100 Thing Update

I’ve been living with the 100 Thing Challenge for about three weeks now. I thought there would have been more to write. My expectations included at least a couple of update posts by now. However, my life hasn’t actually been affected all that much. My day-to-day routine hasn’t changed any, except that it’s easier for me to make decisions regarding what to wear for the day.

There are a few things that I’ve noticed

Even though I’ve made a few changes to My List, most of the things discussed below are more observations about how I use the things that I do have.

  • I’ve only worn one of my motorcycle jackets, so I removed the other from the list (and it means it is time to sell it).
  • I put my pocket knife away and have only been using the one on my keychain. I haven’t missed it so far! Removed it from the list.
  • My running shoes were falling apart. So I wore then while white-water rafting and then tossed them afterward. I thought it would be nice for them to go out with one last horrah! Removed from list.
  • I think I’ve worn a single dress shirt one time so far. I like having them, however, and wear them more when I’m not spending so much time in the art studio.
  • Brr… it can get cold on the motorcycle. I’ve managed to layer up and stay comfortable, and can go still colder with what I have on the list. When it gets around to winter time, however, I’ll have to dig out the cold-weather gear. Added some items to the list for that.
  • Apparently I’ve switched back to shaving in the shower, so I haven’t been using my brush, soap, or brush stand. I tend to do this in cycles, however, so I’m leaving them on the list.
  • My initial idea was to list each individual dish, and then just hand-wash them after each meal. That hasn’t happened, so I’ve replaced that portion of the list with a single item: dishes.
  • With the dishes, now that I’ve been paying attention, I realized that I only use 3-4 out of the cupboard. A mug for coffee, a juice glass for juice, a glass for water, and a second glass for water when the other one’s in the dishwasher. And really, the second glass isn’t necessary. Why do I have a whole cupboard full again?
  • I’ve realized that I use more of my art supplies at home than I thought. I prefer to bring my projects home from school to work on, instead of staying in the studio there. So it’s handy to have two sets of some things so that I don’t have to carry everything back and forth with me.

I think it’s interesting to realize how little I actually use on a regular basis. Furthermore, I’ve been surprised at how little my day-to-day life has changed upon undertaking this challenge.

An Easy Challenge

The main reason that this has been easy for me is because I’ve built up to it slowly. During the Minimalist Experiment, I eliminated much of the stuff that I didn’t use on a regular basis. This preparation allowed me to get everything in place in less than two hours. Because I didn’t get rid of anything but only stashed it away, I have no fear that I got rid of something important to me or that I would need. Since I’m only focusing on my personal items, nothing that my wife and I share or jointly own, I eliminated much the stress of having to include someone else in my decision making. Perhaps most importantly:

What I’m doing is not obvious

Unless someone reads my blog, the only way that they would know I am undertaking this challenge would be to notice that I’m only cycling through a handful of outfits each week. But I did that anyway! If you walked into my apartment, you still couldn’t tell that I’m only using 100 things. You *might* notice that my side of the dresser and my bedside table have less stuff on them than my wife’s (for the first time ever!) but those would be your only clues

This fact is comforting. It’s nice to know that I don’t have to explain the experiment to everyone I know (not that I’d mind, just the repetition of having to do so over and over would get to me).

So that’s my update for the first two (official) weeks of the challenge. Not a lot to report, other than the discoveries about my habits. I’m happy with that, however. I would be worried if I’d realized that I needed twice as many things just to get by on a daily basis. So far so good, and onward we go!

No Soap or Poo

When I announced the 100 Thing Challenge, Rebecca commented about the lack of soap or shampoo on my list. (Toothpaste I share with my wife.) Instead of responding in a comment, I thought that this topic deserved its own post.

Some time ago, I ran across this article about not using soap or shampoo. That made me think. And so I dug a little deeper. After reading numerous articles about the subject, including this one, I decided to try out this experiment for myself.

The Experiment

Since the end of June, I haven’t been using soap or shampoo. I shower daily, but simply don’t add man-made chemicals to the process. I have continued to use deodorant. Washing of hands with soap occurs after using the restroom and before any food preparation.

Getting Started

My first reaction after reading about the concept was that it would end with me feeling dirty, and those around me agreeing. However, this was never the case. My wife didn’t even realize that I had started the experiment (though I’d told her about it) for at least three weeks. I feel just as clean, if not more-so, than before.

The articles above both mentioned a normalization period of about two weeks (a time for your body to adjust to the lack of chemicals that attack it). I think it took me about three days. My hair felt greasy for couple of days, dry for one, then felt better than normal. Nice, soft and almost never greasy.


This experiment was not conducted while working in an office, then spending the remainder of my day in my apartment. Instead, I spent the month of July living and working outside at a summer camp. 28 of those days saw record-setting highs. We swam in pools and lakes, went rock climbing, spent a night a week in a tent, and generally had a great time. I sweated, a lot.

