We've reached the end of the 2010 Get Rid of 50 Things Challenge, and I'm truly impressed: many of you not only stepped up to the Challenge but went above and beyond, letting go of more than 50 things over the past 5 weeks. Congratulations! As we wrap up the Challenge, I want to share with you some of the things that went (it's an impressive list), as well as some of the lessons learned by Challenge participants--all of which you can use to keep up your own decluttering efforts year-round.
This is always my favorite part of the Challenge: the big reveal. I've loved reading the lists of stuff people parted with during this event. Here are some of the highlights:
- An old mattress and box spring
- Books, books, and more books (one participant, who re-sells books on Amazon, managed to part with and ship out 75 of them in one week alone)
- 11 jigsaw puzzles
- Unwanted holiday decorations
- Several old electronics, including several printers and outdated PDAs
- Various pieces of furniture and decorative items, including desks; a wicker chair, end table, and basket set; and a smattering of lamps
- Paper. Wow, did you all go to town on the paper, from old greeting cards and notes to magazines to old bills to unneeded reference info.
- A waffle iron, kitchen tools that were too bulky, a cast iron skillet, and an array of dishes, glasses, and other kitchenware
- Supplies for craft projects that never happened
- Clothes, shoes, ties, bathing suits, belts, and luggage
- An unwanted 6-pack of beer and a bottle of soju
- Bunches of cd's, cassettes, and VHS tapes
- A volunteer role (treasurer of a foundation) that had run its course
The Challenge participants who successfully met (or exceeded) the 50 things target used a few different techniques and tactics to clear things out. Here are a few of them:
- Make it a joint effort. My brother and sister-in-law took the Challenge together to engage in a bit of friendly competition, and to keep each other motivated.
- Take advantage of surprise opportunities. When she discovered that some necessary repair work in her basement couldn't happen until she cleared out some of the stuff that was there, Paula Naylor took the opportunity to do a big chunk of weeding.
- Let a scheduled event spur you to action. Reader Kathy Bold decided that an upcoming rummage sale at her church would be the beneficiary of many of the items she parted with during the Challenge. She kept the sale in mind as she went through her house--and wound up finding more than 30 things to donate.
- Make it a mini-business. Shawn Murphy, the seller of many books mentioned above, knew there was money to be made in weeding out and selling some of her unwanted tomes. Janet Critchley sold some high quality (but unwanted) kitchen items on Craigslist, cashing in on their value while clearing space in her kitchen.
- Use some tough love. Even though I do quite a bit of weeding throughout the year, there are definitely things I've been holding on to for flimsy reasons. Those bathing suits I've had since I was 26: they still fit, but was that reason enough to keep them? The wrist braces I used when I had carpal tunnel syndrome (12 years ago!): could I really anticipate a time when I'd need them again? By asking myself the kinds of questions I ask my clients, I was able to see that it was time to let go of these things (and others like them), and that what's worth keeping is the stuff that's useful, meaningful, and enjoyable to me in my life as I'm living it now.
And the Winner Is...
Challenge participants who sent me their lists of what they'd gotten rid of were entered into drawing for a free copy of Organizing Your Home or one of my e-books. The winner: Kathy Bold. Congratulations, Kathy, and kudos on your success during the Challenge!
Here's hoping the 2010 50 Things Challenge has inspired you to clear the clutter, focus on what's truly important, and start living a richer, more organized life.