I'm taking the '100 things' challenge

I’m sure you’ve heard of it already. If not, a bunch of people have vowed to give up everything in their life except for 100 “things” (loosely defined). This isn’t a new idea, Leo from Zen Habits talked about it almost a year ago and it’s been circulating around the web in blogs and forums before that (but thank goodness we have TIME around to popularize it).

I started cataloging all the items I have around the house and was quite surprised; I think you would be, too. But first, here are some of my initial thoughts:

  • You should define a “thing” at first. I did consider a collection as one “thing.”
  • Pay attention to all the things on all your shelves, in the closet, etc. You forget about things.
  • List your things in the room or area they belong, this helps recognize where stuff clutters.
  • That box sitting there that you haven’t touched since you last moved? Go ahead and get rid of it. No! Don’t even open it.
  • Make sure you’ve considered every part of the house. Food didn’t make it on my list.
  • I have nearly as many “things” in my office as my bedroom. But I only spend a few hours a week in the office!
  • As I went through and cataloged things I made a pile of stuff I don’t want on the list (and will get rid of immediately), this is immediate gratification!

Now the point isn’t to simply remove things from your life (even though that’s a big part of it). The point of the (arbitrary) number, 100, is to keep a sense of value in mind. What is it that makes it into my top 100? What can I limit myself to? How do I prioritize the “stuff” that is tied to my name?

After a couple hours of rummaging around this morning I easily dropped my list down to 108 items. Thaaats right. There are only 108 things in my house. These things include:

  • Bed
  • iPhone
  • Lint roller
  • Umbrella
  • Golf clubs
  • Big green fern
  • Spindle of CDs
  • 24″ LCD monitor

Once you get into it, 100 is a very reasonable number. What are some of the things I’ve done to minimize my “thing footprint”?

  • Digitize things! Documents, photographs, important receipts. Paper does not need to add to your list.
  • Keep the digital needs simple! One thing I’ve *tried *to do is decrease the number of gadgets / chargers / toys I own. The iPhone is awesome, it’s my phone, calendar, mobile internet device, etc. The Sonos is great, its my house-wide sound system (no need for PC speakers, for example).
  • **Minimize the knick-knacks. **I try to be very intentional about the things I put on ‘horizontal surfaces’. A lamp here, a fountain there. I had clutter and ‘simple’ is so much more pleasing. Some cool knick-knacks I’ve kept are from around the world (India, New Zealand, Mexico)
  • Clean out the desk. I found a lot of junk I don’t use (I don’t have a tack board, why do I have tacks!?) in the many drawers around my house. Don’t think, just toss. If you feel bad about it, throw it all in a box and check back in 6 months. Didn’t open it? Nuff said.
  • Turn your hangers around. To minimize the amount of clothing in your closet you don’t wear simply put all your hangers in backwards. Then when you wear something for the first time, turn it around (thanks Peter). Every few months I take the unworn to Goodwill. Easy.

Now its nice becuase, no, I don’t own my own place. My roommate is the owner of the plates, knives, forks, etc. But that’s fine, if you use the ‘collection rule’ you’ll see you’ve only got a dozen more things than I do.

I’m staring at my list. These eight things aren’t going to go without a fight.

Have you tried minimizing the ‘stuff’ in your life? How do you declutter?