Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the amount of stuff that surrounds you all the time? Or have you tried a random decluttering challenge found online without the result you were hoping for?
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Then let me tell you about my way to declutter your home and your life.
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For me, the time to finally declutter came when I realized my due date was approaching and we had a bunch of baby stuff to install. As it turned out, however, our home was so cluttered that we had a really hard time finding a place for everything.
Being a fan of challenges I decided to try one out.
Unfortunately, what I came to find was that all decluttering challenges out there required way more spare time than I could afford. After all, I had a toddler to look after too and I couldn’t just ditch her for an hour or two every day for a month.
And so I created my own decluttering challenge.
If you want to live a simpler life or your home just started to feel a bit too cluttered for your taste, here is a decluttering challenge that will help you organize every corner even with a very busy schedule.
The different type of decluttering challenges
Reading blog posts on decluttering your home turned out to be a lot easier than actually doing it. Here are the challenges I faced and how I managed to overcome them.
1. It was overwhelming
Our home doesnâ€™t have the best layout you could think of. Basically, weâ€™re talking about 6 tiny rooms, 2 closets, and a bathroom. And I had no idea where to start. I spend a whole day just trying to wrap my head around it.
Solution: Make a list of rooms, closets, and cabinets. Start with the rooms you spend the most time in, as well as the cabinets you open and use more often.
Even after you get rid of all the extra stuff you donâ€™t need anymore, youâ€™ll still need to store the things left. This is a great challenge for me because I am very limited in terms of cabinets and storage space.
Thus, there is always plenty of stuff lying around everywhere just screaming CLUTTER!!!
For me, this has always been incredibly discouraging. Like I just have to accept it and learn to live with it.
Solution: Today the internet is full of storage hacks and space optimization ideas.
So I finally sat down and researched the best declutter tips to help me put everything in order.
Want to know about these ultimate tips? Then keep reading ahead.
3. Kids in the way
During the day my daughter is usually at the nursery daycare centre. However, she was a bit sick and since we’re living in a pandemic situation, eventually she had to stay home for almost a month.
And as you probably have noticed, decluttering with a toddler at your feet is pretty much impossible.
Solution: Set a time block during each naptime for decluttering. For me, this was 15 to 30 minutes out of a 2 hours noon nap (the rest of the nap is already reserved for doing daily tasks, blogging, and a bit of rest).
Ideally, I reserved another 15-30 minutes time block when she goes to sleep in the evening.
If youâ€™re feeling especially productive you could also try to get the kids out of the house for a while. Ask daddy, grandma, or an aunt to take them to the zoo, a playground, or a kidsâ€™ play centre and youâ€™ll easily buy yourself a couple more hours.
4. Limited time
As I mentioned, my time is quite limited. While I do like the idea of someone else taking the toddler out, I couldnâ€™t do it since she was not well.
Plus, being 8 months pregnant I’d say I got tired pretty easily. So on most days, I could spend no more than 15 minutes twice a day.
Solution: Work with what youâ€™ve got.
15 minutes may not sound like much time but when you time-block the interval and focus on the task at hand youâ€™ll be surprised how much youâ€™ll be able to accomplish.
To make the most of the time blocks you have for decluttering your home, it is best to use a decluttering checklist to focus your efforts and be more efficient.
5. “I may need it someday”
I bet there are a bunch of things you’re keeping “just in case”.
Sure know I did.
The truth is, however, that I have never used any of these “someday” stuff. Or at least not since I first got them and they served their purpose.
Solution: For each item, ask yourself how many times have you actually used it over the last year? Or the last couple of years if itâ€™s something more expensive.
If you havenâ€™t used it at all, it has to go.
If you have used it once or twice and is cheap or easily borrowed, it has to go.
6. Sentimental value
This was probably the hardest one for me. I kept so many keepsakes collected over the years that they are mostly stored in multiple boxes since I donâ€™t have space to display them.
