Simple Living 300 Items Challenge PT1

Courtesy of Iris Kadouri Rizenbah

Courtesy of Iris Kadouri Rizenbah

One of the challenges on my Life Ticket is to own less than 300 things because I want to have a more simple lifestyle.

I thought it was about time I looked into at least working towards this goal.

Why simple living?

In a world surrounded by an accumulation of technology, mass media and over crowded places, it  all starts to feel a bit loud.  There is so much noise and distraction all around me that the only way to get a break is to reverse the growing trend, and do things differently.  Instead of buying more, buying less.  Instead of noise, quiet.  Instead of speeding up, slowing down.

I’ve already started this idea in many parts of my life.  For instance I only focus on three main jobs a day.  I try very hard to focus only on those jobs and not get distracted.  I have also tried to limit my internet time, which is easier when you’ve got more outside to be keeping you busy.

One of my highest priorities is to become as self-sufficient, in the garden, as possible and feel connected to the earth while living a more healthy life.

On the spending front it’s all slightly harder.  Supermarkets, clothes shops and the giant on-line retailers are deliberately designed and marketed to be the most efficient, cost effect and easiest places to buy stuff, lots of it.

In this area of consumerism minimalism is a habit I’d like to adopt.

I like minimalism in the home but it’s hard to achieve if I keep buying things.  To stop buying things I need to see what I’ve already got in my life and become more conscious of them.

What does 300 things look like?

I was deliberately vague when I wrote the challenge on my list because I didn’t know what or how I’d be cutting down to 300 things.  However I’ve done some thinking over this and decided on the following:

The 300 things will be mine, personally.  That means I can’t cut out or down anything that we use as a household.  Cooking pots, bathroom cleaner, curtains, computers and other material objects we use as a family are not included in the material shift.

It doesn’t include any items in the garden, the car (which I don’t drive anyway) or the outside buildings.  It also doesn’t include my work items either (obviously).

It’s just my personal stuff.  Books, clothes, jewellery personal gadgets  and crap only I like to buy.

On the outset 300 things looks a pretty reasonable figure to start with.  Until I realised I had 93 pairs of socks.  Yes just socks, 93 pairs of them.  That’s 31% of the my desired items.  Who needs 93 pairs of socks?  I don’t and yet there I am moaning like hell when I find my socks spewing all over my wardrobe because I have so many of them.

Starting block – Inventory

To get started in my quest I need to know exactly what I do have to be able to start making some reductions.  In the end the list was broken down into the following categories:

  • Clothes
  • Shoes
  • Belts
  • CDs
  • Books
  • DVDs
  • Personal grooming products
  • Ornaments
  • Other personal gadgets/stationary

Total Items:- Over 1,000!

It’s quite astounding and rather morbid to think in my 34 years what I’ve collected, been gifted with and saved along the way.

I really believed I didn’t possessed that much as an individual, but over the yrs my stuff has been building up, without perhaps me realising it.

The rather important thing with all this is – do I use all this stuff?  No.  Do I make good use of it?  No.  Do I even regard it on a daily/weekly basis?  No.  So clearly I don’t need it all.  

The real challenge then is getting over that hump that says you’ve got memories, feelings, etc attached to it all.

If I think logically about this though, just because an object is removed from my life does not mean the memories go with it.  The stuff is just a trigger for those memories.

To make the reduction slightly easier to deal with I shall evaluate all the items into the following categories:

  • Must Keep
  • Borderline Keep
  • Get rid, no reason to Keep

300, as a figure may well be too little, or too much.  As an analyst its easy to fall into the numbers game but this is ultimately more about cutting back until I feel more comfortable with the items I do own and take careful considerations before I buy more in future.

I’ll let you know over the coming weeks how this challenge goes.

If you’re doing something similar, or indeed have completed a 300 challenge yourself then please get in touch.  I’d love to know how easy/hard it was for you.

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15 responses to “Simple Living 300 Items Challenge PT1

  1. Good luck Sophie. It’s a really cool task, although can be difficult. Are you counting the digital things that you own, like blogs, software, mp3s and such?

