Jul 13, 2017

Minimalist DIY: Taking on a 30-Day Workshop Purge

I hit my head hard a few days ago. It hurt. A lot. It was one of those moments when the pain made everything else just fade away for a moment; then it came flooding back. I was leaning over a pile of things I've moved too many times to count, and I slipped a bit and made solid contact with the equally solid cast iron top of my table saw. In that moment I uttered a familiar phrase "I need to get rid of this stuff" in a much more, uh, guttural vocabulary. I needed a change. I needed space.

And so, my 30 day minimalist shop challenge begins.    The minimalist-leaning lifestyle is something we espouse regularly on ManMade when we talk about quality purchases, repairing instead of replacing, and certainly living better by living with less. But let's be sure to clarify that right up front - living with less doesn't mean living with lack. We all collect more things than we have the need for, and I'd even go far enough to say that having more stuff has never made me a better person. I would argue that more stuff has stolen my time, my space, and my money and hindered the life I really want to live.

You might be able to guess: I've been listening to the guys over at the Minimalists podcast for the past few months now.  The lifestyle has really intrigued me. I get it and respect it, but getting from here to there is a daunting task. I know from experience that a clear workspace makes me calmer and more productive, and a ordered house makes me feel like I can breathe again. That's why my shop needs this. Because I don't need the small trinkets and little pieces cluttering up a space that should make me feel alive.

The 30-day purge is a simple concept that starts out easy and ramps up quick. There are three ways to remove items: Sell, Give, Trash. I just put two containers and a trash can out there and start tossing where they belong. So, the first day, 1 item leaves the shop, the second day, 2 items leave. This may seem like a small gesture but think about day fifteen when 15 items go, and the next day 16 head out the door. 

Get the idea? A major purge in 30 days.

While this is a substantial first step, it's not the last. We'll check in on tips for you to start the process, and anything I'd do differently next time.




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Bob on Jul 19, 2017:

Most guys that have tools are in this place. Let us know how you fair and if you've come up with any clever strategies. Good luck man!!

Fred on Jul 17, 2017:

Hmm, nice idea. But doesn't the process become more important than the initial idea when with every day one more thing than the day before has to leave.

I know nothing about your workshop but the question has to be: do I need this or how often will I use this. Not: let's see what makes no. 15 of today's list.
If you come to the conclusion that you need most of the stuff, it is not a problem if you have too much but of, you are not organised good enough.
Of course there is a difference between stuff you need regularly and stuff you need only once in a while (and stuff you don't really need). But stuff you only need once a year is no must leave item. Of course you can borrow such items when you need them. But if everybody gets rid of this stuff, where can you borrow it?

Don't get me wrong. Less can be more. But don't let the process overrule everything.