I noticed only three times when I needed to use something extra in the shower, each time on my hair. I skipped a shower one day, and the next day I only felt better after washing twice, using shampoo the second time. After spending an absurd amount of time in a chlorinated pool each day for nearly a week, I noticed my hair drying out and threw some conditioner in there for two days.

The Results

After having avoided showering with soap and shampoo for over three months now, I doubt that I will return to using it. Not only have I saved money, but I can now shower faster. More importantly, I actually feel cleaner. My hair stays clean-feeling throughout the day, and doesn’t scream for attention after only a few hours. My skin has become less oily (which was always an issue before). I am generally cleaner-feeling over all.

This simple experiment has shown me not to blindly follow life rules just “because I always have” or “because you should” or any other reason that is not meant to be questioned. Make your own decisions and test things out. See what works for you, and do that. See what doesn’t work for you, and stop doing that. For me, soap and poo don’t work.

Contents of My Wallet

Since I recently listed what I carry in my pockets and on my keychain, I thought that I should detail my wallet as well.

I love my wallet, and have been carrying it for over 3 years now. I received it as a gift, and thus am not sure where it came from. In fact, I don’t even know what it is. The closest match that I can find is a business card holder at Office Depot (which I can’t seem to find online). This thing is tiny. If you take a brand new wallet that is empty, mine is still smaller than that, even when it’s full.

So, here’s what I carry:

    Left Side

  • debit card
  • debit card
  • gift card (there’s something like $3.17 on here, I really should just go spend it so I’m not carrying it around)
  • some cash (folded in either 1/3′ or 1/4’s – more than about 4 bills and it gets to be more bulky than I prefer)

    Right Side

  • driver’s license
  • school ID

    Inside the slip-in portion (all of these items are paper)

  • prescription discount card
  • insurance membership card
  • credit union membership card
  • proof of insurance for motorcycle

I used to carry far more than this in my wallet. It used to be huge (I barely notice this on in my pocket); it was packed with photos, papers with notes and random information, business cards, and more. Once I realized that I never used all of the things that I carried “just in case,” it was easy to cut back to only the essentials. Not only is it now easier to find what I need, but my wallet fits easily into my front pocket (when I’m traveling) and is far more comfortable to sit on.

I’ve tried a number of different wallet styles: 3-fold, bi-fold, duct-tape wallet, paper wallet, rubber band, binder clip. None work as well for me as this one does.

What’s in your wallet?

What Is On My Keychain

Do you ever wonder about the wad of stuff that is on your keychain? Do you really need it all? Or is it just more stuff taking up space in your pocket?

Here is what I have:

  1. house key
  2. key to office
  3. motorcycle key
  4. paperclip
  5. mini pocket knife
  6. P-38
  7. Kroger card
  8. library card
  9. key to lock for locker
  10. key to lock for other locker
  11. mini thumb drive


  1. car key – this thing takes up too much space in my pocket, so I only carry it when I will be driving the car
  2. mini-lanyard
  3. tiny flashlight

I haven’t used the mini thumb drive in some time, so I could comfortably get rid of it. The mini pocket knife actually helped me with the “100 Thing Challenge” because I realized that I only needed one knife, so I was able to quit carrying the separate one. Ideally, the two locker locks would use the same key, but that is not the case (and I see no point in buying a new lock just so that it matches).

Other than the thumb drive, these items get used on at least a weekly basis, so I feel that they are well worth carrying. Since I don’t have any decorative items, this all fits comfortably on a single ring, and does not take up too much space in my pocket.

What’s on your keychain?

Starting the 100 Thing Challenge

Today’s the day. For 31 days, I’ll be living as if I only have 100 personal items.

In reality, however, I’ve been living like this for the last two weeks now. I made my list and then I packed all but my 100 things away. (I’ll be explaining in more detail how I did that soon.) That was a week ago, and I’ve been using only the things that I kept out. Only once or twice have I needed to reconsider what I was using (the temperature dropped, and I needed some warmer layers while on the motorcycle.)

Based on this experience, I shouldn’t have any problem making it through the month. Even as the temperature begins to dip lower, I expect to layer my clothes and keep warm while riding the motorcycle (which is a technique that I learned while backpacking).

Maybe I’ve left out a few things that I needed. Perhaps I’ve kept out far too much. I’m excited to see how it goes! It should be an interesting month.

What I Carry In My Pockets

I carry too much stuff in my pockets. Every morning I joke that I’m “Putting Myself Together”.

List stuff:

  1. wallet
  2. cell phone
  3. keys
  4. car key
  5. chapstick
  6. pen
  7. handkerchief
  8. Moleskine planner (occasionally)

This might not seem like much, but it can certainly feel like it. Plus, I’ve subtracted a few things from this list: eraser (from when I carried a pencil), paper for note capture, receipts, pocket knife. (The pocket knife stayed on the list until just a few days ago, when I realized that I had to cut back because of 100 Thing Challenge, I just didn’t have room for it on the list. Plus, I have a knife on my keychain, so I was doubling up.)

