Cutting The Fat (Or How I Rocked The 100 Things Challenge)

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by Scott Kostolni

Eight Months ago I started learning about minimalism with a personal challenge to limit my wardrobe a few months later I took a 3 week cross country trip with just a 28 liter backpack.  Since then I have been learning about minimalism and slowly changing my behaviors.  Now I have decided it is time for the next step and take the 100 Things Challenge.

The Challenge

The idea of the 100 Things Challenge is exactly what it sounds like.  Remove all the extraneous and useless things that you own until you reach 100 items or less.  This is nothing new the challenge has been around for a while and people like Tammy Strobel have been living with 72 things for over a year.  So, I told my friends and family what I was doing for a little added pressure and locked myself in my house for two days until it was done.

Why Live With Only 100 Things?

A persons attention and short term memory function like RAM in a computer. There is only limited space in which to work. The things you own take up this space, whether you are aware of it or not, and can effect how you perform. By limiting what you have and discarding everything that is not useful you not only make space in your home but also in your mind. Space for you to think, create, and just enjoy the world around you.

Overcoming The Difficulties

This was not the first time I had tried to get rid of my possessions.  Originally I had wanted to go slowly and take my time but that never worked.  I suffer from hyper-sentimentalism and over-preparedness.  For some irrational reason throwing even the silliest things away upset me.  It was like I was offending the memories attached to the thing, or being irresponsible because one day I might need that rusty old knife I hadn’t touched in years.  As silly as this might seem it really did have an effect on me. Instead of getting rid of stuff slowly I decided to create a few safe guards and purge everything all at once.  Just like ripping off a bandaid.

  • I set up rules to help me decided what to keep and what to get rid of.  Like allowing a small box of keepsakes to be put in storage, another box of stuff that to be digitized and then discarded.  I also set up rules for grouping items and not counting books.
  • I told people at the beginning what I was doing to add a little pressure on myself and make sure I needed to be accountable for someone.  It also helped greatly to have a friend come over and help me, especially with throwing out some of the more important items.
  • Looking at other people lists also helped encourage me and give me inspiration for how mine should look.  A few notable ones were Jessica’s list of items she was taking to Japan at, the 50 Things owned by Leo Babauta, and Everett Bogue’s Why I Live With 57 Things (and what they are).

These helped enormously and I wasn’t only able to get down to 100 things I actually took it further and now only own 67 Items.

My 67 Things

Clothing (30 Items)

  • Socks (7 pairs)
  • Underwear (7 pairs)
  • T-Shirt
  • T-Shirt
  • T-Shirt
  • T-Shirt
  • T-Shirt
  • T-Shirt
  • T-Shirt
  • Pajama Shirt
  • Pajama Pants
  • Jeans
  • Zip-Off Travel Pants
  • Shorts
  • Bathing Suit
  • Workout Shorts
  • Winter Jacket
  • Scott-E-Vest Green Hoodie
  • EMS Dress Uniform
  • EMS Work Uniform
  • Suit (Shirt, Jacket, Tie, Pants)
  • Converse Sneakers
  • Dress Shoes
  • Vibram 5-Finger Barefoot Running Shoes
  • Wallet
  • Keys
  • Hat
  • Watch
  • Belt

Toiletries (3 Items)

  • Toothbrush
  • Beard Trimmer
  • Electric Razor (Charger + Travel Kit)

Electronics (19 Items)

  • MacBook Pro (Charger + Travel Lock)
  • iPhone
  • Nokia N900
  • FlipMino HD
  • Travel HDD (Cables + Case)
  • Large Storage HDD (Cables)
  • Nook eReader (Cables + Case)
  • Headphones
  • Sonic Screwdriver
  • Standing Lamp
  • Standing Lamp
  • Network Switch
  • Home Theater
  • Tv
  • TiVo
  • xBox 360
  • Desktop Computer
  • Home Media Server
  • Harmony Remote

Travel (5 Items)

  • Travel Outlets
  • Backpack
  • aLokSaks (x3)
  • Travel Towel
  • Sleeping Mask

Misc. Items (6 Items)

  • Thrace, My Pet Snake (Tank, Heat Lamp + Heat Pad)
  • EMT Kit
  • Exercise Bands
  • Guitar (Bag + Capo)
  • Laptop Bag
  • Moleskine Notebook

Consumables (4 Items)

  • Dr. Bronner’s All-In-One Soap
  • Toothpaste
  • Island Voyage Cologne
  • Deodorant

When All Is Said And Done

Now that I’m all finished it feels great!  I feel content and calm, like I’ve gained a little more control over my life (which I have!). I threw out only stuff that was broken or damaged or just garbage.  Everything else is being sold off, given to friends, or donated to goodwill.  There is definitely still some room for me to continue figuring out what is most important and discarding the rest and as I continue to change this list will too.


Jeremy November 8, 2010 at 11:18 PM

The pictures of your room look great! That’s awesome that you were able to do that. Sounds like a challenge that I would like to take for myself, but I don’t think I’m ready for that right now. Great job though!

Scott Kostolni November 8, 2010 at 11:27 PM

Thanks Jeremy!

I’m very happy with the way everything has turned out and I feel absolutely amazing. I have room to think and relax. It makes a huge difference.

You don’t have to jump into it like I did. Start off smaller instead. If you have a junk drawer of stuff you haven’t touched in ages or a few shirts that you never wear anymore toss them out.


Katy November 10, 2010 at 8:33 AM

Very nice :)

While getting to a specific number of items is not something ive done, after my grandmother passed away and we had to empty her apartment, the idea that everyone has too many things has become very salient to me. My move from st Louis to NYC saw a huge reduction in my total stuff (though the goal of fitting two people in an NYC apartment helps)

Congrats honey!

Scott Kostolni November 11, 2010 at 12:31 AM

Hey Katy!

We miss you in New York, it’s not the same without ya.

It literally feels like a weight has been lifted off of me. My room is a constant reminder on where my life is going and I’m just happier in general. I’ve got a few friends who are following suit and discarding their useless possessions to. It’s awesome.


Chris November 11, 2010 at 11:40 AM

Nice job dude! After the final clothing count, i’m down to 140 possessions. It is nearly *impossible* for my room to ever be cluttered again, even if everything I owned was all over the floor…it’s a great feeling :-D

Scott Kostolni November 11, 2010 at 12:06 PM

That’s awesome Chris!

Yea most of my friends know I am not the most organized person in the world but this makes it crazy easy. I know where everything goes and like you said even if its all out in the open it wouldn’t be all that bad. If you put together a list of everything you own I’d love to see it.


Eileen Kostolni November 23, 2010 at 8:04 PM

Congrats! I am following you in this challenge… Wish you had some before pictures to show people too. It is quite a transformation! :)

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