that might give you another reason why mathematicians can be quite odd.

    Jonathan Groves

  3. A cluttered life is an understatement for me right now over this last year I have had a new baby, graduated my oldest child sent her off to college, transitioned my 88 year old grandmother to a nursing home, completed my MBA, maintained full-time employment, started a small business venture, and maintained my household with two other children (w/the college student and new born = 4 kids) and my loving supportive husband. So my goal that I began on October 1st was to de-clutter my life and complete a DIVA (Divine Individual Visiting Anew)Makeover to be completed by October 1, 2012 so this article is right on time. I will have to keep you posted with the before and after outcome. Great blog!!! Thank you for all the information.

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