INSIDE: In a bid to kickstart my journey towards a more minimalist life, last month I took part in a 30-day minimalism challenge. In this post, I’m sharing what I learned during my 30 days of minimalism and how a challenge like this can help you create a life you love too! Keep reading to find out more!
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A year of 30-day challenges…
So, this year on the blog, I decided to do something a little different. Wanting to be more intentional about how I spend my time and live my life, I decided to set myself the challenge of completing a different 30-day challenge each month. Twelve different challenges that would help me to be more present, have more fun, clear the clutter and find more room for the things I love most.
Want to know which 30-day challenges I’m doing?
Be sure to check out the blog! At the beginning of each month, I’ll be revealing the challenge for that month and which mini-challenge I’m excited about most. And then, at the end of the month, I’ll be sharing how the challenge went and what I learned – which is exactly what this post is all about!
Want to join in on the fun?
Like the sound of 30-day challenges helping you to lead a more intentional life? I’d LOVE for you to join in on the fun! Simply head on over to the A Simple and Contented Life Facebook group and join everyone else taking part so that we can cheer you on too!
The 30-day minimalism challenge…
So, what did I pick for January’s 30-day challenge and the first challenge in my year of 30-day challenges? I decided to go for a 30-day minimalism challenge!
Because I thought not only would a minimalism challenge give me the kickstart I needed to start me on my journey towards leading a life more intentional, I thought it would be a great way to start the new year too…kind of like a clean slate!
Now I have to confess that the minimalism challenge I did was not my own creation…so I cannot in any way take credit for its inception. That goes entirely to The Culture Trip. Not knowing what I needed to include in a minimalism challenge, I went searching on Pinterest for some inspiration and came across The Culture Trip’s challenge. I really liked the look of it, so I thought I would give it a go!
So how did I get on?
Was my 30 days of minimalism challenge successful and what did it teach me? Keep reading because all is about to be revealed!
What is a minimalist lifestyle?
Before we dive in, just in case you’re not already aware, I thought I’d share what minimalism is and what it means to lead a minimalist lifestyle. For Joshua Becker, the founder of Becoming Minimalist it’s about owning fewer possessions. He says:
“Minimalism is intentionally living with only the things I really need – those items that support my purpose. I am removing the distraction of excess possessions so that I can focus more on those things that matter most.”
And I can totally relate.
For me, leading a more minimalist lifestyle means becoming more intentional about what I own. It’s about placing value on my experiences and accomplishments and the ones I love instead of my possessions and a need to keep up with the Jones’.
Minimalism is about living with less but living more fully. It’s about choosing to have an uncluttered mind and home so that we’re able to give our time and energy to the things that truly matter. And that’s why I thought a 30-day minimalism challenge would be perfect for the first of my year of 30-day challenges.
What are the benefits of minimalism?
When you adopt the lifestyle of a minimalist you end up owning less but gain so much more. Here are ten benefits minimalism from No Sidebar:
- Clarity of mind
- Better health
- More freedom
- Less stress
- More time
- Greater self-confidence
- Greater purpose
- More money
- Better relationships
- A lifetime of memories
Read more about the ten benefits of minimalism in No Sidebar’s article here. And if you’re intrigued by the concept of minimalism and want to know more, check out this post by Courtney from Be More With Less.
Onto the 30-day minimalism challenge…
What is a minimalism challenge and how does it work?
The idea is that for a set number of days (in this case, 30), you do one small thing every day (a mini-challenge) to help you take another step closer towards adopting a minimalist lifestyle.
Some minimalist challenges focus entirely on decluttering your home. Which is fine. But for my 30-day minimalism challenge, I wanted to do more than that. I didn’t want to just purge my home of belongings I no longer wanted, needed or used. I also wanted to declutter my mind, relationships, to-do list and priorities.
And so, that’s why I decided to go with the minimalism challenge from The Culture Trip over the many others I came across. When I saw the mini-challenges they were setting, I got excited and instantly knew that was the minimalism challenge I needed to do!
But why 30 days?