When Was the Last Time You Drove Without the Radio On?

Since I’m using my motorcycle as my main source of transportation I don’t listen to the radio anymore while commuting. I didn’t even notice is absence until one day I was listening to the radio at home and realized that I didn’t recognize a number of the songs. Since I only listen to one radio station, I’m normally pretty up-to-date with the music that they play. It was sort of a shock to realize that I hadn’t really had the radio on for nearly two months.

Now that I’m aware of it, however, I don’t care much to have the radio on while driving. When I’m in the car with my wife, I often just turn it off. I find it so much nicer to have fewer distractions in the car, which allows me to focus on other things. Without background noise, I’m better able to be involved in the conversation that I have with my wife. I have an opportunity to listen to myself think, whether I’m working through a problem, replaying a conversation I had earlier in the day, or just having an internal dialogue about my day.

It’s not something that I think about when I’m on the motorcycle. I don’t miss having background noise (I like hearing the rumble of the engine). If I were to take a long trip, especially on an interstate, I might consider bringing along the Mp3 player, only because of the boredom that interstates provide.

*Disclaimer*Even though I like music, I am by no means an audiophile. To me, music is background noise. I don’t keep up with trends and I don’t know bands or song names. I’m not saying that you should stop listening to music, but to be aware that sometimes it’s on just out of habit. *End Disclaimer*

This is not a new thing for me. I’ve always preferred to have the radio off. When I’m riding with someone, I prefer to have less distractions so that I can focus on the conversation we’re having. When I’m by myself, I enjoy the opportunity to focus on my thoughts. There are already enough things to distract you when driving, we shouldn’t need to add to them.

Do you ever turn off the radio when driving? Give it a try, spend some time with your thoughts, see what you have to say.

Luddite Update

It’s been almost a month since I decided to break the technology ties. I thought I should give you an update of how I’m doing with the goals I set.

    Things I Wanted to Get Done

  • Write a minimum of one high-quality blog post a week. – I’ve excelled at this one. Right now, I have posts scheduled for two weeks in advance, with some others that are partially done. Not only that, but I have my first two guest posts out there as well!
  • Create a digital resource (ebook) that I can sell. – I actually didn’t start this one until today (the day I’m writing this post, not the day you read it.) But in this day, I’ve got about 75% of it done. It won’t be long now!
  • Keep up with my schoolwork and maintain my grades This one has taken more time than I expected. This may easily be my most homework-intense semester yet. But I’ve got it under control.
  • It wasn’t on the list, but I’ve also been working on creating a new website. I have just about all of the coding done now, and most of the initial content prepared. A few more tweaks, and it should be live.
  • Also not on the list, but I decided to undertake the 100 Thing Challenge, and am mostly prepared to start that on October 1st.

    How I Expected To Get Them Done

  • Check email only twice a day. – This one I’ve failed miserably at. I’m back to keeping gmail open in my browser (along with at least two dozen other tabs).
  • Minimize my Facebook account. – I unfriended over 2/3 of the people that I was friends with, and now can use Facebook in less than 5 minutes a day. Still not quite convinced that it’s worth having an account, however.
  • Minimize my Twitter account. – I unfollowed everyone that I was following, and now only have 17 people that I’m tracking. I can be on and off in well under 10 minutes a day.
  • Ignore my cell phone more. – I actually threw it into my backpack and didn’t carry it around (in my pocket) for a whole day. It was fabulous! I’m trying to make this a habit, which means breaking the habit of putting it into my pants pocket.
  • TV – This hasn’t been a challenge so far. Apparently I’ve only got one show that I’m interested in enough to watch, so it doesn’t take up too much time. Plus, since it comes out on Thursdays, I really don’t watch it until the weekend, when I have the time. And even then, I only remember to watch it when my wife reminds me.
  • Clean up my computer’s desktop.Done. I’m still loving my background image and the lack of clutter whenever I turn on my computer.
  • Clean up my actual desktop.Done. It’s amazing how relaxed and more productive less clutter can make one!

    Things to Work On

  • Email – I really have to work on being less dependent on my email. I think that only checking 2 times a day is not quite enough, at least for now. So I’m bumping the limit up to 4. I think that I really need 3 (morning, evening, random) but I’m going to give myself an extra, since I’m moving away from “constantly” to “limited”. Once I’m comfortable with 4, I can more easily drop down to 3, then 2.
  • Get the ebook finished and out there. – I’ve been wanting to do this for some time now. Finally, with some prompting from Rebecca Burgener, I actually got started. Following the Cult of Done manifesto, I’m not aiming for perfection, but for completion. I’ll get a finished version, send it to 2-3 friends for editing, implement their suggestions, and put it out there for sale. If you’re looking for a cheap and easy way to help keep the romance in your relationship, I’ve got just the thing for you!
  • Get the other website live. – I wasn’t planning on creating a new website, but the ideas kept coming to me. So I figured that maybe it was past time.
  • Keep up with the homework. – It’s a stream that won’t end until early December. So until then I’ve got to just keep working and not let myself get behind.

