Trying the “100 Thing Challenge”

I’ve read about the 100 Thing Challenge before, and found the idea intriguing. Recently I’ve been thinking about it again, this time with more interest in giving it a try. Unlike Dave, the originator of the idea, I am not interested in selling all but 100 of my personal possessions. However, I think that I could happily live for an extended period of time while limiting myself to 100 personal items. So, as an extension of the Minimalist Experiment, I’m going to pack away almost everything that I own and give it a try for one month.

The Basic Concept

The Goal: Live for with only 100 personal things for the entire month of October, 2010.

The Rules

  • “Personal Things” means things that are entirely or mostly mine. Shared objects (like the bed) are not personal and thus won’t be counted.
  • A few things are counted in groups. For example: the power cord, mouse and earbuds always go with the computer, so together they are a system: one item. In the original rules, like items could be clumped together: underwear, 1 item; socks, 1 item. I may do that, once I determine how many items I will be using.
  • I won’t be throwing things away, or getting rid of them. I will simply be storing them away for the month’s experiment. After the experiment, I may decide to get rid of some of them, or not.

I’ve got a couple of weeks to prepare for this experiment. I’ve been thinking about what I use on a daily basis and made a tentative list of the 100 things I’ll need to keep out. Over the next few days I’ll pay more attention to what I use day to day so that I can tweak my list before the month starts.

My 100 Things


  1. jeans
  2. jeans
  3. jeans
  4. khakis
  5. gym shorts
  6. swim trunks
  7. shorts
  8. track pants
  9. pj pants, silk
  10. pj pants, cotton
  11. pj pants, fleece
  12. running shoes
  13. sanuks
  14. dress shoes, brown sketchers
  15. dress shoes, brown other
  16. belt, leather
  17. belt, leather, 2-sided
  18. belt, fabric
  19. tie
  20. watch
  21. bandanna
  22. handkerchief, white
  23. handkerchief, blue
  24. suit
  25. underwear, group counted as 1 item
  26. socks, group counted as 1 item
  27. dress shirt
  28. dress shirt
  29. dress shirt
  30. dress shirt
  31. button shirt
  32. button shirt
  33. button shirt
  34. polo shirt
  35. polo shirt
  36. polo shirt
  37. t-shirt
  38. t-shirt
  39. t-shirt
  40. t-shirt
  41. running shirt, black
  42. running shirt, gray
  43. rain jacket
  44. sweater
  45. sweater
  46. hoodie
  47. Daily Use

  48. glasses, prescription
  49. wedding ring
  50. desk chair
  51. pillow
  52. pillow case
  53. wallet
  54. pocket knife
  55. chapstick
  56. keys
  57. sticky-note pad
  58. cell phone (incl: charger)
  59. Hygiene

  60. razor (incl: brush, soap, stand)
  61. washcloth
  62. towel
  63. deodorant
  64. toothbrush
  65. electric clippers
  66. Work

  67. backpack
  68. laptop (incl: mouse, power cord, headphones)
  69. camera (incl: case, charger, mini-tripod)
  70. Moleskine planner
  71. fountain pen (incl: bottle of ink, needle for refill)
  72. 3-ring binder
  73. misc. writing instruments
  74. School

  75. books, 2
  76. sketchbooks, 2
  77. cardboard tube – for transporting work from home to school on motorcycle
  78. art supplies, drawing
  79. art supplies, painting
  80. Transportation

  81. motorcycle
  82. helmet
  83. boots, slip-on
  84. boots, lace-up
  85. doo rag, skulls
  86. doo rag, American flag
  87. jacket, leather flight
  88. jacket, textile motorcycle
  89. gloves, leather
  90. Eat

  91. bowl
  92. plate
  93. mug
  94. glass
  95. fork
  96. spoon
  97. knife
  98. stainless steel water bottle
  99. Other

  100. books in library
  101. tools
  102. camping gear

As you can see, I still have some extra items that I could hold on to. I’m leaving the slots open so that I can easily see where I am at.

I went ahead and included the dishes that I use on a regular basis. Since I’m thinking about limiting myself to only a single set, I will have to wash them after eating every meal. I may quickly tire of having to do dishes after every meal, but I think it will also add an interesting twist to the experiment. They may not make it to the final list, replaced as I pack away the rest of my items and discover that I have overlooked a few things that I will need.

We’ll see how it goes. It is, after all, only the preliminary stages of an experiment.

19 thoughts on “Trying the “100 Thing Challenge”

  1. marlon @ productivity bits says:

    I think those items on items 27-40 are more than what you need in a weekly cycle. You can have 5 work shirts and 2 white shirts (probably as undershirts) to cover a work week.

    Let’s see the results of this. This sounds very exciting. I hope to see pictures along the way.

    Good luck!

    • Matthew says:

      I certainly agree that I don’t need all of those shirts on a weekly basis. However, as a college student, not a full-time worker, I don’t have a 5-day work week rotation.

      The tshirts are for casual wear and to school. The button shirts are for school. The polos and dress shirts are for work and church.

      This is something that I find frustrating about my chosen degree program: as an art student, I am frequently getting my clothes dirty while in class. So I frequently wear two sets of clothes a day, which doubles the amount of clothes that I need/wear a week. (I could get by with less, but then I’d have to do laundry more often. A few extra items is worth the trade-off to me.

      I will certainly be posting some pictures, once I get underway.

  2. Rebecca Burgener says:

    My husband is the same way about more than one set of clothes. Each job requires a different “uniform.”

    You’ll find that doing the dishes after each meal keeps the kitchen much cleaner, and if you and your wife moved into an RV that would be a good habit to be in anyway. There isn’t much room for dirty dishes.

    Are toothpaste/mouthwash, shampoo, and soap grouped with any of those hygiene items? Or that’s probably stuff that you share with your wife.

    It would be interesting to hear some of what you pack away, especially any second thoughts as you seal the boxes.

    • froldt says:

      The dishes are taken care of after each meal. The pots/pans are washed, dried, and put away. The plates/silverware are rinsed and put in the dishwasher. However, it would be a good habit to get back into before moving into an RV. (Since our first two apartments didn’t have dishwashers, it’s certainly enjoyable to have one now, though.)

      Toothpaste, shampoo, and soap are shared items, so I’m not listing those.

      I’ll be at least photographing everything that I pack away, if not making lists. I’ll have to see how long that would take to write down before I commit to listing everything.

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