Because 30 days is the Goldilocks of timeframes. Long enough to get you started and see worthwhile results, it’s not so long that you get bored and give up. Just like that last bowl of porridge, 30 days is just right. PLUS, because some months have 31 days, you occasionally get a day off too!
So often, we resist making a change or diving into something new because it seems overwhelming and we don’t know where to start. But with a 30-day challenge, you know what you’re getting into and there’s a clear end in sight.
You know that come the end of the month, you’ll have results you can be proud of. You probably won’t have achieved everything you wanted to achieve but you’ll have made good headway. With small wins each day, you’ll feel accomplished and that sense of achievement will spur you on to keep going.
So, what challenges were in my minimalism challenge?
What did this 30-day minimalism challenge include? Here’s what the mini-challenges were for each day and how I got on.
SIDENOTE: Before I reveal them, I should probably confess that I didn’t start the challenge until a few days into January. So for the first nine or ten challenges, I actually batched them together and did them over a couple of days!
Okay, with that confession out of the way, here’s what I got up to!
MINIMALISM CHALLENGE #1: Purge your wardrobe
I don’t know if it’s the same for you but I’ve noticed that whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed and finding it hard to think, my wardrobe is always a mess too! Giving it a good clean out was incredibly satisfying. And whilst doing it, I also took the opportunity to do a Marie Kondo and get rid of a few things that no longer brought me joy.
MINIMALISM CHALLENGE #2: Clean your handbag
I have several handbags that I use – one for every day, one for when I’m working that holds all my files and one for days out where I just need my purse, phone and keys. I tend to swap things from bag to bag so none of them really needing decluttering that much. It did prompt me to donate a couple of handbags I no longer needed or wanted though!
MINIMALISM CHALLENGE #3: Toss out old socks
Okay, I was amazed (and slightly ashamed!) by the number of socks I had that either had holes in the toes or were wearing thin underneath. I have a slight obsession with socks and love buying new pairs but hadn’t realised I was hanging onto so many that should really have been ditched a long time ago. I might have liked them but it was definitely time to throw them out!
My sock drawer is a lot clearer now. Not only can I now see what I’ve got but I’ve promised myself that from now on, I’ll bin the ones that need binning – no matter how much I like them. We’ll see how long that lasts!
MINIMALISM CHALLENGE #4: Get rid of digital devices
Our garage has a whole box FULL of old digital devices, cables and leads. I have absolutely no idea what goes with what – or what to do with any of it. And so, when I saw this particular mini-challenge, I knew it was one I was going to need my husband’s help with! Knowing that ‘declutter your storage’ was the challenge for challenge#22, I cheekily decided to save this mini minimalism challenge for then too!
MINIMALISM CHALLENGE #5: Empty your wallet
I don’t know about you, but my purse is always crammed with receipts and scraps of paper I don’t need. I have way too many discount cards for my favourite stores too. And so, this minimalism challenge was a great excuse to have a purge and get rid of all the ones I didn’t really need.
Oh, Harrison especially liked this challenge too – I gave him my spare change to put in his piggy bank!
MINIMALISM CHALLENGE #6: Write down your best friend’s qualities
For this minimalism challenge, I chose to write down the qualities of my dear friend Chelsey. A rare and precious gem, Chelsey has an absolute heart of gold. Always putting everyone else’s needs before her own, she goes out of her way to make sure those around her feel loved and special. An amazing mum who’s totally selfless, she doesn’t give herself anywhere near enough credit for the wonderful job she’s doing.
Writing down Chelsey’s qualities made me realise just how much her friendship means to me. I count myself both honoured and lucky to be able to call her my friend and have her in my life. It made me realise that I need to tell her so more often too.
MINIMALISM CHALLENGE #7: Write down your best qualities
Hmmm, this minimalism challenge wasn’t quite so easy! Writing down my best friend’s qualities was one thing. Writing down my own was another! I’m incredibly critical of myself and far better at picking holes in what I’m not so good at than I am at giving myself credit where credit is due.
And so, to complete this mini-challenge, I tried to think about what both my closest friends and my husband would say my best qualities are. I came up with loyal, devoted, organised, caring and a cheeky sense of humour.
