Margaret Eby
March 27, 2015 6:00 am

Perhaps, as the seasons gently change from the colder to warmer months, you’ve engaged in some spring cleaning. Maybe you’ve sorted some old clothes into piles of keep and give away, or gotten rid of some desk clutter, or just cleaned out the fridge and dusted for once. It feels good to have things organized and spare for once, right? So think of what Buffer co-founder and COO Leo Widrich is doing as extreme spring cleaning: Two or three years ago, he got rid of almost everything in his life that wouldn’t fit into one bag.

“If you have ever cleared your desk one morning before working, you’ll know the feeling of tranquility and peace this can give you. I found that that is exactly what happens when I got rid of most things I owned, apart from the crucial essentials,” Widrich wrote in an essay published on Time.com.

Here’s what’s in that one bag: six t-shirts, two sweaters, two hoodies, one coat, two pairs of dress pants, sweat pants, six pairs of socks and boxer shorts, gym shorts and gym shoes, an iPhone, a Kindle, a notepad, and a MacBook air. That’s it, aside from some sundry toiletries. Every time he buys something new, he forces himself to toss the equivalent of what he owns, which makes shopping far more serious and less splurge-worthy.

Recently, Widrich admits, he cheated a little. He’s moved into an apartment, so he now owns a mattress, a couch, some lamps, and kitchen utensils. But he views them as temporary possessions. Why the extreme minimalism? Well, Widrich notes that having his possessions pared down to the bare minimum means that he doesn’t have to think too much about his stuff.

“There are less things to think about and there is more simplicity in my life,” he wrote. “I can pack for trips in five minutes.”

That’s a pretty serious commitment to a minimalist lifestyle. But Widrich isn’t the only one who’s taking the plunge. There’s a mini-movement of One Bag Living, or OBL. For starters, there’s, onebag.com, where you can figure out how to pack more efficiently into just one bag, even for long trips. But if you’re curious about a life that’s mostly possession-free, there’s also this beginner’s guide to radical reduction.

Part of the reason for the emerging concept of one-bag living is that so many of our possessions (our music, our movies, our photos) are all reduced to the size of an iPhone, these days. So that solves one problem.

But perhaps it’s also a reaction to living in a digital world that requires so much multi-tasking. Downsizing material items offers clarity—freedom even.

Jessica Dang, the blogger behind MinimalStudent.com explains it this way: ‘One bag’ doesn’t necessarily mean a concrete measurement like ‘1x 30 inch suitcase’ or ‘1x carry on suitcase’. Essentially, it means reducing your stuff down to a level that’s right for you. . ..The point is to clear out anything irrelevant so that you can focus on what matters to you.” She adds that one bag living is most ideal if you’re single—downsizing makes it a whole lot easier to travel to far-off destinations, and live in tiny spaces. But most of all, she says, “clearing clutter can do wonders for your focus on your goals.”

Widrich echoes that sentiment in his blog post.

“In order to see things clearly in life, and observe reality as it truly happens, owning less stuff is a super valuable step,” he writes. “Of course, I’d never claim to be at a place where I can truly do that—see things as they are, without attachment or judgement—but I have an intuition that owning less things sets me on the right track towards that.”

Sounds like a great track, in theory. Some of us need a couple bags just to hold all of our bags, so that’s an issue. But, for Widrich and other ‘One Baggers,’ whittling down material items helps to gain clarity, and probably lifts a certain burden. Hey, we could all use to let go of some of our baggage—even if it’s just the emotional kind.

(Image via Shutterstock, Fast Company)

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