How to Downsize to Under 100 Things

ace of space, tammy strobel, rowdykittensHave you heard of the 100 Thing Challenge? The challenge was started by Dave Bruno, who calls it "my little way to personalize my efforts to fight American-style consumerism."

"A lot of people around the world feel 'stuck in stuff,' " Bruno explains. "They feel like their closets and garages are too full of things that don't really make their lives much better."

After reading about the 100 Thing Challenge, I decided to commit to living for a full year with only 100 personal items. At that time, we lived in a huge two-bedroom apartment, with two cars, overflowing closets and a kitchen stuffed with two sets of dishes and silverware. The 100 Thing Challenge has helped me streamline and simplify my life.

Whether or not you go to the extreme that I did, the 100 Thing Challenge is a useful exercise. No matter how much stuff you have, the challenge will force you to inventory your possessions and examine your buying patterns. The intent is to figure out what you really need in your life so that you can focus on what matters. Here are some tips for getting started:

1. Start small

You don't have to get rid of all your stuff to start this challenge. Take small steps every day. For instance, try donating 10 items a week to the charity of your choice.

2. Say no to recreational shopping

Learning to live lightly and creatively in a small space is one of the reasons I'm participating in this challenge. So it's essential to stay out of the mall. If you don't go shopping, you won't be tempted to come home with stuff you don't need or want.

3. Be patient

Downsizing is a process, so don't be hard on yourself if you're having a difficult time saying "no" to the consumer lifestyle. Be patient with yourself and find a support network. For instance, friends and family have helped us stick to the challenge.

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4. Stuff is a burden

Too much stuff is a burden. Especially, when it comes to cleaning. Being clutter-free means I don't have to spend an excess amount of time picking up my stuff, figuring out where to put it, or dusting it.

5. Clutter is a form of procrastination

We all procrastinate and in a lot of ways, clutter is a form of procrastination. Leo Babauta noted, "While our tasks and projects can pile up, giving us some anxiety, the clutter is a visual sign of that procrastination, and carries with it just as much anxiety."

Remember, your experience with the challenge will be different from mine. The idea is to figure out what material goods belong in your life and living space.

Tammy Strobel blogs at RowdyKittens about simple living and is the author of "Simply Car-free: How to Pedal Toward Financial Freedom and a Healthier Life."

The Ace of Space is a biweekly column that will provide you with the tips and tools to live lightly and creatively in a small space.

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