MINIMALISM CHALLENGE #8: Journal for 20 minutes
Journaling is by far one of my most favourite self-care activities so I was pleased to see it on the list. I used the time to reflect on how my year has been so far and what I want from 2020. I ended up journaling for about 45 minutes in the end but didn’t mind in the least. Especially as I was sitting in my favourite Starbucks with a coffee!
MINIMALISM CHALLENGE #9: Donate old books
We’re in the process of decluttering our things in preparation for moving to a new house in the spring. So, this minimalism challenge was a welcome excuse to start decluttering my books. Books are a huge weakness of mine. I have way too many – given half a chance, I’d have a library just like the one in Beauty and the Beast!
This mini-challenge was a mammoth task but I got there. Now I just need to resist the urge to fill my shelves back up again!
MINIMALISM CHALLENGE #10: Ditch the makeup for a day
Whilst I don’t wear a lot of makeup, I do struggle to leave the house without wearing eyeliner. I look so tired without it! And so, because the 10th was a Friday, I cheekily switched the day for this challenge to the weekend so that I could do it! I know that kind of defeated the object but I still accomplished it. It was just on a day I didn’t have to go out in public!
MINIMALISM CHALLENGE #11: Meditate on your day
During my chemotherapy, my chemo nurse recommended I try meditation to help me through my treatment. It worked and as a result, daily meditation is a habit that’s stayed with me ever since. Just recently though, I’ve let that habit slip through cracks and so I’ve been working to bring it back.
I normally use the Calm app and follow the guided meditations so it was a nice change to sit and meditate on my day instead. It’s something I’ve promised myself I’ll try and do more often.
MINIMALISM CHALLENGE #12: Spend time with loved ones
We spent the weekend at my in-laws celebrating my Hubby’s birthday, so this minimalism challenge was relatively easy to accomplish. My in-laws live about two hours away and so because we don’t get to see them as often as we like, we try to make the most of the time we are with them.
Time with them has been especially important to us just lately because my father-in-law has been battling multiple myeloma. He’s had chemotherapy and been on kidney dialysis and is doing really well, but it’s been a very tough and emotional year for us all.
MINIMALISM CHALLENGE #13: Make a gratitude log
Like journaling, practicing gratitude is another habit I try to do as regularly as possible. I usually do it by writing down three things I’m grateful for at the end of each day. So, to switch things up for this minimalism challenge, I decided to ask Harrison what he was grateful for while we were sitting there having dinner. Want to know what he said?
- Playing with Arthur (our French Bulldog)
- Staying up late on a Friday night, and
- Rainbows…bless him!
MINIMALISM CHALLENGE #14: Evaluate your last five purchases
Not surprisingly, four out of my last five purchases were items from Amazon. I use Amazon waaaay too much! They were all birthday presents though so I didn’t feel too guilty because they were intentional purchases.
The fifth of my most recent purchases? A new notebook from Paperchase! Not quite as intentional as a gift for someone else, but I simply cannot resist pretty stationery. And one can never have enough notebooks, right?!
MINIMALISM CHALLENGE #15: Stay offline for the day
My work is all online so staying offline for a day during the week isn’t easy. So instead, I moved this minimalism challenge to the weekend so that I could fully embrace it. When I was out with my boys, I kept my phone in my bag. When we were at home, I put my phone in another room. And when I was in the car, instead of scrolling, I left my phone alone. And do you know what? I didn’t miss anything that couldn’t wait. It was so freeing!
MINIMALISM CHALLENGE #16: Don’t spend money for 24 hours
This was easier than I was expecting as it was a weekday and I was working from home. Had it been a weekend, it would have been a little trickier to complete this minimalism challenge. That being said, I have thought often about doing a 30-day no-spend challenge to see what it’s like. And so, in September, I’ll be doing just that!
MINIMALISM CHALLENGE #17: Don’t complain all day
Knowing you’re not supposed to complain makes you realise just how much you do. Even if you think you’re generally someone who doesn’t complain very often!
I like to consider myself a pretty laid back person but I was amazed how regularly even little complaints wanted to come out of my mouth during this mini minimalism challenge. It totally opened my eyes and made me want to work harder at complaining less!
MINIMALISM CHALLENGE #18: Go without your phone
This minimalism challenge was a little tougher than challenge #15’s ‘stay offline for the day’. Unplugging for the day I just about managed but not having my phone at all, that was harder. I use my phone for everything. It’s my alarm clock and my calendar. I use it to listen to music, play podcasts and chat to the members of my Facebook group. It reminds me to take my medication each evening and sometimes, I even make calls on it too!
This mini-challenge made me realise just how much I depend on one device to do everything for me. It’s now got me thinking about how else I can do things instead of permanently relying on my phone.
MINIMALISM CHALLENGE #19: Venture outdoors
Being outdoors is one of my favourite pastimes. Especially if it involves walking my dog or exploring a National Trust or English Heritage property with my Hubby and boys. So, this minimalism challenge was one I couldn’t wait to do. And because it was a Sunday, I took full advantage and used it as a good excuse to take the hound to our local forest with my Hubby and Harrison.
MINIMALISM CHALLENGE #20: Create a relaxing space
I already have a spot at home that I consider to my relaxing space so instead of creating one, I decided that for this challenge, I would make sure I put it to good use. It’s just a chair in my bedroom, so it’s nothing fancy or grand but I do like curling up in it.
So, after dropping Harrison off at school that day, I made myself a coffee and for thirty minutes before I started work, I sat in my chair with my book and enjoyed my coffee. Not only was it bliss, but it also made me question why I don’t do it more often too!
MINIMALISM CHALLENGE #21: Re-evaluate your to-do list
I don’t know about you but I have SO many things on my to-do list that I know I don’t really need to do. Things I think I ‘should do’ or ‘could do’ but if I did do them either no one would notice or it would make very little difference to my life.
And so, for this minimalism challenge, I wrote a giant to-do list of all the tasks I could think of. Then, I grabbed a marker pen and drew a great big fat line through all of those ‘should-dos’ and ‘could-dos’ and gave myself permission to let them go. It was incredibly liberating! PLUS, my to-do list is a LOT smaller now!
MINIMALISM CHALLENGE #22: Declutter your storage
The one spot that needs decluttering more than anywhere in my house (well, outside it!) is the garage. No matter how many times we try to declutter it, it’s not long before it’s a giant mess again. Honestly, I think the clutter in there breeds all by itself! But this year we really do need to do something about it because in the spring, we’ll be moving. And the house we’re moving to doesn’t have a garage – which means we have a huge task on our hands!
And so, today’s mini-challenge was a good excuse to get stuck in and make a start – including tackling those digital devices I ignored from challenge #4! The 22nd was a Wednesday though, so we delayed this minimalism by a couple of days so that we could do it on the weekend and have a whole day to tackle it. We’ve still got a long way to go, but we made good progess!
MINIMALISM CHALLENGE #23: Empty your junk drawer
You know that scene in Friends where Chandler discovers that Monica is secretly messy? Well, that’s me! And so, when I saw this particular challenge, my first thought was, ‘which one?’ Because I have at least three junk drawers AND a cupboard under the stairs!
I try to declutter the latter at least once a month so for this challenge, I decided to tackle my kitchen drawers. It took a while but now my tea towels are all in one drawer and my cleaning supplies are all together in another. I’m not sure how long it’ll stay that way but for now, I quite like it!
MINIMALISM CHALLENGE #24: Turn off notifications
I didn’t think I’d have too many notifications to turn off but when it came to doing this minimalism challenge, I was surprised at just how often my phone and PC bong at me. Now though they’re actually quite quiet and I like it that way!
MINIMALISM CHALLENGE #25: Batch cook your meals
I was in London celebrating my Hubby’s birthday on this particular day, so this is one minimalism challenge I didn’t get to complete. I try to stock the freezer with meals as often as I can but I am running low on meals for my eldest to cook when he gets in from work. So, although I missed this mini-challenge, I’ve added batch cooking to my list of to-dos for some time over the next couple of weeks.
