The Minimalists Decluttering: On day one throw out, sell, donate or recycle an item. On day two, 2 items. On day three, 3 items. And so on.
Adam Rifkin stashed this in Simplify
In the Marie Kondo tidying up genre, meet The Minimalists:
I am stuffing a letter between two books when I realise my possessions are in charge of me. It’s a hoarder’s attempt at tidying: hiding stuff inside other stuff. My coffee table groans under books, digital devices, coffee cups, lint rollers, newspapers and one or both of my kittens, Ollie and Sebastian.
Bottles of toiletries line the bathroom mirror collecting dust, and upstairs cubbyholes burst with clothes I no longer wear. Let’s not even talk about my inbox, crammed with unread emails. The Stuff is winning. Enter The Minimalists, Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Millburn, who believe that without the abundant clutter of material possessions you’re free to prioritise the stuff that matters: family, hobbies and passion projects.
Nicodemus and Millburn launched theminimalists.com in December 2010. In the first month, it attracted only 52 visitors to the site. Last year, it drew more than two million, as well as nearly 30,000 Twitter followers – and their TED talk has had more than 600,000 hits on YouTube.
Tidying up is a trend:
The idea of tidying up our lives, ridding ourselves of material clutter, is ancient and enduring, a practical and emotional goal we’re constantly trying to achieve – check out “storage solutions” on Pinterest to see almost fetish-like homages to tidiness. The concept is big again now with Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up currently topping the New York Times bestseller list. Now, as we claw our way out of a recession that forced many to embrace a “less is more” lifestyle, Nicodemus and Millburn have captured a moment of backlash against the endless, mindless accumulation of stuff.
Marie Kondo on the Magic of Tidying Up:
Step one Decide why you’re becoming a minimalist
“I can’t tell you how many times I went for a new car, promotion or job on impulse, never asking myself why,” says Nicodemus. “So before you even start, ask yourself: how might my life be better with less stuff?”
I get down to three reasons for waging war on stuff. First, I think my time would be better spent on humans I love than wasted on objects I don’t – half a weekend is a ridiculous amount of time to spend cleaning a flat that’s not much bigger than me. Second, when I need something, I’d like to find it, not go on a quest for it. Third, I haven’t seen my cat Sebastian in days. He’s got to be in here somewhere.
Step two Play the 30-day minimalism game
This is a way to declutter in daily steps. On day one throw out, sell, donate or recycle an item. On day two, two items. On day three, three items, and so on. After 30 days, you’ll have removed 564 items. “People resort to coathangers and paper clips in those later days,” says Nicodemus, who recommends playing the game with a friend or work colleague “and betting something – a coffee, a steak dinner. Having that accountability helps”. If you don’t know any other clutterbugs, tens of thousands of people tweet their way through the 30-day challenge using the hashtag #minsgame.
The first thing I throw out is a pair of ripped jeans. I earmark two Post-it pads to throw out tomorrow, and I already know on the third day I’ll throw out these old lint rollers and the cup with a chip on the rim. Then I think, why not just throw them out now? Long story short, I remove about 100 items on the first day.
Step three Get rid of your ‘just-in-case’ items
In most cases, any item you’ve been hanging on to “just in case” can be replaced “in less than 20 minutes for less than £10” – usually in a charity shop, or even for free online. For example, the French grammar books I kept just in case I learn French. Many JICs will never see their save-the-day moment. In a year, Nicodemus and Millburn had to replace their disposed-of JICs fewer than five times between them.
I sheepishly admit to having a JIC bag of old mobile phones. “It’s hard to throw out mobile phones,” Nicodemus says. “You think, ‘This is worth £300. To get rid of this is to get rid of £300.’ But it’s sunk cost. We hold on to things because we spent a lot of money on them five years ago, but the second you bought it you were never going to recover that money.”
I donate the phones, as well as two sacks of clothes I was keeping just in case one day they magically fit, look good, or no longer have holes.
A lot of these tips are oriented towards young people, but I think the older you get the more your life choices are determined by how much stuff you're lugging around. I once knew an elderly person whose entire life was blighted -- like to the point of almost becoming homeless -- due to an inability to get rid of things like 60 year old textbooks. On the other hand, I respect my parents because at one point they were able to move into an 800 square foot apartment successfully. As you become elderly, if you don't have a strategy for divesting yourself gracefully of your earthly possessions... it will eventually be done for you in an extremely ungraceful manner.
The good thing about giving things away while you're still alive is you get to see other people enjoy those things.
I've been practicing letting go of things every week.
Throwing some out, giving some away.
So far it has not gotten easier emotionally.
But maybe it's not supposedly to be easy emotionally to let things go.
Zen Habits on decluttering: