Cleaning & Organizing/ Miscellaneous

Minimalist for a Month (Lent Challenge)

What are you "giving up" for Lent this year? Why not take a hard look at all your possessions and give up consumerism for a while. Today I’m sharing ideas on how to declutter your homes, so you can declutter your lives – why not be a minimalist for a month!?

Hey All!  This will be a more text-heavy post, and I’ll be sharing some good ideas on how to declutter your homes, so you can declutter your lives!  I’ll also be divulging what I’m doing for Lent this year (yes, it does have to do with minimalism and is on this list).  Let’s all be a minimalist for a month (or more!) okay?!

First things first, a bit of a back story.  I plan my life way ahead of time, and also plan for this blog.  When I was originally thinking of doing something for Lent this year I wanted to declutter/purge items and would get rid of one thing on the first day, two things the second day, three things the third day, and so on.  It would obviously be much easier at the starting of Lent, but then I did the math and that’s a whopping 820 things in 40 days!  Now, I’ve been slowly (but surely) getting rid of items in my house for the past two years, so I didn’t think I could commit to that many items.  And if it’s something I couldn’t get behind 100%, then I didn’t want to force you guys – write about it and hopefully you follow through :).

So instead I made it into a Naughty or Nice Christmas Advent Calendar, and was more relaxed on the number of items that should be donated.

If you still want to do something similar, check out the 30-Day Minimalism Game by The Minimalists

But, because I still want to encourage a minimalist lifestyle, I’ve decided to share a list of 4 ways to declutter in 40 days and you can choose to do all of them or just one of them. 

Let’s get started!

1. Mass Purge

There are essentially two ways to go about doing a mass purge, either the KonMari way of tackling groups of items (first clothes, then books, papers, and miscellaneous) or you can go room by room.  I feel like our stuff is mostly grouped into rooms anyways, so the second method might be easier.  You can also break it down into smaller areas, like full bedroom vs. closet, or kitchen cabinets, kitchen fridge, etc.

Get rid of everything that is broken, too small/big, that you no longer need, that you no longer want, etc.  Donate all things that are in good condition, and throw out/recycle all the broken things.  It’s totally okay to group all your to-be-donated things into bags or boxes, just remember to donate them as soon as possible.

I find it easiest if I have three zones, one for garbage, one for donating, and one that I’m sort of iffy on.  For all the things that I love, I keep them in place and move on.

Mass Purge in a Month:

Let’s assume you are purging room by room, first you’re going to determine how many rooms you have in your house (don’t forget the outdoor areas like a shed or garage) and divide the month into equal segments.  Ie: if you have 8 areas, each room/area should take 4-5 days.  Some rooms may take the full time limit, and some may be done in a day or two.  You can either rest for that time, or skip ahead to the next room.  At the end of the month, go back to your “iffy” stuff and further purge those items.

Mass Purge in a Week/10 Days:

You’ll be tackling one area a day!  Now you may be thinking, but I work all day, I don’t have as much time to declutter in the few hours I have.  Don’t worry, just trust your gut and go as quickly as possible.  Set a timer and try to go through as many things in that area as you can – I find that when I have less time to think about my stuff, it’s much easier.  You can set the timer for as little as 10 minutes, tackle a bit in the morning before work, then come back and do another 10 minutes later, and so on.

2. Trial Usage

Do you know how much stuff people have that they don’t even use?  I have been really guilty about this in the past, and I was able to use this method to get rid of a BUNCH of clothes.  What exactly is a trial usage?  Basically, you go through your things for a set period of time and get rid of everything you don’t use in that timeframe.

Super simple, let’s see how it would work for this challenge:

Trial Usage for a Month:

This works easiest when you have some spare boxes, bins or bags, because you’re going to use them to hold all your stuff for the next little while.  For your clothes, put everything you have into as many containers as you have (label them if you need to).  For the next month, whenever you get dressed, remove the item from the box/bag, wear it, wash it, and put it away in your closet/dresser.  At the end of the month, everything still left in the temporary containers gets donated.  (Remember – you can re-wear the items that you put back in your closet!)

Obviously, if it’s the middle of winter you might not wear your shorts, so feel free to use your judgment on seasonal items. 

How would this work for non-clothing items?  Well, for your kitchen you can certainly take everything out of the cabinets and use the same box method.  OR you can tape the outside of your cabinet doors and drawers with painters tape.  When you open said cabinet, remove the tape and take out the item you need.  At the end of the period, you may have some drawers that hadn’t even been opened!  Likewise, there may also be some items in each of the drawers that don’t get used – so another alternative would be that once you open a drawer, take everything out and use the box method for the rest of the items.

Trial Usage for a Week/10 Days:

You probably can’t do a proper trial usage in a short period of time, unless you are super committed to doing laundry regularly.  But, remember those “iffy” items from the mass purge you did the first week of the challenge?  If you can’t use these things in the next week or so – they get donated!

