The Minimalist Game

Nightstand light with marbles powered by a 9 volt battery
I just finished hauling out another days worth of stuff from my house, another load of things that I had been holding onto for quite some time for one reason or another but I didn't really need. It all just seemed to be clutter and junk in my life that I wasn't going to use but I had a hard time getting rid of. Last month I decided to play the Minimalist Game, for those of you that don't know the game I will explain the rules once again:

The Minimalist Game
Find a friend or family member. Someone who’s willing to get rid of some of their excess stuff. This month, each of you must get rid of one thing on the first day of the month. 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.
via the minimalists
Like it says in the description, it's easy at first, until it gets really challenging during the second week. I think it was somewhere around day 8 where I started thinking, oh shit, all the easy stuff is gone, I'm going to have to fall back on what I was "saving" for the end (old clothes), and I'm barely just beginning. The funny thing is, each time I got to a point where I didn't know what I was going to get rid of next I looked around and really thought about it and I could always find stuff I didn't really need. Sometimes the hard part was just figuring out how to get rid of it. If there was a decent monetary value to the item that's when it got tricky. I typically strayed away from those items since selling things on craigslist takes more time and one at a time was not going to get me far with my daily goals.

I had a hard time throwing out the art supplies that I intended to make something with. So for this challenge, I counted the items that I used as things that were purged from my house even though they did not completely disappear. As seen in the picture above, I made a nightstand light made out of a cigar box and marbles, the box is filled with a hard resin coating so the marbles and the light inside cannot move. It is all powered by a 9 volt battery that is hooked to a switch that I fixed to the side of the box. Technically the marbles did not leave my house, but the bottles that were holding the unused resin were thrown out after so that counted as a purged item. When I started that project (years ago) I didn't know exactly what I would fill the box with, just that I wanted a light and a resin coating. I think the motivation of throwing out (and wasting) my supplies was the trick I needed to finally putting it all together.

I still have a couple of items that I am counting as purged even though they are still technically in my house. I have a fish tank along with fish supplies that is awaiting a donation pickup.

What Did I Learn?

I learned pretty quickly that there's a lot of stuff that I have that I just don't need. And most of it is stuff that I never needed and could have done without to begin with. I think that this game was a real eye opener for my consumption habits and I hope that because of this I will think about it more in the future when I am considering purchasing things.

I also have a hard time getting rid of things that I think I may use in the future. For example, I had an entire drawer dedicated to miscellaneous cables for electronics, perhaps 2 times in the past 8 years that drawer has helped me out, but for the most part it's just a place for stuff that I could have gotten rid of a long time ago. From now on I'm going to think before I store stuff for unknown periods of time.

I also learned that I when it comes to clothes I have a hard time throwing things out. If it still fits and it doesn't have major holes in it, I will keep it because I can still wear it. What was once about 3.5 drawers full of t-shirts has been reduced to 2 drawers. This doesn't count the multiple drawers of "undershirts" that I have acquired for my work wardrobe over the years. I also came to the realization that each year my parents will buy me new undershirts whether I need them or not, and since I don't throw things out if I can still wear them... I had waaaay to many of them. This has been cut in half too.


In case you were interested in what all I got rid of here is the full list:


Tron Costume
Finally retired the Tron Costume
4x Leftover Paint, 2x Leftover Resin, Bottle Pour Spout, Travel Waterproof Wallet, Elmer's Glue, rubber snake, glass dish soap bottle, backpack, watch box, automatic fish feeder, fish food, charcoal, giant gummy bunny, extra dresser hinge, water bottle, string of Christmas lights, dustoff, wi-fi antenna, dress shoes, travel book, paint brush, 18x pairs of socks, 6x pairs of shorts, 10x pairs of underwear, 10x beanies, 7x pants, extension cord, 3x art sketches, costume materials, 3 tie clip boxes, 7x needlepoint supplies, scarf, 2x art supplies, 2x old cellphones, 1 old charger, screen protectors, 11x old computer software, puzzle, card, bookmark, 12x under shirts, Tron costume (6 pieces seen below), old computer battery, planter, gnome lamp, 5x wood shelving, dead ecosphere, 2x dog brushes, dog harness, 2x shoe bags, 17x books, 25x college text books, Computer TV Card, camera, mousepad, wireless network card, 2x cigar boxes, 24x art supplies (used in project), 44x old copies of Vice Magazine, 4x pairs of shoes, portable DVD player, 6x CD's, 2x college notebooks, old pet insurance papers, 3x college posters, Elvis impersonator kit, address book, 4x old work notebooks, art from college, 2x misc. chargers, book, 3x packing tubes, earring box, incense holder, 3x travel alarm clock, box of dreadlocks, old camera, 4x hats, 2x compass, figurine from a friend, 11x  misc cables, 4x misc hardware, belt, ipod case, 24x misc cables, 27x t-shirts, belt, 6x misc hardware, sunglasses, 2x old cards, accordion filing folder, Printer, animal carrier case, earring box, 5x Christmas ornaments, flask, 2x duffle bag, boots, 4x jackets, snuggie, blanket, 2x disposable cameras, picture frame, 5x framing hardware, 4x copies of old tax returns, 4x expired medicine, fish tank and supplies x5 (pending pickup)


