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6 Easy Tips for Living with 100 Items or Less

6 Easy Tips for Living with 100 Items or Less

Every few months, it seems like I read another story about someone who has sold or donated nearly everything they own, reducing their total number of personal possessions to under 100 items.

There are lots of reasons for a person to want to do this. Maybe you’re moving across the country (or to a different country), and you need to pack light. Perhaps you’re trying to reduce your carbon footprint. Maybe you just watched a marathon of “Hoarders” and you’re feeling like it’s time to clean house.

Whatever your motive, if you want to try living with 100 items or less, you’ll need to start thinking about what items you can’t live without. Here are some tips for picking what to keep, and what to get rid of.

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1. Inventory Everything

You can’t decide what to cut until you have a list of all of your possessions. This could take some time, and the amount of time it takes to catalogue your material goods might prove once and for all that you have way too much stuff.

Once you know what you have, categorize it. You can do this by room (bedroom, kitchen, etc), by frequency of use (seasonal items, everyday items, etc.), or by purpose (work-related items, entertainment, etc).

2. Only Keep Multipurpose Items

Don’t keep anything that doesn’t serve multiple purposes in your home. If it only does one thing (I’m looking at you, garlic press), ditch it to make room for something with more than one use.

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A couch that converts into a bed is perfect for visiting guests. A coffee table can also serve as a desk or dining surface in a pinch.

3. Don’t Be Too Spartan

100-Item minimalism isn’t about denying yourself pleasure, it’s about finding pleasure in simplicity. So you should end up with items that make you happy and make your life easier.

For example, say you are a heavy tea drinker. If you took my advice above, you probably ditched your tea kettle, since you could use a pot or a microwave to heat water. But if good tea is important to you, then you should keep your favorite tea kettle, even if it’s a single-purpose item. Scaling back doesn’t mean denying yourself life’s little pleasures. There’s a difference between minimalism and frugality. Make sure you know which is which.

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4. Obey the 12-month Rule

Ditch everything you haven’t used in the last 12 months. Skinny jeans, Christmas decorations, old wrapping paper, the fondue pot, that old sewing machine you think you can fix “when you have the time”. It you haven’t touched something in a year, chances are you aren’t going to need it any time in the next 12 months, either.

5. Re-purge

3 months after you donated or sold your “12-month” possessions, re-examine all your remaining possessions, and try and get rid of things that you don’t use at least once a month (or once a week if you are really trying to clean house).

Don’t be afraid of ditching something you might need in the future. Chances are, you have a kindly neighbor who can lend you a springform cake pan for the one weekend a year you actually bake. If you’re really on the fence about a number of things, consider putting some items in storage, and revisit the issue of keeping them in another couple of months.

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6. Take Care of Business

If you work out of a home office, you might think that there are certain items that you can’t live without– a printer, a fax machine, a desk. And you’d be wrong.

Obviously, your needs will vary depending on what line of work you are in. But services like EchoSign make printing out contracts a thing of the past, you can send faxes for free online from sites like FaxZero, and you might find you’d rather use a laptop with a cooling lap desk than sit at a “real” desk all day.

According to Everett Bogue, author of Minimalist Business, “Most of the objects we assume are necessary to run a business aren’t needed anymore. I don’t own a desk, I don’t use paper, I don’t have business cards, I don’t rent an office….The benefit of choosing to live with less is that my business operating costs drop to nearly zero….When your overhead is nearly zero, you can start turning a profit immediately.”

The Bottom Line

Embarking on a quest to live with 100 items or less is a major decision, and sorting through all your possessions could take you months. But, if you have the patience and the will, you might find that living the ultra-minimalist lifestyle affords you the kind of physical and mental “breathing room” you could have never achieved otherwise.

Featured photo credit: Stock Snap via stocksnap.io

More by this author

Tucker Cummings

Writer and social media professional sharing productivity tips on Lifehack.

The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It? The Pomodoro Technique: Is It Right for You to Boost Productivity? How to Diagnose the “Phantom Cursor” Issue on Your Mac Extreme Minimalism: Andrew Hyde and the 15-Item Lifestyle 6 Easy Tips for Living with 100 Items or Less

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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