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Extreme Minimalism: Andrew Hyde and the 15-Item Lifestyle

Extreme Minimalism: Andrew Hyde and the 15-Item Lifestyle

Last week, Andrew Hyde made headlines after doing an interview with ABC Radio News.

If you aren’t familiar with Andrew Hyde, he’s a technology mogul and consultant. Like many in his field, he’s constantly on the move, working out of New York and Silicon Valley in equal measure. He is also the founder of Startup Weekend, and organizer of the TEDxBoulder conference. He mentors young companies and is working on a new business venture that will create art out of discarded vinyl records.

Sounds like a pretty typical business professional, right? Well, Hyde does have one other claim to fame that sets him apart from his competition.

Andrew Hyde only owns 15 things.

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Hyde is intentionally homeless. After leaving his job as community organizer for the New York-based start-up incubator TechStars, he sold all of his posessions and decided to travel the world. And for Hyde, everything is coming up roses.

Minimalism is something I’ve been intrigued by for years. In fact, one of my first posts here at Lifehack was about 100-item minimalism. And while I’m making a concerted effort to through the clutter in my own life, paring down all my belongings to 100 items is something I’m not sure I could ever achieve, let alone the incredible challenge of selecting just 15 items to live on. So one has to wonder…just what 15 items would you choose to live with?

In this picture of Hyde, you can see him and all his worldly possessions. In addition to the clothes on his back, you’ll see two pieces of outerwear, some workout clothes, an orange backpack, a pair of socks, a pair of sunglasses, a phone, a laptop, and a few other sundry items. In other words, everything he needs for a tech job on the go. (You can read the full list of Hyde’s belongings circa 2010 here.)

And while not having a permanent home certainly helps to limit the number of possessions a person can have (unless you’re investing in a long-term storage unit), just 15 items seems crazy to most people, especially to anyone who likes fashion and wants to have more than 1 pair of shoes.

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But it’s worth remembering that just because you don’t own any given item doesn’t mean that you can’t ever access one, should you need it. The larger your network of friends is, the fewer items you need to own. You can always borrow what you don’t own from friends or colleagues, whether it’s a suit for a formal occasion, a casserole dish for cooking dinner for your in-laws, or even a whole house while your friends are on vacation.

And while you might think that there are just some things a person can’t live without, there are decent alternatives for most of them.

Cooking basics like pots and pans aren’t needed if you are traveling and either eating out for every meal, staying in a hotel, or staying in accommodations provided to you by your employer.

You don’t need furniture if you don’t have a home or apartment.

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You don’t need a TV or a cable box to watch your favorite shows, as long as you have a laptop. Same goes for video games, books, and magazine subscriptions.

And think of the savings. No car payments, no mortgage, no cable or utility bills. Without those burdens, you could probably afford to go our to dinner every night and travel extensively.

So how would you go about paring down all your belongings to just 15 items? For Andrew Hyde, it was a slow process: “I started with my clothing basics: 2 shirts, 1 pant, 1 short, 1 sandals, 1 sunglasses and underwear. I added a few ‘must haves’ for me like an iPad and camera. I added a backpack, toiletries kit, towel, and a few random things (pen, connector cable, chargers) and tried it out. After five weeks of the trip, there is more that I have not used in the bag than there is in the bag.”

Socrates once said, “The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.” For a guy who lives with only 9 pounds worth of personal belongings, Andrew Hyde is living a Socratic ideal that meshes surprisingly well with our modern perceptions of what a person needs to be happy.

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Could you ever live with just 15 items? What 15 things would you choose? Tell us in the comments below!

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

More by this author

Tucker Cummings

Writer and social media professional sharing productivity tips on Lifehack.

The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It? The Pomodoro Technique: Is It Right for You to Boost Productivity? How to Diagnose the “Phantom Cursor” Issue on Your Mac Extreme Minimalism: Andrew Hyde and the 15-Item Lifestyle 6 Easy Tips for Living with 100 Items or Less

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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