Questions About "Stuff"

I was thinking about minimalism a lot lately because of people Colin and Everett and how I can apply it to my life. These guys love living with less than 100 things.Although it's alluring to live a life like that, I've said in a previous post that I wouldn't be able to do that. My interests and what I do on a regular basis aren't compatible with a life with less than 100 things.Even if I can't have less than 100 things, it's still a incredibly good inspiration to get rid of some of the things I've got sitting around. If these guys can lead awesome lives with less than 100, I should be able to with less than what I've got now, right?Why?If just being able to travel around the world with a carry on bag isn't enough for you to start tossing excess stuff, maybe a few other practical reasons might help. These are some other good side effects of having less stuff.

  • When there is less stuff it's easier to clean. Fewer things mean less stuff is out of place at any one time. If you only have a few things, then you put a few things away and you're done.
  • It's easier to find things. The less stuff you have the less there is to look through when you need to find something. You'll spend less time looking for things because you don't own them any more.
  • You'll have less stuff to worry about. Ever sit and try to figure out how things look best in a space? It's harder with more stuff. You won't have to see what doodads or thingy's fit with a colour scheme in a room because you won't have any doodads or thingy's. Another benefit to this is your place is ever broken into, there is less stuff to take. The downside to this that those few things are probably very important.

Where to start?Ok, so you've got a house full of stuff. How do you decide what stays and what goes? Where do you start?Question Everything. The first step to figuring out what you want to keep and what you don't is questioning every single thing in your house. Things that have been there forever may not need to be there. Does that desk need to be there? Do you need those chairs? Do you really need all those shoes? What would happen if you just got rid of all those files and books? It's like an interview with everything that's not attached to the house. Every single thing needs to be questioned and needs to have a very good reason for staying.Anything that could possible come into the house needs to be questioned as well. Buying something for the house? Do you really need it? Could you make do without it? What does it accomplish? Try and wait a month and see if you really need it. What happened? Nothing? You didn't really need it.Everything needs a home. This is one of my favorites. If you don't have much stuff it might not help much but if you have a lot and need to start organizing, it's a great way to get moving. It basically means that every single thing that you have in your home needs a permanent place to live. It's probably where everything goes when your place is perfectly clean and tidy. Everything is in it's place. Nothing is uncluttered. If you find something that doesn't have a home, find a good home for it or get rid of it. A good home is not on the floor or the counter looking cluttered. It's a permanent, tidy home that is always available to store that thing. It can't be shared with anything else. Until every single thing you own has a home, you have too much stuff.Just buy another one. So you've got  box of stuff you haven't used in ages. You're not sure what to do with it. You don't want to get rid of it in case you need to use something from it. Ask yourself this: How hard is it to buy another one? Can you just walk to the store and buy another? Get rid of it.Remember why you have it. Pick up something near you. Anything. Can you remember why you have it? Is there a good reason why you have it? Maybe a friend or family member gave it to you as a present. Maybe you got it because it was on sale. Maybe you thought it would look amazing with the painting you don't have any more. Nail down the reason why you have it and if it's not a good one, get rid of it.Don't be lazy. Most people own a lot of stuff because it saves them time. It makes doing something more convenient for them. A lot of the time these items overlap each other and we could be doing a couple things with just one item, or we buy something and it takes the place of a few other things but we still have that other stuff. Buy things that are high quality and can do multiple things.  If you can buy 4 things or 1, just get the 1.Another point to this is that a lot of people are afraid of work. They don't want to do what they don't have to so they buy lots of stuff to do the work for them. How much time does it save really? How much money could you have saved by just not buying it? There are some things that are a mixed blessing. Like cars. I try not to drive as much as possibl. My truck is multi-purpose though and allows me to get around offroad to the secluded places I like to hike and bike. During the week, I walk to work and try to batch trips places I drive as much as possible.Do it again. I went through many rounds of cleaning and getting rid of things. I feel like I'm getting close to a level where I use everything I own regularly. It's an iterative process though. Go through everything you have once and get rid of what you can. Then, start the process over again and go through everything that's left. You'll gain momentum each time you do this and become more critical of what you've got. Eventually you'll be able to easily look at something and keep it or leave it and know you've made the right choice.No matter how much stuff you have, you can always benefit with less. It is hard figuring out what you can and can't live without but it all starts with questioning what you've got then getting rid of what you can.

