No Sidebar: Brian Gardner And Simple Life Design

Recently, I had the chance to chat with Brian Gardner from No Sidebar. Today, I’ll offer a short profile of Brian and his minimalist journey. I really enjoyed chatting with Brian. I discovered that we have a few things in common.

No Sidebar and Brian Gardner: Photo of a serene trail.

First off, if you’ve never visited No Sidebar, I encourage you to check it out as soon as you finish this post.

It All Started With A Simple Change In Design

I only became familiar with the work of Brian Gardner in early 2015 after he started No Sidebar. But before his minimalist journey began, Brian had already been involved in online entrepreneurship. He got into the business of premium WordPress themes and has since merged his work with Brian Clark of the site CopyBlogger. That led to the Rainmaker Platform.

Along the way, Brian began to consider website design. As one who wants to be honest, transparent, and authentic in his writing, he noticed that many blogs had too much clutter. I can relate, because I went through a similar transition a few years ago.

Brian started No Sidebar with the goal of influencing more websites and bloggers to consider a clean look, one with more white space and breathability. The site naturally found a place in the niche of minimalism. Brian told me that,

The move away from sidebars and the stuff that gets in the way, led to a more focused approach to design and that moved its way into my life.

No Sidebar, Business, And Authenticity

Creating No Sidebar hasn’t come without some struggle. Nothing good ever does. One dilemma that Brian and I share is the dichotomy of business vs. authenticity. The business side of having an online voice requires us to write focused articles designed to influence others to take action. But Brian also wants to connect with others on a deeper level. It’s that balance that he strives to find in his work. 

Earlier this year, Brian even considered shutting No Sidebar down. As a business owner, the minimalist side-project was taking up too much time. This prompted a short discussion about another dichotomy: minimalism vs. productivity.

Can We Become Too Productive As Minimalists?

There’s a clear relationship between minimalism and productivity. The less we own, the less we schedule, the more we can produce. That’s great until more becomes too much. Brian said that when your project to eliminate the sidebar becomes the sidebar, it’s time for a break.

We become like the dog chasing its own tail. There are seasons when we need to clear our plate. We’ve been trained to fill our plate. We need to be aware when things wear us down.”

Fortunately, with a little help from his wife, No Sidebar was re-energized after a 30-day break.

The Future For Brian Gardner And No Sidebar

You can learn more about Brian at his site briangardner.com. This is his personal site. He uses it to explore new website designs, so don’t be surprised if the theme changes in the near future. The blog is a mix of his personal journal and practical advice for other online entrepreneurs. Check out his about page

No Sidebar recently launched a 30-day email course.   

Every day, more stuff comes into our lives: stuff in our houses, stuff on our calendars, stuff on our minds. All that stuff gets in the way of where we really want to go and who we really want to be — it’s time to make a change.

Brian was kind enough to share a sample of the course with me. It’s simple and inspiring. But is it another dichotomy of minimalism? When minimalist sites offer products, aren’t we just adding more to people’s plates? Brian and I covered that topic too.

He recalled a conversation he had with Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist and Marc Chernoff of Marc & Angel Hacklife, two blogs that support the minimalist lifestyle. Brian said, “It isn’t about spending, it’s about adding value without overindulging.” So yes, it’s okay for minimalists to offer simple courses, products, and services.

I don’t want to give too much away, but another thing that No Sidebar is working on is creating some simple handmade products.

Take A few Minutes To Visit No Sidebar

If you’re interested in creating a simple life design, take a few minutes to learn more about Brian Gardner and his minimalist journey. You can learn more by clicking on the following links:

One Last Story…

The day before I talked to Brian, he shared an interesting post on Facebook. He was driving seven kids to the park. Anybody who can take that many kids to the park must be a pretty good guy. He told me they wound up getting rained out, but it led to asking about his own kid status. 

Brian and his wife have a 12-year old son. I’ve always found it difficult to get my 11-year-old daughter to minimize the stuff she keeps. On the other hand, I don’t like to force minimalism on her either. I feel we should allow our kids to reach their own conclusions about minimalism. It seems Brian and I have something else in common. Here’s what Brian said about kids and minimalism:

While we don’t cram minimalism down his throat, we do talk about the things we do, the decisions we make, and the reasoning behind it all.

That’s good advice for any minimalist with kids.

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