Minimalism: What I Learned by Getting Rid of 365 Things in One Year
Last year, I had a lofty goal to get rid of 365 things in my home by the end of the year. The motive was mainly because I was pregnant and nesting, let alone and panicking about living in 450 square feet with a baby. The ‘things’ that I had to get rid of had to be something that I wasn’t going to throw away anyway (for example, an empty milk carton).
To document how many items I had gotten rid of, I would put a check mark in my day planner when I got rid of something. If I got rid of 10 things at once, I would mark off ten days in 2017. One day I did a major purge but it still only got me to about June (or about 180 items). Most of the time, I was about 30 days ahead. Sometimes, it got a bit too close for my liking, or about 10 days ahead.
Then I would panic and then proactively think about what else I could get rid of.
There were many things I got rid of, including a souvenir of a ceramic ladle holder from a friend who traveled to Portugal, ceramic tea light holders, old snowboarding boots, photos from high school where I don’t even remember the name of the person in the picture, blank DVDs (I don’t even have a Macbook that has a CD/DVD port anymore), and personal finance books that didn’t “Spark Joy” for me.
I admit, the above picture of a sandstone slab is still sitting on my desk, and I could not have the heart to throw it out. It still “sparks joy” for me (a la Marie Kondo) because it reminds me of my time in Antelope Canyon.
I sorted the 365 items into these categories:
- Donate– I donated clothes into the donation bins scattered around the city. I also put some items near the large garbage bins in my condo alley, where things that I set out often disappeared after 2 hours or sometimes overnight. Our Ikea Poang chair that we got rid of in the pouring rain even disappeared after 2 hours (it was soaked, but someone still wanted it)! We also have a community book nook (or whatever those things are called where you can drop off a book or pick up a book) where I put books and other knick knacks.
- Sell– I would sell things on Varage Sale, Letgo, Craigslist, or at the local consignment store.
- Throw Away- Things that I felt wouldn’t sell or no one would want would be thrown away
- Recycle– Things that I felt wouldn’t sell, or no one would want, but could be recycled, would be recycled.
Here are some takeaways that I learned after getting rid of 365 things last year:
i have a lot of stuff
365 things is nothing.
I still have so much more in my home that I could potentially get rid of.
However, my home is not just my home anymore, and I don’t think my husband will appreciate me throwing away his things. He does see that I get into episodic panic-mode purging sessions in an attempt to create more space in our small space.
Realizing that I have a lot of stuff makes me realize that I don’t need to consume, and I don’t need to buy, unless I really ‘need’ something.
i’ll never get to the ‘ideal’ minimalist home that i see on instagram
Despite getting rid of one thing a day, there’s still a lot of things that are ‘visible’ in my home and I’ve come to accept that I won’t ever get that Instagram ideal of a minimalist home with no clutter in sight. After all, I have a baby, and despite an attempt at baby minimalism, we have two baby carriers (which we use), and a lot of onesies.
For example, the Instant Pot takes up a ton of room on my counter space, but I don’t have room to put it in the cupboards, and I use it so often that it doesn’t make sense to hide it away.
i was getting rid of stuff for sake of getting rid of stuff
Another thing I noticed as I was checking off the days to 365, was that I was getting rid of stuff for the sake of getting rid of stuff. Some things turned out to be helpful if I still had it. But it was too late as I already threw the item away already. I threw away some cold weather sweaters that probably would have been helpful in this cold weather. I also threw away a pair of comfy pants that would have been nice to lounge around in.
be careful what you buy, because it might be worthless later
Now when I buy something, I am very careful to evaluate whether I really need it. Of course we don’t need things (we only need love, shelter, food, and the Internet, ha) but when you have to painstakingly get rid of something later, you’ll think twice about buying it. Like, for example, my Via Spiga boots I bought for $200+ which is a money regret for me. They were the cat’s meow, until I wore them and they weren’t comfortable. Then they just sat in my closet for the past two years (I wore them under 10 times). I recently tried selling them at the consignment store on a mission to get rid of 365 things, but because they weren’t Valentino or something higher end, they won’t sell it in their store.
Also, I learned that I think my stuff is worth more than others would want to pay for it. My ‘market value’ is higher than other’s market value and there is a discrepancy.
I have to take the ego out of ‘my stuff’ and tell myself these things are not permanent and I do not have any use for it, therefore I should not be so attached to it.
setting boundaries helped
Setting boundaries helped me get rid of things, especially if I thought someone might be interested in buying it. I would list certain things to sell, like the aforementioned Airwalk snowboarding boots, and when no one would bite after a set time period (I usually gave it 2-4 weeks), then I would just get rid of it. No one wanted to buy those snowboarding boots so I deleted the listing and just put it in the back alley and low and behold, someone picked it up within 2 hours.
Setting boundaries helped, otherwise, I would have just kept them thinking that ‘someone’ would want them ‘eventually’ (who knows when eventually will actually come?) and then I would continue to keep it. Which doesn’t help my goal towards minimalism.
And that’s what I learned by getting rid of 365 things in one year.
Readers, have you ever regretted getting rid of some things? Do you hold on to some things that “Spark Joy” for you even though you know deep down inside, they didn’t?