Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The 30 Day Minimalist Challenge

The Minimalist Game

Go ahead and click on the above link to read the rules first. It's short. I'll wait.

So, I'm doing it. Because it looked like fun and I'm a bit odd like that. Or sad I guess- I declutter for a boost of happy brain serum. It floats my boat lately, friends. Be careful because when I run out of things to get rid of, I may come to your house. You think that sounds nice, until I start forcing you to make decisions and you start crying and swear to disown me AND unfriend me from facebook. Oh yeah. This is intense.

We have too many things. Most the world has too little. Still, in an apparent contradiction, a lot of poor people also have too much junk. In fact it's very easy in the modern world to get buried in clutter and be out of work or under employed. So that's a weird double whammy. A triple because it's also pretty cheap and relatively easy to eat empty of nutrient caloric rich food when you're not accessing your own kitchen and pantry and in conscious control of what you buy because of a penny savings mindset. So you're poor, cluttered, and your health is shot. There is a sweet spot in there someplace where less is more AND more is less. Less stuff means more space. More space is less constricting. Less stuff means more time free from shuffling it, searching for things, and caring for them. Less stuff is actually more cash in the bank.

That last one was hard for me to get for a while. I saved every thing just in case. Every scrap of foil, every used spaghetti sauce jar every shirt with a stain on it, every 5 year old pair of sneakers, every outdated map that might be used for a collage I had no present intention to make, every scrap of used tissue paper that could be in another gift. Some of it was useful, so that reinforced my behaviors across the board and made it hard to be more discerning. I was a child of the 90's public school push to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! Captain Planet, baby. So throwing anything away, even if it was unavoidable, amounted to a check in the guilt tally. I'm not defenestrating my ecological conscience, but I am starting to have some respect for my home. If it's trash, keeping it in my house just delays the ineveitable and turns my home into a dump too. There are better solutions that can resolve the conscience and the clutter problem. I can win-win all over the place.

I wasn't hoarders level ever, but that was because a great deal of my life was spent shuffling the stuff to keep it half decent and bug free. But I wasn't using it, so my time was wasted. Also, if you calculate your square footage out and price it foot by foot and divide up your rent or home value price down to the square foot, you quickly realize you don't own anything worth the space it takes up. Quickly you realize that everything, not just food and toilet paper, is consumable goods, and everything wastes away and needs replaced, even if that's eventually.

Getting things in bulk or on sale to use later are great cost savings strategies, but you also need to factor in- Where will I keep it? Do I have to buy a shelf or an extra fridge or a shed to store it? When will I use it by? Will I get tired of it? Will it expire? Will it quickly go out of style? How much am I willing to live with it in my space? If I really need it, how often will I need it? Can I borrow one instead? Can I bite the bullet and give it away when I'm done? What will be it's ultimate fate when I'm done with it and can I live with that? You ask yourself a lot more questions than just unit price. Sometimes this all amounts to a different kind of cost level not reflected in the price tag. Sometimes the store is the best place to store your stuff and get to it when you want it rather than "paying" the price of having it around every day.

Maybe that is me being in my mid thirties talking now. In my 20's I was just learning to keep my own house and I didn't have a lot of perspective on the value of my space, the value of my time, and even the price of sanity and emotional willpower. I was worried about physical resources or money (both important) while I had no way to account for these other resources. Time management just sounded to me like putting something on the calendar and making a to-do list which are both primary and awesome tools- but not the core of time-management!

Anyways, that was a long detour.

Stay tuned for an update of my 30 day Minimalist Game.

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