A year or so ago minimalism started to get really popular. The New York Times wrote an article on an experiment that called for people to only wear the same six articles of clothing for a month. This movement is called Six items or less and it is still active. There were exceptions of course, including undergarments, swim wear, workout clothing, work uniforms, outerwear, shoes and accessories. But the findings were still salient. People didn't realize that they were wearing the same clothes day after day, and the time freed up from picking out an outfit allowed for higher endeavours. The "100 Thing Challenge" also became a popular way to build up to (or maybe pare down toward) a minimalist lifestyle, by keeping only the 100 most necessary items. In this day and age, everything is being pared down, from personal spending habits to the portions on our plates, and there is no reason why this shouldn't be extended to the testaments to consumerism that take up your valuable space.
Perhaps your unneeded items can find a new home. I find a lot of satisfaction in donating unused clothes. Clearing out your pantry of non perishables can lead to some needy people benefiting from the can of tuna you'll never open. Or if you're a capitalist, sell your goods on Craigslist. I've personally had a lot of success and it's only 10 minutes of your time to make a posting.
Here are a few tasks to experiment with:
Pick out 6 essential items of clothing and only wear those for a week.
The satisfaction and added time that will come from not having to sort through your closet will help make this your most productive week yet.
Make a list of the 100 things you could not do without.
That ice cream maker that's been collecting dust since you bought during the last scorching DC summer, or the unused crepe pan you bought after that life-changing trip to Paris? It better not be on the list. The rest of the items doesn't need to be immediately thrown away. Just take care in what you chose to add to that list once you reach 100.
Start by tackling your clutter in a hands-off manner, that way you don't overwhelm yourself. Perhaps clearing your space of the clutter can help clear your mind as well, that way it can be used for higher pursuits. More on that in my next post.
If you are interested in reading more on minimalism, the blog Zen Habits is a great resource and provides a great list of further reading.