You’re here! I’m beyond excited to welcome you to the March Minimalist Challenge.
This 30 day minimalism challenge is meant to set you up for success. Each day you will have one area to declutter. Weekdays have smaller spaces while weekends are more in depth areas.
Additionally, the early weeks of this challenge focus on non-sentimental possessions. As you gain confidence and skills the difficulty level of decision making increases.
Find me on your favorite social platform to keep me update on your progress.
Every space you declutter gives you an opportunity to throughly clean the area. Grab your favorite cleaner and some bamboo sticks to give your refrigerator a deep clean. Take out everything one shelf at a time from top to bottom.
Clean every crevice including possibly removing the shelf or drawer and cleaning it directly in the sink. Take breaks to close the fridge if the beeping starts to drive you nuts.
Be prepared to have all kinds of feelings about getting rid of items from your fridge. If you’re feeling stuck and overwhelmed when it comes to discarding expired or unwanted food, don’t give up. Read about the 3 Justifications People Use to Keep Possessions.
Organizing and re-organizing your desk does not need to be a common occurrence. You are only in that vicious cycle because the items in, around, and on top of your desk are not serving you.
Minimalism is all about focus. Being able to focus on what you truly want, comes when you eliminate everything that doesn’t get you closer to that goal. Clearing your desk clutter will allow greater focus on your work which will eliminate errors and increase efficiency.
I don’t have a single client who is so wealthy that they don’t need to work in order to create an income. But, just because you need to earn money doesn’t mean you have to work long or hard hours. Learning to create passive and residual income is the most powerful lesson I’ve learned from minimalism.
There are some serious mental acrobatics you do to convince yourself that your work isn’t that bad or dare I say, you even like your job. It stings too much to admit you would rather be doing thousands of other things over working at that job. Learn: How Minimalism Can Create an Income so you can spend more time doing what you want.
Bathrooms and storage don’t mix. Your bathroom has the most dramatic temperature fluctuations of anywhere in your house. Not ony temperature, but also humidity.
Items you would typically keep in a medicine cabinet such as thermometers, tweezers, and Tylenol are all better suited to keep away from that moisture.
Have you heard of toilet plume? Thats how scientists refer to the 10 foot radius around the toilet. Particles from flushing, pee splatter, and even vomit can circulate in the air for lengthy periods of time. Talk about subjects I never thought I’d be writing about. lol.
Protect your hygiene products by re-locating them outside the bathroom entirely. Let your medicine cabinet become an empty storage space. It will feel good to know you are keeping your clean products away from all those germs and bacteria.
Deep cleaning your freezer will allow you to empty and assess it’s contents. Put everything in the freezer during the process to buy you a little more time to really scrub every nook and craney.
Be sure to give the underside of your freezer attention as well. Get these: Cleaning Brushes to thoroughly clean areas you’ve never given any thought. See if the grate at the bottom can come off and get down there to see where all your grime has gone to hide.
Imagine you were cooking a meal today and planned to use each item from the freezer, would you realistically be willing to eat it? If the freezer space gets bogged down with food that you wouldn’t eat even if you ran out of money, then it’s time to accept those items need to be tossed.
This is also a good opportunity to check your manual and see if anything can be done about cleaning out the ice maker. As you fill the freezer back up, put items in tin foil, leftover containers, or anything not in original packing up in front.
Purging your pantry will immediately make using your kitchen less stressful. Spending less time looking for things is an amazing benefit of minimalism. Plus, knowing what you have will ensure you’re less wasteful which will save money.
Prime real estate is going to be the middle shelves that all family members can easily see and reach. Those shelves should hold the most commonly used items. Infrequently used items belong on the harder to reach top and bottom shelves.
Anything non-kitchen related needs to be re-located outside of the pantry. Putting all your items back in the pantry takes some forethought. Create breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack sections for best ongoing results.
Let go of any shame or guilt surrounding ditching items you will never eat. The story you’ve created in your head about how that food will be consumed is probably a stretch to say the least.
As a young person it felt like a flex to show off how many CD’s and DVD’s you had in your collection. Now that you’re older and wiser you can see how those collections wasted your money and now they waste your space.
