The 2016 Jumpstart: December’s The Minimalism Game

Let’s talk about my jumpstart into 2016 with December’s The Minimalism Game, inspired by The Minimalists.

I’ve been itching to take the 30-day Minimalism challenge for a while now, but in December 2015 (oh so long ago), I did finally take the leap. Here’s what I chucked, donated, or sold over the last 30 days, as well as how I felt about the process in general.

Day One:

One article of clothing.

This particular piece of clothing did not even fit, but I’d been holding onto it for sentimental reasons. It wasn’t as hard to donate it once it was part of the challenge, which I find interesting.

Day Two:

Two articles of clothing.

Day Three:

Two books and an iPhone case.

Day Four:

Two iPhone cases and two bracelets.

This is the moment I realized that if I have more than one of a particular item to get rid of, there must be a problem. I suppose I held onto the iPhone cases (which totaled three so far) because I figured I could swap them out when I got bored, but then I realized these iPhone cases were for a model I don’t even have anymore (which delves into another issue of consumerism that I won’t ramble on about now, but everyone knows what I’m talking about).

Day Five:

Four books and one set of “thank you” notes.

The “thank you” notes I’d been holding onto because someone gave them to me, and I felt bad getting rid of them as a result. This is insane. I’m not going to do it anymore.

Day Six:

Four articles of clothing, one collectible Christmas tin, and one keychain.

Day Seven:

One article of clothing, one stylus, one collectible charm, one exercise band, and two pair of shoes.

Day Eight:

One mason jar, three tea collections, one pair of sandals, one backpack button, and two knick knacks.

I didn’t need The Minimalism Game to become irritated by knick knacks. They’ve actually bugged me for a while, and I was grateful for a reason to get them out of my living space. However, the truth is, we don’t ever need a reason to get something that is not adding value to our lives out of our living space.

Day Nine:

Nine unused baby items.

Day Ten:

Ten unused baby items.

Day Eleven:

Eleven unused baby items.

Here’s the thing about my incredible, amazing, clutter-producing infant. She doesn’t need near as much as what everyone claimed she needed before she was born. Also, I didn’t (and don’t have to continue to) keep everything everyone gives me for this child. Even more so, she goes through the things she uses quickly because she is rapidly growing. I’ve already learned a few, well-selected items will do because she is only going to use them for about a month or two, or maybe three, anyway. Lesson learned.

Day Twelve:

Ten unused baby items and two decorative signs.

Day Thirteen:

Thirteen unused baby items.

Day Fourteen:

Two unused baby items, three sets of cups, nine bathroom accessories.

This is roughly the time I realized I have so much stuff in my home that I have never used and I am never going to use. If nothing else, The Minimalism Game is enlightening.

Day Fifteen:

Eleven bathroom accessories, one radio, one bottle opener, and two lotions.

Day Sixteen:

Three lotions and thirteen hangers.

This seems like a small issue, but it’s not. I had dozens and dozens of hangers. That’s not such a bad thing, I suppose, except that it probably indicates I have too many clothes to hang in the first place. The real issue is that I have all of these hangers, but I am holding onto types of hangers that I will not use. I just don’t like them. So why was I keeping them? Good question. They got the boot, too.

Day Seventeen:

Seventeen hangers.

Day Eighteen:

Sixteen hangers and two books.

Day Nineteen:

One calculator, one shelf, one lotion, eight sets of stickers, one frame, one bag, and six books.

What I’ve learned through this 30-day challenge is that there are many items we hold onto even when we have a replacement. For instance, the physical calculator I donated on day nineteen. I have a calculator on my iPhone and my Mac. I don’t need an old-fashioned calculator anymore. I’m not an accountant. I’m an English major. I don’t even math.

Day Twenty:

Twenty books.

I had already done the hard work of paring down my personal library before December 2015. In fact, as much as I prefer physical copies of books, I have taken to getting new books on my Kindle reader or checking them out from a library so I can return them when I am done. However, as a long-time and still current English student, I had convinced myself I needed to hold onto most of my physical, academic books. I wised up during the challenge—it isn’t necessary. If it was not a valuable, long-term resource to my field, or if I did not intend on doing scholarly work on the book in the near future, the academic books did not make the cut during this challenge.

Day Twenty-One:

Two bags, one face accessory, one car seat base, nine outgrown baby clothes, two holiday bags, one candle holder, one calendar, one broken dust buster, two hair ribbons, and one decorative stone.

Day Twenty-Two:

One charger, one basket, one car seat, one stand, four banks, two knick knacks, one strap, one baby strap, one handprint kit, one plastic storage container, one set of “thank you” cards (yes, a different one), three books, one pillow, one bag, and two lanyards.

Day Twenty-Three:

Two lanyards, one hair ribbon, one hanger, one backpack, one collectible coin, three postcards, two collectible movie items, one souvenir book, two cups, two hair accessories, two magazines, one manuscript, one coupon holder, one box, two balloons, and one iPhone accessory.

Day Twenty-Four:

Twenty-four old coupons.

This is when I realized my life is a little ridiculous. I was seriously holding onto old coupons that I was never going to use. I’ve come to realize through this challenge that we have so much trouble letting go. In 2016, I hope to stop hanging on so much.

Day Twenty-Five:

Nine old coupons, two medicine droppers, one basket, three magazines, two notepads, one cloth, one jar, five boxes, and one sheet.

Day Twenty-Six:

Two chargers, two pair of earrings, four hangers, fifteen hair bows, one banner, and two scrapbooking items.

Day Twenty-Seven:

One tiara, one blood pressure cuff, one tablet keyboard, one adapter, one cell phone, two makeup kits, one pair of sunglasses, one diet kit, one jewelry holder, one set of markers, one tablet case, one frame, one eye cover, one car charger, two candle holders, one notebook, one bracelet, one bucket, one Alan wrench, two calendars, and four baby toys.

I remember this as the first day I seriously thought, “I can’t finish the whole month.” It seemed like I had gotten rid of so much already and there just wasn’t any way I could tackle day twenty-seven, much less the final days of The Minimalism Game. I did, though. Every time I wanted to give up, I’d open a cabinet or drawer to find another pile of dusty, unused stuff to pore through.

Day Twenty-Eight:

Two frames, one holiday bag, one scale, one ice cream cup, one bag, one bottle opener, one basket, three hair accessories, seven pieces of luggage, one bucket, one article of clothing, three lotions, one plastic container, two magazines, and one bottle.

Day Twenty-Nine:

Eleven lights, one bottle, one cat bowl, one drinking fountain, one crate, two garden tools, one dog stake, one stool, one desk, two bed frames, one litter box, one cat carrier, four basketball trading cards.

Day Thirty:

Thirty basketball trading cards.

This is one of the worst decisions I’ve made, and I made it since beginning to embrace minimalism. I asked for trading cards and a collectible trading card binder for Christmas 2014. I wanted to start collecting basketball trading cards again. So I did. However, I rarely look at them or derive any value from them unless I am adding more. In essence, they are useless to me. It made me feel sad and a little stupid, but I let these go.

Day Thirty-One:

Thirty-one basketball trading cards.

As I said, I’ve been itching to complete The Minimalism Game for a long while. Now I have. I do feel better. I worried that I would get all of this stuff out of my home and out of my life just to find out that it didn’t make me feel lighter or better. It did, though. It is worth it. I’m glad I did it in December, too. The truth is that I can’t think of a better way to jumpstart 2016, especially since my only resolution is to continue to embrace minimalism, along with everything it means to me personally. Don’t forget—minimalism is different for everyone. I encourage you to use 2016 to find a minimalism that is right for you.

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