Why I Can't be a Minimalist Like Colin

I've been reading Colin Wright at Exile Lifestyle and admire what he's doing.  Travelling around the world is not easy task and yet he's running a design firm, multiple creative online services and doing it with less than 100 things. He is definitely an inspiration to myself and others wanting to minimize their lifestyle and focus on the things that really matter.Having only 50 things(and posting about it) has definitely been the most impressive feat of Colin's I've seen. I know others have done the same but I saw Colin's first so I have to credit him with that one. When I first saw the post I was amazed and vowed to do the same thing one day while travelling the world.I immediately got to thinking about what I would get rid of. To get myself going I started a minimalism challenge on rcThink. Creating the challenge forced me to look at what I didn't need and what I could get rid of. At the time I was living in a place that had a decent amount of space. If I didn't use something, I could just box it up and it was out of sight. The problem with that was that I had boxes of stuff I never used. During the challenge I got rid of a ton of stuff that I never used and also a few things that I used but didn't really need any more. The most important result of the challenge though, is that I now look at everything with a critical eye. Everything that's in my place has to serve a function or at least look pretty damn good to stick around.There is a problem with this lifestyle though. When things become digital, it's easy to minimize the things you have to carry around. Writing digital documents means you no longer need paper. Listening to mp3's means you no longer need cds. Reading ebooks and websites means you no longer need books, magazines and newspapers. Communication using Facebook, email and skype means you don't need a land line or cell phone. That's all well and good when everything you do is online. Some activities just aren't digital though. Running, hiking, biking, offroading, skiing, and wakeboarding are just a few things that I do that are not digital and they all require specific gear to be done. Unfortunately, I can't use only a computer to take my truck off to the edge of town and ride my mountain bike around in the hills.So the problem I have with extreme minimalism is that I have a ton of outdoor gear. Yes, there is a few things that I could probably get rid of but most of it I use on a regular basis. I've got dive gear,a wakeboard, a snowboard, skis, hiking and camping gear, mountain bikes, dirtbikes, and kayaks and a bunch of other things. That's a lot outdoor gear that I just can't see getting rid of. I use some piece of my collection every single week. I take nearly 50 things every time I go ski touring!What I'm trying to say is that I'll never only have 50 things. Doing all the outdoor things I do regularly requires owning some gear of some sort.Even though I won't ever be able to own less than 100 things myself, I still use guys like Colin and Everett as inspiration to simplify my life. They're like the people that climb Everest to me. It's something incredible that is inspiring and I want to learn from but I don't think I will ever do it myself.

New Years Minimalism Challenge Wrap Up

Have you ever had too much on your plate? Too many things on your list? Said yes more than you've said no?That's how I feel right now.In an effort to find out exactly what I want to do with my life in the next few years, I'm trying everything I can. And there is a lot to try. But the only way to find out what I like and what I don't like is to try it.Yeah, yeah, and what does doing too much have anything to do with minimalism?Remember what I said in the first post about the New Years Minimalism Challenge? I'm not getting into minimalism to become a monk or to make myself miserable with limitations. I'm diving into these ideas to simplify my life, make it more manageable, and do more of what I want to. Now that I've said it, it sounds like a really lame excuse for why I haven't posted my week 3 and 4 updates for the New Years Minimalism Challenge. Can I say I've taken a minimalistic approach to posting? No, that sucks too.Well, here we go. Even though you haven't heard from me in a couple weeks, I've still been busy organizing and moving things out the door.Here's what I've gotten rid of these last couple weeks.Mug

So those are my items from Week 3. Week 2 I started to do 9 instead of just 7 because they 9 looked nicer laid out on my page.

Week 4 is where things really started to get interesting. Believe it or not, most people will have enough stuff to last them right through to week 3. I've already been through 2 big cleans and a move in the last 6 months and I STILL had enough stuff for 3 weeks of clearing out.This is why 30 days is a good length of time for minimizing. During the last week you really have to make a concerted effort to keep on the task at hand and it becomes that much harder to even find things you are willing to get rid of.You will start to look at things differently after 30 days of getting rid of things. Now I look at things and think not about what I would gain if I kept it but what I would gain if I got rid of it. The piece of mind, increase in spare room and cash that comes with getting rid of things is worth 100 times more than the convenience of possibly, maybe, eventually using something. It's not even close to being worth it.Week 4 was the hardest week yet in the Minimalism Challenge but I still manage to find more than enough things to get rid of.Here's my list:

Along with these 7 things from the last week, I managed to get rid of 16 more items of clothing! It was tough but there is a secret to easily getting rid of all these things.

