The Forced Simplicity of Downsizing to a Smaller Space

Minivan at sunset in the Arizona desert
Moving into a smaller space

I have been a minimalist for many years, but even so there is a constant process of decluttering. It seems that even with care to not acquire new and unneeded stuff, it is still necessary to occasionally purge. My recent move from a cargo trailer conversion (53 square feet) to a minivan (42 square feet and less height) has prompted a forced downsizing even though, by nearly all standards, I didn’t have a lot of stuff in the trailer.

As a full-time, digital nomad, I am able to travel the country and work from nearly anywhere. Full-time or long-term travel is an incredible opportunity that in the past was only available to the truly wealthy. Now, thanks to portable electronics, the Internet, solar and battery power, and wireless data access, it is possible for people who are in a variety of fields to work on the road.

As a writer and videographer (and sometimes web developer), I can do anything on the road that I could do in an office. Actually, my experience has been that I am more productive working in my mobile office than I am in a traditional office. In the past year, I have worked from a mobile office in a Toyota Camry, a converted trailer, and a minivan. Along the way I have also worked in libraries, coffee shops, motel rooms, and even an occasional house. All indications are that this trend of people working remotely will accelerate over the coming years.

Why declutter

The decluttering process is important to me for several reasons. It was important when I lived in a sticks-and-bricks residence and worked in an office, but it is especially important now that I live and work in a micro-RV.

First, less stuff makes it easier to organize things. Organization is essential when you live and work in a small space. Believe it or not, you really can lose things in a space as small as a minivan. Good organization - and a lack of clutter - allows me to quickly and easily find anything that I need.

Second, clutter is mentally taxing, though many people do not appreciate this fact. The more stuff that you need to keep track of and maintain, the more mental energy is required. Reducing clutter frees mental energy for things that matter most.

Third, a simple, minimalist living and working space allows me to be more productive. As a freelancer, I am paid to produce content rather than to log a certain number of hours each day. The faster and more efficiently that I can work, the more money that I can earn - or the fewer hours I need to work each week. Let’s face it, I am not a digital nomad so that I can work a ridiculous number of hours. I am a digital nomad so that I can enjoy nature and explore new and interesting places.

Forced simplicity

I love minimalism and simple living. These disciplines allow me to experience more freedom because I am not in bondage to stuff. Free from the costs and storage constraints that excess possessions impose on a person, I am able to pursue things that, to me, are more important that stuff. I am able instead to spend more time on experiences and relationships.

In this context, my current downsizing effort to better fit into a smaller space is not an unpleasant chore. It is, instead, a freeing experience. Moving into a smaller space merely provided the impetus to engage in some decluttering that I had already been wanting to do. Downsizing to a smaller space may impose a forced simplicity, but it is a welcome imposition.

Digital nomad, minimalist, writer, photographer, and videographer. In my spare time, I like to hike, read, or study maps for ideas about where to visit next.


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In Memoriam

Terri Ann Witham

Terri Ann Witham
Loved by all who knew her



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