Tuesday, 23 June 2015

The Triple 60 Challenge: Designing a Simple Daily Decluttering Regime to Minimalist Nirvana

If you want a golden rule that will fit everybody, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.
William Morris (1834-1896)

We all want to get into good habits. We all want to have more money. Many of us want to declutter our homes (and lives).

So what is the "Triple 60 Challenge"? In essence, it is an extension of my "Investing by Divesting: Switching Clutter Capital for Investing Capital" activities I wrote about last year and which I have been religiously updating ever since.

However, I have felt recently that I need to supercharge the process. So how does the Triple 60 Challenge help?

Basically, it is a challenge to find every day for 60 days an item you have not used for at least 60 days and which you don't expect to use for the next 60 days. When you find it you look to sell or donate it.

It is that simple.

Tinker, Tailor

In part this was inspired by a post some time back by The Minimalists on their 90/90 Minimalism Rule.

Rather like their post highlights, though, you can tinker or tailor with it as you like.

Instead of if it has not been or unlikely to be used for 60 days, how about giving yourself (and your stuff) a little more time? How about 90, 120, 180 days?

Maybe you just want to lock in doing this for a month rather than--in the above example--60 days?

You could break up the task to give it a little more structure. How about a set number of days set aside for each of your rooms? Focus on the living room at first, maybe? Then the bedroom? The office? The kitchen? The macaroni pasta art gallery room? Whatever, you like.

Maybe you don't think you have time to do it everyday? How about once a week for a year (i.e 52 times)?

Seamlessly Structuring the Challenge

I don't think this last one is really necessary. Even if you removed all structure from the challenge at all it should be possible to do each day.

That is because the great thing about this challenge is that you don't necessarily need to set specifically about doing it. Setting aside a few minutes specifically to do the task--though maybe be useful at times--is not needed.

Why? Because it can just fall into your usually activities for the day.

Working in your office? Open a drawer and find some printer cartridges for a printer you no longer own? Excellent! Job is done for the day. All you have to do is list it for sale or donate it!

Wiggling your bike out of its winter hibernation to greet the good weather? An unused garden strimmer deals you a glancing blow in the process? Perfect. Job is done for the day. Sell it or donate it.

The key thing about this is that it means you get into a routine of looking for things--or rather, recognising things--you no longer use or plan to use soon. You are then freeing up the space and money to be used more productively.

They say it takes about 30 days for a habit to take hold. After 60 days (or however long you do it for) hopefully this habit will become so embedded in your life you continue to slowly but surely (if not exactly daily) trimming your life of the bits of unused clutter that everyone inevitably picks up without thinking.

My Progress So Far

Although, as noted at the start of this post, I have been looking to invest by divesting myself of clutter for some months now. In the last month I have stepped up the process in line with my self-set Triple 60 challenge. 

The results?  Pretty good so far (less than a month in). I take a moment each day to find a couple of things I have not used for 60 days and put them in a pile. Then, at the end of the week, I have a ponder on if they actually are of value to me and--if not--set about listing them for sale or donation over the weekend.

All told, I have now sold about £200 worth of stuff since I started my own Triple 60 challenge. In addition, I have several hundred pounds worth of stuff just waiting for a buyer or taker (my Amazon Seller, eBay and Freecycle accounts are bulging at the seams).

I have already packaged them up in jiffy bags and have placed them in two boxes ready for when (or if) they get sold so that they are clearly earmarked for sale. 

It is perhaps one of the most cathartic (and profitable) things I have done in years. For example, all that £200 I recently managed to raise from the sale of items went into the WPP purchase I made earlier this month.

This means it added about 13.5 shares of WPP to my portfolio and at least about £6 in new dividend income for the next year. And that will hopefully grow every year going forward! Maybe £7 the year after, and even more after that. Not bad at all for some unused stuff!

Give it a go! You won't regret it.

What do you think?

What other permutations of the Triple 60 challenge do you think will work for you? Are you already doing a similar thing? If so, how are you doing?

