Should you buy it? Use the 45 Minute Rule

I don’t think I’ve written a post on minimalism in years. My guess as to why is because once I adopted a life of less stuff, I really didn’t have that much more to say about it. I still have a sparsely decorated house and a half-empty closet, but at the same time this is the most I’ve ever owned and I’m hesitant to add to the collection. I am still striving to for that difficult balance of as little as possible with as much as I need. But I do have one rule that I adhere to:

The 45 Minute Rule

If you will not use an item for at least 45 minutes per day, you do not need to own it

I think this came from the book What’s Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption but I also vaguely remember it in one of the Zeitgeist films on Netflix, so I’m not wholly sure. In any case, it’s served as a quick way to assess how much I will really use an item I want to buy. It’s particularly useful for those “novelty” gadgets you’re always tempted to get but can’t quite justify because deep down inside you know it will sit in a closet, but then you get it anyway hoping this time will be different. It’s not.

How much is 45 minutes per day?

That is 5.25 hours per week

275 hours per year

or 11 days per year

You’d be surprised what items you use for way more than 45 minutes per day: your furniture, television, coffeemaker. And you might be surprised at what you don’t: DVDs you’ve already watched, a fancy food processor, etc. Once I started looking at things, I couldn’t believe how much I owned, or rather how much I wanted, that wouldn’t serve any real purpose in my home.

Obviously you don’t wear all your shirts 5.25 hours per week but I bet you wear your favourite ones at least 11 days per year. Some items in your closet that you only wear a handful of times per year? Ditch ‘em.

If you won’t use something for at least 45mins per day / 5.25 hours per week / 275 hours per year / 11 days per year, it’s probably cheaper to borrow or rent it.

Let someone else commit to ownership of a snowblower or Margaritaville Magarita maker, you can offer some cash to borrow it on an as-needed basis. There’s no reason to accumulate a huge collection of tools or kitchen gadgets or whatever else if you’re not going to get the use out of these you need to justify the price. One of the things I always think about is my snowboard: I own one but I’ve been pretty bad at hitting the hills the past few years. In the past 2 winters, I’m not sure I’ve even made it out 10 times! And yet there is a great snowboard and all my gear, cluttering up the cupboards =\ That is an item I’d probably be better off renting until I took the sport more seriously!

Obviously you should still buy consumables (food, soap, etc.) that you will use less than 45mins per day, but when it comes to reusable items, the 45 minute rule is one of my go-to decision makers.