Covid lockdown has highlighted benefits of minimalism. That could be a problem for the economy – Jim Duffy

After living through weeks of Covid lockdown, Jim Duffy finds himself embracing a simpler way of life.
Some people manage to live out of a backpack, temporarily or otherwise. After lockdown will society embrace a more minimalist lifestyle? (Picture: Phil Wilkinson)Some people manage to live out of a backpack, temporarily or otherwise. After lockdown will society embrace a more minimalist lifestyle? (Picture: Phil Wilkinson)
Some people manage to live out of a backpack, temporarily or otherwise. After lockdown will society embrace a more minimalist lifestyle? (Picture: Phil Wilkinson)

There are some things in life that, no matter what you say, others will make their own decisions. This week was one of those weeks where I had made an intervention, but my daughter was having none of it. Yes, Hannah decided that she was having that Apple Watch regardless of what me and others said to her.

I got the picture of it on our social media group sent to me yesterday. A beautiful looking piece of tech on her wrist with a butterfly picture on the screen. Hannah loves her new watch and all I could do was wish her well. And, of course, as parents do, I said something lame like – now look after it! But, it did make me think.

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Earlier in the day, I had a discussion via text with one of my best men – Mike. Mike is living a “minimalist” life and trying to distill everything he has into a backpack essentially. He’s a got a few bob tucked under the sofa, but as he gets older, he wants less. So, as we chatted, it was amazing how similar we had become – primarily as a result of the current pandemic.

Was I now turning into minimalist Mike? Recycling teabags and making homemade soup?

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Being locked down and having to live a more frugal life has made many of us think about what is important. I am sure there have been many periods of self-reflection for us all as we focus on our thoughts alone and with those around us. For many of us, we have not had to rush out the door every morning to aerobics, spin classes or simply to catch the bus.

My inner caveman said no

It made me think about how life was centuries ago, with a cave, a partner and not much more. And I honesty feel now that my “caveman” mentality is taking over how I live and want to live my life. Mike will be pleased… Suffice to say, I will not be purchasing an Apple Watch at 34 quid a month. Currently, I do not even wear a watch, so 400 bucks for Apple to trace me and my vitals ain’t happening.

Yes, I have my Apple iPhone 7, which is slowing down, but I will continue to plod on with it. It tells the time and forecasts the weather. And as far as tech goes, I think my inner caveman has enough and has had enough. Which brings me nicely to my new drone.

During this lockdown period, I thought a drone would be a great addition to my “learn a new hobby” mindset. I could become a drone pilot. Maybe even sit a few exams and get a proper commercial licence.

I could help estate agents with videos or take aerial photos of properties for prospective clients. Maybe not. I certainly researched my drone and had decided on a £400 mini-drone. But, just at the point of buying, my new inner caveman stopped me. And I’m glad. I don’t need a drone – Mike would tell me that.

Now the hard part for many businesses out there. I would go out a couple of time a week and treat myself to a fancy coffee with high-calorie cake. I’d also go out for a pint – seems us cavemen still like the feel of cold glassware and the smell of beer to cheer us up.

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But, I’m sorry, lockdown may have changed this caveman behaviour forever. I think I’d rather buy a four-pack of beers and chill them right down in the fridge at home. And as far as venturing out for coffees, I honestly don’t know if my new minimalist outlook can stretch to £3 for a cup of coffee. And this worries me. Not for me, but for businesses out there who need us to get back out and spend.

Isolation becoming a habit

Next up is gym memberships. The big gym companies are laden with debt as they have aggressively expanded into cities across the UK. They’re great value for money. But, as a new caveman, I am now exercising at home. I have developed a HIIT routine for toning and the heart and lungs.

I no longer want to practise gym etiquette waiting for this or that machine to become free. No, this caveman is going even more minimalist and simply has a single dumbbell and a mat. My iPhone provides music and the beeps for starting and stopping routines.

Mike will love this too. But, the economy may not.

I never set out to be more like my mate Mike. Even when he was talking to me months ago about minimalism, I didn’t take much notice. But, here I am 10 weeks on from a life-changing event for so many and it has changed how I want to live my life. I wonder how many you are feeling the same about things in your lives.

Of course, there will be the fear of getting back out there. Covid-19 is still with us and there is the trust issue with politicians advising us and people being compliant washing their hands and “staying alert”.

But, it’s more than that for so many us now I think. It is not just about getting back out there. It’s how we want to re-emerge on our own terms with a new perspective. Furloughs and money will be on people’s minds. Recession and budgets will become a focus. New ways of working will sprout arms and legs.

Regardless of new normals, this caveman feels that he wants to remain a little more isolated and focus his thoughts on minimalism. And that has ramifications for society as for many us, the pound in our pocket is staying there. Mike will be over the moon…

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