Tron Costume
Tron Costume
For those of you counting, you may realize that I'm 55 items short of making it to 30 days (stopping on day 29) that's because while I want to get rid of more things I still have a hard time letting go of items I still might use. If you count the amount of stuff that I just threw out and counted as garbage and not part of the challenge I'm sure I would have completed the game. Or then there's things like my last 8 years of old pay stubs. I keep these for some reason, I was told I might need them for something but besides for when I've had to deal with my mortgage I've never needed them. That was a lot of old paperwork to get rid of, but I didn't count that as an item on the list.

I highly recommend trying this game. Even if you don't make it a full 30 days it's a very eye opening experience on your personal consumption. To see what you've spent money on that is no longer necessary in your life is very interesting. Even if you only make it 2 weeks you will probably see how much clutter you don't need in your life.

So how about you? Do you have a lot of stuff in your life? Will you try the minimalist game? You don't need to complete it to win :)

34 comments:

  1. I think I would have a hard time getting rid of things by day 3, not week 2!! But in reality, I think it comes down to what you said. Once I would start getting rid of things and get into that mindset, I think it would be easier to get rid of things. Not saying there wouldn't be any stumbling blocks along the way, but I would be more open to getting rid of things.

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    1. Come on Jon, I know you have more than 6 items in you! Haha! This was still hard every day, occasionally I would find a stash of stuff that was easy to get rid of, sometimes the purge that day might even cover me for the next few days, but it always quickly caught up. It was really interesting to see what I had been storing for years and years. You should really try it, even if you don't make it you win!

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  2. Wow. I think this is a great idea, but I would definitely have trouble getting rid of things by day 5. I'm pretty good of chucking things I don't use, or selling them. I find that I hold on to educational materials much longer than I need to with the idea that I may someday need them if I teach in that grade, etc.

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    1. You know, I thought I was good at getting rid of things too, but I realized that it was mostly my things I was good at getting rid of. I held onto a lot of knick nacks that were given to me over the years simply because someone gave it to me and I felt guilty tossing it.

      Perhaps your holding onto educational things is similar to me holding onto things I can turn into art projects even if I'm not sure when I might use them again. Another thing that I held onto for much longer than needed was old taxes (I think I had them going back to 2004) and old paystubs (which I know I had going back to 2004).

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  3. Love this idea! And a good idea since we need to downsize when we retire.....I need to propose this contest to my hubby. :-)

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    1. It sounds hard, and I'm not going to lie, it gets hard. But at the same time it's a bit freeing. You just have to know when to draw the line and stop throwing things away for the sake of a game. I had to stop on day 29 even though I was almost there.

      But who wants to throw away a glass eyeball, you never know when that might become useful!

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  4. Interesting idea! But like the other commenters, I would have a hard time by the end of the first week, since I live a decently spartan lifestyle as it is. Also, that nightstand light is awesome!

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    1. Thanks for the compliment on the nightstand light, I like the way it turned out too. I think that a lot of the leftover clutter around my house is my dogs toys, and I can't really just throw away all of her fun stuff! For me I think it's all the old gifts I've gotten though, it's less about the consumption and more about the "failure to throw away". I got rid of a lot of stuff that I've had around since high school (14 years ago.....)

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  5. Haha, I also have way too many electronic cords and gadgets. And, like you, every so often they help me out in a pinch. We may be moving soon, so that should be the trigger for us to purge a bunch of stuff we don't use (obviously the key is to not replace the stuff with more stuff we don't use).

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    1. Well, most recently the electronic cords helped me with part of the electrical workings of that nightstand light I made. But I think I would have been fine buying some conductive wire to make that work rather than store all those cables for the last 8 years! It saved me probably $4 and I only had to store it for 8 years..... I think knowing that I have cleaner drawers in my house will be more worth it to me from now on :)

      You should really give it a try, it's a decent way to ease yourself into it and since there's a fixed number each day you know when you have to stop. I must say that I really enjoy the free space even if I'm not currently using it.

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  6. Hey, this is a **great idea**. I have read about the one where you save incrementally but never where you get rid of crap like this. I'm so doing this - thank you!

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    1. Hey Jim,

      I'm glad you like the game! You should really give it a try and let us all know how you do, I'd love to hear about other peoples experiences with it. I've only heard about the game from the website that I linked to, I have not heard other peoples experiences with it so I'd be interested to know how other people like it. Thanks for stopping by!

