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Educational Resources for Minimalists, Both Aspiring and Experienced

 

Explore our complete collection of articles on minimalism, the minimalist lifestyle, digital minimalism, and how to create passive income. Get inspired and empowered to live your best life with our library of articles on a variety of topics related to the minimalist life written by a team of writers from all over the world. Check back often for updates and new featured articles.

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  • Abby Manrell - Digital Marketer - Canada

Updated: Sep 18, 2021

Learn to live in the moment, break your addiction to technology, and declutter your brain in the process.



What is Digital Minimalism?


A term coined by Cal Newport, Digital Minimalism encourages you to question the value that the digital tools you use add to your life, and to then only use tools that contribute real, meaningful value.


To determine whether Digital Minimalism is for you, ask yourself:

Do you struggle to focus at work or school?

  1. Do you often feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information you have at your fingertips?

  2. In your free time, do you often scroll on Instagram or TikTok while watching Netflix, not really paying attention to either?

  3. Do you often have an excessive amount of tabs open on your computer?

  4. Do you scroll mindlessly on social media, barely even processing what’s on your feed?


If you answered yes to any of those questions, you stand to benefit from Digital Minimalism. By interacting purposely with technology, you will better be able to focus and tune out excessive digital noise, to find true joy from the media that you choose to engage with.


Why do we need it?


Technology is both a blessing and a curse. It has undoubtedly furthered our society and contributed to great developmental progress, but it has also caused great harm.


When it comes to technology, you can have too much of a good thing. People around the globe are exposed to excessive amounts of technology every single day, with the average person spending over 7.5 hours per day with digital media- if you’re sleeping 8 hours a night, that means you spend almost 50% of your waking hours online. During this time online, the average person views between 6,000 to 10,000 ads on a daily basis. Not only is the number of ads increasing, but so is the number of places they appear. While classic advertising strategies like product placement are still alive and well, they now have to contend with scarily accurate ads on Google, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Youtube, in-game ads for video games and apps, and more. It is virtually impossible to escape these ads, and yet you probably weren’t aware of just how many you’re exposed to. Hence, the inundation and loss of focus.


Beyond advertisements, commonly-used social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook have immense power to affect our lives. Since social media allows us to connect with others faster than ever, you’d think it would have beneficial impacts on mental health and feelings of social isolation- yet, somehow, the opposite is true. In 2017, one study found that young adults who use social media more often may be up to 3 times as likely to feel isolated from their peers.


Beyond social isolation, social media can be a double-edged sword when it comes to mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Another study from 2016 found that social media has the potential to improve or diminish users’ mental health. If users have positive interactions on these platforms, it may be beneficial to their health. Conversely, those who have negative experiences on social media platforms are more prone to mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. To quote Marvel, “with great power comes great responsibility.” While social media platforms are undoubtedly powerful, they do not always accept this responsibility as they should.


Now, let’s jump back into the real world. And how is your back? Is it a little sore? Are your eyes strained? Are you exercising less than you should be because you just need to find out what happens next in WandaVision?


Spending too much time online can negatively impact your physical health and activity levels, which may in turn affect your mental health even further.


Without interference, the overconsumption of digital media is only getting worse, with many people even becoming addicted to technology. What’s worse is that in many cases, this addiction is encouraged. Checking your work email even when you’re off the clock is considered hard-working, not harmful. Checking your social media every 10 minutes, even when you’re on the clock at work is habitual, not worrisome. While these actions can be innocuous, the intent behind them is key- do you compulsively spend time online? Do you have trouble stopping, even when it’s to your own detriment?


If technology is taking up too much (if not all) of your time and cluttering your brain with massive amounts of information, here’s how to fix it.


Benefits of Digital Minimalism


Since the main goal of Digital Minimalism is to be purposeful with your consumption, it should be no surprise that improved mental health is one of the main benefits. When you consciously use technology, you can actively seek out good experiences and interactions, and stop as soon as they turn negative. Protect your well-being by only allowing the best of the internet into your life.


Likewise, when you are able to actively tune out the digital media that doesn’t serve you, a good chunk of space in your brain will be freed up. Then, you’ll be able to really focus on the media that brings value to your life, such as Facetiming your long-distance partner or watching your favourite TV show after work. You’ll also have more time for other activities, such as going on a run to boost your endorphins.


Finally, by selectively engaging with technology, you’ll gain an improved sense of control of technology. Remind yourself that you own it, not the other way around. That iPhone did not spend almost $1,000 on you! Despite what online advertisements and cleverly-built social media algorithms may want you to think, you are not subject to the internet’s whims. You can interact with it on your own terms.


