100 Day Challenge

UPSwampWhat do you do when you have too much stuff? I’ve got more than I have room for. I’ve been nibbling at the edges of it all for some time without making much progress, even though I’ve come across various ideas for reorganizing and decluttering.

One group of approaches started with the “100 Thing Challenge” – cut down to 100 possessions. More or less. Depending on how you want to define a single possession – for example, apparently some people have decided that all their socks count as just one thing. (Hey, this is easier than I thought! I’ll just call all my books one thing, and all my clothes one more thing, and all my furniture a third thing, and…if I count each of my categories of things as just one item, I’m not sure I have 100 things to start with!)

Then there’s the “Reverse 100 Thing Challenge” – get rid of 100 things in 30 days. It’s a lot harder to bend the rules on this one; if you get rid of ten things on Day 17, or 50 things on Day 23, well, that’s nice – you still need to dispose of something else the following day. I tried this one some time ago, barely made a dent in the Stuff in my house, and forgot about the whole idea until my friend Beverley at My Wonky Life posted that she’s going to start it again to declutter before Christmas.

Good luck, Beverley…meanwhile, I think I need to take a more intense approach. I’ve spent the past year decluttering my late mother’s house, and it’s been an eye opener. Before, I had no idea how much my parents had kept (for decades and decades), all jumbled together, and I want to stop copying them. I need to get my house stripped down as far as my husband and I can stand, and I want to do it right away before I run out of steam.

So here we (get ready to) go – The 100 Day Challenge. The idea is pretty simple to describe: get my house cleared out and thoroughly cleaned in a hundred days, starting January 1.

Why January 1? Not because it’s New Year’s Day. Really. But by the end of December, all the Christmas preparations will be over and on top of that, we should finally be done decluttering and cleaning my mom’s house. With those jobs out of the way, I’ll have enough energy left over to deal with this place. Besides, starting with the new year means I’ll be tackling the worst of the project in January and February, the depths of winter, when I don’t especially want to leave the house more than I can avoid anyhow.

16 responses to “100 Day Challenge

  1. Problems, problems defining the dispensable. Pipe grippers, for example – are they junk, when you haven’t used them for eight years? But if your washing machine connector suddenly loosens, you need them, and you need them RIGHT NOW.

    • That is one of the problems, and it makes it very hard to get rid of Perfectly Good Things that you only need once in a while.

      On the other hand, one of the things I’ve learned over the past year is that when you keep something for years because you might need it someday, eventually it can stop being usable. Plastic gets brittle, metal rusts, paper weakens so that a gentle touch from a fingernail cuts through it. Coats get motheaten. Leather mildews. Aerosol cans spring leaks and deposit a pile of goop on the shelf. The handles of suitcases crumble when you try to pick them up. (Glass seems to hold up nicely.)

      Another thing I’ve learned is that if you keep enough different miscellaneous spare things, you can lose track of what you already have…and wind up with six can openers, never used, still in the original packaging from the store, with the original price tags (several priced so low they must have been bought before 1980).

      At present, I’m in the mood to imitate a tornado.

      • Oh definitely. I have spent an inordinate amount of time in attics and cupboards myself over the last couple of years, (life phase for many of us, obviously), binned junk, and now know where quite a lot of STUFF is. I can finally do the ‘use it up, make it do’ thing and have passed on lots of bits to those who actually need them. Phase II and III yet to come 😦 but if I don’t drop dead in the next five years I have hopes of managing it.
        Careful with that tornado though – a couple of things I regret are missing in action from the days where I really lost my temper with it all!

  2. We are leading parallel lives! I’ve spent the weekend decluttering, in that I have a bunch of stuff taking up space in our house that doesn’t belong to us. It’s stuff that belonged to my late family. The last of them passed away at Christmastime in 2010 and it’s just been too painful to confront. I shed tears of course, but I feel better for getting a grip on it. There’s still stuff to handle, but at least it’s all in one place – well two trunks and a box in the loft! I hope you are not finding it too painful. Decluttering and bereavement often go hand in hand. Happy Christmas! 🙂

    • This seems to be something that everyone goes through sooner or later! I’ve learned that several of my friends, who lost their parents years ago, still have boxes of family stuff they can’t bear to deal with. Right now, half my living room is full of boxes that came from my mother’s house, and I’m not sure what I’m going to do with some of it. There just isn’t room to keep everything I’d like to hold on to, alas.

      Really, I congratulate you on getting your Family Stuff trimmed down to only two trunks and a box, and you have my sympathy. And Merry Christmas, in spite of the difficult things, to you!

      • It helps to exchange communications with someone in a similar situation. In my case, I didn’t actually decide to do this ‘cleansing’ at this time, it just sort of happened. Of course, it is the end of the year, which brings out the ‘sorting’ impulse. If it’s any consolation, the process has been cathartic. You’ll probably find given time you don’t need to ‘hold on’ to most of the stuff you think you do now.
        Good luck! I’m here if you need a rant! 🙂

  3. Sorry, I added the above comment to the wrong post, but you know what I mean!

  4. I did some major decluttering this year as we prepared to sell our home. I was happy to get rid of stuff that had accumulated over 10 years and left behind by many of our children. Good luck with the endeavor—it’s not easy but so worth it in the end. We don’t need it anyway!

    • “We don’t need it anyway” – words to live by.

      It’s probably a good thing you’re moving; part of the problem with my parents’ house is that they lived there for more than fifty years (over half their lives), so they never needed to reconsider whether they really really needed to keep all that stuff. And my husband and I haven’t been in this house nearly that long, but long enough for our stuff to pile up too.

      It’s time to weed. Even if it is winter. Thanks for the good wishes!

  5. Just keep chipping away at it Sharon and never take something in without throwing something(s) out!

  6. That sounds like a doable plan but i shall be back on the 1 Jan to remind you it’s time to get rid of at least one thing.

  7. Sharon, I need to take that same challenge, although I’ve made progress! We’ll have to encourage each other.


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