MINIMALISM CHALLENGE #26: Get all of your errands done
I generally try to batch my errands and get them all done in one go but January was a particularly busy month for me. And so, I had a few jobs I’d been putting off. This challenge gave me the kick I needed to just get them done. It made me think too that maybe I should set aside a morning or afternoon at the end of every month to catch up on my errands so that I can start the new month with a clean slate.
MINIMALISM CHALLENGE #27: Eliminate a toxic relationship
In my forty-something years, I’ve had my fair share of toxic relationships and so I’ve become wise to nipping those kinds of relationships in the bud before they become too toxic. There have been times where it’s been difficult, awkward or painful, but I’ve learned that sometimes it’s best to walk away – no matter how much it hurts.
That being said, there is one relationship I know I need to work on. And that’s my relationship with myself. I put far too much pressure on myself and sometimes I say things to myself that I would never dream of saying to anyone else. This minimalism challenge has made me realise that I need to be kinder to myself and so from now on, I’m going to work harder to treat myself better. promise that I’ll start treating myself better.
MINIMALISM CHALLENGE #28: Clear out your makeup collection
Make-up isn’t something I wear a lot of because I’m not very good at putting it on. I wish I could master the smoky-eyed look but I don’t think it’s something I’ll ever be able to do. So, this challenge didn’t take me very long to complete. I did have a mascara that was on its last legs and a few nail varnishes that I’ve never used though, so I got rid of those.
MINIMALISM CHALLENGE #29: Say no to something
Over the years I’ve learned to not cram my diary with too many commitments. As much as I want to say yes to everything and get together with everyone, I get exhausted really quickly. There’s only so much the introvert in me can come with and when I don’t have time to hide away, I feel stressed and frazzled. And so I try to be mindful of what I say yes to.
One thing I’m not so good at though is turning my PC off in the evening. I work on the blog every evening Sunday to Thursday and always promise myself that I’ll shut down at 9pm. But I rarely do. And so, my ‘say no to something’ for this minimalism challenge was to actually shut down at 9pm that night. It felt great! Now I need to master it every night!
MINIMALISM CHALLENGE #30: Re-purge your wardrobe
I was surprised that this challenge featured twice. I honestly didn’t think I would need to purge my wardrobe again so soon. But do you know what? I was wrong! I was amazed (and slightly ashamed!) at just how messy my wardrobe had become again is such a short space of time. I’m liking how tidy it is now though so this is a minimalism challenge that I’m going to add to my diary every month!
What did I learn from this minimalism challenge?
This 30-day minimalism challenge was a lot of fun. It helped (and forced!) me to tackle a few things I’d been putting off but knew I needed to do. It encouraged me to get started on leading a more minimalist life, which is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while now. I have a way to go but it’s shown me that it is something I’m capable of doing.
Want to know what my biggest lessons from this minimalism challenge were? Here they are:
- My outer order affects my inner calm. When I have less clutter around me, I feel better in myself. I’m calmer, more relaxed and I’m able to think more clearly.
- That I had a lot of ‘stuff‘ I was just hanging onto for the sake of it. I need to make more effort to ditch things that are broken or no longer fit for purpose.
- Evaluating your purchases really makes you think twice about whether you really need something.
- Leaving my phone in another room for a while doesn’t mean I miss out – I can always catch up later.
- Setting aside a day at the end of each month to catch up on all of my errands was a productivity gamechanger.
I’ve learned that switching to a more minimalist lifestyle doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a slow process and I still have a way to go. But I know that by making small changes every day just like I’ve been doing in this minimalism challenge, I’m going to get there. And if you do the same, you’ll get there too.
The 30-day minimalism challenge…
There you have it, my 30-day minimlism challenge and what I learned! Next month, as it’s Valentine’s month, I’ll be doing a marriage challenge. I’ll be working to nurture my relationship with my Hubby and would LOVE for you to join in on the challenge too!
In the meantime, here’s the 30-day minimalism challenge one more time…
That’s it for this post! Have you ever tried a minimalism challenge? Has this post encouraged you to give one a try? Let me know in the comments!
Until next time…
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