Getting Rid of 500 Things In 31 Days

Say no to too much stuff!

Say no to too much stuff!

Want to know how it's going? See the bottom of this post for progress updates.

Spring is in the air and with its arrival come inescapable thoughts of spring cleaning. That fact, coupled with both a timely post by The Minimalists, and stumbling upon a Back to Work podcast from February 2012, is compelling me to purge, purge, purge!

That being said -- well, declared really -- no such endeavour can happen without a goal and a plan.

My Goal: Get Rid of 500 things In 31 Days 

Why 500 items? The challenge suggested by The Minimalists is to discard a specific number of items each day starting with 1 item on day 1, 2 items on day 2 and so on for one month. If we consider the month of May and sum up the numbers 1 to 31, the total is 496 items. To me, 500 sounds better. So, I'll go with that. It's also a nice big number, and I like big numbers. ;)

Why one month? I need an aggressive deadline. It's too easy to let purging drag on too long. For me, a short period of time is more likely to lead to success. Summer also gets busy, so May is a good time to get it done and I'll get to enjoy the results of my efforts throughout the best of the season.

My Plan: Purge, Track & Stay Accountable

I want to ensure success. So, I need a plan to make sure that I get it done.

Here's what I'm going to do:

It's All Too Much by Peter Walsh

It's All Too Much by Peter Walsh

  • Purging: I will go through one room at a time, starting with the easiest one and sort items into "trash, give away and sell" categories. Trash leaves the house immediately, give away within a week and items I am selling can take longer, as long as the item is not removed from sale. I plan to adjust the price downward the longer it is online. 
  • Tracking my progress: 
    • I'll take pictures of every item.
    • I'll track the number of items that make it out as "trash, give, and sell" to ensure I'm getting to my goal on time and to see how I'm making my decisions.
  • Staying on track: Purging is an emotional endeavour and it helps to have access to some tools. I have chosen to reference It's All Too Much by Peter Walsh throughout the exercise. I'm sure it will come in handy whenever I need a kick in the butt to refocus and keep going.
  • Staying accountable: I'm creating accountability by posting on this blog and by offering weekly updates.

We'll see how I do, especially when the initial excitement turns to inevitable drudgery. I hope to be able to stay focused by keeping my eye on the prize: having 500 fewer items weighing me down both emotionally and physically. 

How about you? Are you planning, doing or have you completed a purge?  

UPDATE #1: As of May 8, I've removed 142 items from my life. That means I'm at 28% of my goal and only 26% of the month has elapsed, so I'm right on track. The best part of the past week? I found $22 USD as I was sorting the contents of a bag of miscellaneous travel items. Woohoo!

UPDATE #2: As of May 16, I've removed 204 items from my life, which I found in my home office, bathroom, front entrance closet, and two junk drawers. That means I'm at 41% of my goal and just over 1/2 the month has elapsed. I'm a bit behind, but nothing I can't manage, especially since I have a few heavy hitters (high volume items) that I still have to get to sorting through and/or selling. I only found $0.26 this week--darn, but did managed to dig up items I need for an upcoming international trip in a few months' time. So I'm pretty happy about that.

UPDATE #3: Only one week to go. As of May 25, I've removed 356 items from my life, bringing me to 71% of my goal (compared to 81%, which is where I should be). My lag reflects my preoccupation with the launch of a significant project this past week (a successful launch BTW - yeah!). I'll be focusing on the finish line this week and expect to, at a minimum, meet my goal. Once it's all over, I'll publish my progress graph, showing the ups and downs in my progress throughout the month, including lessons learned. Stay tuned.

UPDATE #4: The 31-day challenge is over. Woot woot! I will be posting the results on the blog as a separate post tomorrow (June 3rd). There are definitely a few surprises and lessons learned from the experience.


Background for post image and thumbnail credit/copyright: MCarper/Shutterstock.