Christmas Challenge Week 4 Review – New Year Cleanse Week

Merry Christmas everybody!

So we’ve come to the final week of Minimal Student’s Christmas Challenge. It’s been an interesting few weeks since I started writing the prompts for the challenge, and I’ve been made to rethink some aspects of my life. For the final week I decided to do a general minimalist clean-out. Here goes!

Dec 20 : Pull out a storage box from under the bed/attic etc. Without opening it, can you name more than half of its contents?

I often see in cartoons when the characters are trying to clean up but they’re too lazy to do it properly they would just sweep the pile of dust under the rug. It’s funny when you watch it, but if you think about it, many people actually do a real life version of this ‘out of sight, out of mind’ principle. They would put everything in boxes, arrange boxes neatly and think they have become ‘organized’. Being tidy and being minimalist are two different things, once you realize this, you can start to pull out those old boxes of junk, get rid of them and start being minimalist for real.

Dec 21 : Does your wardrobe contain anything you haven’t worn in a year or more? That’s a whole cycle of seasons, if you didn’t need it, do you still?

My ‘wardrobe’ used to contain so many things that I didn’t actually wear. Apart from my daily clothes, I had clothes I was waiting for the right occasion or weather to wear, clothes I kept until I had lost enough weight, clothes I kept for sentimental reasons, clothes I wanted to wear but didn’t suit and even clothes I kept for no reason at all. Once I decided to get rid of it all, it was such a relief to not have that pressure on me any more. The best way to work it out is to say to yourself, “if I only had one suitcase to fit everything, what would I put in it?”. I did exactly that.

Dec 22 : Do you tend to carry something back and forth from the same place? Do you actually use it when you get home, or can you leave it there?

University textbooks are heavy. I didn’t need anybody to tell me that, so I always get a locker to put everything in there overnight, and come back in the morning to collect it. If I need something from it, such as a vocab list, I would write it down which help me to remember it anyway. I only bring them home when I have big tests to study for. It seems such an obvious idea, but if you just take a look around you will probably see most of your classmates/colleagues carrying things home and back again, even if they don’t use them.

Dec 23 : How long have you been waiting to fix ‘that thing’? How long has it been in your way?

I’m a little bit of a computer geek. So, I never wanted to get rid of old laptops and computers that didn’t work any more. I would try to fix them, even though nobody could use them but me, and I had my own laptop anyway. My house ended up storing several dust gathering machines. I finally decided to get rid of them all when I realized that they were barely more than metal boxes getting in the way. Other things I kept ‘to fix one day’ were old ripped clothes and jewellery, which I never had the time, skill or motivation for.

Dec 24 : How many people on your contact lists do you actually ‘contact’? How many people on you friends list will be there for you if you need them?

A while back my iPhone was accidentally wiped of it’s memory. I was pretty upset that I had lost all of my numbers, but soon I realized that it was a blessing in disguise because it cleaned my slate of contacts that I didn’t know I didn’t need any more. I just asked around for the dozen or so numbers I needed, and from then on I never missed the ones I lost. As for my Facebook friends, every few months I clear out old contacts that I don’t speak to any more. I’m determined that I will never be one of those people that have over 500 ‘friends’, because it would be rather obvious that they’re not really my friends at all.

Dec 25 : What’s the biggest thing that weighed you down this year? Make a commitment to get rid of it in 2011.

Even though I had managed to get rid of most of my possessions in order to move to Japan, I still store a few books at home. Every time I would tell myself that I would get rid of them, I recall the days when I held them lovingly in my warm bed reading them from morning til night. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with keeping hold of a few old books, but I think those books combined with the ones I have kept because I couldn’t be bothered to sell/donate them is way too much. For Christmas, I got a brand new Kindle (yay!) so this year, I think I will make a conscious commitment to digitize most of my books. I’ll let you know how that goes!

So that’s the end of the Challenge. You can check out the previous prompts here. Thank you everybody who took part, thank you for all your comments and emails and thank you for reading Minimal Student in 2010. I hope you enjoyed this year as much as I did!

P.S. I will be in Tokyo for the next couple of days, spending most of the time seeing the big city whilst being disconnected. I have one post lined up, and in the meantime, please check out the most popular posts or if you want to know what I’m getting up to check out my other blog 101 Things in Japan.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!