SLR 081: Inspiring Snapshots of Simplicity

Simple Life Reboot“Tell your story.” – Joshua Becker,  Becoming Minimalist, speaking at  SimpleREV 2014

There is something beautiful about hearing a person’s story that allows us to connect with both the individual and his or her experience.

Whether a person’s circumstances are dramatic or cumulative, the sharing of a struggle to overcome challenges has the extraordinary power to instruct and inspire.

Courtney Carver of  “Be More With Less” is a beautiful example.  In 2006, Courtney was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.  When she learned that stress could complicate her symptoms, she began exploring ways to simplify.  In five short years,  she transformed her life.  Her inspiring story can be read in the March 2014 issue of “O” (Oprah Winfrey’s magazine).

For an account of hope and determination, Tico and Tina’s unflinching  “Messy Beginnings” is a must read.  Their ongoing 10+ year journey from drudgery to lives of purpose and passion is shared on their website “Make Room for Greatness” . Tico and Tina lay bare the challenges of supporting a young family while providing practical guidance on transitioning to creative and missional work. Their desire to help others is palpable.

Equally impactful is the story of Brooke McAlary of “Slow Your Home“.  Brooke was a high-strung perfectionist with clear expectations of what life should be. Her world was turned upside down when she and her husband were assaulted in separate incidents. Not long after the assaults,  she was overwhelmed by post-natal depression and anxiety.  Unable to function well,  she was forced to pare her life down to the essentials. As she recovered,  Brooke discovered a new way to live.  She now shares the joy of a simpler, slower life with the world.

A powerful example of intentionality is Christy King of “The Simple White Rabbit”.  Christy,  an accomplished attorney, author and life-long learner, had been intrigued by minimalism for years.  Until recently,  she believed she needed to defer desired changes until the children were grown or she retired.  A few years  ago,  she decided to begin making modest, incremental changes.  She discovered that even small changes produced significant gains.  She discovered more time and energy for family and friends, enjoyed healthier living and found new interests in additional activities.

This is just a handful of stories of the life-changing impact of simplicity and minimalism.  What is yours?

As Joshua Becker urged us all to do,  please tell your story.



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Stop Information Overload Now! 3 Proven Steps to Staying Current, Connected and Sane

Simple Life Reboot - Mr. Darcy as SAM

Mr. Darcy as SAM

It washes over us like a tsunami – an unmanageable wall of information. The greater our desire to be current, competitive and connected, the more likely we are to be paddling ourselves to exhaustion.  We prefer to drown than miss out on something important…

We need a lifeguard!

Fortunately,  we have “SAM”.  SAM not only rescues us from information overload, SAM would have us dominating the giant waves of print, audio, video and social media to come. SAM is none other than Sort, Archive, and Manage, and this  is how SAM saves the day:


1. Junk Information – Block. Use filters, junk mail tools, and unsubscribe features liberally. Turn off unneeded notifications and alarms. Don’t waste time reviewing and managing junk. Dump it.  Decline unknown friend and network requests and place unwanted advertisements, emails, clips, etc. in trash/recycling upon receipt.

If you’re not comfortable hitting delete, try mute features to reduce the stream of  incoming information. An example for Twitter would be Tweetbot;  a tool that permits you to mute selected accounts for a period of time.

Think of “blocking” as a protective assistant serving as a gatekeeper so that the V.I.P (you) can focus on important matters.

2. Potentially Valuable Information – Filter and Set Aside.  Front end filters limiting streams to quality sources are critical.  Nonetheless, the value of  information, even from authorities,  may be questionable. Potentially valuable information should be gathered and set aside until it becomes pertinent as described below in Step 2.

3. Important Information – Take or Schedule Action. Any information important for family commitments and work obligations should be acted upon or entered as an action item on the appropriate calendar. For example, a flyer on an event at your child’s school should be read and the details and deadlines entered on the family calendar. A pdf of the flyer could also be saved and linked to the calendar entry.


Regardless of initial format, digital management is my preferred approach for the safekeeping of retained information.  Text is processed to permit character recognition so that it can be easily retrieved at a later date.

Though there are many excellent archiving processes, mine is as follows:

  • Capture.  Paper documents are batched, scanned and saved into Evernote once per week using a desktop ScanSnap. Incoming digital media is saved directly into the archive (Evernote) on the day received.
  • Title.  Each item is given a descriptive title.  Potentially valuable information is given a “to be deleted on x date”  tag, often 2-3 years into the future. Valuable information is kept permanently.
  • Tag.  Each item is given a topical tag such as “de-cluttering “, “taxes”, “health”, “Evernote”, etc.  I prefer to tag by topic, rather than by source, as a variety of authorities on a given topic is most helpful at the time of processing.


