Did you ever try to get rid of all the stuff that is piling up in your apartment? Stuff you have never used for anything, but you once thought might be worth keeping because you might need it someday (a day that never came and is most likely to never come)?
I have just finished my so-called “Month of Decluttering” and got rid of 496 of my personal belongings in just 31 days. Yes, 496! And I feel really good about it – despite being a woman who likes to have a closet full of clothes and plenty of knick-knacks that add a personal and cozy touch to the atmosphere of my apartment.
At any rate, let us start from the get-go. It all began when I participated in a “Success Factor Happiness” workshop, offered by one of our professors, Dr. Christian Schmidkonz. There is an elective with the same name in our Master International Business study program, and the students really like it. Thus, our university management figured it could be interesting for MBS staffers as well, and it definitely was.
A significant part of the workshop was dedicated to the topic of mindfulness, i. e., the ability to attach awareness to what we do, how we do things, and how we experience our own feelings and thoughts. In this context, concepts such as minimalism came up, i. e., to focus on a handful, but relevant things, things that make you happy!
A 31-Day Journey Towards Minimalism
During the workshop, I got intrigued by an exercise called the “Month of Decluttering”, a challenging approach to mindfulness that encourages you to become more minimalistic by disposing of or giving away stuff each day for one complete month: one piece on day one, two pieces on day two, and so on – increasing exponentially until day 31, at which 31 pieces have to be decluttered at once. In the end, it all sums up to a quite impressive amount of 496 pieces.
I decided to give it a try and to combine business with pleasure, or rather, mindfulness. Initially, I did not have any expectations, but it sounded like fun.
On the first day, it was pretty easy, as anticipated: that old bathrobe, full of holes, was meant to be thrown away for years anyway. Great start, check!
The following days, I got caught in a clearing spree, constantly scanning my room for the next belongings to be decluttered. I even managed to prepare the piles for the next couple of days in advance.
That did not last long, though, as already during the second week, things started to get more complicated. I had to sort out my clothes; I initially thought I could stay away from my wardrobe, but well… When I opened the sock drawer, I became aware for the first time that I owned about 40 pairs of socks. 40 pairs of shoes, OK, you need that. But 40 pairs of socks? Who needs that many anyway?
The closer the final days of my “Month of Decluttering” came, the harder it turned out to identify unneeded items, and the longer it took me to do it. I had to look over my room multiple times before I was able to find at least one item to get rid of. When I finally succeeded, I still had to find several more items to reach my goal for the day.
The good thing was that now I really had to make myself aware of what stuff I might really need, and what I could get rid of. It is kind of a pressure situation, but interestingly a very pleasant one. Once, when I went on a business trip for three days, I even canceled some private appointments upon my return in order to catch up on my decluttering duties!
However, in the end, I made it, and I must say that it was well worth it!
My Very Own “Month of Decluttering” Learnings
Now, one week after the successful completion of my personal “Month of Decluttering”, it is about time to draw some conclusions and provide my very own learnings:
- First of all, I do not miss a single item that I do not own anymore.
- If I had tried to declutter my apartment the usual way (yet again), I would have never sorted out that many items. Not even close!
- Friends who used to ridicule me for “owning lots of BS” were now the ones who approached me saying things like, “That looks very usable to me. Are you sure you do not want to keep this? Can I have it?”
- From now on, every time I purchase a new item, I will get rid of one item (one in and one out).
- To my housemates: I am sorry for getting rid of some of our shared belongings. I had to successfully finish my month of decluttering at all costs; and I am sure we will never need 20 sets of silverware…
- Lastly, I will promote the “Month of Decluttering” exercise, and encourage people to follow suit. It was a great experience that you should not miss either!
If you are interested in topics such as happiness, mindfulness, and well-being – which you should! – you might give the following blog articles a read: