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Everything that Remains

Minimalism in 90 Days Update from Week 10.5 – Finished the Packing Party!

End of the Packing Party: Boxes for Charity, December 21, 2014

End of the Packing Party: Boxes for Charity, December 21, 2014

Put a fork in me. I’m done! My packing party is over.

In the last 72 days, I moved to a new condo and left all my things in boxes and suitcases until I needed them. During the last month, I went through each box and bag and decided what remaining things would “survive” and what would be donated to charity. I finished the last box this morning.

Last week I had three boxes and a few clothing items in my suitcase to go. Many of the books survived because they are resources I’ll use at work, like my Blue Book for legal citations but most of them are in a box with a 1-year limit to read and/or donate them to charity. All of my remaining clothing items survived, mainly because they’re professional clothes and I’m joining a law firm next year. Besides, I do a systematic annual closet clean-out which will show me what I am and am not wearing.

There is a stack of 9 boxes and a few other items that will donated to charity. I had 9 boxes of things to give away after I did my big minimalism project in 2013 and got rid of a bunch of stuff before I moved. This process really showed me how much stuff I don’t use and what types of things I keep around “just in case.” I need very little to be comfortable. And having an uncluttered home helps me feel calm and focused on what matters.

So what’s next?

  • The humane society will be picking up the charity boxes to sell my stuff at their thrift store.
  • I’m moving into my new office in January so the baby gate, office dog bed, office boxes, and many of my framed wall hangings (i.e., diplomas) will be going there.
  • I ordered an oversized reading chair for my home office and a dining set. They’ll be delivered after the holiday. I’m still considering getting a swivel chair to put next to the couch, but I want to see how the condo feels once the boxes are gone and the furniture arrives first.
  • I want to hire my handy man to install a big 4’x6’ white board in my home office and a wall or ceiling-mounted bike rack to get my bike more out of the way.

Like I said last week, minimalism is an ongoing to process of putting my time, energy, and money into things that add value to my life and clearing out the things that don’t. I’m excited to see how I feel and if anything shifts once all the boxes are gone and the furniture has been delivered.

Here’s how the place looks now. I’ll shoot another video after the next furniture delivery.

Thank you to Ryan Nicodemus of The Minimalists for inspiring me to do my own packing party. I enjoyed reading about your journey in Joshua Field Millburn’s book, Everything That Remains. I look forward to seeing the documentary about minimalism and your book tour.

Other updates from the Minimalism in 90 Days project:
What was Unpacked During Week 1
What was Unpacked During Week 2
What was Unpacked During Week 3
What was Unpacked During Week 4
What was Unpacked During Week 5
What was Unpacked During Week 6
Minimalism in 90 Days Update from Week 7
Minimalism in 90 Days Update from Week 8
Minimalism in 90 Days Update from Week 9

Minimalism in 90 Days Update from Week 7

I'll be going through these boxes by the end of the month.

I’ll be going through these boxes by the end of the month.

I am just over 7 weeks into my variation of Ryan Nicodemus’(of The Minimalists) “packing party.” I still have my notebook where I track what I unpack and get rid of each day, but at this point it seems almost redundant to post the day-by-day list of what I’m using, unpacking, and donating to charity. If you’re really interested in seeing the daily lists, let me know.

I finally went a day where I didn’t unpack anything because I needed it. However, I’m unpacking things if I know they’re going to survive the final cleanout and adding them to the charity pile the moment I know that an item is not going to survive, so even on that day where I didn’t “unpack” anything, items still came out of the boxes. But in case you are wondering, that fateful day was Day 49.

I’m beginning to wonder if I’m using this minimalism project as a way to avoid fully settling into my condo. So I’m using this month to do the final cleanout. I’m trying to go through a box a day and at least unpack the things that I know for sure are going to survive the final cleanout. If I find an item that I’ve forgotten that I had, that’s a pretty good indicator that that item can be added to the charity pile. If it wasn’t important enough to remember, it’s probably not important enough to keep. Also, as soon as my brain has placed an item in a particular place in my condo, I try to unpack it, even if it’s an item that someone might consider frivolous like a flower vase or a stuffed animal.

Charity boxes 12-2-2014

Four full boxes going to charity! More to be added I’m sure.

My goal by the end of this month is to have all the minimalism boxes out of the condo and to have at least ordered the final pieces of furniture that I want, which include a dining set, armchairs for the living room and office, a white board for my office, and a floor lamp for my office. I might end up with more furniture than what other minimalists might have, and I’m OK with that. Minimalism isn’t about having less than what others have, and using it like a badge of honor. It’s about having things in my life that give me value without having the things that don’t. For me, it’s important to have a home that is cozy, inviting, and comfortable so I’m diligent about selecting furniture and fabrics that are comforting.

