The 99kg challenge

Ready for a fast journey using the contents of a backpack? Call Chris does Content.Having just got rid of 80% of my library, I’ve set myself a new challenge: by the end of the year, everything I own will weigh less than 99 kilograms in total.

Why? Because it’s refreshing. I’ve always been a minimalist, but home ownership and relative affluence lead to surprising volumes of clutter in your life, and I’m no exception – most people would be happy all their possessions fitted into a 25 sq ft cupboard, but for me that’s a crushing gravitational pull that anchors me in one place and puts a brake on opportunities. Never have anything in your life you couldn’t walk away from in ten minutes.

Even with that attitude, it’s not going to be easy. I own a couple of big items: bikes, a heavy punchbag. So the challenge is going to include big decisions: one of the bikes is a classic XTR’d Orange Clockwork from 1991, a 10kg chunk right there, and I’d be loath to part with it despite riding it perhaps once a year. But that’s the point. When your possessions own you, it’s time to get rid of them. Simplify, simplify.

IMG_2156Of course, technology makes it easier. CDs, DVDs, books, magazines are now all weightless, spread across hard disks and Kindles. And my laptop itself weighs in at barely a kilo. So all the lumpy stuff that grows on bookshelves is easy to part with; just rip and organise. While clothes are easy, too: a couple of suits and shirts for smart, a dozen identical black T shirts and half as many 501s for everyday. The shoe rack needs culling, but at 15 pairs I’m hardly Imelda Marcos. Not quite the Jack Reacher lifestyle, buying $20 of clothes every few days and discarding them rather than laundering, but they’ll fit in a single bag.

And there are caveats: I’m not going to include furniture, or kitchen appliances, or my car, or the house itself. (After all, those things can be sold or rented out with ease, providing assets and cashflow without the burden of occupancy.) So 99 kaygees looks like a doable, if slightly stretched, goal.

But ultimately, this isn’t about weight or possessions or lifestyle; it’s about simplicity. When you own less, you worry less about what could happen to it. The stuff you do keep gets used and worn out without getting precious about it. Living in a house without valuables means you need less insurance. Worry less about crime. Spend less time cleaning. Enjoy small spaces more, because the clutter’s gone. Not to mention the savings you make when you move house, or refresh your wardrobe. You’re automatically spending less, because you’re using the few things you own to their theoretical limit.

The 99kg challenge is the essence of Zen: a few good things, central to life and appreciated fully.

And after that? Maybe a 9kg challenge…

7 thoughts on “The 99kg challenge

  1. As of today (13 March 2013) I have “lost”:

    – 250kg of books
    – 30kg of clothes/shoes
    – 150kg of furniture (not counted against total)
    – 25kg of unused paint/tools/garage stuff

    And am looking next at

    – 50kg of magazines
    – 50kg of oft-consulted textbooks, if I can replace them with Kindles
    – 30kg of wallets containing CDs and DVDs to be transferred to hard disk

  2. Pingback: The simple life | Chris does Content
  3. Recent weight loss: a 4kg duvet (nobody needs more than one duvet); about 2kg of Beethoven and Mozart CDs ripped onto disk. Still considering what to do with bikes.

  4. Recent weight loss: wardrobe. Clothing now totals only black suits, only black shoes, only white shirts, similar black T shirts, single-source socks for easy pairing, and jeans, with sports stuff and ties being the only swatches of colour.

  5. Big one coming up: 15 thick binders (about 8,000 sheets of paper) comprising my MBA coursework. Found a scanning company that can reduce it to convenient PDFs of each module. Another 20kg or so off the shelf – but more importantly, a volume of space about quarter of a cubic metre back in my life.

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