Iâ€™ve always known that they are a clutter of the highest order but still, I was never able to get rid of them.
Solution: You just have to learn to let go.
Yes, there may be memories of places youâ€™ll never visit again or friends you havenâ€™t seen for years. But keeping them in boxes under the bed doesnâ€™t do anyone any good.
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Decluttering Challenge Part I. Make it easy and fun
Decluttering your home could be a long-term project if youâ€™re really working with limited time.
A good way to make it a bit less tedious and discourageable is to try to turn it into some sort of a game.
Here is how it works
For this decluttering challenge, you will need three boxes. Cardboard, plastic, it really doesnâ€™t matter.
Make sure theyâ€™re not too big. A standard shoebox size will do just great.
Then all you need to do is label them:
- Clutter. I.e. throw away at the end of the day. Once inside there is no going back and no need to think twice about it.
- Repair. If you want to give something a second chance add it to the repair box. But you need to either repair it by the end of the week or get rid of it. Come Sunday evening, everything that is still in the repair box goes to the bin.
- Donate or sell. You may find stuff that you donâ€™t really need but could be of use to someone else. Put these aside and either donate them or put them for sale immediately. Keep in mind that if you try to postpone giving them away they will most probably go back to the cabinet so either give them now or just throw them away.
- Sentimental. For anything that you know is useless but you just canâ€™t make yourself throw away. You would eventually need to either find a place to display these items or get rid of them. Donâ€™t worry, at the end of the challenge letting go will be a bit easier.
How will this help?
I bet that within the first cabinet, drawer, or box you open, youâ€™ll find an item and start wondering â€œDo I really need to throw this one?â€, â€œMaybe I’ll repair it someday.â€, â€œIt doesnâ€™t really take that much spaceâ€.
Well, here is where these boxes can help you. Because while one small figure really doesnâ€™t take much space, seeing a box full of small items does create a whole new impression.
And if you still believe youâ€™ll repair your old stuff someday, ask yourself why havenâ€™t you done it by now.
Decluttering Challenge Part II. 13 things you should throw away
Without further adieu, it is time to start actually decluttering your home.
And the first step is to learn to let go of the past and start throwing away.
Throw away. No questions asked!
To kickstart the decluttering challenge there are things you just have to get rid of. If you have these lying around your home you may as well toss them right now.
- VHS and cassette tapes. Unless itâ€™s something super important like your wedding tape, you donâ€™t need it. Itâ€™s probably not working anymore anyway. If itâ€™s important, put it in the â€œrepairâ€ box to transfer it to a digital file.
- CDs and DVDs. The same rules apply. Either transfer them to your PC or throw them away.
- Outdated electronics. Old computers, video cameras, CD and VHS players, radio clocks, game consoles, cell phonesâ€¦ you get the idea. Such gadgets are just not worth storing or repairing.
- Random cables and wires. Everyone has those stored somewhere in their home. Unless you have used it over the last year, get rid of it.
- Old newspapers and magazines. Everything you got 2 months ago or before that goes. Even if you havenâ€™t read it by now. If you have postponed it for so long do you believe youâ€™ll actually read it?
- Paper clutter. This includes old receipts, user manuals, cardboard boxes, and any other paper clutter that you can find. You should recycle such papers instead of piling them in your home.
- Figurines. Unless youâ€™re some kind of a collector, there is absolutely no use of them. If there are some special two or three pieces feel free to display them. Everything else goes.
- Expired cosmetics. Everything you started using 6 or more months ago can safely go to the bin.
- Expired medication. Keeping it means not only clutter but could be dangerous as well. Before you throw it, check if there are any local regulations on disposing of expired medication.
- Tattered towels. Would you really ever use those? If you still don’t want to just throw them away, a local animal shelter could make use of them.
- Old or stained sheets. You wouldn’t want to lie down in stained sheets. Neither would your guests. So why are they still stockpiling in your closet?
- Stained or torn clothes. If you haven’t worn them at least at home for the last 6 months, just throw them away.
