Do You Have 465 Things To Get Rid Of?

Last weekend, Melissa and I spent time at my in-laws’ house helping them sort through and purge some things in preparation for their upcoming move. There’s nothing like the sale of a house and a looming closing date to make you face how much stuff you’ve accumulated over the years.

I realize I’m a bit of an anomaly because I love to downsize. I revel in open spaces and uncluttered surfaces. I’m almost always on the lookout for things that no longer provide value in my life so I can get rid of them.

Believe it or not, downsizing really can be fun. In fact, I have a game for you to play throughout the month. I learned about this game from The Minimalists, but because the word “minimalism” can scare some people, I’ve renamed it for our purposes here:

It’s time for the Clutter Clearing Game!

Starting today, and for each day of the month, your challenge is to get rid of the number of items that corresponds to the date.

Here’s how it goes:

Day 1: Choose one item to get rid of
Day 2: Choose two items to get rid of
Day 3: Choose three items to get rid of

And so on.

It’s like a treasure hunt! And by the end of the 30-day month, you will have cleared 465 items!

So now you’re probably thinking one of a few things:

  1. I don’t have 465 items to get rid of
  2. What will I do with the items once I gather them?
  3. I’m just reading this now and it’s June 2nd/June 3rd/June 4th. I guess I can’t do it.
  4. I don’t have time to commit to this every day.

Well, hello there, resistance! Let me help you out:

  1. “I don’t have 465 items to get rid of.The average household in the United States has 300,000 items. Yes, you read that right. Think of every pen, spoon, hair clip, spatula, water bottle, and magazine and the count quickly skyrockets.This challenge will help you pay closer attention to the things in your life as they can easily become part of the background scenery. For example, I bet you can’t name everything that’s in your junk drawer. No, because when you open it, you’re just looking for the tape or scissors or screwdriver. You’re not even registering the other items in there.By making a conscious decision to find a certain number of items each day that you no longer love, need, or want, you’ll see your stuff in a whole new way.
  2. “What do I do with the items I’m getting rid of?My #1 rule of clutter clearing: The trash can is your last resort. It’s tempting to throw things away because it’s the easiest choice, but keep the Earth in mind. There is no Planet B!Consider these other options:
    • Set up an empty box somewhere in your house. This will be where you’ll put any items that can be donated. Let this box be your default instead of the trash. When the box is full, off it goes (ASAP) to a donation center. Consider places like Good Will Industries or Savers. Some charities will even pick the items up at your house. To find local ones, check out items you may not realize you can donate:
      • Travel-size bottles of shampoo, conditioner, lotions, and soaps. Domestic violence shelters can always use these.
      • Old sneakers or tennis shoes. Contact a local running store to see if they take these. Many will send them off to be broken down and the materials recycled into playground surfacing and other uses.
      • Half-used cans of paint. Let the artists in your town know these are up for grabs. You’ll be surprised how quickly they go!
      • Old sheets, towels, and blankets. Animal shelters love to receive these as they never have enough.
    • If an item is valuable, consider selling it on Craig’s List or in a local Facebook yard sale group.
    • If it’s not sale- or donation-worthy, the next best option is to recycle it.
    • If you have exhausted all of the above options, in the trash it goes.
  3. I’m just reading this now and it’s June 2nd/3rd/4th. I guess I can’t do it.The short answer: Not true! Whatever date you stumble upon this challenge is the best day to start. You can choose to play catch-up by adding up the days you’ve missed and gathering the total number of items or you can simply start with the number of today’s date.The longer answer: Take a closer look at your reasoning behind this excuse. Are you a perfectionist who tends to think if you can’t do it all the way, why do it at all? Where else in your life is that idea stopping you from making moves?Might you prefer to live in pursuit of a goal instead of actually accomplishing it? There is excitement in the chase after all. Do you fear you’ll fail? What might happen if you succeed?
  4. I don’t have time to commit to this every day.When you use the lack of time as an excuse, you’re telling yourself that your needs don’t matter. That whatever else is filling your calendar is more important than you are.And if you’re not setting aside the time to clear the space you say you want to clear, then you are benefitting from keeping all that clutter.So what could be the payout to you keeping it? The fastest way to uncover the message in your mess is to start eliminating it and listen for what gets stirred up.

To set yourself up for success, considering choosing a time of day, each day, for finding your clutter items. Maybe you do it as a family right after dinner. Or you gather yours once everyone has turned in for the night. Doing it at the same or a similar time each day is a great way to up your chances of it happening.

If you want to dig in and uncover the secrets in your stuff as you do this challenge, have a journal or notebook handy to capture any thoughts and feelings that come up for you, whether that’s when you’re choosing your items or when you’re dreading getting started. Oftentimes the clutter we need to clear first is our resistance to it.

Alright, it’s time to get going! Step away from your phone or computer, get a box or bag ready, and collect your clutter items for the day.

If you want some accountability to push you along, post your progress in the comments below.

Good luck and have fun!

Photo credit: andymag via VisualHunt / CC BY

6 replies
  1. Kathleen
    Kathleen says:

    Funnily enough, I had already started a bit of clearing in the last few days of May. I’ve got 2 items in my car that I am taking to work today to give to others who might benefit: an exercise ball that my doctor doesn’t want me to use due to my back and a lovely glass bowl someone can make a terrarium out of. I’ve also been just looking around…a bit nervous for when days get on this month, but I do have a big box. Thanks Kerri!

    • Kerri
      Kerri says:

      Great, so you’re ahead of the game, Kathleen! Nice idea to pass things on to others who may love the items! As you consider the days toward the end of the month, you can consider getting rid of things like old pens, hair accessories, and other small items that can easily add up to 25, 26, 27, or 30 items. Be strategic! 🙂

  2. Nik
    Nik says:

    My wife has just moved out and guess what she took a load of stuff. That’s delegation!! My task has been to get rid of the out of date food and jars from the freezer and cupboards. I have blitzed your targets this month and it feels great.

    Roll on August. I’m going for your suggestions.
    Doesn’t it help you breath more easily?
    Love to all

  3. Fay
    Fay says:

    Wow this plan has always scared me to death – after reading this I’m like YES I can & will get rid of pens, old makeup and believe it or not I have five junk drawers! I’m so ready & now that this is both understandable & doable I’m not behind only 6 items & Im done catching up….

    • Kerri
      Kerri says:

      Yes, Fay! Glad you’ll be joining in on January’s challenge. You’ll be surprised with how easy it is to find things to get rid of! Save those pens and other small items for the bigger days. 🙂


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