Ever since I was a kid I felt overwhelmed by my own clutter. I held onto everything at risk of needing it again. But at 28 years old, I watched Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things and something finally clicked. It kind of gave me permission to let go of the things I didn’t need or want, but kept out of guilt. Ever since watching the documentary on Netflix, MPR and I have been regularly cleaning out, making trips to Goodwill, and buying more consciously.
But in prep for our move, I wanted to kick it up a notch and really force myself to go through every drawer and cabinet. Enter The Minimalism Game, or #MinsGame for short. The way it works is on the first day you get rid of one thing, on the second day you get rid of two things, and so on for an entire month. You’re technically supposed to compete with a friend or significant other, but I posed it as a challenge to myself.
In the end, I got rid of 496 items this past month. Here are some things I learned about myself in the process, and the full list of items I got rid of.
- A lot of my clutter is just things I forgot to throw away.
In my list you’ll see a lot of old toiletries, makeup, receipts, and packaging. I tend to use items until there’s only one or two squirts left, start a new bottle, and just leave the old one there. Why? I have no idea, but I’m making a conscious effort to stop that going forward. I also tend to hold onto receipts and packaging in case I want to return something. Good plan, but then months and years go by and I still have them, taking up space. I need to set up a system where I clear out these items at the end of every month.
- Another chunk of my clutter is things I’m holding onto “just in case.”
One example is five pairs of prescription glasses (in varying prescriptions). FIVE. I wear contact lenses 95% of my days, but my mother always told me to keep extra glasses pairs around in case something happens to my current pair. But they’re not doing me any good and I’ve never touched them, so I sent them off to Goodwill where they’ll be donated to people who need them. Another example is stacks of extra envelopes from my wedding stationery and Christmas cards over the years. Guess what? A normal letter doesn’t fit in those size envelopes, so I’ve never found another use for them. In the trash they went. And the worst offender? Beauty samples and hotel room toiletries. I take them, but I don’t use them.
- I don’t reread books.
I just don’t. So I got rid of all physical books, either by making trips to my local Little Free Library, bringing them to the lending library in my office, or donating them to Goodwill. I’ve also stopped buying new books and instead borrow them from the library to cut down on clutter and spending.
- I really need to channel Marie Kondo and clean out my purse.
Days 11-13 were completed just by cleaning out my purse. I don’t think I need to go to Kondo’s extreme of completely emptying my purse every night, but I could aim for cleaning it out once a week. After all, why carry around stuff I don’t need?
- I held onto things because I didn’t know how to get rid of them properly.
For example, old checkbooks from an account I don’t have anymore. That graphing calculator from high school math class. Bras that never fit right. The hard drive from my college computer. While it may seem overwhelming at first, I promise you all of your answers are just one Google search away. In the process, I stumbled upon this great article, 9 things you didn’t know you could donate to Goodwill.
So there you have it. After one month I am 496 items lighter, and I’ve never felt more organized. I’m getting to the point where I truly believe everything I own is something I love and use regularly. And when you think about it, if it doesn’t fit into one of those categories, why let it take up precious space – physically or mentally?
The Minimalism Game:
Day 1: necklace from 8th grade graduation
Day 2: two shauna niequist books
Day 3: one cookbook, one YA novel, one coffee table book
Day 4: two magazines, two empty toiletry bottles
Day 5: one well-loved bra, extra spatula, extra potholder, spiralizer, wine stopper
Day 6: 6 DVDs
Day 7: 2 calculators, 3 post-It pads, Hollywood boot straps, Rufio’s old name tag
Day 8: stack of old business cards, old postcard, left over envelopes from Christmas cards, stack of old receipts, junk mail, post-it notes, old notes about a doctors appt, Vera Bradley iPad case
Day 9: old mouth guard, 3 post-it pads, 5 old makeup samples
Day 10: 10 envelopes from old Christmas cards/wedding stationery
Day 11: 6 gum wrappers and 5 old light rail tickets
Day 12: 6 expired coupons, shopping list, Charlotte hounds ticket, old movie tickets, regal crown club receipt, parking pass, petco grooming receipt
Day 13: 11 receipts, appointment reminder card, twist tie
Day 14: One Lesportsac duffle bag, one lesportsac tote bag, one Victoria’s Secret tote bag, that curling wand I never quite got the hang of, a body wash that makes my skin itchy, 2 pieces of junk mail, 2 old lip glosses, 1 sample mascara, 1 old blush, 2 expired nasal sprays, 1 old prescription information sheet
Day 15: 8 skincare samples I never used, 1 shampoo and 1 heat protectant spray with only a tiny bit left, 1 hotel body lotion, 1 nail polish color I don’t like, 2 face moisturizers i don’t like, 1 almost empty perfume bottle
Day 16: Sock bun I ever use, 1 body lotion with only a squirt left, 1 face serum with only a squirt left, 1 makeup brush shampoo, 1 electric razor, 8 empty boxes/packages of stuff, 3 zip lock gallon bags I used for travel for my toiletries
Day 17: 17 old CD cases
Day 18: 18 old CD cases
Day 19: 3 old CD cases, 1 DVD, 15 old sauce/dressing packets
Day 20: 5 wet naps, 2 old cookie icing packs, 1 broken hanger, 1 hat, 1 pair of gloves, 7 text books from college/grad school, 2 license plate covers, my epic wedding planning binder
Day 21: 2 picture frames, 1 card game, 3 coasters, 2 champagne flutes, 6 mugs, 7 bras
Day 22: 5 pairs of shoes, 4 skirts, 1 bathing suit coverup, 7 shirts, 1 pair of jeans, 4 pairs of socks
Day 23: 15 pairs of underwear, 7 pairs of socks, 1 pair of tights
Day 24: 7 shirts, 3 expired antiseptic wipes, 2 tote bags, 1 wristlet, 1 pair of gloves, 4 belts, 1 pair of sweatpants, 3 sweaters, 1 Islander jersey, 1 bracelet
Day 25: 1 lap top case, 7 receipts, 1 map of Detroit, 3 lip glosses, 1 box plastic cutlery, 1 puppy blanket, 3 puppy poop bags, 1 runner, 1 set of sheets, 2 pillowcases, 3 hoodies, 1 wallet
Day 26: 2 purses, 1 wallet, 2 pairs of pants, 1 piggybank, 17 coins of foreign currency, 1 pair of shoes, 1 pair of glasses, 1 hair comb
Day 27: 19 necklaces, 6 rings, 2 watches
Day 28: 24 pairs of earrings, 4 bracelets
Day 29: 15 pendants, 14 pins
Day 30: 1 locket, 8 bracelets, 5 old CCs/IDs, 2 packs of old envelopes, 1 embosser with old address and maiden name, 1 pack of photo thank you cards, 4 pairs of glasses, 8 receipts from old prescriptions
Day 31: 3 receipts from our wedding, 2 shopping receipts, 4 old check books, 1 bag of extra buttons, 2 business cards, 1 old perfume bottle, 1 old compact mirror, 2 old lip glosses, 2 old foundations, 3 old eye shadows, 1 old eyeliner, 1 bronzer, 1 old mascara, 1 makeup brush, 1 old cuticle softener, 1 old pair of tanning goggles, 4 nail polishes