Consolidation is the New Minimalism

Have you ever watched a trash compactor at work? If not, you should, it’s amazing. It takes all this crap and smooshes it down to one tiny cube. Recently I watched a car cruncher crunch a car into a shadow of it’s former self (while my train was stopped… I don’t go hang out in junkyards – but maybe I should).

Anyhow, it was all I could do but to stare lustfully while I watched something giant and complicated become something small and reduced to it’s most primary matter. Which, in turn, led me to a life changing epiphany…

For the last six months or so I’ve been moved by the concept of minimalism, mostly for functional and aesthetic reasons. See I’m pretty obsessive compulsive so the more crap I “own” the more time I have to spend organizing, grooming and otherwise compartmentalizing my life to ensure everything has it’s order. When, at my worst, I had a condo full of crap – from multiple designer handbags to drawers stuffed with digital gizmos – I would spend hours of perfectly good daylight just organizing and re-organizing it all to soothe my OCD nerves.

Thankfully for blogs like my friend Everett’s and books like Focus I started to learn a new, better way… But I still found myself in a pickle – what should go and what should stay?

After getting rid of TONS of junk I still found myself with more than I could carry on my person (which is a problem considering my current situation of nomad-hood and my penchant for working from wherever I please).

This always seemed to come to a head when I would pack up my “mobile office” i.e. my messenger bag. Should I keep the iPad but ditch the Macbook? Do I lose the camera because it’s weighing me down? Or should I keep it just in case I stumble upon some seriously picture worthy events. What about all the little accessories that I find myself stuffing in the pockets of my bag like a chipmunk storing up for a digital winter?

Finally, while watching that poor little Toyota get crunched into a cube in the junkyard – it hit me. I needed to consolidate, not get rid of, just smoosh down to things to their most basic elements!

Consolidating vs. Minimalism

Minimalism teaches us to live with less, the art of consolidation teaches us to live with less but to also never sacrifice functionality for pure “less-ness” (not a word FYI). It may be more “minimalistic” to not carry around my iPhone, Macbook, iPad, Flipcam and Camera but at any given point I need all of those features.

So what did I do? I consolidated.

The Macbook + iPad became the Macbook Air 13″. The same functionality of the Macbook Pro (for the most part) without the back breaking weight (I’m a tiny person – I can only handle so much). The iPad, I won’t lie, I only used as a “light” version of my computer. So consolidating those two into one worked perfectly for me.

The iPhone, Flipcam + Canon became the iPhone 4. Which takes great pictures (not excellent, but they’ll do), good videos (comparable to the Flipcam) and well… makes calls! Ta-da! I turned 3 items into 1.

I also consolidated three pens and a few pencils into a pen/pencil/high-lighter combo mega-pen. My Moleskin notebook stayed the same and I still carry around a “real” book with me wherever I go because I love the feel of paper pages on my fingertips.

Consolidation in Life

I am also consolidating my beautiful Lexus, insurance costs and gas bill into a ZipCar membership. Three things turning into one hourly rate. Beautiful.

Even my make up has been consolidated… from 50 plus loose pieces into a few “combo packs” that are lean, mean and fit into my little vanity bag perfectly.

Consolidation in Business

Instead of getting an office somewhere now that I’m in S.F., I’m going to rent a desk from a co-working space. This consolidates ten separate bills (think electricity, heat, cool, wi-fi, phone, garbage…) into one monthly fee. I can rent a desk and enjoy all the amenities of a modern office for under $500 a month – with no commitment and no buying office furniture *shudder*.

I consolidated my stupid wi-fi card into my ATT bill, so I now have ‘tethering’ which practically turns me into (via iPhone) a walking, talking wi-fi hotspot. 

I’ve also consolidated 100 little tasks that used to bog down my personal and business life (stuff like research, customer service request sorting and deleting people on Twitter) into one lovely virtual assistant who takes all of that crap off my plate and allows me to focus on the good stuff!

So… What can you consolidate?