  • Just in Time. The best approach I have found to consuming information is the Just in Time method developed by Gregor Novak and his colleagues.  Rather than mindlessly reviewing information as it comes in,  I defer consumption until shortly before  I can put it to use.  This permits me to reduce the number of times I consider a piece of information. More importantly, it permits me to extract more value from it as I consume it in context.
  • Focus. For me, multitasking and scanning incoming  information not pertinent to the task at hand reduce my ability to assimilate in-depth information.  As referenced above,  I recommend employing tools to reduce interruptions and distractions for periods of focused work.
  • Avoid Digital Clutter. Digital clutter tends to bury important information and distract us from focused use.  I recommend regular review and deletion of unneeded information.  At a minimum,  annual review and deletion using the “to be deleted on x date”  tag described above will help identify stale information to be culled.
  • Consider Learning More.  There are superb resources available that address managing information in greater detail.  Brooks Duncan provides a wealth of information on going paperless at  For archiving and curating, read Joel Zaslofsky’s Experience Curating.   Learn more about Evernote with Daniel Gold’s Evernote; the Unofficial Guide… or Brett Kelly’s Evernote Essentials.   Also, please see our earlier post, A Simple Step You Must Take Now to Reduce Information Overload that addresses the value of identifying authorities in your areas of interest.


Information overload is a challenge for most of us.  We would love to hear about  the methods and tools you have found to be helpful in the comments below.


Originally posted on

A Simple Step You Must Take Now to Reduce Information Overload

screenshot“You can do anything, but not everything. ”  David Allen


The Problem

We live in an exciting time.  With easy access to the internet and quality podcasts, blogs, books, webcasts,  forums, and MOOCs, the sky is the limit for growth and service. The problem is our inability to deal with abundance. If we attempt to gather, sift and apply the available quality resources,  the end result may be numbness or withdrawal due to exhaustion.

The Solution

In order to stay in the fray, we need to implement safeguards.  The identification of mentors and information curators is the simple solution. Once curators are identified, available time can be used digesting and applying information provided by them.

Our Curators

Dave and I have great respect for curation. It is expertise in selecting, preserving and maintaining assets. The integrity and skill of the curator determines the value of the collection. Dave and I are beholden to quality content on intentional, simple, minimal, faith-based/value-driven living.  The following list, referenced in part in our earlier post,  Thought Leaders Who Have Inspired Us,  though not comprehensive of all the high quality content providers,  lists the experts who have been most influential in our journey thus far.

Principles of Margin:

Timothy Keller @timkellernyc

Dr. Henry Cloud @DrHenryCloud

Simple / Organized Living:

Simple Life Together – Dan and Vanessa Hayes

Zen Habits – Leo Babauta

The Simple White Rabbit – Christy King

Be More With Less – Courtney Carver

The Other Side of Complexity – Mike Burns

Value of Simple – Joel Zaslofsky

Slow Your Home – Brooke McAlary


The Minimalists – Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus

Becoming Minimalist – Joshua Becker

Getting Out the Message:

Michael Hyatt

Linked In Lady – Carol McManus

Become A Blogger – Leslie Samuel


We welcome your suggested additions.  Please make recommendations in the comments section.  Thank you.


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Thought Leaders Who Have Inspired Us


None of us would accomplish anything of significance without the help and inspiration of others. We all, as Sir Isaac Newton so well stated,  stand on the shoulders of giants.

Dave and I wish to thank the thought leaders who inspired us. It is our hope that our readers will read these giants’ work and better understand the tradition which inspired Dave and I to undertake our Simple Life Reboot.



                Dr. Richard Swenson – Margin


                 Michael Hyatt – This is Your Life

                  Dave Ramsey – Financial Peace and EntreLeadership


                  Joshua Becker – Becoming Minimalist

                  Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus – The Minimalists


                   Dan & Vanessa Hayes – Simple Life Together

                   Don Aslett – Clutter’s Last Stand

Behavioral Economics:

                   Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner – Freakonomics

                   Dan Ariely – Predictably Irrational


                   Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend – Boundaries


                   Joe Henderson – Long Slow Distance




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