My last Year of Less update was on Feb 1st, and since we’re firmly into April at this point I feel like I owe everyone an update. People keep asking, hows the year of less going? I’ve been answering with “it’s going!” which is dodging the question a little bit without getting too specific. As this is an official update I don’t really get to dodge anything, and as much as I’d like to say that everything has been working perfectly, that’s not the case. 3 months down and I can very honestly say I was overzealous on what I thought I could pull off. That isn’t to say it’s a failure or that I’ve stopped – far from it, but my regime of daily requirements turned out to be not very realistic. But that’s still fairly general, so let’s look at each of the 3 pillars of this damn thing.

ADDITION: I set up the rule that I was only allowed to add one thing a month. So at this point I should have only added 3 things. This one is so march harder than you can possibly imagine – trying not to take any new physical items into your life is near impossible. People give you things all the time. I didn’t even realize it until I started paying close attention. Of course I had a birthday in February as well, which didn’t help, but shit just shows up and there’s nothing you can do about it. So, as far as things I’ve gone out and acquired myself, I’ve done really well here. So this isn’t a total win, but it’s not a failure either, so I’m going to give myself a B- on this. With my birthday behind me, I think I can get this up to an A over the next few months.

SUBTRACTION: I set up the rule that I was to get rid of, and document, one item every day. I really, really, really underestimated how much my travel schedule would complicate this. I blogged about this problem towards the end of January and it’s just gotten worse since then. Especially on the documentation side, sitting down and adding info to a spreadsheet is always the last thing on my mind, and then when I remember I’ve forgotten what I got rid of. And then I’m trying to compensate for travel days by doubling up on other days.. ugh. It’s really rough. Way more than I thought it would be. So on the “get rid of at least one item every day” part of this, I’m failing. However, I’ve gotten rid of more things than days, so on the concept of getting rid of things part of it, I’m winning. Documenting is about 75%, maybe a little less. The thing is, overall goal of this experiment was to get rid of things, and I’m doing that, but the fact that I’m not sticking accurately to the guidelines I set up here bums me out when I think of it. I’m going to give myself a solid C here. I’m passing in theory, but not in practice. I need to either improve my aderence to the ritual, or get comfortable with not being totally perfect about it. As long as I keep getting rid of things I’m not totally disappointed.

REPLACEMENT: I set up the rule that to “upgrade” anything, I needed to get rid of two similar items. This is probably the rule I’ve been best about adhering to. I think in hindsight I knew it would be. I satisfy my cravings to buy new stuff by getting rid of things, maybe it’s a loophole, but I do end up with less stuff, so it’s still true to the core idea. I give my self an A- on this one simple because in my initial plans I said I needed to try and repair things before getting new ones and on occasion I’ve gotten something new and then scrambled to find two similar items to get rid of to make that OK. It’s not cheating, but it’s not what I really wanted to happen, so there’s some room for improvement here too.

So given all that I guess I’m at around a B. Or B- or something for everything. Which isn’t bad, it’s not perfect and could be better, but it’s still pretty good. We’re hoping to have a garage sale sometime in the next few weeks which I think will help get rid of a ton of things. With minor sentimental exception, if I haven’t used it in the last year, it’s going to be gone.

One thing I’ve found to be very useful is picking a single category, say pants for example. How many pair of pants do I possibly need? 4? 5? I think 5 is reasonable – I generally wear pants a few times between washings so even if I do laundry once every other week 5 covers that. And on a week trip, I can wear one pair and pack 1 or 2 others and be totally covered. So, now that I know 5 pair of pants will do it for me I go look at what I have. Oh, I have 8 pair? Presto – 3 items for the get rid of pile.

I’ll try to update more often, as talking about it helps me sort through my own thoughts about it and reenergizes me a bit.