Hide them in boxes. Pack them up. Hide them away. Don't look at them for at least 4 months. I didn't try less than that but 4 months seemed to work very well. I pulled the boxes from the closet and my default reaction for every single thing I pulled from those boxes was to get rid of it. I hadn't worn it for the last 4 months. And the very reason they went into the box in the first place was I didn't wear them for a while before that. Some of these items haven't been worn in 2 years. Why I still had them, I have no idea. I might need them in the future? Sure didn't.A Big ThanksA special thanks to Rik from The Dutch Minimalist who really took this challenge head on. Make sure you check out his latest post on the challenge. He dives right into Week 5 of The Minimalism Challenge!Also a big thanks to Greg from Live it With Less. He's embraced the challenge with a passion and has done very well for himself. Make sure you take a look at his Week 3 of the Minimalism Challenge. I hope he doesn't start slacking there and is able to finish the challenge!And of course, we can't finish this challenge properly without the solid effort from Dave from The Minimalist Path.  Dave was moving while the challenge was going on and still managed to participate and make a few video posts to boot. Check out his latest video post on the Minimalist Challenge.

The Next Step: Project M-31

If you are looking for ways to continue simplifying your life and decluttering your spaces, but need a bit more guidance, make sure you check out Project M-31 from the Minimalist Path. It's basically an easy to follow, no bull, step by step guide to attacking the spaces that collect the most junk and actually get it out of your house and out of your life. I'm working through the chapters as we speak and already it's making a difference in simplifying my life.

New Years Minimalism Challenge Week 2

If you're just joining in, make sure you check out the Minimalism Challenge Intro and Week 1.This weeks pile is another load of clothing. I've also added more bonus items to make sure I actually get rid of everything I can. I bet I can do 2 things each day the rest of the challenge. Can anyone else take me up on that challenge?

As you can see I'm trying to get rid of as much clothing as I can. So you know, I've been donating the clothing and everything I can to the a thrift store in Nanaimo that supports the local women's shelter. Nothing is being thrown right into the garbage. If you're throwing away good things, think about where it's going and try to get it to someone who can use it. If it is actually garbage, yes, throw it in the garbage.Some of the things I got rid of this week are prime examples of what I'm trying to not get stuck with. I caught the black shirt on Jan 23rd at some concert and even though it was too big for me, I kept it hoping I would get bigger or it would get smaller. Neither happened, and yet it was taking up space in my closet and my life. That is no longer! The concert prize shirt has been donated and I'll never have to think about it again.Others participating in the challenge are killing it as well. Greg at Live It With Less needs to be careful he doesn't get rid of his kids!Only 2 more weeks to go and we'll have made our goal of 30 days straight of getting rid of something! That's something to be proud of.What did you get rid of this week?

New Years Minimalism Challenge Week 1

It's been one week today since the New Years Minimalism Challenge started and I'm doing very well. I moved into a townhouse 3 months ago and, coming from a much larger house before, had a ton of stuff that had to be taken care of. Since then I've drastically minimized the things I own but there is still too much.My focus for this challenge has been the lingering items that have been hiding in boxes since the move. One of those is clothing. I've got way too much. More than my girlfriend in fact. I used to keep things around so that when I destroyed some article of clothing I'd have other things to wear. That was a long time ago and I still keep things around but never destroy anything.Right now I've got 2 boxes ready to be donated and here is the first of it.

That's all for this week. Lots coming for next week. Post links to what you've gotten so that everyone can see!
Greg from Live It With Less has posted his first weeks update and Rik has his post up on the Dutch Minimalist .
David Damron from TMP has been going all out with updates. Check out Day 1, Day 2, and Days 3 - 5.
Great to see people joining in!

New Years Minimalism Challenge

So it's not even the middle of January and everyone's forgotten about their New Years Resolutions? Right?Wrong! I hope you haven't either!How many of you said you wanted to get rid of things? Pare down? Clean out your closet and your mind? Have you started?Do it! Join Dave from The Minimalist Path and I on a Minimalist Challenge this month.In? Good.

The Challenge

From January 15th to February 15th you're going to be getting rid of one thing every day from your kitchen, closet, computer room, bedroom, car, work. Anywhere that is accumulating clutter and things you don't need. The purpose here is not to become a minimalist Zen Monk, (if you want to though, give 'er) but to remove things from our lives that don't matter.The idea for this is not to get rid of everything. Yes, this would be very minimalistic to be sitting on a bare floor eating with your hands. Not very practical though. You want to remove things from your life that have little value and leave the big things that mean a lot to you. All those little things take up time, space and money. Wouldn't you rather spend those on things you love?Rules1. You have to plan to get rid of something every day of the challenge. You can take the stuff to wherever it's going to end up, dump/friends/recycling depot/ shelter, once a week if you like. I understand it's hard to go every single day.2. Update your blog/website/doc/wave with things that you've thrown away. Try to make an update post somewhere of what you let go every week. Comment here with the link. If you don't want them cluttering up your blog, email me.3. Things that can be recycled or donated, have to be. Don't just throw them in the garbage. People can benefit from used stuff.4. Check out what Dave has to say about the Challenge on The Minimalist Path.That's it. That's all you have to do. After 30 days you might just create a new habit of getting rid of things you don't need. Now get minimalizing![Update]If you've started a little late, check out the update from Week 1 to see how everyone is doing.

