The Minimalist Challenge

The first item to go. I got these down to decorate for a party and never put them back in the attic, so do I really need them?

The first item to go. I got these down to decorate for a party and never put them back in the attic, so do I really need them?

The Minimalist Challenge. I’m doing it. I’m totally doing it. Who wants to meet my challenge? Wait. Did you hear that sound? That primal cry? Don’t be alarmed. It’s just  the sound of unadulterated joy escaping my husband’s surprised lips. He’s wanted to clear out the house for years. See, he knows I have a problem getting rid of the following:

1. Anything sentimental, which means anything that belonged to my grandparents, AND
2. Anything my children have ever made, worn, read or played with.
3. Anything that can be made into any other thing by way of crafting.
4. Anything  that used to work, and could possibly work again.
5. Clothes that I might fit back into some day.
6. Books.

Hey, that’s not such a long list. I mean, how much stuff can you really accumulate when your “to keep” list is only six items long?

Turns out a ton. Maybe a few tons. With stuff spilling out of every closet and across the floors, my home has reached its saturation point. Which is why when I heard about the Minimalist Challenge, I knew I needed to embrace it.

What is the Minimalist Challenge? Basically, you get rid of one thing on the first day of the challenge, two things on the second, three things on the third, etc.  So before I become a candidate for the next episode of Hoarders, I’ve decided to pick up the gauntlet.

The bloggers who originally issued the challenge (aptly named The Minimalists) designed it to begin on the first day of the month, but I say you can start it any time you get desperate enough to get rid of potentially useful or desirable stuff.  For me, that day is today.

The Minimalists explain on their blog that they were both making six figure salaries but found they were unhappy with their cluttered lives, so both gave up their butt loads of crap (sorry, I really did have to go there) to  become minimalists and seek happiness from living more, writing more, and accumulating less. You can read more about them HERE.

Unlike the self-proclaimed Minimalists, I am not leaving a six figure job to claim minimalism and thus happiness. Anyone who has ever met me knows I’m a pretty happy person already. (Hey, maybe that’s because I don’t have a six figure income! Maybe living on a dime is a GOOD thing. What a relief.) So while I don’t fear that my possessions are getting in the way of my happiness, they are getting in the way of my sanity.

Rather than go happily insane, I’m accepting the challenge. If you want to meet the challenge with me, (or offer encouragement) comment below or send me an email.

Ready. Set. Let’s minimize!

Day 5: Still on target and plowing through the stuff. I decided to count both big and small items... otherwise the clutter doesn't really get cleared.

Update -Day 5: Still on target and plowing through the stuff. I decided to count both big and small items… otherwise the clutter doesn’t really get cleared.




33 comments on “The Minimalist Challenge

  1. Rene Aube says:

    Oh boy! Hyperventilating at the very thought…GO Kami!

  2. I thought I was good at keeping clutter under control until we moved. When I had to actually pack everything into boxes, it gave me a new perspective on what to save and what to toss. Best of luck to you!


    • kamikinard says:

      I know what you mean Yvonne. Our last house had a big basement. When we moved we realized we found it was a packrat’s heaven and a mover’s hell!

  3. Cathy Ballou Mealey says:

    My husband and I are just the opposite – he is the quintessential sentimental saver and I am the hard-hearted minimalist. I asked him to shred a shoebox filled with old credit card receipts. Huge mistake. He pored over them, fondly recalling trips we had taken and restaurants we had visited (while we were dating, in the 1990’s). I think he tucked them all away in a secret hiding place. (sigh)

    Best of luck to you on your purge!

    • kamikinard says:

      Thanks Cathy! I feel your husband’s pain. I almost listed receipts and any other paper with writing on it as #7, but I can get rid of some of those… about half of the time…

  4. Joanne Sher says:

    Oh boy. As I look around my house, I think I may need to (shudder) join you in this purge. I am NOT wealthy. I am DEFINITELY a happy person in general, but my house? Use your imagination – and you’re probably still being too kind. I will start today. Probably 😉

  5. kamikinard says:

    Oh, let me know if you start today Joanne! I’d love to have someone to make me keep up the pace.

  6. rnewman504 says:

    You go girl! I’m not sure if I’m up for the challenge just yet. (Although my office could really use it. I’m scared to go in there.)

  7. Kim Pfennigwerth says:

    Good Luck, Kami! Even though I have moved and cleaned a few times over the past dozen years – I still find that I have ‘saved’ way too many ‘valuable’ items!!

  8. Nancy Wylie says:

    Kami, I’ll try. And my son would quote to me, “do, or do not; there is no try.” I do need to declutter badly!

