In January 2017, I did the “30-day minimalism challenge”, or “The Minimalism Game”. My objective was to declutter some things around the house.
In November, I cleaned out everything in my office and re-painted. Some things were immediately returned (chair, desk, monitor, etc.), most things were sitting in my basement. It’s amazing the amount of things you collect in a room in which you spend ~10 hours a day. I didn’t want to bring everything back in, but I was unsure what I wanted to keep.
Having recently gone through a series of other changes, and had a “Two-Child” holiday season, the house was full of stuff that didn’t have a “put-away home”.
Coupled with the 3+ years living in the house, multiple family changes, new purchases and old heirlooms, it was getting harder and harder to find places to put everything. To set the scene, imagine opening a cabinet and seeing a “sandwich grill” that’s never been used while digging through dozens of pans to find the right lid for your current pan. Or trying to find the right lid for a plastic container when you have 3 years worth of collected containers.
During the Challenge
At the beginning of the challenge, it’s easy to get rid of things in small quantities. You can always find an extra lid, a trinket, or an old sweater to get rid of to make the “quantity of the day”. The real challenge begins once all of that type of stuff is gone.
Luckily, I had several areas of the house that hadn’t been fully cleaned since moving in. For example, one day, I cleaned (and washed) my fridge and freezer, easily discarding 20+ things in an hour – some expired, some that I’d never use. I did a similar thing with my pantry.
By the middle of the challenge, I found myself with an ever-present pile of things on my counter for the next day. It became a constant voice in the back of my mind. Doing laundry and find an old shirt that has a hole in it? Throw it in the pile. Grabbing the can opener and notice some baby spoons at the back of the drawer? In the pile it goes.
Once the dust settled
After the challenge was over, I found myself throwing out things as I came across them. That voice, that persistent question kept with me. When I’d put away towels in the linen closet and see a box for an old hair dryer, I’d grab it and toss it away without a second thought. The challenge has worked, for me. I get rid of things that I’ll never use, instead of thinking “it’s easier to leave this here”.
Another benefit is with all the newly-cleared space, there is now room to spread things out a bit more. I no longer have to dig through a million spoons to find the one I’m looking for. Things that used to be a hassle to take out and put away are now simple.
And with everything having it’s own place, things get put away quicker, and cleaning has become a breeze. Since there is far less on the counters, it’s trivial to wipe them down when you notice a spot. This leads to cleaning far more often than before, which makes it easier to notice when something is dirty, which in turn is easier to clean. It’s a cycle!
So what did I do with all of it?
Well, clothes – donated. Stuff of value – I threw in boxes in a specific part of the garage for an upcoming neighborhood “tag sale”. Other stuff, I gave away to friends who wanted them. Other stuff was just trash, so that got tossed in bin.
Would I do it again? Maybe. I feel like I still have lots of stuff I’d like to get rid of, but I’m getting rid of it as I go now. I find myself being more mindful of my consumption now, and that’s the greatest benefit of all.