Minimalist Life Hacks: Donation Sundays

In my quest to own fewer things, I stole borrowed one of Danny Dover’s minimalist life hacks called “Donation Sundays.” (What can I say? It was a great idea.)

Since December 2013, I’ve reduced my possessions by five things every Sunday. Over the course of 55 weeks, this amounts to 275 things!

Donation Sundays Step-by-Step Guide

Here’s how you can try it for yourself:

  1. Set up a recurring to-do item in your task manager of choice to repeat every week. I use OmniFocus and love it. It should say something like “reduce possessions by five items.”
  2. Find a donation box that will temporarily hold your discarded stuff.
  3. Before you go to bed on Sunday night, find five things you no longer need and put them in the donation box.
  4. Rinse and repeat each week.
  5. Every couple of weeks, take your donation box (or boxes) to the Salvation Army or local Goodwill.

Donation Sundays Tips and Tricks

It has been pretty tough to keep it up for so long. Toward the latter half of the year, I started facing some difficult decisions—do I get rid of family heirlooms? My favorite books? Entire video game systems?

Through it all, I discovered some tricks to keep me motivated. If you’re thinking about paring down your belongings through Donation Sundays, then maybe these will help you, too.

  • Start with books, DVDs, and CDs. I found them easier to give away than most other things. They can be easily repurchased in digital formats if you truly want them, and it enabled me to get a head start and build some momentum at the beginning of the year.
  • Don’t worry if you get a week or two behind. That can easily happen if you go on a trip or get lazy. Just find ten things (instead of five) the following week to catch back up.
  • Don’t take conference swag. It’s relatively worthless and only serves to embed brand names in your brain and on your desk. (Although I have to admit that most MozCon swag is pretty great and tough to resist.)
  • At birthdays and holidays, ask for gifts of experiences, services, subscriptions, or time with friends or family. These will give you memories which are lightweight and easily transported. Need some ideas? Check out SoKind Registry’s gift ideas for meaningful alternatives to toys, clothing, and gadgets.
  • The bonus for donating your stuff in the United States (and probably elsewhere): itemizing charitable contributions can help get you an income tax deduction.
  • Periodically ask friends and family whether they want to rummage through your donation box. New parents especially love snagging toys, books, and board games.
  • When your possessions are reduced to the point of tough choices, ask yourself whether the thing will be useful, bring you joy, or have some sort of inordinate value? My general rule of thumb: if the thing hasn’t been used in over a year, it may not be all that useful to keep.
  • Tell someone what you’re doing. It’s way more difficult to quit if someone knows about your goal and occasionally asks about it. I decided to publicly blog about it—you might try that yourself.

I hope you find some ways to reduce your stuff. Life becomes lightweight when you get rid of things.

What do you think? Do you have any minimalist life hacks that work well for you? Let me know on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+.