The 100 Things Challenge has both clear virtues and clear pitfalls. The main virtue of the 100 Things Challenge is that it focuses upon the big questions up front by making the person reflect upon what is most worth keeping instead of what to discard. The other virtue of the 100 Things Challenge is that it sets limits that forces one to evaluate everything that is coming into and out of their life. On the negative side the 100 Things Challenge has a lot of overhead in the sense that one has to keep track of an ongoing count of everything that they own. The other major flaw that I see with the 100 Things Challenge is that it is potentially wasteful of both money and resources in focusing upon getting rid of things for the sake of doing so. Sure I would understand getting rid of things that I do not see myself using again as being a good idea, especially if I can sell it or give it to somebody that can make use of it. Although what about extra things that will reasonably needed in the future? Such as clothing that still fits you well and looked good on you? The fact that you have too much good clothing is merely a side effect of you buying new clothing at a rate faster than your existing clothing is wearing out. Good stewardship and common sense would say that the better solution is to stop buying new clothing until you have a real need and then buy only what you need to make it through a typical wash cycle. Therefore, decluttering should ideally be accomplished through everyday wear and tear.
The concept of decluttering through everyday wear and tear principle is the basis of my proposed variant of the 100 Things Challenge, which I call the Paper 100 Things Challenge. The Paper 100 Things Challenge is designed to be a middle of the road alternative to the 100 Things Challenge. Which makes it ideal for people that like the idea of the original 100 Things Challenge but feel that it is too extreme to actually do for real. Keep in mind that 100 is just an arbitrary number which could just as easily be 150 which is Dunbar’s number. Personally I feel that using Dunbar’s number is both more practical and meaningful as it is a given that anybody that claims not to have a relationship with their personal things is almost certainly lying. To take the Paper 100 Things Challenge simply take a piece of paper and number it from 1 to 100 (or 150) and list out the things that are the most important to you that would make the cut if you were to actually take the 100 Things Challenge. If the space on the list seems a bit short for you, make one of the items a 100 Things Wardrobe that is a 100/150 sublist of clothing. Also keep in mind that you do not have to own everything on the list as this is more of an ideal list of minimalist personal possessions. Once you are finished with your Paper 100 Things Challenge list you are now armed with a valuable tool. The most important part of the Paper 100 Things Challenge is taking the time to create your list of items which takes you through the heart of the 100 Things Challenge. At its core the 100 Things Challenge is an exercise of mindfulness of one’s personal possessions. Therefore simply doing the work of preparing a list of what is most important to you will make it easier to let go of items that were not valuable enough to make the list. Be sure to make a second copy of your list to either keep in your wallet or in your smart phone if you have one, to help prevent impulse buys on unimportant things that you don’t need. At the same time it is important to realize that the Paper 100 Things Challenge is not set in stone, so it is a good idea to reevaluate your list from time to time. Finally if you consider this too easy, consider taking it up a notch by packing away everything that does not make the list to see if you can live with it on a daily basis. That way you can both reap the benefits of the experience of a radically simplified life and not have to worry about getting rid of things that you will later need to replace. Who knows in time through normal wear and tear you might find yourself living a real 100 Things Challenge lifestyle. Or you might realize that in reality a 150 to 333+ things lifestyle better fits your needs and values. The truth about minimalism is that living with less can help streamline your life to free up more time and energy for what matters. At the same time one must remain mindful of what you really need as there is no universal Dunbar’s number when it comes to personal possessions. Given that what you enjoy and value determines what is the right size but not too much or too little for you.