I’ll keep shooting videos of this project, and I might start doing some where I open the remaining minimalism boxes and to talk about what will survive the final cleanout, what definitely won’t survive, and to talk about the uncertainty I have about whether I should or shouldn’t keep an item. One thing I know that has been handy in the past is Joshua Fields Millburn’s 20/20 rule which he talks about in his book Everything That Remains. His suggestion is that it shouldn’t be a big deal to get rid of something if it takes less than 20 minutes and less than $20 to replace.

I’m looking forward to having this portion of my minimalism project complete and sharing the journey with you.

Other updates from the Minimalism in 90 Days project:
What was Unpacked During Week 1
What was Unpacked During Week 2
What was Unpacked During Week 3
What was Unpacked During Week 4
What was Unpacked During Week 5
What was Unpacked During Week 6

Minimalism in 90 Days Update – What Got Unpacked During Week 3

The Minimalism Pile at the End of Week 3

The Minimalism Pile at the End of Week 3

Rosie and I have been in the condo long enough that we’re starting establish day-to-day patterns so most of what we need is already unpacked – and yet there are still 21 banker boxes and other boxes and bags that I haven’t unpacked. Now I know some of these things will be unpacked – like the rest of my dishes. My dish set only came with 8 plates (4 big, 4 medium). Keeping all of these is not excessive. As the weather gets colder I’m going to unpack my warmer sheets, blankets, and my crock pot.

I have yet to go a day without packing something, but the number of things I unpack each day has dropped significantly.

I’ve started adding some commentary to this what-I-unpacked-list, not because I need to justify why I kept what I kept, but to share why certain things are valuable.

Day 15

Day 16

  • Hair dye shirt (the t-shirt I wear when I dye my hair and do messy projects), hair dye, small bottle for extra developer (as a short-haired person, I get 2 dye jobs out of each box)
  • Towel set (I told myself I can keep both sets of towels I own)
  • T-shirt, shorts, Crocs (makes it easier to work at my standing desk)
  • Vacuum
  • DVD
  • Rosie’s nail clippers
  • Everything That Remains book (love this book and I wanted to remember when Ryan Nicodemus had his first day without unpacking something – Day 10 for him)
  • Family calendar (yes, my family creates a calendar every year with photos from the previous year) and a tack to hang it up
  • Ibuprofen

Day 17

  • Mixing bowls (I used the small bowl to make tuna salad so the whole set got unpacked)
  • Plunger

Day 18

  • T-shirt and sweater
  • Lint roller
  • Floss

Day 19

  • Hair trimming scissors (my bangs were getting too long)
  • Pants, dress socks, dress shirt, neck tie, and boots
  • Law books (I had a TV interview at my home about the law and Airbnb so I put them out to give my office more of a lawyerish look, including copies of my books)
  • Jason Surfrapp’s Creativity for Sale (I got out my extra copy to send to a friend)

Day 20

  • Dress
  • Fork
  • DVD

Day 21

  • T-shirt (I could have gone without unpacking anything if it wasn’t Halloween and I didn’t want to wear my Coroner shirt to work)

I wouldn’t be surprised if I go a day without packing something next week.

With the number of things I unpacked this week, I was able to decrease the number of boxes in the “minimalism pile” but there’s a lot of stuff left. It makes me wonder if I should make a pass through them and start clearing out some things before the end of the year.

In this video I make my standard pass through the condo but I gave you preview of what I expect to add in the next six months. Please tell me what you think of my ideas!

Other updates from the Minimalism in 90 Days project:
What was Unpacked During Week 1
What was Unpacked During Week 2

Minimalism in 90 Days Update – What I Unpacked During Week 2

Minimalism Boxes - October 26, 2014

Minimalism Boxes – October 26, 2014

I’m a little over two weeks into my new minimalism project where I only unpack what I need as I need it – inspired by the “packing party” Ryan Nicodemus of The Minimalists did. His process lasted 21 days. I’m giving myself three months for mine.

I looked up Ryan’s packing party story in Everything That Remains and noted that his first day when he didn’t have to unpack anything was Day 10. I’m still unpacking things every day, but the number of things I need is dropping – still mostly clothes, kitchware, and now that I have a TV, DVDs.

I realized that before when I needed something, I would look at everything I have and make a decision. Now that most of my stuff is still in boxes, when I need something – like deciding what I’m going to wear that day, I envision how I want to look and feel that day and decide accordingly. I don’t rely on the visual stimulation of looking at my stuff to inspire me but try to tap into what I really want instead.

One of the challenges I face on a daily basis is paper. No matter how much I minimize my life, I will always have to deal with paper in form of mail, business cards from networking events, receipts, etc. I’m toying with the idea of letting it pile up and deal with it once a week instead of daily.  That might be a more effective use of my time. Given that “freedom” is something I value greatly, conserving my time for things that matter to me is important.

