Minimalist Life Hacks: Donation Sundays

In my quest to own less 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+.

Wardrobe Life Hack: To the Left, To the Left

In my conquest to own less things, I’ve been developing some life hacks to whittle down my possessions or to not acquire new ones.

One of my favorite wardrobe life hacks has been smartly dubbed “To the Left, To the Left” by my good friend Mary Gwen, and it helps me decide which articles of clothing are worth keeping or if I’m able to give them away. It works like this:

  1. Hang all shirts, pants, coats, hoodies, and sweatshirts in a closet.
  2. Go about my normal life wearing clothing items from the closet.
  3. When finished with my day, I hang each used item on the far left-most hanger.
  4. Over the course of several months, my most used clothing gravitates to the left and my less important items filter toward the right.

With this hack, I can see at a glance which items are truly worth keeping and which are not. This has made my decisions on Donation Sundays much easier.

I hope this inspires you to try this wardrobe hack yourself. Do you have any hacks of your own? Hit me up on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ to share your own ideas or questions.

The Minimalist Gift of New Memories

Last year I decided to take a break from organizing our summer camp’s annual work weekend. I’ve been dreaming of a way to show my parents how much I love them, and I finally had an idea that sounded really exciting. (But the idea conflicted with those dates.)

Wielding my personal flexibility and low cost of living as advantages, I strategized on how I could gift dedicated time with each parent. And thanks to my “game” of minimalism, I didn’t want to just give physical objects that would need to be stored, maintained, moved, and depreciated. They should be true minimalist gifts, lightweight, and not easily destroyed.

And then I realized what would mean the most to my parents: new memories.

It’s been over ten years since I lived at my parents’ home in Columbus, so some of my childhood memories are fading, and I knew it was time to create new ones. Great ones.

My mom and dad were each given five envelopes to be opened one at a time. A card within each envelope revealed a special destination around the world. After careful thought, my mom and dad could each select one of the five for a one-on-one vacation with me, flights covered.

And boy was I thinking big.

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Dad’s Five Destinations:

  • China
  • Germany
  • New Zealand
  • Scotland
  • South Africa

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Mom’s Five Destinations:

  • France
  • Greece
  • Ireland
  • Japan
  • Peru

Some of my friends have had tough experiences with their parents, and I understand that not everyone has had the greatest upbringings. I feel incredibly blessed to have two loving parents that are still highly mobile, joyful, and ready for adventure. And I don’t think a simple vacation is enough to repay them for how much lavish attention and support I’ve received over my lifetime.

Let me know what you think via Twitter, Facebook, or Google+.

My Ongoing Process of Becoming a Minimalist

Over the past year or so I’ve been on a journey to reduce my quantity of possessions and to live with a minimal amount of physical objects. I think I would agree with most people who think being a minimalist is very strange behavior, but with great support from close friends and family, I started ridding my life of extra stuff with the goal of being unbridled, lightweight, and free.

I started by using an old brown bag from a clothing retailer and doing an initial scrape of shirts, pants, shorts, belts, and shoes that no longer fit me. I used a principle that I learned while watching What Not to Wear on a sick day at home: own clothes that fit you now and not for what you want to become. With this first bag of stuff, I ran over to Goodwill and donated them. It felt really good to give some breathing room to my closet and to know that others would benefit from my perfectly fine clothing.

Fast forward to today, and I’m much further than when I began, but I’m nowhere near my final quantity of 150 things.

Instead of creating goals for the year, I’d like to operate from a core set of pillars and have goals eminate from each of them. For example, one of my pillars is going to be generosity, which along with the pillar of flexibility aligns very nicely to my movement of becoming a minimalist.

One of the tactics I’ll be starting this weekend is the Donation Sunday approach as proposed by Danny Dover in his blog post and video called “How to Become a Minimalist”. (Fast forward to the 4:16 mark for more information on Donation Sundays.) Danny has been an inspiration for me because of his authenticity, transparency, and optimism. He’s given me a lot of great ideas!

As a Christian, I believe my time will be better spent in ministry, fellowship, prayer, meditation, and learning, rather than in ownership, maintenance, or acquisition. It’s a journey—and let’s be honest—somewhat of a game. But I think it’s a fun challenge that has a positive benefit, too!

Let me know what you think via Twitter or Facebook.

Giving Away DVDs and Blu-Rays

Stacks of DVDs and Blu-raysI’m involved in an ongoing quest to reduce the amount of things that I own. After first tackling board games, I’ve now moved on to movies and TV shows—be they DVD or Blu-ray in nature.

If you’re local (within a short drive of Southwest Michigan), then you can claim up to five movies or TV shows from this list by Tweeting, texting, or emailing me.

DVD Movies and TV Shows

Blu-Ray Movies and TV Shows

Giving Away Free Board Games

Do you like to play games? Me, too.

In my effort to reduce possessions, I’d like to give away these board games to anyone located close to Southwest Michigan. If you want one, just shoot me a Tweet, text, or email.

Risk [Claimed]

Risk Revised Edition 2008

I have two versions of this iconic game to give away: Risk (Revised Edition) and Risk (Vintage Wood Book Edition).

I have spent many a late night with good friends playing Risk. It’s classic and very well known by all levels of gamers. I’ve decided to get rid of these versions because pretty much everyone has a copy, and my group of friends has mostly moved to other games like Settlers of Catan, Dominion, 7 Wonders, and others.

Killer Bunnies [Claimed]

Killer Bunnies and the Quest for the Magic Carrt

This is a ridiculous game. Killer Bunnies and the Quest for the Magic Carrot is a chaotic card-based negotiation game that would be most fun to play with creative people.

I also have an unopened expansion pack called Killer Bunnies Red Booster Deck.

Apples to Apples: Party Box [Claimed]

Apples to Apples Party Box

Good for large groups, you mostly win Apples to Apples by guessing how someone else will perceive the connection between an adjective and noun. (That sounded really boring. I promise that it’s not.)

This version is really big and comes with cards from the core game plus two expansion sets. Kids love this and find it really funny—it’s a great family game!

Clue (Vintage Wood Book Edition) [Claimed]

Clue (Vintage Wood Book Edition)

Clue is a classic whodunnit game is a race to accuse someone of murder with a weapon. If you’re leaning toward the Risk Vintage Wood Book Edition above, then you’ll love this one, too. They go well together on a bookshelf.

Snorta! [Claimed]

Snorta!

I’m not sure this is a good game for a twentysomething adult to play with friends (unless there are some adult beverages involved). Snorta! uses small plastic figures to help children mimic barnyard animal sounds. Would be really great for small kids, for sure.

Interested in any of these board games? Hit me up on Twitter, text, or email—first come, first serve.