1 Week Into My Minimalism Challenge

1 week into my minimalism challenge and I'm still on track. Sort of.I've made a list of things that I will get rid of and what I've actually gotten rid of. I've gotten rid of a weeks' worth of stuff. I'm falling behind though.I have to admit it's hard to stay on track with the things I want to sell. They sit around like I haven't gotten rid of them. Another issue I've run into is actually getting the things out of the house. I'd rather not make a special trip every day to get rid of one bag of things. It just seems like a waste of gas.I began this challenge just as a way to pare down all the "stuff" I've accumulated and simplify my life. It's turned into more of a necessity now that I'm moving to a new place and really don't want to carry all of it from one place to another. The fact that I'd have to pay for(in time, effort and gas) to move my junk around really puts things in a different light.So here is what I got rid of for my first week.1 bag of clothes.3 bags of booksAn stereo receiver that I was hoping would start magically working again.A printer that I hadn't used in a year.30 magazines that I had touched in over a year. Who looks at magazines again anyways?A pile of computer parts that were laying around. IDE hard drives definitely aren't coming back. Recycled!

Recycle It!

I had a hard time convincing myself to make the effort of recycling these things. Wouldn't it be much easier just to hit a dumpster and toss everything? Yes. But when I thought of all the electronics and computers in landfills these days I couldn't help but cringe at what we are doing to the environment. Don't place a heavier burden on the environment but just throwing things out. Sell them. Donate them. Recycle them.Stay tuned for the next installment of my Minimalism Challenge this week.Also Check out #5 33 ways to start your day.

My 30 Day Minimalism Challenge

IMG_2327I've been reading a lot lately about minimalism and how it can greatly benefit your life and that of those around you.The whole idea is that you live your life with what you need and nothing else. Everything else that you hoard and keep and have to push around all the time is just wasted space, money and time. Basically we waste our lives buying and organizing "stuff". Yes they might have a use at one time or another but do you really need that amazing doohickey that sits on the shelf most of the time. Or do you really need to spend $200 on that brand new thingamer for your computer?Save up the money that you don't spend and go travelling or on an adventure or buy something you really use all the time. Use all that time that you get to read, hang out with friends and family, or do that one thing you've always wanted to do but put off.Dave from The Minimalist Path has just put out a great into eBook, 7 Steps to a Simple Life,  if you are interested in the subject but are unsure of where to start.To kick off my experiment in minimalism, I'm going to give myself a challenge.Every day for 1 month, 30 days, I'm going to take something from my bedroom or computer room( both of which are full of things I don't need) and get rid of it. Getting rid of it entails selling it, giving it away, recycling it or just plain throwing it in the garbage.I've set a few rules for myself to keep things interesting. 4 articles of clothing count as one "thing". I could spend 2 months getting rid of clothes but abiding by this rule will make sure the most never re-appears back in my closet. Being busy during the day, I'll allow myself to go out on the weekends to actually get "rid" of these things. 4 Magazines and 2 books also only count as one thing.What do you think about it? Could you do this for a month?

A Change in Direction: Lifestyle Design, Personal Development and Minimalism

Which way to go?For those of you that have been following the blog recently, I've been crafting tales from my trip to Australia and New Zealand. Now that I'm home and saving up for the next trip I need something a little different to write about.While I was travelling, blogs about working abroad, planning out your life and becoming the absolute best person you can be held my attention constantly and I benefited from their advice a great deal.To test out these new ideas and techniques, I'm going to start challenges for myself. In doing these I'll have interesting ideas for the blog as well as learn an incredible amount myself. To start off these grand adventures, I'm launching my first three 30 day challenges this coming turkey Monday(I'm in Canada). Be sure to check in then to see what I'll be up to for the next 30 days.But wait! There's more! (I'm not trying to sell you anything just some interesting reading).A few of my favorite blogs that have inspired this change in direction.Leo at Zen Habits has a thing or two to say about minimalism.Dave from LifeExcursion has just recently started The Minimalist Path. Ones lifestyle design, ones minimalism, both fantastic reads.Celeste from The Personal Excellence Blog has a lot to say about living life to the fullest and achieving your potentialCorbett from Free Pursuits, JD from WageSlaveRebel and Cody from Thrilling Heroics all push designing your life to do exactly what you want to do. For them that means leaning heavily towards being Location Independent (another great read by Lea)I know blogs tend to have more of a focus but I had a hell of a time trying to narrow it down to these topics.  I'm sure it will get more focused as I find what I'm most interested in writing but for now anything goes!What do you guys think? Is it possible to write enough to hold up 3 topics like this?