The Minimalist Challenge

minimalist challenge
It seems like everywhere I look lately different people are talking about “clearing out”, “de-cluttering”, and “living with less”. Maybe everyone is in the Spring Cleaning state of mind or, it could have to do with people seeing how much mental space is cleared when crap isn’t in the way…?

I mean, have you ever thought about how high-maintenance crap is? All those material objects need to be bought in the first place, then arranged, cleaned, maintained, and if you’re anything like me, there’s a layer of guilt thrown in there too for buying the object in the first place, and then there are all the considerations of so now, “Should I return it?”, and the mental chatter and conflict goes on and on for pretty much, forever.

When I did the Spending Fast I learned how much mental space material objects take up. I was shocked that all that stuff I had been buying pre-fast wasn’t just jacking up on my wallet but also my mind. Who knew, right? During the Spending Fast I found that my mind was so much clearer and I found that I had so much more time! I knew my over-spending habit was costing me a lot of money  but I never realized how much time it was taking up too.

Very, very slowly, material objects have started to accumulate in my house again and to be honest, it’s making me nervous.  I don’t want to fall back into my old spending habits. I don’t want that old way of life back. Plus, it was hard enough to get out of debt in the first place so, I definitely don’t want to have to do it again!

There’s something I really love about moving — not the actual packing and unpacking (that sucks) — but the clearing out and starting fresh that is a result of moving. During a move it’s easy for me to be cutthroat with my items and look at them in an objective way — something that I can’t seem to do as easily on the spot when I’m going through life day-to-day. Usually, I find that I put lots of stuff in the Junk Drawer or in the Craft Room. The “Craft Room” has slowly started to become the room version of the Junk Drawer. It’s really the catch-all, “I’ll deal with that later room.” Stuff accumulates and never gets tossed because, “I just might need it” and “You just never know! That could come in handy!” I’m so over thinking like that.

I want my mind to be clear again. I want more of my time back. I want less stuff to take care of. I want less. A lot less.

So since we’re not planning on moving anytime soon this is where The Minimalist Challenge comes in. I found out about the challenge on The Minimalists website where they discuss what they call The Minimalist Game. (They also have a new book out called Everything That Remains. I haven’t read it yet but I would love to, and seriously, what a great title! I’m bummed that I missed them when they came through town to promote their book back in April. Hoping they come through again…)

Basically, you start on Day 1 getting rid of 1 item. Then, on Day 2, you get rid of 2 items. You keep going like that, ideally to 30 days and see how many items you can get rid of. When I brought up the idea of doing The Minimalist Challenge to Aaron, he was ALL ABOUT IT which did not surprise me one bit considering that he usually says we should get rid of stuff and I know he thinks I would be a Hoarder if I could be (I wouldn’t).

I calculated it and if we each do the challenge this month we’d each be getting rid of 465 items throughout the 30 day period. For a grand total of 930 items getting freed from our lives!

Holy crap, that’s a lot of crap!

This is how The Minimalist Challenge is gonna go down:

– I’ve got 2 storage size containers. One is labeled with DONATE and the other with SELL. I’ll have another category of TRASH, and all of that stuff will just go into the trashcan right away, obviously;). Right now I’m thinking that I’ll wait until the end of the month to sell and donate stuff so I can consolidate my efforts. Maybe I’ll have a yard sale and whatever doesn’t sell I’ll bring right to the thrift store (and get myself a receipt for tax time;).

– If I have a hard time deciding if I should get rid of an item or not I’m going to evaluate every item with these questions: “When was the last time I used this?” (if I haven’t used something within the last year I probably won’t use it the upcoming year), and I’m going to ask, “Does this item add value to my life or take away value (time) from my life?”

– I’ll take pictures of the stuff I’m getting rid of each day and I’ll post an update on the blog once a week-ish to keep you posted on how things are going. (I will, for sure, be documenting my progress on the blog but I don’t know if Aaron will be documenting his progress here or not. I hope so! But can’t say for sure quite yet.)

– My plan of attack with be the high-junk concentration areas like: our basement storage area, the “Craft Room”, my closet, office, and the junk drawer. I started getting rid of things yesterday since it was the 1st but you don’t have to begin on the 1st of the month (first update coming tomorrow)! Just start with whatever day you want and go for 30 days.


I would love for you to join me! Are you in!? Let’s get rid of some shit together! Say yes! Say yes! 

P.S. Looking to declutter and minimize? CLICK HERE to learn about the Fearless Minimalist Guide


34 thoughts on “The Minimalist Challenge

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  1. Maria Parramore

    This is a great idea. We are moving in less than three weeks so I’ve been kind of doing this already. When I realized how many clothes I had it made me sick to my stomach. I won’t be buying clothes for a while. I’m struggling with whether to give away our baby stuff. We have a 2 and a half year old and he’s outgrown a bunch of clothes and toys, but we haven’t definitely given up on having another baby.

