Towards the end of 2011 I started blogging about my desire to reduce the amount of “stuff” that had built up around me recently. This isn’t actually a new topic for me, I’ve been writing and talking about “reducing stuff” for sometime, but I was beginning to feel that things had gotten out of hand (again) and I needed to take drastic measures to get back on track. I needed to come up with a plan to correct things. And so I did, and I created this year long challenge, welcome to The Year of Less.

Here’s the plan:

  1. Addition: I can only ADD one new thing a month. That’s 12 items for the entire year. This will force me to really consider what kind of purchases I’m making, and hopefully completely eliminate impulse buys.
  2. Subtraction: I need to GET RID OF (at least) one thing every day.
  3. Replacement: Should something I need/use break beyond repair or get lost somehow, I can only replace it by getting rid of two similar items. This is a little bit of a loophole that allows me to add an item but still results in a net decrease in items I own.

Clarification: I need to express clearly that this is a challenge to reduce stuff and clutter, it’s not a challenge to save money or fight capitalism or starve myself, it also isn’t anything I’m imposing on anyone else. Thus, consumables (food, gasoline, etc) dont’ count. Digital items (mp3s, ebooks, etc) that don’t add physical clutter to my life don’t count. My wife and kid don’t count. Etc. Items I’m getting rid of might be sold, donated, or trashed, but they have to go one way or the other. So you can argue any minor detail and try to poke holes in it, but at the end of the day I’m doing this for me, so I’m trying it, and I’ll see how it works. And because I tend to be obsessive about things sometimes…

Documentation: I’m going to keep track of everything. I’ve created a spreadsheet to keep track of items that come in or go out. I’ll be blogging here about the process and what I’m getting rid of and why, as well as talking about my thought process that led me to choose those items to get rid of. I don’t think I’m going to do a “today I got rid of…” blog post, though I might mention it on my Google+. I will likely do semi-weekly round up posts highlighting specific items, and discussing things that come up. I have a suspicion that actively refusing to add items to your life is not as easy as it sounds, so I want to keep track of how that goes.

I’ve created a category so you can read all the posts about this project if you want.

Amednments: As I do this I’m expecting things to come up that I hadn’t anticipated. That’s what amendments are for.

  1. Point of clarification – I have to get rid of at least one thing a day, getting rid of two things one day does not exempt me from getting rid of something the following day. Read the post about this decision.
  2. Travel – When traveling away from home, bringing things to get rid of is silly, so I need to book end the trip by getting rid of enough things to cover the days I’m out of town. Read the post about this decision.