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Getting Things Done with Less – What if You Only Had $2,000?

In our constant productivity struggle, we always look for new and better things to solve old problems. Maybe it’s the newest PDA, moleskine, or laptop. Perhaps you move to a new GTD capture system every week. Maybe you’re a pen fanatic.

Stop. Do you really need that shiny new gadget?

I’m not the first person to suggest that less can be more, especially when it comes to GTD practices. If we’re really after a “mind like water,” it’s reasonable that less junk in our lives would aid in that quest.

What if you simplified your entire life?

What if your multitude of possessions disappeared overnight?

What if you only had $2,000 of personal property?

What would you own? What would your life look like? Is this impossible?

There are two questions (at least) implicit in this idea:

What would your $2,000 of possessions be?

How would that affect your life?

There’s definitely not a “right” answer to these questions, since it all depends upon priorities. I’ll post my thoughts here, and I’m definitely looking forward to yours.

My $2,000 life

Having less stuff would simplify life in some ways, but make it more complicated in others. For example, less clothes means less laundry to screw with. But that also means having to wash those clothes more often. No phone would mean no telemarketers, but it would be hard to stay in touch with people.

With that said, I think it would be an interesting thing to try. I’ll bet my productivity would increase, since I’d have less stuff for distractions. But who knows?

Here’s what I’d buy:

  • $400 – clothes – That definitely means shopping at consignment stores and such. And I’d need some comfy shoes, since there wouldn’t be money for a car.
  • $1000 – laptop – Yeah, that’s half of my worldly possessions. I guess that shows how much of my life is tethered to this machine.
  • $100 – bike – I love public transportation, but there are some places it doesn’t go. A guy’s gotta have some wheels.
  • $200 – incidentals – Lots of small things are important, like headphones, an ink pen, a notepad, etc.
  • $300 – furniture – A good night’s rest is important, and so is a decent place to sit and work on that expensive laptop.

What would your life look like?

Those are my hasty thoughts. What are yours? Where should we go from here?

[tags]gtd, getting things done, simplicity[/tags]

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6 Responses to “Getting Things Done with Less – What if You Only Had $2,000?”

  1. Rory
    April 14th, 2007

    Oh man, I long for the simple life. How often I look around this house and wish I could just dump all the junk and start over.

    Your breakdown of $2000 actually looks quite do-able. I like that you include the laptop – and surely that solves the telephone problem as well. All the more reason for friends and relatives finally to adopt Skype. Why are they so slow on the uptake? IKEA can provide some good looking furniture for next to nothing, with the added luxury of providing a minimalist look to my house. I’m liking the idea of this already.

    Books for my daughter are catered for by regular trips to the library. And she seems to get a regular fix of toys by having periodical visits to the toyshop, where all the working toys are on display, and playable. I kid you not. It is a great help living right in town, so that most things are walkable. The only hitch would be work. I would have to think about that.

    Great post, Andrew. And, I must say, your header image is incredibly effective.

  2. Andrew Flusche
    April 14th, 2007


    It sounds like you’ve really put some serious thought into this. That alone is a great thing. We should all think of ways to simplify our lives.

    I never thought about kids just enjoying playing with toys on display in the store. But, I can remember enjoying the toy store when I was a kid. It’s definitely not a leap. Heck, I enjoy fiddling with the shiny gadgets at electronics stores. :)

    Thanks for commenting, Rory. I’m glad you’ve enjoying the blog.


  3. You’re not going to get much bike for $100. Go for a less expensive desk top and pour more $ into the bike.



  4. Andrew Flusche
    April 14th, 2007


    The desktop idea is a good one. We’d get much more computer for the money and have money left for something else.

    Although, I’m not sure I’d need a fancier bike than $100. Maybe $150. Of course, my opinion might change if I was riding the bike everywhere I went.

    Thanks for stopping by to comment!

  5. Pro Se Thoughts
    April 15th, 2007

    - 200.00 for tithe
    - 50.00 for rummage sale clothes, so I’m not naked and arrested for indecent exposure.
    - 50.00 petty cash for buying Genisoy and milk (so I can avoid starvation for a month while the next item takes affect)
    - 1,700.00 invest so I don’t have to worry about living off of just $2,000.00

  6. Andrew Flusche
    April 15th, 2007

    Hi Pro Se,

    I’m glad you gave us your thoughts. That is very insightful, especially your $200 tithe. I know that I need to get better at tithing.

    Maybe my post was unclear. I was thinking that $2,000 would be for purchasing personal property only, and you’d have other money for food and shelter, etc.

    Thanks for jumping in! – Andrew

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