Do you want to give the Minimalism Game a go, but feel daunted? I made this guide for you. It contains what I wish I knew before I played the Minimalism Game for the first time.
If you’re not familiar with the Minimalism Game, it’s a month-long challenge to get rid of your excess stuff. On day 1, out goes one thing; on day 2, out goes two things and on and on until day 30, when out goes 30 things. That’s around 500 things in total if you keep going for the whole month. You can find out more about the game on The Minimalists website.
Using the Minimalism Game, I’ve decluttered over a thousand things from my home . It’s simple and fun, but it’s also work. Quite a bit of work. However, with some effort upfront you can set yourself up for success and make it through the month.
Know your why
Why are you going this challenge? Take a moment to think about it. Around day 23, when you’re elbow deep in a pile of stuff you’ve been avoiding for years, and you know you’ve got to do the same again every day for another week, having a clear goal to work towards will help keep you motivated.
My personal goals for decluttering were to enable my family to stay in our present (small) home comfortably and to make it easier to use our home on a day-to-day basis. Your own goals may be similar or they may be very different. Think about what you want to achieve by playing the Minimalism Game and write it down.
When I completed back-to-back months of the Minimalism Game in July 2016, I started to lose my way. Decluttering was weighing me down, the exact opposite of the outcome I was seeking. The process seemed never-ending. I nearly chucked it in, but I found renewed motivation when I set myself some targets. I identified discrete, everyday activities I wanted to make easier by clearing the clutter. I wanted to make the following non-events:
- finding and using baking supplies my pantry
- working at my desk
- accommodating someone in our spare bedroom
- finding something to wear.
You’re unlikely to finish all your decluttering in a month, so start with what you’d most like to achieve first. Rather than listing areas of your home you want to address, it’s more motivating and useful to write down the outcomes you want to achieve.
Create a disposal plan
Decluttering isn’t as simple as going through your junk drawer and identifying the non-essentials – you’ve got to get the stuff out of your house! It is easy to underestimate the time and energy that this can take. To keep up your momentum as the challenge intensifies, it helps to have a disposal plan.
Will you sell stuff or will you donate it? Who will you donate it to? How will you get it there? What can you recycle? These are just a few of the questions that you will need to ask yourself as you go through the process of disposing of your excess stuff. In the first week, when your daily decluttering targets are low, think about how you’d like to dispose of your stuff.
Options for disposal include:
Donate to charity – many charities accept donations of good quality, new or lightly used items to redistribute to people in need or to sell to raise funds. Find some that align with your values, want what you have and are convenient for you.
Give away – This is one of my personal favourites, because it’s so easy. Put a post on a local Facebook group, Freecycle group or similar, or put the stuff out in your front yard with a “free” sign. People who want it come and collect it. This can be used for almost anything. I’ve got rid of everything from games consoles to buttons this way.
Recycle – recycling is a good option for things that can no longer be used. Do some research into your local recycling options – everywhere is different.
Trash – you will need to trash some items. This may seem like a terrible waste - it is. However, it is just as much of a waste sitting unused in your drawers and cupboards.
A note about selling stuff: I don’t recommend selling your stuff as your number one disposal strategy. You may have spent a lot of money on your excess stuff, but as Joshua Becker says, you wasted the money when you bought it, not when you get rid of it. When you sell (or try to sell) your stuff, it tends to linger around for longer, and there is all the work of listing and taking enquires. You need to decide for yourself if the money is worth your time and energy. My general rule of thumb is that I only sell stuff when I’d get over $100 for it. Even then, I often give stuff away when I know somewhere that needs it. If you need the cash, or you have a lot of very valuable items then selling might make sense as part of your disposal plan.
Finally, don’t forget to make sure you have enough bags and boxes on hand for carting away all your excess stuff.
Set your routine
Building decluttering into your daily routine is essential for success when playing the Minimalism Game. You’re going to need to set aside some time in your day to meet your daily targets. You’ll probably need a bit longer each day as the month goes along. Don’t forget to also schedule in time for disposal. Have a think about how you can fit this in around existing activities. Most of the stuff I donated went to the local charity shop. where I could do a drive through drop-off on my way to my son’s preschool.
Find your tribe
The essence of the Minimalism Game is that you challenge a friend to see who can keep going the longest. This doesn’t have to be a friend in real life. There are plenty of people online you can connect with. Search Twitter or Instagram for #minsgame to find others who are playing, or join Facebook groups like Minimalist.org: Online City (The Minimalists online meet up group) or my personal favourite, Annual Declutter Challenge. Connecting with others is great for accountability, but also support. Decluttering can be a confronting and confusing. You’ll find random things you angst over (like the trouble I had letting go of unused plastic take out utensils). Sharing all this helps to make sense of it, accept it, to move through it. These groups are also great places to share you wins – big and small. No matter what your issue, you’re not alone.
I shared my own experience playing the Minimalism Game here on the blog, where you can read all about the challenges I faced and the progress I made.
Now you’ve set yourself up for success, it’s time to get going. Look back at your goals and targets; these will give you a good place to start. If you are at a total loss as to where to start, there are a plethora of lists online to give you some inspiration.
You could start with:
- Let Go of These 10 Items to Jumpstart Decluttering – Becoming Minimalist
- 11 Things You Need To Throw Away – Pop Sugar
- 101 Items to Get Rid of Without Regret – Organise My House
If you a hit a wall and decluttering seems overwhelming, or you just can’t be bothered today, my go-to strategy is to set a timer on my phone for 15 minutes. Think about your goals and just do what you can for 15 minutes. Maybe you still won’t be feeling it, but more often than not, you’ll find your flow and be back on track.
Staring down a month of intensive decluttering can be daunting. Be kind to yourself. There is no right or wrong way to achieve the daily targets of the Minimalism Game. I’ve shared my way, now it’s up to you to discover your way. You may not complete the whole month, but you can’t fail at this, every item out of your home is a win.
All the best. I’d love to hear how you get on in the comments below.