#minsgame – final report

Four hundred and six things were purged from our lives during the month of February. I started with one thing on day one, two things on day two and I progressed throughout the month all the way to twenty-eight things on day twenty-eight. It’s probably obvious that the start was easier than the finish and it certainly did get more challenging along the way. By the end of it, the Rebel in me (check out the Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin if you haven’t already) was so tired of the daily commitment (I don’t do well with routine and doing the same thing every day so that made it an even bigger victory for me) that I guess I forgot to write about the final week (days 23 through 28) and the process as a whole. (Hahahaha. Two whole months later…)

In week four, I got rid of a mish-mash of one hundred and fifty-three items from all areas of the house including:

  • magazines
  • sports equipment
  • baby gates we’d used to separate the cats when we moved in together
  • books
  • writing utensils
  • clothing
  • old remotes
  • jewelry
  • bags
  • scarves
  • shoes
  • cat scratching post
  • Easter baskets
  • seeds
  • board games

So. Now that it’s over, would I do it again? I can answer that with a solid MAYBE.

Things I learned:

  • I’m actually much less of a packrat than I thought. I don’t feel bad about the number of things that I have no matter how minimalists try to shame people like me for it (and minimalists looooove to shame people for their opposing habits.) My stumbling blocks are sentimental: cards, letters, photographs, souvenirs. But, borrowing from the Kon Mari thinking and keeping things only if they “spark joy” I was justified in hanging onto the things that I do.
  • I am not a minimalist. I don’t get satisfaction out of having less and I don’t feel a great charge from getting rid of things. Do I like having less clutter around? Yes. But I also like having some well-chosen clutter, too.
  • This would be a great annual exercise or pre-moving routine. When I talk to people who live in single family homes or who have not moved for a long time, they often talk about how daunting it would be for them to have to leave the place that they’re in. This is a good way to practice and not get overwhelmed. Doing this over several successive months would have a HUGE impact on a large house that has sat collecting *stuff* for decades.
  • I could use this someday is a tough habit to break. I’m not super hung up on this in all areas, but in some (ahem, craft supplies) I am sooooo guilty. Again, this is something that I hear a lot from people and listening to others and sharing advice on just letting go is real motivation to come home and do some more of that yourself!

Doing the minsgame definitely helped us prep for moving and it certainly helped me get rid of a number of things that I’d probably already carried around for too long. I’ll pencil another in for next spring and maybe then you can join me. 🙂

Take a look back at my weekly reports:

Or check out all the photos in my #minsgame Facebook album.

#minsgame – week three

Last week’s update came a little late after Valentine’s Day and Wedding Wednesday claimed their rightful dates and bumped my decluttering and minimalism progress report.

This week spans days sixteen to twenty-two in the 28-day challenge. Those five days account for 133 items to total 253 things so far. Those things include bathroom items, craft supplies, books, kitchen stuff and many other random items from around the house.

From an overall perspective, I’m still early enough in the process that it’s relatively easy for me to piece together each day’s quota just by looking around. I was asked this week whether I am tackling my belongings by zones and I am reserving the need to do that for now. I basically just cherry pick as I make my way through my day and will get more focused and organized in the final week of the month after we have our last houseguest in this apartment and can really start packing up for the move. (We can start moving three weeks from today!)

What’s been your secret to keeping your belongings in check over the years? If they’re not, what’s your biggest weakness?

#minsgame – week two

One hundred and eight more items were pitched out our doors this week. That’s 136 things in total. It’s day sixteen and as the numbers rise so does the challenge of the game.

This week (plus a few days) I got rid of books, DVDs, dishes, booze, pillows, towels, stationery and other miscellaneous pieces. We sent donations to Wildlife Rescue, BCSPCA Thrift Store, Burnaby Public Library (I wanted to donate to New West’s, but their donation process is just too restrictive and I couldn’t wait for a date), to friends and to service locations on the Downtown Eastside. We also made a few undocumented (by that I mean in addition to each day’s collection) “donations” to the garbage and recycling.

