I’m Halfway Through ‘The Minimalism Game’ and I’m Worried
It’s been 15 days so far.
On Day One, I discarded one item.
On Day Two, I discarded two items.
Now it’s Day Fifteen. According to my calculations, as of today I have discarded 120 items total.
And it’s barely made a dent.
I have come to the difficult (and somewhat embarrassing) conclusion that I may need to do this whole 30-Day Minimalism Game more than once.
Yeah…nobody else was quite as thrilled with the idea as I was.
I first heard about The Minimalism Game through The Minimalists podcast. I listened to the podcast on and off for over a year before I considered doing The Minimalism Game. I’ve never had any desire to be an actual minimalist– I am a nester by nature, and I like to have my stuff around me.
Unfortunately, I’m also easily distracted, and so my “nest” can get a bit overcrowded if I’m not careful.
Still, I’d done the whole KonMari thing a few years ago and so I was pretty sure I was doing okay. I was definitely better off than I’d been before Marie Kondo’s wisdom had helped me get my head straight about the role that possessions play in my life.
When you don’t move for 17 years, things have a way of piling up, because you don’t get the same This Is Your Life experience that you do when you move.
I was more willing to release items on a regular basis and not wait for a big decluttering effort or a purge. I regularly did things like debating whether or not I liked a sweater, wearing it for a day to find out, and then telling it, “Thank you,” and adding it to the pile of items I would be releasing back into the world to spark joy in someone else’s life.
Over the past few years I’ve also gained more financial stability, so I’ve been more willing to let things go without worrying about how much they cost, or how much I might have to pay if later on I decide I really did need to replace that gadget. I have realized that unnecessary items cost me far more in emotional well being than actual monetary funds, so I’m willing to say goodbye without too much worry about the impact of my choice on my future financial status.
But I am approaching 40 years old, and I have spent the last 17 years of my life in the same house. When you don’t move for 17 years, things have a way of piling up, because you don’t get the same This Is Your Life experience that you do when you move.
…I realized my post-KonMari home weight loss had rebounded into a serious gain.
I have raised (and am continuing to raise) four children in this 2,000-square-foot home, and I work from home. The business of life carries on, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year (yes, even during a pandemic) and things just…accumulate. Like snow piling up on your back deck in the dark, while you’re inside your cozy home having dinner and helping kids with homework and doing the dishes. It just all piles up without you even noticing it, until you go to let the dog out before bed and BAM. There’s a foot of snow and now you have to go find a shovel.
Combine all that with the fact that Amazon Prime makes instant gratification shopping the new feel-good drug and…
Let’s just say there’s a lot of stuff.
…the house feels a bit like a button-up shirt that’s gotten just a tad too tight
In December I had a few let-the-dog-out moments and I realized my post-KonMari home weight loss had rebounded into a serious gain. Maybe it was helping my friend with cancer clean her home one day, or maybe it was the family weekend getaway to the delightfully spartan-like state park cabin, but I realized my home needed to lose some weight. Big time.
To be clear, it’s not hoarder level or anything. There are plenty of clear surfaces, there’s the occasional random item on the floor against a wall, but it usually has a place to go if I just had the willpower to actually put it away. Books all have shelves upon which to rest their pages and clothes all have drawers to lay in and hangers to hang on.
But at the same time, the house feels a bit like a button-up shirt that’s gotten just a tad too tight: It looks okay, but if you eat a little too much or turn the wrong way, things could go south in a hurry.
So the next time I heard The Minimalists talking about their Minimalism Game, I listened a little more closely. I liked the simplicity of it, and I liked the idea of having a concrete daily goal– one that I could slack on one day and catch up with again the next day, if I needed to.
I announced the plan to my family, and I invited them to join me, starting January 1st. After all, as The Minimalists said, it’s more fun with a buddy.
Yeah…nobody else was quite as thrilled with the idea as I was.
So I set forth on my own. I wrote down each day on an index card– numbers 1 through 31 (might as well tack on that extra day at the end of January)– and I put tally marks next to each day to mark the total number of items discarded that day. (I’m cluttered, not disorganized. There’s a difference.)
Some days I can add additional tallies onto the following day; other days I fall short and have to start my tallies on the day or two before. So far I’ve been discarding mostly books and clothes (hands down my main two vices) with a few other odds and ends here and there. I have no actual system at this point; I just pick a room with my stuff in it and wander around gathering items I don’t care about anymore.
But now I am halfway through, and I’m worried.
Is it possible that I will get rid of 496 items (that’s how many total I will have discarded by the end, if I keep it up– I calculated) and STILL have more junk?
All I know is that so far, I have yet to feel any pain about what I’m discarding. I expected that by the halfway point I’d be feeling the pinch– at least a little bit– struggling slightly each day for those last few items– but no dice. I am coldly, calmly discarding with no remorse, often also easily tacking on more items for the following day’s tally. Which means I have WAY more stuff than I knew– way more stuff I don’t care about than I knew.
Did my former KonMari enlightenment really get dimmed so easily?
The real question that keeps bouncing around in my mind like the bouncy ball I tossed into the discard box last Tuesday is: What does this say about me? What kind of person harbors this much crap in their house all this time?
I mean, this is not my first decluttering rodeo. So I have to ask:
Why? Why do I do it?
Is it laziness?
Do I just not notice it?
How much of it do I bring in vs. how much of it is thrust upon me?
Do I have a deeper attachment to material possessions than I realized?
As of today, I have more questions than answers. But as it stands, I still have another 376 items to figure it out.
More stories from Kasey Q. Tross:
How I Finally Got My Family to Clean Up After Themselves With This Parenting Hack
$10 + a game with some clever rules = a clean house (finally)
How to Get Stuff Done When You Don’t Feel Like It
The most relaxing productivity hack you’ll ever try