For those who are interested, here’s what I unpacked during Week 2.

My T-shirt Drawer - October 26, 2014

My T-shirt Drawer – October 26, 2014

Day 8

  • Spoon
  • Sundress and cardigan
  • DVD
  • Highlighter
  • Coupons and store club cards
  • Laundry soap, dust cloth, duster, dryer sheets, and dishwasher soap

Day 9

  • Contact lenses, contact solution, lotion, and marker
  • Eyeglasses case
  • Bike pump
  • T-shirt and socks
  • Big soup pot, food storage containers, measuring spoons, medium pot, chopper, cooking spoon, colander, and onion goggles
  • 2 DVDs

Day 10

  • 2 T-shirts, tank top, bra, and cardigan
  • Salad container and measuring cup

Day 11

  • Tank top
  • Lids for food storage containers and mug
  • Extra razor blades and 2 types of mouthwash
  • Vase I use for spare change

Day 12

  • Skirt, blouse, and Mary Jane heels
  • Remote mouse aka “clicker”
  • Makeup brushes, eyelash curler, compact, powder, and nose hair trimmer
  • Crochet project

Day 13

  • Reflective belt for early morning running, t-shirt, underwear, Legal Rebel Converse high tops, and blazer
  • Extra business cards
  • Measuring cups

Day 14

  • T-shirt
  • Home inspection binder
  • Q-tips and tampons
  • Small pot, wooden spoon, and new knives

I wouldn’t be surprised if my first day where I don’t unpack anything comes within the next week. I think I’ll need about a month to get through the majority of the activities I do on a regular basis and then it will be easier to start going through my boxes and get rid of things on a more frequent basis.

In case you missed it: What I Unpacked During Week 1

I Minimized My Star Trek Collection

It took over a year to fully go through with it, but I finally minimized my Star Trek collection.  I’ve been a Star Trek fan since I saw my first episode of The Next Generation in 1992. Throughout high school and college I bought a ton of Star Trek memorabilia. I got so much Trek stuff from the Star Trek online store and eBay. One of my goals was to get an autographed 8×10 from every regular cast member.

And then I became a minimalist, or at least an aspiring one.

Part of my Star Trek collection - I only own 1 of the items now.

Part of my Star Trek collection – I only own 1 of these items now.

As I started my minimalism project last year, I realized that most of my Star Trek collection was collecting dust, sitting on shelves, or worse, sitting in boxes where I didn’t even see it.  I slowly started getting rid of my Star Trek collection, but I didn’t want it to go to a thrift store. It was important to me that these items would end up in the hands of fans who will enjoy them as much as I did. I also didn’t want to put a ton of energy into getting rid of my collection, which would have been required had I put each item up on eBay.

My Star Trek Pez dispenser set and Uno game went to a local charity auction and were sold – hopefully to a fan. But the rest of the items I was thinking of parting with just sat for about a year. It just wasn’t a priority to find a local shop that buys sci-fi memorabilia and I wasn’t sure if I was going to get rid of my Star Trek autograph collection. I wasn’t a fan who put their autographs on the wall – at least I haven’t for years. They were in protective sleeves in a binder where I almost never looked at them.

Reading Everything That Remains by The Minimalists reminded me that my autograph collection does not add any value to my life sitting in a binder on a shelf. So a few weeks ago, in a fit of minimalist motivation, I got rid of most of my collection at the Collectors Marketplace. They took my Star Trek autograph collection, Klingon dagger, Star Trek mini lunch box, assorted pins, my Captain’s uniform that is too big for me, my Star Trek Encyclopedia, and a few other things. Why did I even have the Star Trek Encyclopedia? I am a walking Star Trek encyclopedia!

Some of my Favorite Photos in my Star Trek Autograph Collection - that I Don't Own Anymore

Some of my Favorite Photos in my Star Trek Autograph Collection – that I Don’t Own Anymore

The shop got a smoking deal on my collection. I didn’t put that much effort into the negotiation because I cared more about getting rid of this stuff than the price. When I told the shopkeeper that I was becoming a minimalist, he told me not to say that too loudly in the store because “We want people to be hoarders.” When he asked me if I’m still a Star Trek fan, and I told him I still love Star Trek, but I don’t need all this stuff to tell me that I love it. More stuff does not equal more love.

Will I ever by Star Trek gear again? Probably. But I will be very selective about it and get things that are high quality and do something to improve my life. This is the first time in a long time that I don’t have a Starfleet uniform in my closet (yes, it’s a uniform, not a costume) so I can foresee myself getting a high-end uniform someday.