Download the VUDU app to immediatly digitize everything avaible for digital download. Eliminating your DVD collection will allow you to purge storage stands, disc players, and any other items you used to organize your movies.
Not every movie will have a contract arrangement be be digitized, so at that point you’ll need to decide if it’s worth it to keep movies on a case by case basis.
After your collection is digitized it’s time to sell the physical discs. The best luck I had was selling my DVD, BlueRays, and CD’s at a physical garage sale. However, major cities usually have movie and music resale shops that will buy collections for a mutually agreeable price. If neither of those options work, you can download the
Ding! Another email notification pulling your attention away from whatever you were doing. It happens all day long. In fact, people are more likely to pay attention to a notification on their phone than someone calling their name.
Did you know that you can not just turn off notifications, but also tell your phone not to receive your emails as often. Look for the setting called fetch speed in your inbox, set it to daily or every 12 hours.
Minimalist phone rituals focus on mindfulness. In this present moment is your time better suited to be scrolling or looking up and experiencing life. In almost every case the answer will probably be to put down the phone and go do something worthy of your time.
After the big email clear out, the folders you will make can insure you keep important items. Your inbox is not the place to keep important information for future use. Your inbox is only for incoming messages, not pending items. Pending items get filed in the appropriate folder.
Untangling your perception of value is a major lesson you’ll learn during your minimalist journey. The financial and sentimental value placed on old jewelry can hinder our ability to get rid of it.
Be willing to dig deep as to why you want to keep items you don’t wear. Instead of letting guilt or shame be in control, take back the power by deconstructing old pieces and creating new items you can treasure.
As promised, above you will find links to some of my articles about why you are hesitant to get rid of items. Recognizing that something as small as jewelry can have so much influence your you thoughts and behaviors is a great first step.
Dismissing entire categories of possessions as unable to be minimized is indicative of a larger problem. Minimizing jewelry is just as important as minimizing furniture because your mindset shifts with decluttering each new area.
Almost every time you leave your home to interact with the outside world it’s in a personal vehicle. Getting in and zoning out to whatever is on the radio doesn’t set a good vibe for the day.
Once your car is in order it can become a moving feel good retreat. Within arms reach you can have motivational audio books, lotion, sugar free gum, and a bottle of water. Instead of clutter it can all be self-care items at your finger tips.
Once you’ve removed the garbage, found homes for the items that don’t belong in your car, and organized the car necessities, it’s cleaning time. Head to your local car wash and spend some time vacuuming out your vehicle. After the interior is clean you should spring for the deluxe package at the car wash as a reward.
Last month I wrote a deep dive article called 7 Tips for Decluttering Your Car. Give that article a read if you crave more precise instructions. Usually my very detailed space by space guides are only available in my Messy to Minimalist e-course, so it’s a treat that I featured this one publicly.
Pick a drawer any drawer. Today the power is in your hands to minimize or reimagine two drawers anywhere in your house. I wanted to introduce a small challenge so you can catch up on any past challenge days you skipped for whatever reason.
Also, learning how to take things slow is a vital part of this process. You might have grand visions of becoming a minimalist over a weekend, but it doesn’t really work like that. Mindset takes longer to change than one short burst of enthusiasm.
If you think back to the challenge from day one or day two, I bet even a week later you would make more aggressive decisions. During my minimalist journey I think I decluttered my pantry six times. Each time I got more decisive and rigid in my feelings about what was worthy of taking up space in our home.
If you’re beginning to think that all this minimizing should be turned into a massive garage sale, I wouldn’t be surprised. We made over $2,000 at our garage sale when we first became minimalists. Read all about how to Have a Profitable Garage Sale.
Before choosing any place to live, people look at the kitchen imagining if there is enough storage space. You imagine all your pots and pans and appliances organized in the drawers and cabinets. It’s common for people to worry that there won’t be enough space to house all of their stuff.
As you unpack in your new kitchen you tell yourself stories about how you’ll use that platter for a game night really soon. You imagine yourself cooking waffles and poached eggs for family brunch every weekend. On wine nights you know that chocolate fountain will be all the rage. But none of those things ever happen. You never did those things in your old place and you will continue not to do them in your new place.
