Discard one thing every day

jasonleow  •  12 Oct 2021

Discard one physical thing every day.

I came across this habit streak once on Twitter, and it’s been brewing in my head. I’m a minimalist sort of guy, but still stuff tends to accumulate in the house.

Right now my desk is cluttered, and around the house, we’re running low on space to store stuff that we seldom use. It’s entropy at work, that annoying law of universe that says things will always lose energy and evolve into mess. It takes energy to keep things clean and tidy.

So I think it’s a good time to try that habit streak out. I’m big on habit formation, but many habits I want to develop are additive. I don’t have many subtractive habits – behaviours and actions that get me to own less, do less. It’s the via negativa approach of antifragility.

The rule is simple: Find one thing you own that you no longer need, and throw it away.

You can give it away, but I wouldn’t recommend having that option, because you’ll end up keeping it around the house to find another time to mail it out, or to pass it to the friend when you meet next. It just adds to the procrastination. It makes the effect lag behind your decision and action. What you want is a decisive action (pick one item, throw away), leading to a clear immediate outcome (one thing less around the house).

Size of item doesn’t really matter. It can be a pen. Or it can be a bed. Just one thing. As long as it’s something you can execute and get it done easily.

And stick to just ONE thing.

Why not throw a bunch of stuff at the same time? Might as well right?

No. Because that would make the habit too big. That would make the task into a spring-cleaning one. The level of time and effort to commit would make you waver in your habit. But finding just one thing to discard is easy. It’s got to be atomic.

So to sum up:

Discard one thing every day.
Just one, not more, not less.
Any size will do.