Well, there’s my progress. I’m pleased with it; I feel like I got a good amount done, especially since I wasn’t planning on half of the projects. However, I’ve also got a good bit of work to do, both on habits and projects. What do you think? Any suggestions for me?

Crippling FaceBook

I’ve already Minimized Twitter, now it’s time to cripple FaceBook. Like Twitter, I think that FaceBook has its positive attributes, but I also think that it’s too easy to spend far too much time on there. And I want to spend less time on my computer.

What I like about FaceBook

  • Allows me to keep in touch with family and friends who are geographically spread out
  • Provides an opportunity for business to keep in touch with clients/potential clients

That’s it, two things. I don’t care for the games, for the ads, or for the idea that just because I’ve met someone we should be FaceBook friends.

Steps to Cripple FaceBook

  • Just like with Twitter, I had too many friends on FaceBook. Well over the 150 that Dunbar’s law states we can be friends with. So it was time to cut back. I went from around 300 to just over 50. This wasn’t a one-time event, but whenever I had a few free minutes I would go and scan through the list and delete people that I don’t actually talk to or keep tabs on.
  • Since I’ve got fewer people clogging up my feed stream, it is easier to read through it and get up-to-date. I can now do so in less than 5 minutes, including responding to any messages that I may receive.
  • After reading this post by the Practical Nerd, I went into FaceBook and turned off all of my email notifications (the only kind that I had). Now I won’t know when someone has sent me a message, unless I log into FaceBook and check. But that’s ok. They are never urgent, and checking once a day is more than enough.
  • Finally, since I’m also tired of all the ads on FaceBook, I installed a GreaseMonkey script for the FireFox browser that hides all of the ads and suggested friends and junk on the right side of the screen. Now when I log into FaceBook, there are fewer distractions and less clutter on the screen.

As of right now, FaceBook has been crippled. I can use it to do what I want, without getting sucked in for hours. I’ll try it out like this for now and see if I want to change it any more.

Packing for the “100 Thing Challenge”

I’ve begun to pack things away for the “100 Thing Challenge”, and it’s interesting to see how it’s coming. Not the packing away part, that’s easy enough. The challenge is feeling like I have enough to cover the “what-if” questions that pop up while being realistic about the answers.

For example, I continually worry that I won’t have enough clothes. What if some event comes up when I need a particular outfit? Realistically, what I’ve set aside is more than I actually wear on a week-to-week basis. On a long-term basis, if I really needed something else, I would go out and either borrow or buy it. I can do the same thing this month, unless I already happen to have it, then I can just pull it out and be good to go (which is just another form of borrowing).

I get to cheat a little

It’s easier to plan what clothing to keep since I’m only covering a month’s time. If I were planning for a whole year, I would have to be prepared for temperatures ranging from 0°F to about 100°F. That makes for additional clothing that I would need (especially for the colder temperatures).

Of course, this advantage didn’t occur to me until I was separating my clothes. I started to stack my shorts on the upper shelf in my closet, right next to my sweaters, when I realized how good I have it. Of course, I then went back and added two sweaters and a hoodie to my list, since I’m trying to be realistic about this. (Good thing that I have those extra spaces left!)

Current progress

  1. All of my socks, underwear, doo rags, and bandannas now fit into a single drawer in the dresser.
  2. I’ve moved the clothes that I’m “keeping” onto one shelf, and the non-100 onto a separate shelf.
  3. My motorcycle gear was already separated, so I didn’t have to do anything different about that.
  4. The shoes that I won’t be wearing are stashed in the back of the closet, out of sight.
  5. I cleared my desk of non-100 items.
  6. My dresser and bedside table are now empty of non-100 items.
  7. Purged my backpack of non-100 thing items.

I think that I’m mostly done and ready to go. The hardest part is separating school stuff from non-school stuff. Do I need to keep out that canvas, or am I just doing so because I might “want to maybe use it sometime?” Hard as it might be, when I run into a question like that, it’s time to pack it away.

I discovered that other than clothes, most of the pruning consisted of decorations and doubles. I stashed away a lot of things that I never use (jewelry box with jewelry that is never worn), some mementos, and a lot of spare items (ie: the 15 pencils and pens that I had in my backpack)

Fortunately this wasn’t hard work. It consisted more of making the time to move things things around than it was a challenge to separate them. If I were actually getting rid of things, that might have been a whole different story!