100 things challenge to become a zen minimalist master

My good friend Leo Babauta of Zen Habits and Mnmlist blogs posted a 100 things challenge - meaning he's committed to have only 100 personal possessions in his home. Later he scratched that and went with 50 things. That's a minimalist to an extreme, I thought. And then I looked around my home office...

My home office is as Zen as it can get... or so I thought

If you've followed my blog for a while you can see I've been designing all my home offices with zen in mind but the problem started showing up in the closets... as I had too many gadgets and cables piled up in many places.

So I challenged myself to start with my home office and wanted to go down to 100 things (including furniture)

After one day of hard-work I went down to 99 things and 23 books.

It was a hard day - I had to throw away many cables, swtiches and office appliences. I had many cool gadgets I was never using so I photographed them all and put them in a separate box. Now whenever someone visits me at home and he (or she) is a geek, I tell them I have this great gadget box and if they want something, I welcome them to just take it. Putting it all on eBay would be time wasted and I get a reward someone receives a gadget gift from me upon their visit to my house.

The idea goes beyond 100 things - it's about conscious choice of what we really need.

As Leo Babauta confirms it, it's not about the 100 things - it's about training your mindset to let go of keeping stuff for the sake of keeping it. To learn what you really need, to evaluate each subsequent purchase (like: "I have all I need, I don't have to buy this shiny new gadget, even though it's from Apple and it's amazing").

Give it a try - you won't regret it. You'll get to know yourself better.

After this hard lesson I went to my favorite electronics store to see if I can really make it... and then to the Apple store... and surprise, surprise - I had no urge to buy anything. I knew I didn't need anything and I just was comfortable window-shopping without taking out my credit card. I'm still a geek and an "inspector gadget"... but now I know which gadgets I really need and which are totally useless... and my office is closer to zen and looks even cleaner than before.

1st battle is won - now it's time to look at my clothes...

Now that I've trained my mindset I'm going to check my wardrobe and throw lots of stuff out. I want to have 100 things there as well (maybe I'll count "socks" as one category, but we'll see) - I'll report back on this blog how it's all coming along. Wish me luck!

Have you ever tried becoming a minimalist zen master? What can you throw away today?
I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Posted on Saturday, July 9, 2011 (minimalism)

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Jul 9, 2011 18:07
I've done something very similar. Funny you should mention clothes as the next step, as that's what I did. I pulled out anything I didn't wear often and donated it all to friends or charity. My rule now is that I only add something new when I eliminate something old so I won't accumulate stuff again.
Michael Sliwinski
Jul 9, 2011 21:09
I wanted to first keep to 100 things in my home office and later move on to clothes. I will have to give away lots of them I think, but it's good like that :-) Thanks for your encouragement Glenn. Minimalists, unite :-)
Robert Pańkowski
Jul 10, 2011 13:36
Same thing here, I actually started from my clothes and it went fairly well. What helped me a lot was to hang a 6-month-mark hanger to verify which clothes I'm actually wearing.
Michael Sliwinski
Jul 10, 2011 21:30
Just did some calculations on the amount of clothes I have and it all definitely needs revising. I'll blog about it soon. Thanks for your comment Robert!
Paul Montwill
Jul 11, 2011 10:04
What if you had Kindle with 23 books? Will it be counted as 1?
Michael Sliwinski
Jul 11, 2011 11:24
Kindle with books would count as 1 :-) and that's the beauty of it. My wife just started migration process to Kindle and I'm also hoping to get rid of most of my books :-) I think if you buy too many books on Kindle it's also not very "minimalistic" but still, you don't have so many books around your room, so it's good.
Paul Montwill
Jul 11, 2011 21:26
I have heard about 100 Things concept just after I sold my DVDs on an online auction. I just couldn't stand the clutter anymore. And I am going for Kindle soon as I want to release another two shelves full of books.

It is amazing that on one hand new technology make our life faster but it also allow us to minimize our possessions -with a laptop or a tablet we can sell our hi-fi, books, CDs, DVD etc.

Good luck with your strategy, Michael!

Michael Sliwinski
Jul 11, 2011 21:38
Technology helps us get rid of the clutter and helps us minimize the amount of physical things we own: movie discs, photo albums, books... etc. and I love it! Thanks for the best wishes, Paul, it's still hard to be brave enough to go minimalistic :-)
Wiktor Schmidt
Jul 23, 2011 02:02
With my recent move I was forced to eliminate not only most of the stuff/clutter but also most of the paper. I can say now for sure that I can pack ALL the stuff I need to live in two IKEA boxes. It feels pretty cool :)
Michael Sliwinski
Jul 24, 2011 16:50
Move to a new place (better yet - new country) facilitates these decisions as this is an actual "cost of stuff" that you need to take under consideration. Great work Wiktor! Keep it up and don't let the clutter rule you again! :-)
Karlheinz Lang
Jul 19, 2012 23:09
The "minimalism" has long been known in monasteries. Franciscans are allowed only to possess, what could be stuck in one travel bag. This can be really liberating. :)
Michael Sliwinski
Jul 20, 2012 11:07
That's why the notion of minimalism is so appealing to me. It is very liberating. What is hard is to really embrace it in this society. That's why I'm going step by step on this one... Thanks for your comment Karlheinz!

Andrea Aresca
Nov 12, 2012 08:29
I'm begining to look at my office with the same approach. I DO like the feeling of having LESS...
Why do you think putting things on EBAY to sell is just "time wasted"?
Thank you.
Michael Sliwinski
Nov 14, 2012 07:41
Yes, the feeling of having less stuff in the office is great. I'm not saying putting stuff on eBay is time wasted - I just don't have time for it. I'd love it if someone could do it for me for a commission. If you have the time for it, by all means, do it and give the second life to your stuff - people will thank you for it! :-)