  2. Brenda Miller

    Hi Anna. I’m in. After a long spring that left me with zero time to declutter, it’s time to tackle the closet, the garage, the kids’ room, the linen closet, everything. I’m so sick of just moving things around and not getting rid of anything. Great idea!

  3. Noel

    I LOVE The Minimalists! Their blog is the best and their tweets are really thoughtful too. Sounds like a great project- can’t wait to see what junk gets tossed!

  4. Laurie

    Anna, I’m in. Within the past two weeks my boyfriend and I bought a house and I got laid off. Don’t say aw! No no this is the perfect opportunity for he and I to take this challenge and kick it’s ass!! I’ll keep you posted! You rock!

  5. Nell@PigeonPairandMe

    Yay! I’m in! I’ve been giving something away or sharing my belongings/skills every week, for almost the past year. It was a challenge to myself that I called Our Time of Gifts. Why not ramp it up for the last stretch?? (will start tomorrow :-)

  6. Liz

    Totally in! After a couple years of shopping mindfully, I’m finding myself slipping back into old habits (TJ Maxx…) and I feel the clutter taking over.

  7. Robyn

    I have donated, given and thrown out 40 boxes of stuff in the last 3 weeks. The crazy thing is I’m not done YET, but I feel so much calmer about moving and completing the task. You all go and get rid of the extra weight in your physical and mental home space. :-)

  8. Barbara

    I am in!!!!!!!!! I am 32 days into the spending fast and disappointed in myself because I spent a whopping $30.00 on unnecessary items last month (I am keeping track of everything. Proud to say I have gotten my grocery bill down to $50.00 a week – from about $90. And now I am aiming for $40.00 per week for me and my boyfriend)! But I am determined to do better this month. I think this challenge is perfect to clear the house and the mind!
    Best of luck!

  9. Heather

    What a great idea! I actually started doing this a few weeks ago – although I didn’t know there was a name/game for it! It actually feels good to clear out the stuff that was just holding space and to NOT replace it with the next set of junk… it has really made me rethink all of my purchases and things that come into my flat. Look forward to following your progress Anna!

  10. Amber

    YAY, some more inspiration to live simply. Thank you. I totally agree about that cleansing feeling when moving and chucking out useless junk. BEST FEELING. I will definitely use the idea of having boxes labelled for donate, sell and trash. A much more ordered way of doing things than my “pile in the corner” method. lol

  11. Martha

    My son emailed me the link to your blog! We recently moved to a larger house. I can ‘t believe all of the stuff we had crammed into our other house. I am getting rid of stuff everyday. There is no way I want to fill up this house!

  12. Andy Fidel

    All my things used to fit into one suitcase, and now I’ve got a room. If I want to travel again, I definitely need to get rid of stuff. And stop buying stuff. I’m in!

  13. Lisa

    Love this and want to jump in. Do you have a post on selling stuff? I often poop out at that point and just store stuff in the garage but need to break this pattern. Where do you sell??

  14. Tamara

    When I sold my apartment in 2008, I did a massive, one-time streamline and got rid of almost everything. It was a brutal way to go about it, but since I didn’t move into a new permanent place I never had space to replace things. Six years later and I can honestly say there’s not a single thing I miss…or even remember. Your strategy seems solid. Best of luck!

  15. Julianne

    Hi there, where do you sell your stuff? I’ve not had much luck trying to sell random things on craigslist.

  16. km

    Hi Anna I got started on this minimalism thrust and I just moved like a hurricane through my junk. It was exhilirating! Now I’ve cut my spending to the essentials and utilising what I have. Feels great and I have to clean less and worry less about my stuff getting stolen or broken.

  17. Alexis

    Oh boy. I may need to do this. I’m sure I could do all 30 days straight from my closet alone, so I’ll have to branch out…! I always go by the phrase ‘When in doubt, throw it out!’ Saves me from holding onto a lot of stuff I don’t use or don’t know what to do with. Maybe now I’ll change the phrase a bit to ‘When in doubt, and it could be used by someone else, sell it or donate it!’ Ha. I’m really glad I’ve found your site, Anna. I’m planning on going on a Spending Diet on November 1st. Using this month to plan! Thank you for your great ideas!

  18. vicki wiersma

    I’m in, I take that back we’re in! My husband and I really need to do this. Winter is coming and since well be spending lot more time inside its a good time to purge!

  19. Jayne Hill

    Loved doing the minimalist challenge; competed with a friend from work taking pics to track our progress. Both of us have continued to declutter long after the month ended. Gave lots to charity, sold quite a bit and binning any odds and ends felt productive. Husband was worried he was going to be shipped off to the charity shop at one point… even got the kids involved (they love a challenge). Certainly recommend this!

  20. Dawn

    This is perfect! I’m on day 5. I really needed this challenge. I have a question for you all. If I am doing this challenge with my friend and sister, how do we know who “wins” and what should be the “prize”??


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