Playing the 30 day minimalism game in a small home
including “a list of things which didn’t make the cut”
Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus came up with this game, which is a practical and achievable approach to living a more intentional life. The concept is simple. The aim is noble. The thought is terrifying.
If I endure it, I will increase the value of my home in my life.
Here’s how it works. On day 1, give away or throw away one thing. Minimise that shirt you don’t actually love. Dig out that wedding gift that’s still wrapped up 5 years later. Give it away.
On day 2, give away or throw away two things.
Now you’re terrified, because being an intelligent person you can see where this is going. By day 29 you’ll be removing 29 things from your life in one day. And day 30 will be a further 30.
As the Minimalists say, everything you own should either serve a purpose or bring you joy. I have plenty of things which fail on both accounts. I’m recording here the things which I minimize, in the hopes that you my readers will see familiar objects in your house, and perhaps choose to let go of them if they don’t meet any of the above values.
What follows here is a skimmable list of what I minimised day by day. For a more interesting read, please see my reflections on what playing the #minsgame has taught me.
What I minimized in 30 days:
Day 1. One set of ornamental bowls (gifted to someone who would use them).
Day 2. Two jar lids.
Day 3. One feature phone and charger. The guy at the traffic light could use that. One old trivia card game. I put that in the donation box. One old mp3 player and cables. It didn’t sync from any modern PC anyway.
Think: Does this thing add value to my life?
Day 4. One lonely gym sock. One ill-fitting shirt. One baby bottle steriliser. One bad tie.
(By the way, the cellphone was really well received by the guy at the traffic light. For me it had been a “just in case” item. For him it was actually valuable.)
Day 5. One too-small ankle support. One egg timer. One kitsch fridge magnet in the shape of a gold bar. One stack of 7th grade photos. One battery charger.
Day 6. Two more feature phones. One flag. One toy wheel. About twenty books, which more than covers me for day 7, a Sunday when I won’t have much time at home.
Day 7. Having built up plenty credit yesterday, today is a rest day. Although, I did re-purpose a cardboard box to block up a window at church. It was the box from a long-desired gas heater which we bought now that the weather’s getting colder. We bought it with savings money, and also decided to rent a large, full gas canister instead of buying an adapter for the smaller one we already had.
Day 8. One bottle of cheap cola (who even bought that?). One broken USB car charger. Four pieces of just-in-case metal. Six unbound copies of an art book from 7 years ago.
That’s twelve things, but I think I’ll make a rule that I can always get rid of more than the target.
Day 9. One mug with a broken handle. Two other mugs. Two empty boxes. One badge. One tube of sugary toothpaste. One broken keyring. One golf ball.
I don’t even play golf.
Day 1o. Two wiper blade holders. Five screwdrivers. One lighter. One wireless router. One phone line.
Day 11. One timberland wallet. One Nokia Lumia 820 with a broken screen. One Qi wireless charging pad. One metal bowl. Twenty six software and/or backup CDs/DVDs and a spindle.
Day 12. Four fridge magnets. One Stikeez toy. One piece of sea glass. One deck of playing cards. OK, let’s see what’s in my drawer at work… One wooden puzzle. One stationery organizer. Two India rubber bands. One screwdriver bit. One spirit level. One toy car. One bubbly corporate toy thing.
Day 13, a busy Saturday. One tea towel. Four plant pots. One heart-shaped towel hook.
Day 14. Some catching up to do. I owe yesterday 7 items. Here goes for today’s increased target of 21: One hiking flask. Four glass jars with odd lids. Five ice cream moulds. One ice tray. Eight plastic lids. Two plastic tubs.
You can always trust a tupperware drawer to fill out a #minsgame day.
Day 15. One hiking backpack. Two travel bags. One tin of beads. One wooden helicopter. One torch. One Google cardboard. One pair of sunglasses. One pair of earrings. One ring. Four hairclips. One watch. One vial for essential oil.
Gathering these handfuls only takes a few minutes before dashing out the door for work. Saturdays are nicer, as you get to take aim at a specific target. The garage cupboard is in my sights.
Day 16. One business card holder. One travel toothbrush. One pen. One deodorant. One powerbank. One Bluetooth tracker. Four batteries. One rain jacket. One old Driver’s licence. One organ donor card. One play table. One pacifier. One pompom.
Day 17. Today I’m raiding a little basket which is supposedly just for spare keys. Here’s my loot:
One piece of copper pipe. Two old car immobilizers. One padlock. Three orphaned keys. One key clip. One hair clip. One key tag. One peg. One doorknob. One Allen key. Three beads.
