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October 15th, 2014:

Minimalism in 90 Days Update – First Days in the Condo

My minimalism project has been in full swing for the past five days since I moved in to my new condo.  When I moved, with the exception of a few pieces of furniture and my bike, all my stuff fit in to 27 banker boxes, a handful of other plastic bins and boxes, three suitcases, and a backpack. I told the movers just to leave them stacked up in what’s supposed to be the dining area of the condo. They said it was the fastest move they’ve ever done.

I’m sticking with the program of only taking things out of boxes as I need them. Living this way reminds me of the scene from Mrs. Doubtfire where Robin Williams’ character is talking about his new apartment: “I was going kind of a refugee motif. You know, ‘fleeing my homeland’ kind of thing.” It was very unsettling at first because following the rules meant I couldn’t make the place feel like a home by unpacking everything. On the flip side, it’s made me think about what makes me feel comfortable in space.

The Boxes in my Condo - 10-15-2014

The Boxes in my Condo – 10-15-2014

I will say that everything takes a bit longer when what you need isn’t in a drawer or on a shelf. My first meal at the condo was soup out of a can. Just to make this simple meal, I had to locate a glass measuring cup, my soup mug, and a spoon. Even with well-labeled boxes, this was a disorienting experience.

Over the last five days, I’m managed to empty four of my banker boxes. There is a notebook that lives on the kitchen counter and I’m diligently recording each item as I unpack and use it. On the first day, the number of things I unpacked filled the front and back side of a page. It included things like my bedding, some towels, Rosie’s (my basset hound’s) bowls, my Swiss Army knife, my coffeepot, my laptop, and my pajamas. On the second day, the things I unpacked only filled one side of a page. For the last three days, I’ve only filled about half a page and it’s mostly items related to food preparation and consumption, clothing, and office supplies.

I’ve also done a bit of shopping for the condo – mostly cleaning supplies and food storage items like ziploc bags and tin foil and food. I’m not limiting any of my activities in an attempt to limit the number of items I use. It is surprising how little I need to be comfortable and to start to feel settled.

To be nice to myself this week, I laid out clothes on top of my dresser that I know I’ll need this week – 5 pairs of underwear and 4 sets of workout clothes. I get up early in the morning and it seemed like a form of torture to make myself fumble around when I’m half-awake to get dressed.

I also created a rule that if I unpack something that is part of a set, I have the option to unpack the whole set. So if I need salt, I can unpack my salt and pepper. If I want to watch one of my Star Trek: Deep Space Nine DVDs, I can put the whole box set on the shelf.

For now, I’ve purchased all the furniture I expect to get for a while, but I might get a few more pieces during this process. If I do, it will be about creating a comfortable functional home, not about keeping up with the Joneses or getting things just to fill the space. I’m loving having so much open space to move about.