These numbers are still small enough that they’re manageable. We’re also at an advantage of having the motivation of the challenge AND our impending move as extra motivation. That do I really want to put in all the energy of packing and carrying this item all the way over to another place way factor is helpful to say the least. Now that our place has been shown and we can really start to tear everything down, I expect that we’ll start seeing even more *stuff* that can go. At least I hope so…

Do you ever go on clutter clearing binges? What are your best tips for not collecting too much *stuff*? Are you more minimalist or pack rat?

The minimalism challenge

A couple of things.

Happy new year! I took January off. It was either totally accidental or entirely subconsciously deliberate. I started the year with intentions to write this and to write that. New years are sacred to me. They come to us so pristine and perfect and I find that I like to relish that. Often, when I relish, I do so privately. Some things are too intimate to be shared. For me, new years happen to be one of those things.

It’s the eve of February. Holy, right? I’ve basically been in a bit of hibernation, a bit of regrouping, a bit of quiet time. Lately, I’ve started feeling like stretching my muscles, nurturing my creative ideas and kicking off a real (and public) new year.

On the weekend, my friend Melinda posted on her Facebook page that she has been on a giveaway frenzy so far this year, that she was getting readying herself to take on The Minimalists’ 30-Day Minimalism Game and that she wanted to know who was interested in joining her.

Hmmm. (My immediate response was to raise my hand – compulsive joiner over here!)

I clicked to find out more.

Find a friend or family member: someone who’s willing to get rid of their excess stuff. This month, each of you must get rid of one thing on the first day. On the second, two things. Three items on the third. So forth, and so on. Anything can go! Clothes, furniture, electronics, tools, decorations, etc. Donate, sell, or trash. Whatever you do, each material possession must be out of your house—and out of your life—by midnight each day.

It’s an easy game at first. However, it starts getting challenging by week two when you’re both jettisoning more than a dozen items each day. Whoever can keep it going the longest wins; you both win if you can make it all month. Bonus points if you play with more than two people.

Minimalism has always intrigued and attracted me. I’m not convinced that I’m cut out for the full commitment, but my collection of *STUFF* could use a little attention.

Last year, I read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. For Barb, it’s created a whole new way of living. For me, it was a better read than it was a practice. (Ultimately, I’m not so good with rigidity. It turns me off. Like, instantly.) Barb’s house is organized from top to bottom and evidence shows that her habits are rubbing off on her family members. Trust me, I’ve seen her junk drawer and its tidyness puts most regular drawers to shame.

Amy is meticulous with this stuff. She knows what she needs (and more importantly, what she doesn’t), she knows exactly the moment when she no longer needs it and she’s able to get it out of her house and her life forever. Me, I’m more of a collector. She is deliberate and she is coordinated. I am scattered and a little bit all over the place. If we took a minimalism quiz, she’d be a minimalist master, I’d be a minimalist monkey.

This game, though? It seems doable.

So, I’m jumping in (and I have a work friend joining me – we’ve been talking forever and a day about decluttering and organizing, etc.) and committing myself to the 30-Day Minimalism Game with a couple of tweaks.

  1. I’m starting on Wednesday and I’m doing it for the duration of February. That’ll only amount to 28 days. (But still 406 things!)
  2. I’m not committing to having everything out by end of day, but I am committing to decide which things will go, to getting them out as quickly as possible and to not looking back once the plans are in motion.

Some of the people who joined in with the group that’s tackling it decided to work backwards. They’re getting rid of 28 things on day one, 27 on day two, etc. Not me. I’m easing into this baby.

Right now, I’m feeling really enthusiastic and ideas of things to turf are flowing through my mind several times every day. Here we go! Join in if you’d like! I’ll be posting daily updates on my Facebook page and recapping weekly here.

Have you ever taken on a minimalism project? Was it successful?