After cutting my possessions in half and finding a new freedom and passion in minimalism, I decided to go one step further and really take a look at what I needed and used on a daily basis. I wanted the accelerated track toward the core of what minimalism could teach and offer me.
I found a post by Ryan Nicodemus of The Minimalists that inspired a way to do just that. In his post he explains how after seeing his best friend go through a sudden change and seeming happy for the first time in a long while, he had to find out what brought on the change. When his friend attributed his newfound joy to this thing called minimalism, on the spot Ryan decided to go all in and take it on.
That led to a ‘now what’ and then the crazy idea to throw a “packing party”; to pack everything he owned as if moving to a new home, followed with 21 days of only unpacking what he needed to use.
His idea inspired me and I decided to use a slight variation for myself.
Here’s what I did:
- I had a look at my remaining possessions and separated out my favorite and most useful everyday things to keep, about 25% of what was left.
- The other 75% I boxed up, labeled, and put away on my highest closet shelf for safekeeping. These were items I wasn’t yet ready to part with, but wanted to experiment with living without. By living without them, I could determine the importance and value each item actually held in my life.
- I decided on a 6 month mark to go back through the boxes and re-evaluate if I still wanted to keep their contents. 6 months seemed a fair time for something to go unused and show me whether it truly added value to my life or not.
There were two rules I set down for this time period:
- I couldn’t take anything out unless it was absolutely vital and necessary for use.
- No buying anything new to replace what was in those boxes.
My results and conclusion:
After 6 months I went back to sort through the contents of those boxes and boy what a change. I don’t think I ended up taking out a single item during that time period.
The difficult and also fun part for me had been to get creative with what was left instead of my usual go-to shopping habits. I was forced to use and re-use things in new ways. Each item I was left with had been carefully selected and I could now clearly see what was me and what wasn’t, what was aiding the direction and goals I had, and what was blocking me, what was useful, and what was just so unnecessary. My life had quickly edged toward more unity and wholeness.
What a difference the time had made! After seeing in real time how little use so many of my possessions got, and feeling the liberation and peace that came along with living with less, it was a much easier task to part with what no longer served me. I ended up separating out only a few sentimental items, switching out a shirt or two, and then giving away the rest.