I need to write

, 4 min read

I need to write. I initially planned to split this over a few posts, but my notes kept growing and now I'm at a point where I have to get rid of all the notes and formulate a proper blog post. So, the past few months were kinda crazy.

I'm pretty much done with playing video games for the time being. My last big game was Guild Wars 2. I even had a small ambitious blog project which I took care of for 5 months. I gave Planetside 2 a try and played with friends for a few days. It was fun but after a while it was all the same. I think that was the case with every MMO I've tried.

##When I started simplifying##

It wasn't after I quitting Guild Wars 2 when I started to realize that I kept refreshing social networks and news all the time. Looking for new blog posts, insightful videos and ted talks. I constantly got disrupted doing whatever I really wanted to do. Looking at Twitter or watching an hour-long ted talk. In the end I came to realize that I was wasting time while I neglected important university stuff. This was a major life-changer for me: Realizing that I cannot read every single news story, lifehacker article and blog post out there. Someone pointed me to a post from Leo Babauta on zenhabits.net which talks about letting go of that stuff.

From there on, I pretty much started re-evaluating my behavior. One information source replaced the last one and then removing the new information source. This has led me to a point where I only check Hacker News, reddit and email for half an hour in the morning and half an hour in the evening. On a similar note, I also got rid of my TV but I must admit that I wasn't watching TV anyway (German TV is terrible).

##My personal toolbox## My next step was creating a small set of programs to do work for university. So, I sat down and came up with some requirements for my toolbox:

  • I want to have my documents in a single location, available everywhere and easy to backup.
  • Initial setup should be as simple as possible.
  • Every tool should allow online synchronization, so I can continue working wherever there's internet available.
  • Programming and tinkering environment should be running on a virtual machine to allow easy backups and easy installation.

This is where it got complicated. First, I cut down on redundant software. I got rid of Wunderlist in favor of Evernote. I'm now using GTDFH to organize my projects in Evernote. I also got rid of Microsoft Office. Instead I'm using a combination of Evernote, impress.js for presentations and Google Docs. I also made the switch from Firefox to Google Chrome to keep my browser in sync.

My programming environment is running on a Windows 7 virtual machine right now. That machine has a local jekyll server, netbeans for java programming, python and a simple xampp server. My second virtual machine is running Linux Mint with a database client for my postgres class. My university is also providing git repositories, so I'm using these instead of of a public GitHub repository, to keep my programming assignments private.

##Call me minimalist, if you want## After slowly gaining control over my online life, I started devoting my time to the place I live in. I've always been rather tidy. My mom taught me to always clean up on the go. But I didn't really do that until I moved away from my parents. Having my own place changed that. It also made me reconsider keeping all the stuff I own.

Having less stuff, makes cleaning a lot easier. Buying less stuff saves a ton of money. Owning only the clothes you really like, makes picking clothes in the morning really easy. And, after all, having less stuff makes moving very easy. I donated half of my books to friends and family and I'm now using a Kindle. One third of my clothes went to charity. I digitized old photos and sold my games collection to a local video game shop. Having less stuff freed my mind.

So where do I go from now? I'm happy with where I am now. I can focus on the most important stuff (university), get it done and then focus on personal projects without getting distracted. I still have a few things to write about. I hope to be able to publish them this year. This blog also needs some updates to the theme. But that's for another blog post.


Philipp Hansch

Full Stack Developer

Philipp is a full stack developer currently heavily involved with Rust. Most notably he's a member of the Clippy team where he helps with bugfixing and documentation. You can follow him on Mastodon and find him on GitHub as well as Patreon.