How to implement Digital Minimalism


To take control of your life and declutter your brain, start by analyzing where your digital boundaries lie. You may, unfortunately, need to use some media for basic functions. If you’re an HR Recruiter, for example, deleting LinkedIn may be out of the question. However, you can still set boundaries for yourself- only check it and respond to messages during work hours.


When it comes to technology that’s purely for personal use, it’s time to bring in the minimalist icon, Marie Kondo. Ask yourself what brings you joy and adds to your life, then delete everything else. I mean it- delete that unnecessary app from your phone, remove that bookmark from your computer. The old saying “out of sight, out of mind” really comes into play here.


Personally, I fell victim to TikTok when I was stuck in lockdown last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, once I went back to work, I found myself mindlessly scrolling through the app, even when I knew I should be doing something else. So, to embrace Digital Minimalism myself, I deleted it and never looked back.


Well… that is not entirely accurate, I might have looked back once or twice. If you can’t kick your technology addiction on your first try, don’t beat yourself up. It’s considered an addiction for a reason. These algorithms are made to draw you in and keep you engaged, even against your better judgment. If you can’t go cold-turkey, try reducing the (unwanted) time you spend online by 10-50% every day, depending on what you can handle. I also recommend that you bring an external party into the loop to help you kick your habit. Have a roommate knock on the door when your time is up, or grab dinner with a friend to reward yourself when you stay within your time limit.


However, if the abundance of technology in your life is so overwhelming that you need a short-term solution right now, it exists. I’ll warn you though, it’s a little ironic.


If you can’t bring yourself to log off on your own… there’s an app for that. Platforms like Flora and Google’s Digital Wellbeing, among others, will lock apps on your phone and/or computer for selected amounts of time. This will, at minimum, allow you to prevent your technology addiction from interfering with your productivity at work. Many of these apps and plugins will also help track your technology usage over time, so you can watch yourself improve!


Overall, three key tips for embracing Digital Minimalism are to set your boundaries, communicate them effectively to others (like your boss who keeps sending you emails at 10 PM), and stick to them.


#DigitalMinimalism #DigitalBoundaries #MarieKondo #CalNewport #SimplySimpleOrg


 





  • Jessica Duncan - Freelance Writer - Canada

Updated: Sep 18, 2021



An Alternative to Investing with Big Banks and Their Big Fees


When people think of the stock market, they most likely think of stock brokers on Wall Street, notoriously known for their slippery and shark-like behaviour. They might think of the enormous fees big banks charge for their stock market expertise or the large investment of a personal financial advisor. They may simply think about how complicated the stock market is and feel completely overwhelmed. For certain: the stock market can feel like an intimidating beast to tackle. The average young person knows little to absolutely nothing about the stock market or how to invest. This puts Millennials and Gen Z at a significant disadvantage when it comes to building and maintaining wealth.

Photo by Morgan Housel on Unsplash


Millennials and Gen Z tend to think about more immediate financial concerns and wants. This is unsurprising since the new generation is earning 20% less than baby boomers did at the same age, leaving little room for early retirement planning. Essentially, as baby boomers age, their percentage of total wealth has increased. Meanwhile, millennials have barely seen an increase in net worth and own only 3% of North American wealth. However, this article argues that by practicing financial minimalism and pairing it with the financial literacy offered in this article, young people can take that extra money and pay their future selves first.



The truth is, big banks have been lying to you. Banks prey on our fear of the stock market, convincing us it’s complicated to get you to spend your money on their fees and convincing you to buy mutual funds, which is how banks make their money. But - and this article will prove it to you - investing in the stock market doesn’t have to come with expensive fees and it doesn’t need to be complicated. In reality, it’s about as easy as buying something on Amazon or checking your bank account! You do not need a Wall Street stockbroker or your bank's financial advisor to buy stocks. You can easily buy stocks, ETFs, bonds, etc. for a fraction of the price from the comfort of your own home using an online broker.


Online Brokers: Investing Made Simple


An online broker, or a “discount broker” is a website that allows you to buy and sell securities (such as stocks, bonds. ETFs, and more) at the click of a button. For example, if you want to buy RBC stock (the largest bank in Canada), you don’t need to call an existing RBC investor and convince them to sell their stock to you. Instead, you use an online broker where thousands of people are buying and selling stocks online every second. You see the price of the stock and you can choose to buy it right there - you don’t need to interact with the seller, and your online broker fully handles the transaction. There are lots of online brokers out there and most big banks offer their own version of online brokers. However, even online brokers from big banks tend to come with high fees.