One file of undergrad notes. Time for a scanning party!
Day 18. Scanning from yesterday continues. For today’s target of 18 things, I started with removing 4 email subscriptions. Not all “things” are physical. One VHS tape, digitised using a local service. The Pinterest app. The Facebook app.
Day 19. I’ve got a little catching up to do today, so I’m tackling my garage. It’s a cupboard I call the garage. Six student cards. One piece of rope. Some strips of leather. One wooden birdhouse. One washing machine PC board. One packet of LED circuit parts. Five USB cables. Three audio cables. More copper pipe. Some copper wire. Four trolley wheels. One jig saw. One box of curtain hooks and gliders. One packet of picture hooks. Two curtain rail brackets. One cork stopper. Four plug heads. Two international plug adapters. One outlet hose horseshoe. Two coils of telephone wire. Two mirror brackets. Another Allen key. One lock bolt. One dustpan. One thing I don’t know the name of. One small mirror. Eight hooks.
Many other things won me over and went back in the cupboard.
Day 20. One 5kg gas cannister. One heater accessory. One gas pipe.
Day 21. Two DVDs. Five books. Two bonsai pots. Three hanging plant pots. Two Easter chickens. One dummy tag. One rattle. One box. One bag of fabric scraps. Six pairs of scissors. Two rulers. Three rolls of washi tape. Two bone folders. One ink pad. One clapper toy. Twenty six pencils. Twenty five pens.
Day 22. Four drawer handles. Two necklaces. One straw hat. One citrus press. One antique preserve jar. Two teaspoons. One bottle opener. Two online accounts.
Day 23. Three pairs of socks and a sock. One t-shirt. One podcast.
Day 24. Another pair of socks. One Jewish harp. One pedometer. One frying pan. Ten bars of perspex. One tin of tile primer. One paint scraper. One paint brush. One paint roller handle. One mostly-used roll of masking tape. Two orchid struts with clasps. One sink plug. One Gravity Light.
Gravity Light is an amazing invention, but ours will have greater value in someone else’s hands.
Day 25. Three duplicated toys. One rattle. One book.
Day 26. One straw hat. One black cap. One cake form. One puree pouch and cover. Two necklaces. One pair of booties. Another rattle. Seven books. Two balls. Two wooden ornaments. Five other toys.
Day 27. Oh dear, a Saturday, and I didn’t minimise a single thing.
Day 28. One t-shirt.
Before the wheels completely fall off, I am steeling myself for the last two days of this challenge.
Where can I focus my efforts tonight? My toolboxes should yield plenty of things which aren’t adding value. So might our drawer of too many dishtowels.
Day 29. Four teatowels. Two decorative logs. One bowl.
I got stuck in traffic, then had to help a friend with a hospital emergency, so I’m happy with this positive accomplishment for today.
Day 30. One hammer. One torch. One pair of bicycle levers. One coil of steel cable. One telephone patch cable. One wire brush drill-bit. One bundle of plumber’s coir. One audio cable. One sheet of appliance patches. Two packets of plasterboard screws. Three rawl-bolts. Another Allen key. One picture string. One packet of fan weights. One old blunt set of mini screwdrivers. One packet of vac-bag sealers. One broken wooden chicken. Four leather scraps. One puncture repair kit. One roll of double sided tape. Two DVDs. Three books. One wooden city. One ornament. One punch. Another deck of playing cards. One mess of thin wire. One pack of ferrules. Two USB drives. One lanyard. One packet of staples. One empty cotton reel. One streamer. Another packet of curtain gliders. Another packet of curtain hooks. Two more drawer knobs. One giant bulldog clip. One bicycle bell. One hair pin. Another ornament. One picture holder. One handful of small things. One packet of hinges and brackets. One point-and-shoot camera. One tin box. One badge. Two tea tins.
That’s 475 items minimized!
A quick wrap up will be sufficient here — you can read my analysis of the challenge in my other posts. The month has been trying at times, rewarding at more times, and a mixture of dismal performance and excellent clearing out. My wife’s surges of energy on my tired days have ensured our joint success. Our house really feels more cared for now, and I’m not as scared to open our drawers any more.
While this article hasn’t been particularly readable, I have put down some more prosaic reflections in my articles on what came in during the month and what playing the #minsgame has taught me. Thank you for reading!