There is no shame is accepting that you simply do not need those objects to live a happy life. By keeping those items you are creating an invisible expectation that they should be used someday. If you follow my content you probably know I hate the idea that you “should” do something. Just do what you want.
All three major justifications get used in the kitchen. You blame needing to keep things on financial reasons, emotional feelings, and practical justifications. If you haven’t used it this month, you should seriously consider donating, selling, or re-homing that item.
I cannot be the only person who has items that are literally always in the wash. Because the item has no home, it just gets stuck in the endless loop of wash, floor, back in the wash. I know for a fact that kids clothes that are too small, old dish towels, and mystery items someone left at our house have all fallen into this vicious cycle.
Determine which items are in too much disrepair to wear confidently and be willing to finally toss them. Find the items that are too small for the body you have now or the size your children have become and ditch or donate those. If that shirt is missing the waist cinch, the sock is missing it’s partner, or one bra insert has gone MIA that item needs to be retired.
Laundry already stresses me the heck out. When you clean the bathroom there is a sense of accomplishment because the job is complete, it does’t need to be done again for a hot minute. But, with laundry it will never ever be totally done unless you do it naked. Because of the immense hatred I have towards laundry, it needs to run smoothly or I will shut down and not do it for weeks.
Get the hanging bar you’ve been talking about. Install the detergent shelf you keep thinking about. Buy the laundry machine lifting platforms that you’re convinced will make your back hate you less. Every single laundry purchase is going to have enough benefit to make the financial outlay worth it.
Gateway spaces set the tone for your time in a space. Entering your house to immediately see junk everywhere does not inspire calm or clarity. You are going to re-home all the items that don’t belong in your entryway so you can create a clean slate.
Coach the people you live with to put items that are coming into the home away properly. If your entryway indicates a disregard for cleanliness then the rest of the house will match that energy.
If an item has been abandoned in the entry and nobody in the house wants to take responsibility to find it a proper home, ditch it. People bring things home all the time because they don’t know what else to do with it. Just because you’ve taken possession of something does not mean it deserves to be kept.
Flat surfaces practically send out a written invitation asking people to fill them up with crap. You can decide to RSVP NO to that invitation. Create a new mindset around flat surfaces being empty instead of always being piled with junk.
Sheets and towels are on the chopping block today. You’ve undoubtedly got extras upon extras of both. When things are folded nicely and have a place in a cabinent it’s hard to recognize they are a problem. But those closets stuffed with linens could be clutter free and therefore create less stress in your life.
No bed should have more than the set of sheets currently on your bed and one additional set. I said what I said. High quality cotton sheets are comfortable all year round. As for towels, if you haven’t used the towel in the last month, it’s got to go. The only exception to the one month rule is beach towels which can live in a cabinent for those yearly trips.
Think about how many loads of laundry it would take to clean every piece of fabric in your house. Every stitch of clothing, sheets, towels, blankets, jackets, scarfs, pajamas, table cloths, and even bathmats. Daunting isn’t it? Why is all that excess necessary? Did someone tell you your worth was measured in space filled with objects?
Obviously it’s ridiculous to think about your worth being tied to possessions. But your possessions really do define you. They determine your bank balance, your time, and your mental load. All the items that use to be money fill a house that needs to be that big simply to house those objects. It’s a vicious cycle. Read about how Stuff Stops You From Living Your Life
If you’re going to take the minimizing route, the first thing you should do is reference this list of Makeup Expiration Dates . Anything outside the range of safety needs to be tossed. Did you see the word ‘superbugs’ in that link? Eeeewwwww!
On the flip side, if you’re team bare face, let’s just throw it all away! On March 15, 2020, I threw away every brush, every powder, every cream, every colored pallet, anything I could find that went on my face found it’s way to the trash. When covid started I became 100% makeup free.
My reason for going makeup free at the time was simply because we weren’t leaving our house so I didn’t see the point in makeup. It wasn’t until a couple weeks later that I really started to realize how much time I had gained back as a result of not commuting anymore, attending social obligations I didn’t care about, or taking time to get socially presentable. All that time I had wasted felt reclaimed.
