Learn to add responsibly instead of subtracting. -Jeffrey Tang
I have always wanted to become a minimalist ever since I stumbled upon minimalism on the Internet. I find the idea of a simple life alluring. However, there are several things that are holding me back from becoming a minimalist:
- I'm too lazy to take action.
- I'm too attached to my possessions even broken ones.
- I don't know where to start.
Looking through posts on minimalism and simplicity, I stumbled upon a post from 2010. It was a guest post by Jeffrey Tang on zenhabits, The Clean-Slate Guide to Simplicity, where he suggests putting away everything and starting with a "clean slate" to work with. It's a perfect method for me. It's like a trial period of a minimalist life. I can experience minimalism without throwing any of my possessions.
And thus the minimalist experiment began...
Step 1: Creating an Inventory
- How much of my stuff are necessities?
- How little stuff do I need to live comfortably?
The first thing I did was create an inventory of my possessions. I rummaged through my possessions and listed them on a spreadsheet inventory. In the end, I had listed 230 items. Note that some items were counted as one. For example shoes were counted as a single item instead of two separate items.
Then I went through the list again and labeled each item: If an item is an absolute necessity, label it green. If an item is unnecessary clutter, label it red. If I am unsure whether an item is a necessity or clutter, label it yellow.
In the end, 184 of them were labeled as necessities, 28 items were labeled clutter, and 18 items fell into the "Unsure" category. With the inventory finished, I created my hypotheses based on the data.
- 80% of my possessions are necessities.
- 184 items at least.
Step 2: Archiving
Once the inventory was completed, I started packing. I placed my possessions into a box.* This is to keep everything out of sight. For the next 30 days, I could take anything I need from the box so long as I absolutely need it and not just because I want to.
* Note that not all of my possessions were placed in the box like my shoes.
Step 3: Starting With a Clean Slate
For the next 30 days, I went about my daily life just as I normally would. I could only take an item out of the box if I absolutely need it. Otherwise, I was to leave it there. Every time I took an item out of the box, I recorded it on my phone.
The first few days were boring. I had an abundance of free time. I am not really an extrovert and therefore spent most of the days inside. Over the weeks, I have practiced meditating every morning and evening. I've also mastered the art of single-tasking, which was not at all difficult considering I don't have much to do. I have also been quite productive and finished my school requirements.
My small room that was once a maelstrom of chaos transformed into a rather spacious environment. Cleaning was easier too. In fact, the only cleaning I needed to do was the occasional floor sweep and a bit of dusting here and there.
Step 4: Results and Conclusion
At the end of 30 days, I had taken out a total number of 36 items which was far less than the 184 items I had labeled as necessities. 194 items were left in the boxes.
Both of my hypotheses were proven wrong.
80% of my possessions are necessities. Wrong. I took out only 36 items (13% of everything I own). However, the number is not just at 36. There are some items that I would use but not during certain times of the year like my jacket and umbrella.
184 items at least. Wrong. I could live comfortably with just around 36 items and maybe a bit more.
And that concludes the minimalist experiment. I have decided to continue living this simplified life. As for the things left in the box, I plan on going through each of them once again and decide on what to do with them - sell them, throw them away, recycle them, etc.
Thanks for reading! :)