Have you heard of the 30 Day Minimalism Game? I recently completed The Minimalist’s 30 Day Minimalism Game in January and the experience was quite positive. In fact, so positive that I am doing it again this month! Who would have ever thought that decluttering and tidying up could have been not only fun, but also (dare I say) addictive.
Whenever the topic comes up, people usually react quickly to say 1) “I need to do that!” or 2) “There is no way I can do it!”. After going through the experience, I can tell you there isn’t better way to lighten the load of invisible “stuff” your house is carrying than to play this game. As a simplicity lover and an underbuyer, I was wondering if I would make it through the first month. Yet somehow I am halfway through the second month without an issue. And I’m here to tell you about it.
How it works:
If you are unfamiliar with the game, here’s how it works: on day 1, you get rid of one item from your home. On day 2, you get rid of two items. On day 3, three items. And so on throughout the month until you get to day 30 when you would be releasing 30 items from your home. If you stay on track and make it to the end, your home will be approximately 500 items lighter at completion.
This game is definitely best played with a partner to hold you accountable. So I decided to throw it out there on social media to see if any acquaintances were in the mood to join me. It turns out a lot of people were interested. Must have been something about the post-Christmas starting a new year vibe in the air. I created a private FB group page so that we could all play the game “together”. For this January group, we had about 40 people. Although I had hoped the game would translate to a larger group setting, I wasn’t sure. I figured it couldn’t hurt to try. I was happy to find it worked perfectly!
Playing the Minimalism Game:
In general, I do not have much visible clutter out around the house. For me, I need a tidy space before I can work. I listen to THIS minimalist podcast every week. I read THIS famous decluttering book which triggered me to cut my wardrobe by at least 60% a few years ago. Yet, despite all my desires to not have too much “stuff” around me, I was able to sail through the 30 day challenge and find 500 items that needed to go.
I decided to start the game in my bedroom area and not tackle any other part of the house until I had combed through every drawer, cabinet and storage nook available. My bedroom area consists of my bedroom, closet, bathroom, and home office. Wouldn’t you know that I was in there decluttering for 21 days! That is equivalent to at least 231+ items that I removed. Days 22-30 involved a lot of the boys’ clothes, toys, and some craft supply cleanouts. I saved the junk drawer for the last day because – it’s the junk drawer!
How did I have so many items I wasn’t using, you ask? There are so many things all around us that we no longer even “see” them. Decluttering became a game to hunt for these formerly invisible items. In fact, I am also embarrassed to tell you how excited I was every morning to go for my hunt.
And just like that the challenge was over. Our home felt like it had gone on a detox. And I hadn’t even touched the main living areas!
Revelations from my experience:
Sorting through my junk allowed me to understand how my stuff accumulates. My biggest weakness is “out of sight, out of mind”. The easiest way for stuff to accumulate around here is to be “stored” somewhere. If we had surplus supplies after a session of crafting, the remnants could just sit quietly in a cabinet for years. Knowing this about myself will help me make better decisions moving forward.
Participating in a group made the mundane task of decluttering fun. Technically, you could play this by yourself as many times as you want whenever you want. Having other people playing along made all the difference though. I would wake up every morning excited to find my allotted items for the day. Needless to say, I didn’t feel the same way about decluttering before. The game aspect of this chore made all the difference for me.
Breaking up the jobs into tiny bit sized pieces made a big job super manageable. Yes, a few times a year I will clean out my closet, or perhaps the junk drawer. It usually takes a couple hours, and after I finish, I do not want to do it again for a long time. However, finding the clutter in small batches is extremely manageable. It took on average of 5 minutes. Once we got to the higher numbers, it took a little bit longer, but not much. I would throw out what was not usable, and added the other things to specified donate piles. Once the pile was significant, I would take a load away.
Doing some intentional reading and movie watching can help fuel your motivation. One of the most motivating factors for participating in this challenge was watching Minimalism: A Documentary about the Important Things. If you have not seen this insightful documentary, I cannot recommend it enough. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less are two excellent reads that also reinforce the why’s and how’s of streamlining.
Utilizing the 20/20 Rule on “just in case” items is the way to go. We all have items that we are not using but that we think we might need “some day.” These things can sit for years. One of the most helpful guidelines for us came from The Minimalists 20/20 Rule, which basically saves you so much time from waffling between “should I” or “shouldn’t I”? If you can replace the item in less than 20 minutes for less than $20, let it go. Life-changing!
If you think that you might want to get a group of friends and play, here are some tips on setting up the group online. I will tell you I also tried to manage it with email communication, but that did not work too well for me.
Playing the Minimalism Game online:
Set up a secret FB group. It’s important that people feel comfortable sharing photos of their homes and their things without fearing the whole world will be seeing them.
Try to post at least once a day. Besides posting my junk, I like sharing one positive tidbit, motivational quote or helpful blog post that could serve as conversation fodder.
Decide what your max limit of members should be. One of things I have noticed in other FB groups I am a part of is that the higher number of people, the lower the percentage of engagement. We closed the January group at 40. Plus, that also helps people feel “safe” to share their photos without wondering who is seeing them.
Close out the group to new members within the first few days. Going back to making your group members comfortable with sharing, if new people are hopping in at all times during your 30 days, it might hinder openness. Also, one of the magical elements of the game is starting from the beginning and ramping up, so it benefits everyone to start as close to the beginning as possible.
Celebrate reaching the finish line. Since our members were all across the country, we celebrated by sharing a fun “We did it!” image to close out the month.
Overall, I could not have been happier with the experience of participating in the 30-day decluttering challenge. Besides having empty drawers and a closet that is full of space, the best part was the camaraderie of the group. The process brought out many fun discussions, self-discovery, and a renewed energy to take on 2017.
Have you ever tried the 30-Day Minimalism Game? Would you ever do it? Moving forward, I think I will play every January.