So, you’re interested in starting minimalism. That’s fantastic! But what’s the best way to get started implementing minimalism into your life? It certainly seems like a daunting task, and can be difficult to pinpoint the right place to start out. Luckily, there are many challenges and methods, developed by professionals who practice minimalism, that are designed to help you get started. Here I’ll share some of the strategies that fellow minimalists have found to be the most helpful. Are you new to minimalism? I recommend you start here. Then, read on to discover three of the most popular minimalism challenges today, and my honest opinion for each.
1. The KonMari Method
The KonMari Method was developed by Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Method of Tidying Up. She also stars in the Netflix series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. The KonMari Method is designed to help you declutter, simplify and reorganize your home by eliminating the things that do not spark joy.
The KonMari Method is effective because it urges you to tidy by category, not by room. The categories are as follows:
- Komono (Miscellaneous Items)
- Sentimental Items
You must gather all of the items that fall within a certain category and place them in a pile together. Doing this allows you to see the sheer amount of items that you own in that particular category. Once you’ve done that, your next step is to take each item, hold it in your hands, and ask yourself: Does this spark joy? If the answer is no, then it’s time to part with that item.
The KonMari Method can be incredibly effective if done right. By tackling all 5 categories over the span of a couple days, you don’t have enough time for your space to become messy again. Kondo believes that if you do it right the first time, you won’t ever have to do it again.
Tidying your entire home using the KonMari Method can be quite tedious and time consuming, depending on the items that you own. It takes time and energy to physically touch every single item that belongs to you and ultimately decide whether or not that item brings you joy.
The KonMari Method is sort of a hit or miss for me. It’s fantastic in principle, but not always realistic. There will probably be a few items that don’t necessarily bring you joy, but that doesn’t mean that you should get rid of them. My forks and spoons don’t spark joy, but that doesn’t mean that I’ll get rid of them!
I recommend using the KonMari Method as a guideline. Don’t feel pressure to discard every last thing that doesn’t spark joy, keeping in mind what’s needed for practical everyday use. Use your judgement. This is the most radial of all three challenges, so I recommend this for someone who likes to take a big project all at once, or for somebody who has the available time to tackle such a large task.
2. The 30-Day Minimalism Game
The 30-Day Minimalism Game is a challenge that was created by Joshua Fields Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus (a.k.a. The Minimalists). Essentially, the rules are as follows: Partner up with a friend or significant other, because this challenge is much easier to do with a little external motivation. On Day 1, get rid of one item. On Day 2, get rid of two items, etc. You get the gist of it.
By the end of Day 30, you will have gotten rid of a whopping 465 items (which may sound like a lot ‒ until considering the fact that the average American household has over 300,000 items).
This challenge is an excellent way to start decluttering because it builds momentum. If you’re the type of person who gets over-whelmed by large projects or sudden change, this may be a more comfortable start. You only have to part with a handful of items for the first few days. It gives you momentum for later when you’re parting with more items at a time.
It can be easy to “cheat” your way out of this game, depending on how you choose to define what “one item” actually means. For example, If you have a pack of 10 pencils, do they count as 10 items or do they count as one item? You have to determine that yourself, which can become tricky or confusing, depending on what you’re trying to get rid of.
Personally, I have not tried this method. By the time I had heard of the 30-Day Minimalism Game, I had already started practicing minimalism, so I had already gotten rid of most of my unneeded stuff. That doesn’t mean that I’ll never try it, however! I recommend this challenge for someone who prefers several small tasks over one huge one. I also recommend this for people who have a busier schedule, since it only takes a few minutes out of each day.
3. Project 333
Project 333 was created by Courtney Carver as a minimalist fashion experiment. For 3 months, Carver only dressed from a wardrobe comprised of 33 items, including clothes, shoes, accessories, jewelry, and outerwear (but not including socks, underwear/bras, or clothes designated specifically for pajamas and working out). To try this challenge, pick 33 items. Be smart about what you choose! Pick a couple of staple items that can be paired with multiple different outfits. The items you select make up what’s called your “Capsule Wardobe”. Everything else gets boxed up and and put somewhere where you won’t have to look at them for the duration of the challenge.
After your 3 months is up, it’s time to decide what to do with the clothes you didn’t include in your capsule wardrobe. If you didn’t miss them at all, perhaps it’s time to donate them. If you need to, invest in a few high-quality staple pieces that will last you a long time.
Many people who have taken on this challenge state that the best part is being able to wear your favorite clothes. You don’t have to worry about “decision fatigue” in the morning, and laundry is easier. This challenge allows you to “test drive” some new minimalist principles without having to make any sort of radical change. After all, if 33 items is really too little for you, everything else is tucked away.
This can be more challenging depending on the climate in your area. Do you live in a colder region? If so, then you’ll probably have to dedicate a good chunk of your capsule wardrobe to things such as coats, boots, or other cold weather gear. If your weather is unpredictable and you’ve only planned for one type of weather in your Capsule Wardrobe, you may find this challenge to be more difficult.
Project 333 really seems like an incredibly interesting challenge. In fact, I plan to try it myself starting next month (from November 1, 2019 – January 31, 2020). I do believe that this challenge can be suited for anybody, even if your personal circumstances might make it a little easier or more difficult than what Courtney Carver designed. This project isn’t supposed to be miserable. Carver says,
“This is not a project in suffering. If you need to create a version of Project 333 that works better for you, do it.”
Like Project 333, these methods of minimalism don’t have to be followed line by line. These are simply guidelines from fellow minimalists who have found lots of success by using these methods. If you need to tailor something to fit your preferences, do it! Especially if that means it will be a more effective method for your life.