Instead, we’re about to walk you through The Purge, which is going to be just as effective as an insurance fire when it comes to becoming minimalist. You may also end up increasing your personal feeling of freedom and enjoying more of the things already around you.
This mission will take a full day of your time, and potentially even two. This makes it a great weekend project. Add it to your calendar and take it seriously: open the windows, crank up the music, and keep the TV off. Let’s roll.
STEP ONE: OUTLINE EVERY SECTION OF YOUR LIFE IN A LIST
Everyone is different, but many of us share common sections of our lives. For our CNQR’rs, we’ve created an excellent starting point for this list. Remember, your mind, body, and life are all included in the minimalism purge. Customize this list by adding or removing sections relevant to you.
How does your list look? If you have kids, you might have to add in additional rooms. If you are living with family, you might not have as much control over the home. This list may seem overwhelming at first, but with an entire day you’d be amazed at how far you can go.
STEP TWO: GET A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP AND START WORKING THROUGH THE LIST
Here’s how the purge really works:
2b. Eliminate AGAIN
3. Clean & Organize
Let’s use an example. Everyone has a bedroom, so we will start there. In the gather phase, make a mess. Take it all out of your closet, empty your drawers, and throw it all on your bed or in the center of the room.
Now, eliminate. And seriously, eliminate. Marie Kondo, author of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”, says to pick up every single item and hold it in your hands. If it does NOT bring you true, deep-down JOY, toss it. If you haven’t worn it in a month, toss it (or donate it of course, but put it in bag and put it in your trunk. Don’t hang it back up saying I’ll donate this later). Even if it has a little sentimental value, does it really make you happy to own it?
We’re talking about getting rid of 90% of the things you own.
And after that, eliminate again. We guarantee there was something you were on the fence about, and decided to keep. Go through it one more time, and try and throw out a few more things.
Finally, clean & organize. Vacuum the carpet and wipe down the furniture before putting things back. Each thing needs a place. One shelf for your books, one section of your closet for your shirts, one tub for your sports equipment. Then, take a moment to survey your kingdom, and move onto the next section.
So, how does this work for more intangible things? For your goals or your learning, the process is exactly the same. Write down a huge list of the things you want to accomplish. Take out what isn’t going to help you live a happier and healthier life, and combine the things that could work together.
Then, pick just ONE goal to start working towards each day, and organize your schedule to find a place for your habit. Choose just a few meals to pre-cook on Sunday for grab-and-go through the week. Write down a strength metric like pullups on a whiteboard, and just do one more every single day.
Get through ALL of this in a weekend. Imagine flopping down on the couch on Sunday night with everything in order.
STEP THREE: CAREFULLY VET EACH NEW THING THAT COMES INTO YOUR LIFE
The Purge is a one time thing, but becoming minimalist is a lifestyle. Every day, there are more commercials, more promotional products, more coupons, more entertainment, more decorations. You’ve got to be a ruthless gatekeeper for your life.
There are a few cool hacks to make this process of vetting a little easier. When online shopping or in a physical store for a high end item, don’t buy it that day. Walk out of the store, sleep on it, and see how you feel tomorrow. Buy quality products that you will take care of and don’t need to replace often. Feel comfortable saying no to social or work engagements that will make you feel too busy or not able to be your best.
We hope you go through The Purge, and even return to it once a quarter or once a year. If you’d like to take the fast track to becoming minimalist, check out the Minimalist Living Checklist. Inside The Minimalist Living Checklist, we’ve created an exact list of every item a person might need to live an extremely freeing life. If you want to skip all the difficult work of sorting through each item, just work through the checklist and toss everything else.
Can’t wait to hear how this goes for you guys. What do you think is going to be the hardest section?
I purge regularly. I’m down about 60% of stuff from when I started. The hardest room for me is my girls room. All of their toys were purchased by grandparents and a lot of toys were expensive. My girls cycle through what they like to play with, so I have a difficult time being the judge of what to eliminate, and then facing the grandparents when they realize that what they just bought a month ago, isn’t here anymore.
Hey Brittany! That’s definitely a tough one. I have tubs for certain stuff, like camping gear, kitchen stuff, etc. You could give each girl a toy chest and give them the option to keep whatever they want, but it has to fit in the closed chest.
You should sell it and if they ask says that it wasn’t working and the kids didn’t have an interest in it anymore. It may be hard but this is for your general happiness, not theirs
I like this Jordan. Especially the category sections, I can see how I would be able to manage an inventory of my items in the gsheets life system and the categories provide a framework to do so.
I would say the method of purging sounds very much inspired by the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying. If it’s meant to be a nod to book, might be nice to reference the book for those looking to really go full out on this campaign.
As ever, thanks for the hard work and great content.
Hey Keya, good to see you again! Would enjoy seeing your inventory if you go that route: reminds me of packing for the Appalachian Trail, when you had every piece of gear weighed out and listed in a sheet to try and stay under 30lbs. We actually had her idea in one of the above paragraphs about using JOY as a filter for things. She has some great stuff!
Very succinct plan of how to go about reducing stuff. Thank you very much.
I did the closet a couple of years ago. The tip that helped me the most was about frequency and uniformity. Most of us wear a uniform, though we are unaware of it. I am a work at home mom of teenagers. I wear durable, yet attractive-enough-for-a-meeting work pants from Land’s End. Nearly every day. I wear a dress t-shirt and a cardigan jacket or big shirt over that. Every day. And slip on- rubber soled walk shoes, every day.
If you wear a suit and tie to work every day, you’re set. If you don’t, finding your uniform and sticking to that makes life so much simpler.
And for women in particular: if you wear different colorful tops and jewelry and keep a polished appearance, NO ONE NOTICES that you wear black pants every day. The black pants trick really works.
And most of us know 6-7 meals we can reliably cook. I do Meatless Mondays, Taco (Mexican) Tuesday, sand(Wiches) Wednesday, Italian Thursdays, Dine Out Fridays, and Leftover weekends. It’s very freeing to depend on a schedule of reliable sameness since most of us eventually settle on those reliable meals anyway.
Once you have clothes and kitchen settled, and a place for bills and receipts (and stamps — the real test of “Are you organized?” is, can you find postage stamps in your home in less than 60 seconds?), the rest is gravy, in my opinion.
Haha, the black pants trick. Speaking from a male perspective, no, we notice nothing. I have a couple pairs of dri-fit Khakis that rock all week long. Tons of veggie steamers for meals too. This is really great to hear your setup, thank you.
I personally didn’t like the “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” way.
She is extremely wasteful which in turn is bad for the environment. She has some good insights but some are complete nonsense.
We do similar purges every so often in my house, but it’s usually not all-at-once. We like to play the “minimalism game” where you get rid of one thing on day 1 of the month, then two things on day 2, etc. We got that idea from www.theminimalists.com.
My living spaces done in a weekend. Garage might take a few weekends. Hello eBay.