The Minimalist Challenge

Dated: October 27 2022

Views: 678

Letting go of stuff to make room for what matters.

My husband Steven and I have sold our home and moved three times and each experience was incredibly rewarding in terms of being financially beneficial. For that we are truly grateful!

Every time we began preparing to list our home, the first step was to declutter and get rid of tons of meaningless stuff. And it had to be done quick! The photographer was coming to take listing photos in just a matter of days. You could likely guess at how successful we were at paring down items with a fire lit under us like that! With every random decor piece, extra dish, single sock, or unimportant book that passed through my hands I would tell myself something along the lines of "the more we can get rid of, the more money we'll get for our house."

Now, that might not have been necessarily true, but it worked to kick my butt in gear and declutter our home like never before. 

Usually in the days when our listing was active and we were having to leave for showings, Steven and I would begin talking about how good our house looked and how much easier it was to tidy up before a showing. We were like "why on earth did we wait until we're selling our house to actually enjoy it?" And from there we'd promise each other that we wouldn't do this to ourselves in our next home.

But then, lo and behold, it was time to list again and we were once more scrambling before the photographer showed up.

When the benefit of our actions is staring straight at us (in this case, we wanted to get top dollar for our home) we're suddenly super capable, producing incredible results. But when the consequences of our inaction are subtle and grow unknowingly in the background, there's not an obvious reason to act.

The tendency as a homeowner is usually to go and buy the newest, most stylish form of organization or storage when we’re starting to realize that countertops are cluttered, or closets are overflowing, (more stuff!), but the truth is, no level of organizational system can replace the freedom and ease that getting rid of stuff produces. It just makes logical sense that having less to maintain, clean, fold, store, etc. would make room for better systems, time management, and overall enjoyment.

I’m sure you’ve heard phrases that say something like: “your environment is a direct reflection of your emotional well-being.” It must work the other way around as well, right? If you’ve felt like you could use a dopamine hit, or a little emotional boost-start with clearing a space in your kitchen or bedroom. I guarantee that wide open dresser surface will allow you to breathe a little deeper.

What exactly is The Minimalist Challenge?

I first heard about The Minimalist Challenge through a friend a few years ago. It works like this: Pick a month and start on day one. On this day, find one item to either sell, donate, or throw away. On day two, two items. On day three, find three items and so on until you reach the last day of the month when you’ll find thirty items.

Steven and I have each done the challenge once all the way through, and this time we decided we would share with our three kids what this challenge was all about-why it’s important, what we’re making room for, and how we can all work together as a family to get it done and keep each other accountable along the way. We had no idea how they’d respond, but they were HYPED! Originally, we were going to wait until November 1st to start, but they ran out of the kitchen ready to find that first item immediately. Wow. I think they've needed this.

We’re currently on day 9, and it’s still just as thrilling searching for that stuff each day, all of us piling it together in the same spot and then stepping back and realizing how much room we just added to the square footage of our home.

When we complete the challenge on November 17th, as a family we’ll have gotten rid of 2,480 items. 2,480.

It sounds hard, or maybe even next to impossible, but that’s the great thing about The Minimalist Challenge. Once you get started, you realize how easy it is to find unnecessary items that are taking up space in your home, time, and mind. The process slowly gives back control over your things-something you didn’t even realize was previously controlling you-and with each passing day, you become more and more able. 

I want to enjoy our home now, not just in the days leading up to our closing. I want to tidy up in just ten minutes before company comes over now, not just when potential buyers are headed over for a showing. I want the freedom to choose to list our home and not feel like we have months of daunting decluttering ahead before we’re ready to list. 

The Minimalist Challenge, just like the pressure of getting your home “list-ready”, fuels the fire and pushes you to continuously let go of the things that don’t matter. More than getting rid of physical items, we’re growing our time! Our free time.

Think about it: if you cut the amount of clothing your family owns in half, then you'd spend half the amount of time maintaining all of it (laundering, folding, putting away) and the result is those extra minutes to spend doing something you love. Remember hobbies?

As Allie Casazza says in her book Declutter Like a Mother:

“What takes up your space takes up your time.”

In addition to time, we’re also making room for rest, relationships, and memories.

Your turn!

So! I challenge you to take up this idea and invite your whole family to join you. In the month of November, commit to The Minimalist Challenge and get rid of items daily, each date will match the amount of things you’ll need to pile up to get out of your house. Keep a scoreboard and create a fun reward once you all complete the challenge. You'll be amazed by how your kids will jump on board.

Then enjoy the freedom, power, control, and time you’ll gain back-all right before the Holiday season (maybe this year you won’t need to spend a whole Saturday cleaning to prepare for family to arrive!).

For more inspiration on the topic of Minimalism:

Declutter Like A Mother

The Minimalist Home

The More of Less

Cozy Minimalist Home

Take Back Your Time

The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry

Now, what can you let go of today?

Blog author image

Allison Blackburn

As an enthusiastic resident of Tennessee’s oldest town, I am most at home while walking Main Street in downtown Jonesborough, tending to our backyard goats, chickens, and vegetable garden, or fr....

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