Sunday, 1 January 2012

Less 365

Last Christmas I set myself a challenge to give away 100 things in the run up to Christmas, to counterbalance all the consumption and excess of the season.


I had to find one thing in my house each day which I no longer used / liked / needed and then give it away (to local charity shops or to friends and neighbours). The giving felt great, but the decluttering felt even better! I was totally amazed by how many random things I'd been keeping that I no longer had any use for or real interest in (including the cookie cutters pictured above, which I'd bought many years before and never used).

As I wrote last year, "I will never ever ever be a minimalist. I like having a house full of colour and pattern and vintage treasures and sentimental trinkets and family heirlooms and things which just make me happy because they're beautiful. But I do want my posessions to earn their place in my home, and to have a house filled with wonderful things rather than clutter."

So, without blogging about it (because, honestly, I didn't know if I'd be able to manage it, especially after having just cleared out 100 things) I set myself the challenge in 2011 to do a "Less 365" project, getting rid of one thing a day for a whole year... and I just completed it yesterday afternoon!

I put a box in the spare room and started adding things to it one by one. I didn't completely stick to the "one thing a day" rule, but I kept a list of everything as I went along so I could keep track of my progress and so it wouldn't matter so much if I missed a few days here and there, I just made them up later. Sometimes my "one thing" for the day included lots of individual things (like a big pile of old magazines, or a china coffee set), sometimes they were big things, sometimes small, but the list just kept on getting longer...

Some things went to the charity shop, some things to friends and neighbours, others got recycled or just thrown away if they were really old or damaged. I could probably have sold lots of stuff on Ebay but to be honest selling on Ebay makes me really stressed, and I wanted that warm fuzzy feeling you get from taking bags of nice things to the local charity shop more than I wanted a bit of extra cash.

It's remarkably easy to pick out just one book you're not going to read again, one CD you never listen to, one sweater you never wear, your least favourite bit of crockery, and so on... and I've found that by sticking everything in a box out of sight for a few weeks, decision-making is a lot less stressful. Putting stuff in the box doesn't feel scary and final, when you empty the box when it gets full you'll probably have emotionally let go of most of the contents... and if you haven't you get a second chance to rescue something at the last minute if you've changed your mind, or you can just leave things in the box for a few months while you make a final decision.

I'm not going to lie to you, it does get trickier to choose things as the year goes on, but it makes you really look hard at all your "stuff" and be really honest with yourself about what you want to keep and use/display in your home, and why... and, of course, your space will be much less cluttered. I hugely recommend it! And even if you don't fancy the full "Less 365", you could just try it for January and see how you get on :)

22 comments:

KJ@letsgoflyakite said...

I am also not a minimalist, and love a home full of colour, sentimental treasures and a special thrifty find, but you are so right. We all have things that we no longer use, your example of the CD that is no longer listened to is a good one. I love this challenge. Great post, so provocative. Happy New Year!

EssexCommuter said...

such a great idea - something I definitely need to do. I think I'll give it a go. I know I've got stuff in my stash that the Brownies could use....

Lynne's Pattern Parlour said...

What a fantastic idea. I think I'll give it a try. I'll take photos and blog about it (if that's OK) and I'll lik back to your blog each time. Let's ee how long I can keep it up. Happy New Year. Lynne x

Just me, Leah said...

What a brilliant idea. I have too much stuff. I'm going to designate a box and get started! x

Michelle said...

What a great idea. Having moved back into a flat-share I could definitely do with more space.

tillymintboutique said...

I am definitely going to do this! Have set it as a new years resolution, however realised this year it'll be 366 things! I have linked to you in my blog :-)

Ellieboo said...

Love it

Janet said...

That is brilliant and so doable! I to love "my things" but so much of it is not used, loved or appreciated it really does need to go. I like to think of another person enjoying my things and treasuring them. You have inspired me to do some "regular" probably not "daily" decluttering. Have a fabulous New Year.

sew said...