    • Thank you. No, I’ve decided not to count anything digital because that can be seen as one collection in it’s entirety. Not that I have that much digital stuff but aside from that storing online, or on a hard drive, takes up very little room, unlike the physical items in the house.
      In fact I would think to reduce physical items such as DVDs and CD’s saving into an ‘eformat’ would be a good way to reduce items!

      • I guess it depends on how you view minimalism and what you want to get from it. Good luck

  2. I am just beginning my journey into this area. I’m not sure how many items I will get down to but I want to know why each thing I have is important.

    • I think you’re absolutely right there. Unfortunately in my case not only have I lost touch with a lot of my stuff (especially books) but that I diss miss it too quickly by buying more stuff which then just gets used for a while and put to one side.
      Good luck with your challenge I’d like to hear how you get on.

      • Oh yes, I’m the same, keep buying more stuff simply adding to the mountains of stuff I don’t need or use. Thank-you, I’ll see how I go. I can see quite a few things from where I’m sitting that I can part with already. They mock me!

  3. Hi Soph, I really enjoyed your post and how you are laying out your thinking as well as your challenge. I noticed how easy it became to reduce my buying of stuff when I wanted to stop working and live off a pension. This of course comes easier when you are older and have accumulated much more unnecessary stuff. So perhaps we need to ask ourselves what is the tipping point for making the lifestyle changes we want to make? You may have seen the plethora if reality TV programmes about Hoarders? It seems the illness if I can describe it this way ocures when someone encounters a trauma in a relationship or a loss that they can’t move on from. Attachment then shifts from people to things. You nor I are suffering a trauma yet wish to reduce our attachment to things. Having a new goal or something of a lovely vision for how we wish to live must be powerful enough to drive us and help make behaviour changes. I know I have slipped into oh well I can use my savings and after all I deserve a treat. Time to focus on my lovely simple life vision and get tougher with myself. Good luck

    • Thanks Julie, I am pleased you like the post. I have seen that documentary it was very interesting although my motivation to reduce my items started with a guy called Leo Babauta who writes a very infamous blog called Zen Habits and then it grew more when I read about a couple of guys called The Minimalists. I think it’s a real life style choice, and a good positive one at that, to say hey, I know I’ve got lots of stuff and there is always stuff I need but actually do I need it, do I want it, is there another, better, way to live? There seems to be a growing trend in this direction. Fortunately I am one of these people who doesn’t tend to keep a lot of personal stuff other than books and CDs, these hold the biggest ‘memory attachments’ for me.
      I’ll let you know how it goes!

  4. Hi Sophie-I am a newcomer to your blog and this post in particular resonated with me..I am also trying to downsize my life-partly through necessity (during the recession I moved to a much smaller apartment and sold my large 4 x 4) and partly througfh my concern for how I am impacting the planet…I love your point of view and I am now completely inspired to reduce to only 300 personal items!! This is going to be difficult I can tell you!! Thank you for sharing….

    • Hi, really pleased to see a new reader. Welcome to the blog 🙂 Pleased you liked this post. Let me know how you get on. I’ll be following your posts. Good luck with your downsizing, and thanks for taking the time to read the blog.

  5. Pingback: Simple Living 300 Items Challenge PT2 | The Forget-me-Not Cultivation Blog·

  6. A house move or renovation every few years should be mandatory! 😉 It really makes you focus on what you do or don’t need if you have to pack it all up piece by piece. We moved twice in 12 months and that really helped.
    For books (also a weakness for me), I joined BookCrossing.com and that helped me to give away books for the first time in my life! (I had kept every book I’d ever had!) The rule I have now is “one book in, two books out”. I guess that could apply to all other purchases too? Good luck with the de-clutter. Mine is still a work in progress but you have inspired me here again.

    • Twice in 12 months? Wow, that must really have put packing in a new light. You’re right, the longer you stay in a place the more settled and ‘okay’ it is to keep things over the yrs.
      I’ve not heard of that BookCrossing before so will have a look. I still buy books although usually it’s only non-fiction as I get mostly everything else from the library. Thank goodness for libraries!
      Good luck with your books too.
      Really pleased to hear you liked the post 🙂

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