throw out fifty things challenge

To continue the theme of MakeunderMyMarch, I’d like to revisit a series I did last April called the Throw Out 50 Things Challenge. Below is the background on the challenge, followed by the photos of my fifty exfoliated items. It was a great practice and I was shocked at how easily I exfoliated dozens of items.

“Last Friday I searched online for a book I saw on a Today Show segment. While searching, I happened upon a book titled Throw Out 50 Things by Gail Blanke. My jaw dropped when I read the short segment summary. Blanke mentioned a Michelangelo quote, the same quote that sparked my makeunder philosophy and changed my life four years ago. Needless to say, I kept reading.

Blanke’s book is aimed at helping people open up their lives by getting rid of 50 things they no longer need, use, or want. And I have to say, coming off the Michelangelo quote, I was pretty intrigued. So I decided to give her idea a try. When I told Gertie and Natalie, two of my Jess LC girls, they both wondered whether I actually owned more than 50 things. I even wondered with all my exfoliating and making under whether I would be able to meet the goal. At first I assumed I would need Erwin to help me find objects in our storage unit to use for the challenge. But after just an hour and a half in the Jess LC studio alone, I found more than 50 things. In fact, I am looking around, and it is hard to tell I even got rid of anything.”

(From April, 14th 2009)

Day One

Day Two

Day Three

Day Four

Day Five

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  1. Is it horrible that I want about half of the things you are throwing out! I need to do this…but I might need to up it to 100!

    I love your site. It’s such an encouragement to me!

  2. I am intersted in knowing how you made the decisions to get rid of these items? Did you have duplicates of things? Were they just lying around? Did you donate? So cool to think how you can make your life less complicated without, “stuff” lying around 🙂

  3. Kayla

    This is such a great idea. I am going to try and do this over the next week. I will let you know how it goes!

  4. susan

    I read an article by Gail on this very issue in a Real Simple magazine a couple – maybe a few now??? – years ago and immediately hopped to it! In the article, she asked a client of hers to do this very thing. The client came back the next day with her list and handed it to Gail. It had only one thing written down on it – but Gail told her it was more than enough. Why? She immediately went home, surveyed her home in compliance with all of the rules for why to get rid of something, and realized that she needed to get rid of her current live in boyfriend of several years. Gail puts it much more happily and clearly, so that you realize this woman just did something amazing for her life, but anyway.

    I didn’t take pictures of my fifty things, but I still have the list where I wrote down all fifty things. Now that we’re about to move again, I am likely going to do another list! Only this time, I think I’m going to up it to 100 things. In the rules of the RS article, multiple pairs of things (like shoes, magazines, etc.) only count as one thing – no matter how big they are. I have to get her book to really inspire myself this time.

    Another book you might really like is called “Clear your Clutter with Feng Shui” – by Karen Kingston. I found it to be one of those books you read and sit there in awe and then immediately want to do something about after each and every chapter. And it’s not weird. Some people are afraid of anything involving Feng Shui. I like to define Feng Shui as an art of practicing the practical or simply common sense. Things like, Don’t leave things hanging or behind your doors so that they can’t open properly, because even though this may be a minor irritation or grievance to you as you enter a room, it is still a negative force. And so on. It also has at least one chapter about caring for your body!!! We so often forget about these things that carry our souls about, don’t we?

    Anyway. I’m glad you had success in your fifty. I think I’ll do this every year of my life 🙂

  5. Sam

    Love this, especially since you broke it down into manageable pieces by doing ten items per day. I, too, will try to do this over the next week. I’ll check back in as well!

  6. i take issue with the fact that the book’s title has the words “throw away” in it. it doesn’t do the world good to actually throw 50 things in the garbage, and i’m sure that’s not what you did – so it would be inspirational for your readers to hear how you did get rid of the stuff.

  7. Jill

    We have been working on our kitchen (photos go up on the blog today!) and in order to do open shelving (which is what I really wanted) I had to really pare down the kitchen. I have several boxes/bags of stuff for a garage sale and the kitchen feels SO much more efficient now. I have room to display the things I really love and the things that were unnecessary are gone! Feels sooooo good!

  8. Lisa

    I’m excited about taking this challenge too. I’m an aspiring minimalist and have been working at decluttering my stuff over the past several years. I actually find it fun! 🙂 I was thinking the other day how I feel like I don’t own much that is truly my own (as opposed to household things shared with my family), but just looking around my home office for a few minutes today, I was able to find about 10 things I’m ready to pass along. So I’ll see if I can come up with 50 things. I might take photos and blog about it too. Great inspiration here, as always!

  9. Aileen

    Interesting idea – I may have to borrow it! I was excited to recognize the Firemountain calculator keychain (#30) and that could definitely be one of my items too!

  10. Angie

    YES!! I love this post. I am constantly getting rid of things around my place — I just feel so overwhelmed when there’s too much stuff around. I’m diligent about keeping my closet clear of things I don’t wear, but I’m going to take this challenge to the rest of the place.

  11. Simone

    This post has totally inspired me to do some spring cleaning/exfoliating of my own!

  12. Charlotte

    I am excited to do this! I am going to do 10 things per day and post it on my blog…stay tuned. What a great idea! 🙂 I recently quit my job and started a new business so I am feeling like cleaning house.

  13. Alanna

    What perfect timing! We’re moving rooms around and getting rid of stuff right now in anticipation of a new addition to our family. How fun to document it 🙂

  14. Katie

    This is such a great idea! I’m going to get started tonight and blog about it as well. Thanks!

  15. Kayla

    So I challenged myself this week to get rid of 15 pieces of clothes! So easy! I am going to other aspects now. I posted about this on my blog today. Thanks for the inspiration.

  16. I know I’m late to the party, but I am totally starting this right now and posting the results on my blog ( I could probably do 50 things from my closet alone! We got married in August and combine everything from his apartment, my dorm room, my parents house and his parents house and that equals WAY too much stuff!

  17. Carol T.

    I read the same Real Simple article a few years back and started getting rid of things. I listed everything on a computer file. Items were donated, disposed of, or given away. I had a paper/flower press that I was going to sell on eBay. It was easier to give it to a creative friend of mine. The real revelation was that it’s o.k. to get rid of useful things. I took more than one bag of pens and stationary to my local charity along with clothes that fit, but I wasn’t wearing.

    To be honest, when I reached fifth, I barely saw a difference, but decided to take it to a hundred. Mind you, all this time, I balanced any new purchase by disposing of a similar item. These items were not counted in the mix. It wasn’t until I had gotten rid of 250 items that I really noticed a difference. Four years later, I am up to 350 things. I’ve gotten much bigger at organizing. In the last two years, I’ve lost 14 pounds along with everything else.

    I heartily encourage everyone to take this challenge.

  18. Kate

    Thanks for the inspiration- just what I needed today.. to help me shift the excess stuff!

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