Some of the biggest online brokers in Canada are TD Direct Investing, Q-trade, Scotia Itrade, RBC Direct investing, and WealthSimple Trade Mobile App. Most of these brokers have either high fees or severe limitations. Looking at options that do not have high fees or severe limitations, our pick for the best online broker is Questrade.


Questrade: The #1 Online Broker


Questrade is a Canadian broker that offers Canadian citizens an alternative to investing with big banks and their big fees. Questrade has built a reputation on offering the same quality and service as established banks without having to hand over more money than you’d like. In fact, Questrade offers the lowest commission fees of any other online broker. A commission fee is a fee you pay to your broker anytime you want to buy or sell a stock or any other type of security (ex. ETF). Most of the online brokers mentioned above require a $10 dollar or more commission fee anytime you buy or sell anything. In comparison, Questrade only charges $5 dollars to buy or sell stocks and amazingly, charges you nothing to buy or sell ETFs. This is especially advantageous if you’re investing in smaller amounts - like $1000 - where $10 per buy is a big portion of your budget.


TFSA and RRSP: Fee Free Investment Accounts with Questrade


Questrade also allows you to open a TFSA (tax-free savings account) and/or a RRSP (registered retirement savings plan) free of charge. Where most Canadian brokers charge around $50 dollar fees to even open these accounts, Questrade waives those fees right off the bat. Questrade also offers you the options of self-directed investing or getting a pre-built portfolio for an affordable $0.01 per share or just 0.25% of your investment. So whether you choose to go self-directed or pre-built, it’s clear that Questrade offers their services at a fraction of the price of big banks. Pairing these extremely low prices with the financial minimalism, will allow the average millennial to start investing for little-to-no upfront costs beyond their investment. Additionally, Questrade offers advanced research tools including news, fundamental data and chart pattern tools, portfolio analysis, and the highest level of customer service and security.


Opening a TFSA with Questrade: Everything You Need to Know



As explained by Questrade itself, TFSA’s were introduced by the Canadian government in 2009 to help Canadians accumulate wealth by investing and saving on taxes. Canadian residents who are 18 and older with a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN) can easily set up an account through Questrade. Once your account is set up, a TFSA offers you a range of

benefits.



There are three main benefits of opening a TFSA with Questrade:


1. Tax-free earnings: A TFSA allows you to earn capital gains and dividends tax-free (with some exceptions).

2. Tax-free withdrawals: While your contributions are not tax-deductible, you won’t be taxed or penalized for any eligible gains when you withdraw funds.

3. Won’t affect government benefits: In retirement, money you withdraw from a TFSA won’t count as yearly income. So, if you’re receiving government programs (Child Tax Benefit, Guaranteed Income Supplement, etc.), your TFSA won’t alter the amount you receive from the program.


Pair these benefits with the low cost of having a TFSA with Questrade and it becomes a no-brainer! Not opening one would be allowing your money to lose value with inflation. With a TFSA you can earn interest on your money, and by investing it, allow your money to work for you instead of just sitting around gathering dust. With Questrade you can easily make adjustments to your TFSA from the comfort of your own home, free of charge, and without the hassle of dealing with big banks (notorious for their slow moving customer service).


Opening a RRSP with Questrade: Everything You Need to Know


Questrade lays everything you need to know about RRSPs in a simple, user-friendly way on their website. As the graphic below demonstrates, a Questrade RRSP is working to save you money and fees at every opportunity. An RRSP with Questrade offers: lower fees for better returns (AKA no account opening fees and no annual RRSP account fees), full online accessibility, free RRSP transfers to Questrade with no minimum balance needed, and the ability to open your RRSP in minutes. All you need is your SIN number and a piece of ID.



Ready To Open an Account?


Excited and ready to open your account with Questrade? Good thing you can open an account in the next few minutes!


Opening an account as a Canadian resident is simple and fully digital:


1. Choose an account type. Opening multiple accounts at once is possible.

1a. Enter a Valid Questrade Referral Code - QPass key 426108723448609



2. Provide your personal information, including country of residence, citizenship, Social Insurance Number and employment information.

3. Review and confirm the information.

4. Accept the terms and conditions.

5. Transfer funds.


Opening an account as a Canadian resident is simple and fully digital:


The account opening process takes less than 30 minutes for any Canadian citizen, making it our number one choice for Canadians across the country looking to practice financial minimalism and take control of their wealth.


