I've heard it said that minimalism isn't really about “getting rid of stuff”, it's about refining it down to the “right stuff”. I'm halfway through a 30-day shop purge and I have a few lessons learned, a few personal reflections, and a lot more space. My last update focused on the starting point of the 30-day minimalist challenge for my shop. If you haven't read that, pop over real quick and catch up! Essentially, I'm trying to dig out of the most common shop problem we all face, too much useful stuff is cluttering up my space to the point that I just can't work in the chaos any longer. I've collected an astounding array of small screws, bolts, cut-offs, duplicate tools, and cheap things that I'm going to fix someday.
The thought that has always made me save the little things is the thought that I might need it, and that triumphant feeling when I actually do need that $2 plug that's been in the drawer for 4 years. But that's hard to hold onto when the mess closes in.
So, two weeks ago I started a purge. A few things at a time was all it took to get the ball rolling and I've started to dig out. I started with the low hanging fruit – in my case the piles of trinkets. It easily went into the trash. Next were the dark dusty corners, the loose collection of battered tools, and a bin full of tile cut-offs. For the first week (28 things) it was all easy trash. Clearing was easy, and it was rewarding. But then it changed a bit. At that point I started having to toss up to 8,9, 10 things a day, so the choices got into things of a bit of value (a few dollars at best, but still something). That started shifting a few things to the sell box, but I still found plenty to toss.
Now, I'm rounding out the second week with 105 things purged. It's made a difference in the feel for sure. I'm seeing open spaces, clean corners, and a bit of hope that my shop will get to the frustration-free, organized place where I can actually make things again. With all of that in mind, here are some tips I've learned so far:
1. Set a time everyday – Make a set time to take 5-10 minutes to look around and make it happen. I missed a few days and that made the catch-up a bit of a hurdle when having to toss 10 and 11 things at the same time.
2. Embrace the process – I got into a mood and really started to toss more than the day called for. Which made it hard to keep on task, and hard to come back in the next day for another round. It's meant to be a marathon, not a purging sprint. So keep the pace and make it a habit.
3. Remember you can give too – It's natural to feel a bit of connection to the things that we feel have some value. It's great to give to someone that actually will use it so that the loss doesn't sting.
So, with a few more weeks ahead, and a lot more things to purge I'll keep at it and update again in a few weeks on the uphill side of this challenge.