People who love you don’t care about the makeup, including yourself. Anyone who does care if you wear makeup is worthy of a giant eye roll and the pleasure of watching you walk away from their nonsense. You are fierce and powerful and beautiful and confident without any makeup if you choose to be.
FURTHER READING: You’re Not Wearing Makeup for You by, Jessica DeFino
I love ‘reading.’ But back in America I was in my car a LOT. In order to make that time feel productive I got in the habit of listening to audio books. I’ve consumed a large amount of information over the years from parenting guides to understanding the psychology of decision making.
If you’re someone who hates audio books or the thought of a digital book makes you want to scream, you’ll get no shade from me. But, just because you love physical books does not mean every book you’ve ever read or intend to read needs to live on a shelf collecting dust.
This minimalist journey is all about asking yourself questions. Struggling to separate from an item is often a sign of a need you feel is unmet. You may be scared that letting go of that item will have negative financial consequences. There might be a story you’ve told yourself about the future possibility of your child being assigned that book in AP English. You could even correlate the books to appearing intelligent and sophisticated to strangers who might someday enter your home. These justifications are just limiting beliefs in different clothing.
Luckily, there are very few book emergencies. If you decide you want to re-read a book, hop online to reserve it at your local library, hit up a book swapping social media group, give it a try on KINDLE, or try listening to it as an AUDIO BOOK.
There are so many ways that shoes can take over your closet and entry way. You attend a summer wedding so you buy a gorgeous strappy sandal. But then you need to go to a winter wedding which causes you to buy a fun ankle boot. Then you are getting married and of course you buy the shoes of your dreams. And you repeat that cycle your whole life for various events.
What never seems to happen is the acknowledgement that you will never wear that specific shoe ever again. Instead, it gets tucked in the back of a closet on the off chance a similar event arises. Hooray, another summer wedding comes along, but the dress you wore last time doesn’t fit anymore. And those old summer wedding shoes don’t match the new dress you bought. Palm, forehead. This is how shoes get out of control.
I am not suggesting everyone widdle their collection down to 9 pairs of shoes like me. I’ve been living as a nomadic family for the past 2.5 years, so my family of 4 has to fit into 6 suitcases. Plus, I don’t have any interesting hobbies that require any specific gear. However, I have yet to meet a person who didn’t have some pointless footwear clogging up closet space.
Check out my picks for THE BEST MINIMALIST SHOES FOR WOMEN in virtually every category.
A lot of times I think the consumer mentality is to find organization solutions to make our useless stuff seem like less of a problem. But, then you’re just spending more money to keep stuff you already know you don’t want or need.
Garages came into existence around 1912 as a way to separate a car and their acompanying gas tank from the residential part of the home. Over time, gas stations were created and cars became safe enough to be parked in attached garages. Nowadays garages have become synonymous with storage. Garages are thought of as an overflow of the home.
Get ready for a busy weekend of decluttering, downsizing, and dreaming about a simplified garage. You garage doesn’t have to be empty to be minimalist, but everything in it should serve a purpose in your life. Whoever goes through your garage when you leave this earth will want to know what is important to you. Make it obvious what you care about by getting rid of the junk.
It is not my intention to hover over you judging you for every object you decide to keep. My goal is to give you the tools to make choices that align with your true desires. There is a difference between the dreams you tell yourself are acceptable and the ones you care deep enough about to chase relentlessly. Untangling the confusing social expectations and rules inflicted upon you is a process.
If you were truly honest about what you wanted to keep in that garage, I bet it would be a lot less than what your mom wanted you to keep or your aunt wants you to hang on to. Just remember they don’t live there. You live there and it is your choice what to keep in your space.
Your kids will always tell you they want the latest greatest toy. They think more is better and there could never be too many toys. But, studies show your kids are wrong. And it’s your job as the parent to guide your kids down a healthy path of consumption instead of being corporate consumption addicts.
