“We’re consumed by too many things”

Could you get rid of more than 450 items in one month? This is exactly what the Minsgame Challenge involves. Vanessa Lange took part and talked about her experience.


  • Lifestyle

Vanessa, where did you get the idea of taking part in a clear-out challenge?

I found it on Facebook. Someone posted something about it in a group about Mindful Parenting and was looking for people to participate. You have to get rid of one additional item every day for thirty days: one thing on the first day, two things on the second day – right through to thirty things on the thirtieth day. I thought that was a great idea.

Why did it appeal to you?

I’ve always liked getting rid of things. You accumulate stuff so quickly – it's takes less time keep things than to clear them out. So they build up over time even though you’re not necessarily materialistically inclined.

That’s true. So why the challenge?

I was attracted to the challenge because it gives you a structure. There’s a clear task with individual steps and a finishing point. That makes things simple. And it’s easier not to have to do everything in one day.

« I felt it was less about getting rid of baggage and more about keeping track. »
Vanessa Lange

What was your personal goal?

It wasn’t about having as little as possible at the end. I wouldn’t call myself a minimalist in the sense that I want to reduce everything to the absolute minimum. But I’m not a hoarder either. I just find it stressful to be surrounded by too much stuff – I have to take care of it, tidy it away, keep it in order, wash it, use it: I’ve always realised that having too many things wears me down.

How easy was the challenge for you?

Up until the tenth day I found it very easy. The things you get rid of can be extremely small. It’s easy to find a shampoo sample or something like that. And at the beginning there aren’t so many things to get rid of each day.

Vanessa Lange has tried it - and would participate again.

When did things get more difficult?

To be honest, I gave up around day 15 – though it wasn’t because I found it difficult to find things to get rid of. The reason was that it takes time to pick things out, think about them, make a decision – and then maybe keep them after all. At some point I no longer had the time on top of my work and kids. It was a pity, because I would like to have seen the challenge through to the end. And I do genuinely believe I would have found things to get rid of right through to the last day. By the time I dropped out I hadn’t even got to the basement.

The notorious basement ... that’s where so much accumulates over the years. Looking back: what effect did the challenge have on you?

It’s nice to free up space – it makes room for other things that are more pleasing or more relevant to your life. And you're not just deciding to throw things out – you’re opting to keep things, too: you realise that some things are important to you. So I felt it was less about getting rid of baggage and more about keeping track – being aware of what I own and getting a sense of having my household “under control”. I found that to be very positive.

So it was a rewarding experience?

Yes. Maybe I’ll do the challenge again in the future.

How the Minsgame works

The “30-Day Minimalism Game” – or “Minsgame” for short – was developed by the Americans Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus (www.theminimalists.com). The goal: over a period of 30 days, one additional item has to be removed from the home every day – from one item on the first day through to 30 items on the thirtieth day. In total, you will have got rid of 465 items. The inventors also suggest you team up with someone else: this helps you keep on track and you can also agree beforehand on what one of you will win if the other gives up earlier. Participants share their experiences on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram under the hashtag #minsgame.

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