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[Creative Commons image reproduced from Flickr user Leo Reynolds]


  1. Honestly, This is one of the best and easiest ways to relive stress for me personally. If it doesn't fit in a drawer or closet the clutter goes in the garbage. Every spring I spend 2-3 weeks going through the drawers and closets in my house and selling any and everything that isn't of use anymore on eBay. Like you, it's usually a few hundred dollars and at the end of the day is better than zero dollars. Good luck on your challenge, at the end of the week when you review your pile just remember "less is more", as you know :)

    1. I know what you mean, Rich. I am not a massive buyer of things. But nonetheless you eventually build up quite a body of things that are no longer of value to you (or at least won't be again for ages).

      I have been decluttering on and off since October last year. It does add up. Since then I have sold about £850 (about $1340) worth of stuff. It makes a difference. I have more room and more money. What more could you want!

      Also, as all of its goes into investments it will start to be productive assets. Throwing off dividends to me hopefully year after year. As otherwise the clutter would have just lost value and added nothing it is, quite literally, a win-win situation.

      Your 2/3 weeks annual purge of stuff sounds wonderfully effective. For me, I'd much prefer to make it part of my everyday routine (maybe with the occasional large-scale offensive) as it better suits my personality...if that makes sense.

      What is also good is that you become more aware of what you are bringing into the house. If you're thinking "I will sell stuff I don't use" you're more likely to avoid buying stuff that may likely be in that pile sooner rather than later!

      Hopefully my progress keeps on moving along at the current pace. Though it will have to slow at some point, I suspect!

  2. This is a really good idea DD but unfortunately the thing I really come unstuck with and the thing that means we will never be a "minimalist" household, is the sheer volume of books which cover every surface in our house. Try as I might, I simply cannot bear to get rid of them even though I know I'll never read them again... but maybe ... :-)

    1. Haha, I feel your pain.

      However, I used the wrong word really. I don't mean minimalism in the sense of only having a table, chair and lamp in a white room with a single mug! What I mean is simply having your environment filled with stuff you find provides value to you and your life! Where I live could hardly be considered minimalist in the formal design sense (it is too untidy and filled with valuable clutter)!

      I feel your pain with regards books. As a researcher, I have shelf upon shelf of books. In recent years I have tried to trim it down a little by getting as many digital editions as possible and selling hard copies (hence why my divestment breakdown shows so many books!) but it has hardly touched the surface!

      That being said, if the books are not being used maybe selling them is a good idea. After all, if you do suddenly want to read them again: buy or borrow it again! As I say, my library is chiefly a working one so is in constant use. As a result, there is little I can cut down any further. But when the opportunity arises I try to jump on it!

      My fiction collection, however, is much harder to pare down for the exact reason you mention. I have got better at it though and have increasingly appreciated being able to do it. It has actually resulted in me reading more of the books I once owned as the library has become less sprawling!

      Also, the key thing is that when you start looking you realise there are loads of things which really don't give value to you but which are just "around". Someone else out there might find them useful or of interest!

  3. Love a good decluttering.

    We did a car boot sale on Sunday and made about 40 net profit. Not bad for sitting in a field in the sunshine for 3 hours!

    The thing that's slightly worrying is that we're getting to the point of having nothing else we want to get rid of and our house is still full of crap! Haha. Guess it means I'm a border at heart and will never be a true minimalist. I still like the general idea though.

    Cheers and good luck for the rest of the challenge!

    1. Yes, it is a great thing to do. Even if only occasionally! I must admit I will never be a true minimalist either. Indeed, I don't really wish to be either! But uncluttered is a win for me!

      Sounds like a successful day. I have not been to a carboot sale for ages, it must be said!

      Sounds like you have made a lot of progress cutting down the amount of rubbish in your house. I agree though, you reach a point (which I already am as well) where items with some sort of "resistance" to being disposed of emerges. I have a post I was working on which sort of covers that point. It is weird, because even though you know they have little/no value to you it is challenging to get rid of them. A real test!

      Good luck finding further stuff to get rid off.