44 things and counting

There have been some interesting posts lately regarding the 100 Thing Challenge. In brief, the idea is to reduce all of your personal possessions to 100 things.

Let’s be honest. That is never going to happen here at The Julia Group. When I brought it up, The Invisible Developer suggested that he could perhaps reduce to 100 CATEGORIES of things. For example, he has over 1,000 CDs. That could be one category. Sigh.

If you look around, it looks fairly uncluttered. The CDs are on racks lining the hallways upstairs and down. Another few dozen are in a bin under the bed. Still, we have thousands of things, stuffed into drawers, in closets.


Our local grocery store gives a 30% discount if you buy six bottles of wine at once. They also sell bags to carry your six bottles of wine home. I have SIX of those bags. If I ever decide to have a heavy metal band over for a party, or open my own liquor store, I’m all set. One of those bags is now collecting the recycling to be thrown in the recycling itself.

Why do I have SEVEN vases in the cupboard under the sink?


When was the last time more than six people at once sent me flowers?  I put one of those vases in a bag to give away.

Why do I have two pairs of scissors in the kitchen alone? (I also have a pair in my desk and probably a couple of other places as well.) I threw the rusty, old pair of kitchen scissors away and kept the new one.

I laughed at the idea of Reduce Month, giving away 30 things in 30 days. My goal is to get rid of 100 things in one day. I started yesterday and made it to 31. So far today, I’m at 39.

The question is, “What counts as a thing?”

My definition is “One decision = one thing.” Also, less space = less things. Eating one jelly bean from a jar of jellybeans does not count, but throwing out the empty jar does. Since my jar contains a few pounds of jelly beans, my jelly bean habit has yet to contribute to thing reduction.

Deciding to throw away the Sunday LA Times that I have read is 1 thing. Tossing a receipt from parking from 18 months ago that somehow remained in my desk = 1 thing. Putting things away doesn’t count, but putting them in the bag to give to Goodwill does.

I don’t like to waste anything and I tried not to throw away something I might realistically use.

I have two staplers on my desk, probably another one in my desk and a fourth one in the closet. The last time I have ever had the need to staple anything was – a really long time ago because I live in the 21st century and I have a computer. Two of those went into the Goodwill bag.

Why not three? Well, I have a job and I’m busy. Here is my one minute rule with getting rid of things – if it takes one minute or less to decide, I do it now. Looking in my desk or the closet for that third and fourth stapler would take time. If my getting rid of things takes me hours each day, it is not sustainable.

Because I wanted to get rid of more things than yesterday (I am so competitive that I am even competitive with myself), I went through the refrigerator and started tossing food that was expired. The Invisible Developer argued that he had read an article saying expiration dates weren’t that valid. I pointed out that whatever the margin of error was, it was probably less than the two years ago this jar of salad dressing expired.

What I have found, two days into it, is that my 100 thing challenge might increase my quality of life.

We have a habit of buying food at the store and then going out to eat, because there are a lot of nice restaurants within walking distance. After we have worked at our desks all day, going out for dinner sounds nice. Since I wanted to throw away more things, I went to the kitchen and ended up eating the rest of a salad from yesterday, an avocado from my friend’s tree and a pear. All were good and the total cost of going out was zero.

I also found things I had forgotten I had. We had several cans of loose tea leaves. I was going to toss them, thinking I didn’t have a tea strainer, but a quick search found one, so now I’m sitting here drinking a nice cup of tea.

How long can I keep throwing away more things each day before we run out? A long time. Remember, things keep coming in. We get shipments of coffee, flash drives, books and God knows what else. We buy groceries, clothes, office supplies.

I don’t know how many things come in here on an average day, but I’m betting it’s less than 50, and since I’m gone at least 1/3 of the days in the average month, sometimes 1/2,  if I can get to getting rid of 100 things a month, I will be making headway.  My theory is that the less stuff there is in my life, the more quickly I will be able to find what I need and the more enjoyment I will get from the things I decide to keep.

I’ll let you know how it goes.


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