Comment below - have you used Questrade before? If so, what was your experience like?


#FinancialMinimalism #Questrade #TSFA #RRSP #Canadians #InvestingMadeSimple #SimplySimpleOrg


 



  • Caroline - Freelance Writer - United Kingdom

Updated: Sep 18, 2021





The past year has been an incredibly challenging time for many of us, and one of the biggest changes has been adapting to relying on technology more than ever before. Many employees still find themselves working from home, which blurs the boundaries of their work and personal time. This has started to take its toll on our mental health, and many individuals have been encouraged to turn to digital minimalism and its teachings to try and enforce stricter boundaries moving forward. Today we’re going to look at how digital minimalism can benefit your life and help you to gain more balance and reclaim your time for other things you love to do.


Photo by Domenico Loia on Unsplash


Adapting to the New Way of Working


For anyone who has recently found themselves working from a laptop at home, this has likely been a huge adjustment. While you’ve probably got yourself well set up by now in your makeshift home office, one of the biggest concerns is sticking to a schedule when it comes to our working hours. Do you often find yourself returning to check your emails one more time after the day is finished? Or maybe you stay up late reading through work messages to get you ready for the day ahead? While work used to only be associated with an office building, it’s no longer fixed in one place, allowing anyone in the world to have access to us at any time of the day.


How Could Digital Minimalism Help Individuals in our Connected World?


While you are no doubt familiar with minimalism as an overarching term, digital minimalism refers to pairing back on your use of technology and reducing your reliance on the internet and devices. Cal Newport introduced the term digital minimalism in his book of the same title, and he encourages readers to use their devices and software with more intention. Instead of scrolling for endless hours on Instagram or playing mindless games online, we can instead put aside set periods of time each day for these activities. Digital minimalism doesn’t mean that you switch off your internet connection so you can never work online again, but instead asks you to think about why you are performing certain tasks online at specific points of the day.


Individuals today need to consider whether they are setting themselves firm enough boundaries, particularly if they find they are still working from home. There’s no denying that technology is extremely addictive, which is why we all find ourselves checking our phones and emails so often. However, after over a year of working from home, it’s about time more of us learned to clock off at 5 or 6 pm and return to work the next morning. If you’ve been finding it hard to put time aside for those activities you love and enjoy the most, applying some of the principles of digital minimalism could make a huge difference to your overall quality of life. While it can certainly feel scary to set boundaries for the first few days, you’ll soon notice the benefits to your mental health and wellbeing.


The Benefits of Digital Minimalism


For individuals around the world today, you’ll find there are many benefits of digital minimalism. The main motivator for this type of minimalism is to improve our overall quality of life. If you find you struggle to maintain any form of work-life balance, technology probably plays a big part in this issue. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with using technology in moderation, and for most of us, it’s essential for our jobs. However, when it starts to take over our lives, and you don’t feel you can go ten minutes without checking your phone, that’s when problems start to occur.


People who work online all day long often find they lack concentration. This can result in their productivity decreasing, and they soon struggle to focus on one thing at a time. If you are using multiple devices at once, think about whether this is really necessary to complete the work at hand. Consider being more deliberate with your use of technology and just focus on one device during your working day. If you have a split-screen, think about whether you are relying on this too much and whether it’s overloading your brain during work. You’ll find that by really thinking about the tools you are using, you will only use ones that improve productivity in the future instead of just wasting your time.


Mental Health Benefits of Digital Minimalism


Until we step back and take some time away from the online world, we often don’t realize the damage it is doing to our mental health. While the internet can help us to connect with friends and family elsewhere in the world, it can also exasperate feelings of loneliness and depression. If you find yourself mindlessly scrolling on social media, you might notice that you start to compare your current life to that of others online. These complete strangers then become your benchmark for living a good and fulfilling life instead of focusing on the people around you.


Try to unfollow individuals who don’t make you feel great about yourself online, and spend more time together in person where possible with the people you love. When we put down our phones for a while and head outdoors into nature, you’ll notice the beautiful world around you and start to appreciate all you have in your life already.


Digital minimalism is something that more of us are looking to explore, and the past year has awakened many of us to what’s really important in life. If you are struggling with continually comparing yourself to others or you find yourself constantly working until late at night, it may be time to consider your use of technology and setting more boundaries. Digital minimalism is an exciting niche in minimalism that is likely only to gain further attention in the future as our world relies more on technology.


#DigitalMinimalism #CalNewport #MentalHealthBenefits #SimplySimpleOrg