This is my first comment on your blog as I have just bought your book and only today made your lovely owl from your tutorial -for a friend who loves these creatures.However, I know exactly what you mean about 'stuff'and have recently parcelled up yarn & needles (mostly from magazines)& offered them to a local forum from where they were snapped up within minutes. Your idea is one of the best new year resolutions I can think of and I'm so glad I found you. I'll sign off as 'SEW' because they really are my initials (both my maiden and married name)- how lucky is that?

Beth said...

I really like this idea! I think I may have to try it. I have recently been going through some of my things because I am rapidly running out of space for the things I have.
One thing I resolved recently was to not buy anymore scrapbooking materials until I used up what I already had. I also resolved not to buy any more fabric until I had used some of my stash by completing some projects that I've planned for a long time.

The only problem I have is that I don't have any room in my room to put a box for the things I'm giving away.

Ali said...

What a great idea - so glad you achieved your 365! Ali x

Lissa (Bellenza) said...

What a wonderful challenge! Teaches you a lot about what things really matter! Happy 2012. :-)

Fiona said...

Great idea. I just might give it a try.

Rachel Lucie Johns said...

I love this idea! Not sure I'm up to the full 365 (or 366!) but definitely need to declutter. I realised whenvi blitzed for Christmas just how many things that we really didn't need and nobody cared about anymore had collected around the house in various nooks and crannies! My photography monthly challenge finished in December, so looking for something new. Will link back if I do something!

☼Carolina Artesanías☼ said...

Nice!
Congratulations!!

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beautiful square feet said...

What a great idea! I'm always trying to de-clutter our house! I turn 30 this year, so maybe I'll do a get rid of 30 before I'm 30! Thanks for the inspiration! Happy New Year!

Jos said...

Great idea!

Alessandra said...

Why not? It's a great challenge!
Happy 2012!!!

Hawthorn said...

I remember reading your post last year and thinking what a good idea, sadly that idea just got lost in my head...! So when you re-posted your new and upgraded 'less 365' version I decided that this year I would join in...so we have started! Thanks for the reminder... excuse me, off to the charity shop to drop off goodies for re-homing. I will link to your post.

nicedaydesigns said...

What a great idea, one piece at a time seems a lot more manageable. I did a bit clear out the other day, some of the stuff is going to friends, others to a charity shop, and I've also signed up to do the next Barbootsale(a young chilled out flea market with beers and djs, if i make money I'm happy, if not it was just a fun day chilling out with friends). My room already feels way better, and I know I've loads more stuff to add to the pile.
I blogged about it here..

http://www.nicedaydesigns.org/2012/01/some-early-spring-cleaning.html

three cats said...

That is a great idea, it sounds less painful then getting rid of things in one go. Now I will just have to see if I can sneak in some of partners things into the box too....

BugsandFishes said...

Thanks for all the comments everyone! I'm thrilled that this has inspired so many people to try their own decluttering projects (big or small).

I often see decluttering mentioned in a sort of "how to have the perfect tidy house" way, connected either to minimilism or housework / spring cleaning... but for me I think it's about editing my "stuff" so what I've got has more meaning and value to it, and so I'm carrying around and storing less random stuff that for one reason or another just isn't relevant or useful any more.

SEW - lucky initials indeed, you were obviously destined to be a crafter! it's a great idea to pass on crafty supplies to other crafty folk. I've offered things in the past to people for free as long as they send me the postage - it's great being able to pass long-hoarded supplies on to people who'll use them, instead of having to just throw them away because they're something a bit random that a charity shop would never want.

Beth - I'm trying hard to use up supplies, too, and to only buy new ones when I have a specific project in mind for them. Could you find room on a shelf or under the bed or in your wardrobe or something like that to put things you're getting rid of? If you've really got no room, you could perhaps try writing a list of what you want to get rid of, and then use the list as a guide when you then go round picking up things to put in a box/bag for taking to charity/etc?

three cats - haha! :)

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