There are a lot of stimuli your child will need to interpret over their adolescence. Bombarded their play room with overstimulation isn’t just training for later. Anxiety and decision fatigue can really affect even the earliest independent play. Toddlers with just a handful of toys were found to be calmer and more creative.
Don’t take my word for it: Psychology Today Article, Curious Neuron Article, ECSU Good Toy Study
Aside from the obvious psychological and brain benefits of fewer toys, research has shown it is better for a family budget to focus on experiences over things. Going to the park, spending the afternoon a the library, or playing in your own backyard all save money versus the average $240 per year parents spend on toys.
Buying the toys gives parents a feeling of a accomplishment and pride that is misplaced. Media and social pressure makes you feel like your kid could never be happy without buying that toy. Now that you know that science disagrees, you can make better choices in the future. You want to be an amazing parent and by seeking out new accurate information, you are constantly able to make better decisions, which proves you are an amazing parent.
You walk into the house and your arms are filled with mail, groceries, your coffee cup from this morning, and the Amazon package from the front porch. Before anything else happens, you have to pee. So everything gets dumped in the entry way haphazardly. After you use the restroom you come back to get the groceries and the Amazon package but leave the other items.
Sound familiar? It happens every single day in households across America. That coffee cup will sit there for two more days before you finally have a free second and available hand to relocate it to the sink. The mail might sit there for a week before someone quickly scans through to see it’s all just recyclable junk mail.
Flat surfaces invite clutter like a moth to a flame. Every item that gets sent down with the intention of dealing with it later is now just sitting there abandoned, inviting more clutter to join it. Make the choice. If it doesn’t have a home in your home, toss it. You do not have to justify why you want to get rid of an item. On the contrary, you should be actively deciding and justifying what is worthy of keeping.
One hurdles in my house was and still is paperwork. So much paperwork comes in via mail that needs to be managed. I would delay eliminating paperwork that had personal information because I always wanted it to be shredded. Finally, one day I eliminated the excuse. I bought a Paper Shredder, and you should too. Now, the moment a financial statement, healthcare invoice, or any other paperwork with personal information shows up in my mailbox, it can be destroyed within seconds instead of sitting around in a pile for six months.
Multiple weeks into the challenge and we are beginning to look at areas with high levels of emotional justification. Our hearts and souls get wrapped up in every aspect of holiday preparation. All along the way you are needed to execute a flawless holiday experience for your family and friends.
When you decorate the house and all the comments make you feel so appreciated, it’s hard to not be ready to do it all again the next year. You run around like a crazy person cooking and cleaning the day of your holiday. As stressful as it is, in the end everyone needed you to do it, and you came through. It’s the feelings you’re really in love with, not the tradition. You can feel that way in many different situations.
Imagine a life where no family pressure existed and you could design any holiday on the planet. Would you skate in Rockefeller Center for Christmas or wonder the Christmas markets in Germany or sip coffee near the Eiffel Tower? Your family and friends could join of you of course, it’s your fantasy holiday. Imagine all the ways you twist and contort your life to suit the expectations of others.
I moved all the way to Tokyo and all I brought was the Christmas tree topper, a few ornaments my late brother made as a child, and our wall hanging countdown calendar. Everything else about the holiday was new and fabulous.
Shoulder, back, an neck pain from heavy purses is a real thing. Your bag doesn’t have to be like a clown car where stuff just keeps coming out of it in endless supply. The desire to overprepare for every given situation is a trauma response. You are filling your purse like you are going into the battle of the day with no resources, no wherewithall to solve problems, and no time to come up with solutions on the fly.
I can name every single item in my purse right now. The same items are in my purse most days. I keep my wallet, mask, calendar, bag of sparkly pens, airpods, hair ties, band-aids, nail file, hand towel, wet towelettes, sunglasses, cell phone, and tiny bag with my microphone for filming. On certain days I put an external phone battery and charging cord in there also.
Oh by the way, how many purses do you have? I only have the one. It wasn’t always the case that I was secure enough in myself to just have the one purse. Back in high school all the girls were getting Dooney & Burke purses and I desperately wanted one to fit in. Finally I got one, but not before they were already on the way out. In order to fit in later I felt like I had to have Coach or Michael Kors. Purses needed to match my outfit in order for me to feel worthy. It was insane.