  9. Sarah Yasutake says:

    I like this idea–count me in. We moved a little over a year ago and got rid of a massive amount of “stuff” in the process, but already clutter is starting to creep back into our lives. In fact, I could probably do a month-long minimalist challenge on my work area alone. Yikes!

  10. kamikinard says:

    Awesome! Yes, it didn’t take long for the clutter to creep back in after we moved either. Actually, I think we moved a lot of it with us. 😦 Glad you’re on board!

  11. writersideup says:

    Kami, I knew we were kindred spirits on more than one level and this is definitely one of them!

    I have actually done a big purge, in spurts, over the past couple of years. Once I finished the heavy SCBWI work, then my son and daughter-in-law’s wedding, I was determined to catch up on my life, and that included heavy-duty cleaning and organizing. This included purging. Even if you don’t get it ALL done in one stretch, keep it in your mind that you will attack it every chance you get. You need to stop doing all the extra, fun stuff for awhile, like crafting, and make this more of a priority whenever life lets you. It basically comes down to wanting to unburden yourself and your life, and obviously your husband’s, too! lol To give yourself, your family, your mind and your life room to breathe.

    EVERYthing you listed I would have on my list—and more! I still do, actually, only my need to “clear out” my life and my mind was much more overpowering and the feeling of “lightness” is so empowering, once you start feeling it, it will help push you through it. Maybe you should look at it a bit like “killing your darlings.” Never thought of it that way, but maybe it’s a good way 🙂 If you can group “like” things together and seriously examine the spread out piles as you work your way through this and seriously focus when you ask the question, “Do I REALLY need this?” you’ll make progress. And the things to be fixed? If they’ve been laying around for years and you still haven’t fixed them, unless it’s something really important or expensive, somehow let it go and try to believe you can replace it when you DO need the item again.

    Also, some things may simply require really concentrating on how to store and re-organize. Find the right containers, boxes, drawers, etc. and work your spaces. Tackle, for the most part, one area at a time and finish it before you move to the next, and as you go, put things that are in the wrong place, in the RIGHT place so it’s there when you get to that part of your organizing. It’s a big job, but it IS doable, especially if your husband can help you. Try to let his encouragement get past your difficulty. I REALLY wish you luck with this! And Xmas lights? Dump them! For reasons I won’t get into here, I quit holiday decorating. PLOP, PLOP! FIZZ, FIZZ! OH, WHAT A RELIEF IT IS!!!!

    Good luck with all this! You’re going to feel GREAT when you’re done! 😀 😀 😀

  12. kamikinard says:

    Thanks Donna. I hope to achieve that feeling of lightness you describe, but I will also settle for simply less clutter.

  13. I once hired an “efficiency expert” to help me declutter my home office. Here I am four years later, working in an office that hasn’t been decluttered since, one reason why I call it the black hole. I just don’t have the enthalpy to take care of the problem. Perhaps I should tap some of my son’s potential energy that constantly spills over into the kinetic arena…but the nature of his energy is more closely aligned with entropy. Perhaps that’s where ALL of my enthalpy goes, leaving none for my office. Sigh…perhaps I should try this progression you suggest.

  14. kamikinard says:

    That would probably happen to me too, Jilanne. But I am hoping that if I get rid of enough stuff, I can keep it under control. If not, sanity for a little while would be nice. Yes, you should try it! But if you don’t want to, check back in at the end of the month. I’ll be writing a post about how it all turns out.

  15. Nancy says:

    I read this list to my husband. He laughed because he knows it sounds just like him. Can you get him to join you in this mission? I’ve long said we either need to stop buying stuff, throw stuff away, or get a bigger house. He wants to keep getting more stuff, keep all we have, and stay right here. Not going to work–we’ve reached critical mass.

  16. kamikinard says:

    Yes, tell Pat he should join in Nancy. (Though I understand his point of view!)

  17. loismoss says:

    Your list is my list. Must minimalize! Must purge. I did a big purge in March. Then I lost focus. It’s time to step it up again and be a minimalist for a month. Here I am assuming that’s how long it lasts. I think I can handle 30 days.

    • kamikinard says:

      I’m still on task and even inspired my husband to clean out. He keeps offering his giveaways to add to my count, but I’m determined to do this on my own. It’s even better, after all, if two of us embrace the challenge!

  18. Lovely!
    And let us know about the last week days, especially 30 or 31-item days!

  19. I can’t join in as I tend to throw too many things out already. I of course then have to go through garbage cans retrieving things on a regular basis. My husband on the other hand keeps EVERYTHING, but if I want to keep him I have to keep my hands off his things!

  20. […] as much as usual these days, and we miss posting about things going on in our lives and yours like The Minimalist Challenge (update coming soon!) and Vacations (more on this next sumer!). So, where have we been? You might […]

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