Another way to approach a trial usage for a short period of time is to estimate what you will need to use in the next week.  Set all your outfits, objects, etc. aside and only use those items.  Be realistic: what do you need to wear to work, what about going to the gym?  Did you find that you needed something else during this time?  That’s okay, as long as you realized that everything else you hadn’t set aside is probably excess (and should be donated!).

3. Spending Freeze

What good is purging and decluttering, if all you’re going to do is go buy things to replace those you let go?  A spending freeze is going to look different for everyone, depending on what your goals are and where you spend your money.

Spending Freeze for a Month:

This is actually what I’ll be doing for Lent this year, so let me explain how I plan to approach it.  I will only be spending money on food (groceries, going out to eat) and bare necessities (diapers, toilet paper, gas, etc.).  I don’t think I spend that much money anyways, but I know there are a lot of things I buy that I might be able to substitute with something I already have.  For example, I can’t count the number of times I go to the hardware store to pick up some screws, or primer, wood… whatever!

You might not get random home stuff like me, but maybe you eat out at least once a day, or always go shopping on the weekends.  Your spending freeze for the next month may include skipping those things, making meals at home, and not adding more stuff to your house.

Spending Freeze for a Week/10 Days:

If you’re doing a spending freeze for a short period of time, you might even skip the grocery store.  (Just make sure you have enough basics ahead of time!).  You may be wondering how not buying food could be a good thing.  But be honest, have you ever gotten something just because you were in the mood, and not actually hungry.  A (short) spending freeze should force you to take a second look at the items in your pantry/freezer, and to use those instead.

Remember: everyone spends money on things that interest them, so try and cut back for a bit and see if your lifestyle has changed that much.

Check out 40 Bags in 40 Days by White House Black Shutters for another great decluttering challenge for Lent

4. Repeat!

Are you going to attempt one of these tasks for Lent (or any random month), or be ambitious and try all of them?  This final tip is not a new challenge for this period, but a way to continue throughout the year (in smaller ways of course!).

(Mini) Purges:

Sometimes I get into moods where I need to go through my stuff in a particular area and re-evaluate my belongings.  Maybe I opened a drawer and couldn’t find the thing I needed because I had other (unnecessary) stuff in the way, or I realize that I no longer like/need certain items.  I gather everything together and will donate at the end of the month (or periodically if I have enough stuff to fill a bag or box).

Trial Usage:

If you really start to pay attention to things you use on a daily basis, it’s easier to figure out what you don’t use.  Want to know a trick?  For my clothes, I always put the clean stuff in the same spot.  For example, all my clean t-shirts go on the right side of the drawer and I push everything over to make room for them (my clean tank tops go in the front, etc.).  As I dress throughout the week, I pick whatever shirts I want to wear that day (from anywhere in the drawer) and continue this same process until I need to do laundry.  Then again, all the clean shirts go on the right.  Eventually, I start to realize that a certain shirt (or two or three) get stuck on that left side, unmoved for a while.  I clearly don’t want to wear them that often, so why keep them?

Same thing for kitchen stuff.  At one point, we had like 5+ different types of tongs, multiple oven mitts, whatever.  You can only really use one or two of things – and it’s usually the same “favourite” ones that you always go to.  What’s the point of keeping so many items, if they only ever get used because you’re too lazy to wash the best one?

Spending Freeze:

You can certainly keep saving your money for as long as you want – but it shouldn’t be about forcing yourself to not spend money, but to spend money more wisely.  Every month I track what items I bring in, and which items I donate/throw away.  This really helped open my eyes on some of the purchases I had been making in the past – and I do try and bring in fewer items compared to those I get rid of.

minimalist-for-a-month-pinterest

Am I perfect?  Of course not, but I think that I am getting better every day/week/month that goes by since I’ve been starting to think about minimalism and how to declutter my life.  I do still have stuff to go through, and it is definitely hard to break that emotional attachment to things.

For example, the reason I chose the photo of a chair is that it’s a reminder of some of the crazy things we keep.  Not sure if you can tell, but the front left leg is actually broken.  We had tried fixing it, gluing it, whatever, but the wood was snapped and it would always give out if someone sat on it and moved a little bit.  In fact, I had already purchased another chair to replace it (and because sometimes we run low on chairs when we have company over) but we still kept the broken chair near the table.  I even mentioned it when I did the tour of our living and dining room.

People would literally come over and we’d be like “oh don’t sit in that chair, it’s broken!”  Or the Husband and/or I would take that chair and make sure not to move the entire night.

Seriously.  We had a chair that you could not sit on.  A chair.  No sitting.

How ridiculous is that?! 

Eventually I got so tired moving the chair to clean (haha okay maybe more like it would collect other random items) that I decided to get rid of it once and for all!  I took it apart and kept the hardware to fix any other chairs we had (all of them are the same and we did have some that were missing random screws etc.).

And now you can sit on all our chairs without fear :)

What are you “giving up” for Lent this year?  Why not take a hard look at all your possessions and give up consumerism for a while.  Hey it might even be easier than trying to give up watching TV.  (Side note: I did that when I was younger and I could barely last a week!).

So… do you have any “broken chairs” in your house?

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