Minimalism has shifted my entire mindset surrounding success and money. I don’t need fancy purses to prove my wealth or success. My worth is not based on what I can own. I would rather take a trip and be with my family than own anything more than the bare minimum. Often times people think they love owning something, but really they love what owning that object means in their mind. If in your mind owning a Rolex means success, then maybe you just want to feel successful and it isn’t about the watch at all.
Everything from coloring pages of butterflies to cut up sheets of paper in the shape of snowflakes come home from school. Any parent can attest that the volume of paperwork adds up quickly if you don’t stay on top of it. But, there is a lot of shame and guilt involved in pitching anything created by your kids.
Think of your kids creations as snapshots of time. Choose your favorite piece of art from a several month period of time and make that the one you keep. Everything else should be photographed and recycled. Create one cloud storage folder for each child and within that folder create sub-folders for each grade in school.
Here’s the frame and storage I mentioned: Li’l Davinci Art Frame
My mom was a keeper of all the things from my childhood. As an adult I’ve looked through numerous boxes of treasured items from my earliest years. To be honest, most of it was non-sensical. No memories were jogged and in my view it was all stored for decades in vain.
Future generations are already rejecting the accumulation tendencies of their parents era. Attics and basements full of stuff are finding themself without a new home after the boomer generation passes away. You can be the change in the stuff accumulation vicious cycle.
Letting go of most things is tough for the average person. Letting go of expensive things is even worse. You have so many feelings about why you should continue to hang on to old technology. Someday you reckon it might be worth money. One day it might come back into usefulness. There is important data on it that you might need someday.
Technology has advanced so rapidly that it’s absolutely laughable what used to be hi-tech. Can you imagine milleniels asking for a light up corded phone and their own home phone number? These days middle schoolers are walking around with a $1,000 computer in their pocket. It’s absolute insanity. I say all that to remind you, that old Nokia 8100 or Sidekick do not deserve an inch of space in your home.
My career for all of my adult life involved getting women together for in home parties. I would encourage the hostess of the party to get in touch with her friends, which should have been easy since everyone has devices in their hand all day long. But, you know who always had the most people show up? The women who didn’t have social media. Women who didn’t let the false sense of connection we get from social media hinder their ability to maintain real life friendships. I only mention that here because technology has fundamentally changed who we are and how we live.
I am advocating for not just purging the old dusty broken things in the basement, but also, your DVD player and gaming consoles. You may find that devices necessary to escape reality won’t be as necessary in your new minimalist life. There is so much wonder and adventure out in the world that technology constantly keeps you from experiencing. Go outside and get off the tech.
Someone someday will have to face the boxes of physical photos in the basement. Photos of mountains and beaches you’ve never been to and have no idea the significance. Snapshots of family gatherings where no faces look familiar. A major problem with having too much stuff is that nobody knows what’s important and what’s not. Everyone thinks there will always be later to deal with a task like going through old photos, but there may not be.
Today, you will be scanning and eliminating the physical copies of old photographs. As you discover photos you want to ask someone a question about, you can tag it with a color if you’re using Apple products. Create folders for particular years or eras as you see fit. On your scanning journey, if you come across an absolutely perfect photo that gives you all the feels, hang that thing up for you to enjoy! Don’t let it sit in a box or in a cloud without giving yourself daily good vibes from it.
Photos that meant something to someone in the past, do not need to mean anything to you. That photo of a bird on a picnic table in an unknown place taken by an unknown person is not sentimental just because it’s in a box belonging to someone you loved. If it makes you feel better, scan it, but the volume of photos will dictate how selective you need to be. As you go through the boxes, you can set some boundaries about what you will scan and what is not worth the effort.
Prefer to outsource the scanning? PHOTO SCANNING SERVICE
Apple has such amazing facial recognition technology that it can detect the same person through all your stored photos. On my aunts birthday I can just click on her face and hundreds of photos containing her appear for me to use in a birthday message. If we are reminicing about our trip to Italy, I can simply type in Milan and every photo we took there appears. Technology is so amazing.