      -Zee

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  7. Awesome job, Zee! I don't think I'd make it through the first week, so you're doing exceptionally well in my book. The only thing I can sell for ages are my video games, but I'd have a broken collector's heart afterwards, so that's definitely a no-go.

    Love the Tron costume! :D

    Cheers,
    NMW

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    1. No More Waffles,

      You never know how long you will last until you try :) Though you just moved so you probably did a purge around that time, I know that whenever I used to move a TON of stuff didn't make the trip. But since I've been at my house for 7.5 years now.... Things have started to accumulate. Thanks for the compliment on the Tron costume, that was the first year I got really into Halloween costumes and I haven't gone back. Every year I usually spend months planning out what I plan to wear. I was sad to see it go but if I wanted to use that costume again I would have to spend a lot of time fixing it since the O-rings I used to make it work were all rotted through.

      -Zee

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  8. Ugh stuff. I can't stand going in to the basement and wondering what is in a box. If I don't know what is in it would I really miss it if it was gone. Winter project for sure!

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    1. Yeah, it's surprising how much stuff just accumulates over time. For me there was a lot of stuff that I bought for 1 off projects around the house and I just held onto the extra stuff when I was done in case I ever needed to fix something again.

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  9. I like this idea! I don't tend to be a big accumulator of junk, but lately I've reached a point where I need to purge some things.

    It just feels good to get rid of unneeded stuff. It almost seems like it improves productivity just to have the clutter out of the way. In most cases, a lot of the stuff can just be tossed.

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    1. I used to purge stuff every time I moved, but I have been living in the same place for almost 8 years now so the accumulation has reached a point where I needed to do something about it. But I also feel like getting rid of stuff feels like a cleanse. Less clutter just makes everything feel nicer.

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  10. Hi Zee, I was wondering how you were getting on with your game - well done! It was also very interesting to see the kinds of things you were getting rid of and that's given me a few ideas for myself! I'm slowly getting rid of my things, but doing it the way you have would be too much/too fast for me! I am however seriously thinking about a No Buying Clothes/Shoes Challenge for 2015 (or maybe 6 months to start off!) - need to check out my entire wardrobe and drawers to make sure all occasions are covered!

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    1. Weenie,

      Yeah I'm not very good at follow ups I guess. Most of the time I don't feel like they are that interesting of posts so I don't do them too often since it's just a re-iteration of what I had said before. I actually have a post somewhat written that is a follow up of a bunch of topics that I had mentioned in the past. Though some of those topics are still unresolved (like my narcolepsy tests.... need to go back to get retested again...)

      But I got rid of all sorts of weird stuff, some of it I kept simply because it was weird stuff. Like a box of dreadlocks, for some reason when you have a box labeled dreadlocks people are always curious to see what's inside of it. It's always a surprise to them when it's exactly as labeled, I'm not sure what they were expecting but there it is. That was the reaction I was going for with it and that was usually what I always got. I guess you could say I have an interest in social experiments :)

      I could see a no buying challenge being very good for a lot of people, I hope that you try that. For me I need to purchase more clothes because I need to throw out a lot of the wardrobe I wore in high school. Just because a shirt hasn't gotten holes in it and fallen off of my body doesn't mean I shouldn't cycle things out of my wardrobe after 15 years!

      -Zee

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  11. We play a version of this game too! I call it "70 in 7"... where everyone in the family has to get rid of 10 items a day. I think we have too short of an attention span to do it for a month straight - that would seem like a chore to us, but for only lasting a week it seems more like a game!

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    1. That seems like a pretty good game too. For me I actually found it wasn't that hard to keep up with it a lot of times. Sure sometimes I got a day behind but other days I would found a bunch of stuff and get a few days ahead. It actually wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, since each day you have a set number of items to get rid of it made it a lot easier.

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  12. I would not throw out the art supplies. In fact, there's a lot of stuff that I may not use every day but I certainly plan to use. I can understand not having unnecessary stuff around the house but the idea of throwing out useful stuff that I plan to use, no way.

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    1. I understand about not throwing out art supplies, it was hard for me too. But I realized that I wasn't going to be using them anytime soon as they had been sitting around for over a year doing nothing but making me feel uninspired.

      This game got me to actually use things up instead of just tossing them out though so that was good. But I realized that I had been holding onto things for sometimes over 5 years thinking, "I would use them in the future." even though I did not.

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  13. Nice light box. Do you actually use it? It would be cool to have a picture posted up in side it too

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    1. Thanks Piggybanker, I turn it on sometimes to give me a little light in my room. It's not enough to read by or anything but it's a nice alternative when you want to see around your room but not have bright lights on.

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  14. I find it very difficult to get rid of things, so I just buy more totes to store it in. As long as it is not in my way I am ok with it. Is that like an illness, I do not consider that hoarding because it is not junk I mean it's coin collections, electronics, Car Radio new. IDK

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