- Chipped, cracked, or single glasses and dishes. This could be a great excuse to buy a new dining set, too.
Other items to prioritize
- Books. I love reading books. But they take so much space and collect so much dust. A while back I switched to Kindle and it was one of my best purchases. Put aside all the books you donâ€™t read or reference and donate them to a local library or give them to a friend.
- Broken toys. If your child is very fond of them, try to repair them. If not, it’s time to get rid of them.
- Clothes you don’t wear. If you haven’t worn a piece of clothing in the last 6 or 12 months it’s probably safe to remove them from your closet. Make that 2 years for more formal wear. Depending on their condition you could either sell them, donate them, or toss them. It’s up to you.
Decluttering Challenge Part III. Get to work!
Now that you’ve cleared what you really do NOT need, it’s time to go through the stuff that may tempt you to keep them. And since we said that this is a no-pressure and no-overwhelm kind of challenge, here is my step-by-step guide on decluttering your home.
Step 1. Get ready
To start off, make a list of all the rooms in your home, storage and amenities included. For each room, list all storage spaces that you have.
Pro tip: Start with the room you spend the most time in. Then list the storage spaces starting with the ones you use most often. There’s a big chance that they are full of clutter you need to get rid of.
If youâ€™re not sure where to start, or just want to make it easier, check out my free decluttering checklist available in the Resource Library.
If you donâ€™t have them at home, go to the local store and get all the cleaning supplies youâ€™ll need. Add to that a few card boxes (or any other boxes) and label them â€œThrow awayâ€, â€œRepairâ€, â€œSentimentalâ€, â€œDonate or sellâ€. You could use plastic bags but itâ€™s just not as fun.
Lastly, find a tool to track your time. I use my phoneâ€™s timer but Iâ€™ve also seen people use those cute egg-looking portable kitchen timers.
Step 2. One storage space at a time
Time to get to work. Here is how it worked for me.
- Set the timer to 15 or 30 minutes and start with the first storage space on the list.
- Take everything out, wipe it clean, and put the things back inside while filling up the boxes as well.
- When youâ€™re done with the current space, move to the next one from the list.
- When the timer hits 0 finish what youâ€™ve started. You can then take a break or return to your other chores.
- If the kids are still sleeping or you have more time set another timer and repeat steps 2-4. I usually managed to do 2 x 15 or 30-minute routines per day.
- At the end of the day, get rid of everything from the â€œThrow awayâ€ box. Donâ€™t think about it and donâ€™t check it twice. Just do it.
Step 3. Clothes you don’t wear
Is your closet full of clothes you haven’t worn for years? I know mine was.
In my younger days, I was way slimmer than I am now. Naturally, I was hoping I will go back to my previous shape someday. So I’ve kept tons of clothes I loved back then.
Not only that they don’t fit for years. When I checked them out many seem quite outdated now. So there was really no point in keeping them.
Now that both my pregnancies are behind me I plan on giving away my maternity clothes and tossing all stretched shirts too.
To sum it up, you can safely remove everything that:
- Doesn’t fit and hasn’t fit for years.
- Is stretched, stained, or worn out unless it’s really comfy and you actually wear it at home.
- You just don’t like it and haven’t worn it in forever.
By the way, the same could be applied to your shoes as well.
Step 4. Go through the “Repair” and “Donate or sell” boxes
Once you fill one of the boxes take some time to go through it.
For the repair box, fix whatever is in it immediately or by the end of the week or throw it away.
The same goes for the stuff to be donated or sold. Remember that if you decide to wait before listing them for sale there is a high chance that they’ll go back to your cabinets.
Step 5. Go through the “Sentimental value” box
Thereâ€™s a good reason to save this for the end of the decluttering challenge. First, because getting rid of all these small pieces of memories could be really hard. And second, because by now you should have become better at throwing things away.
There is no harm in keeping the stuff that really matters to you. So find a place to display them instead of putting them back in a box.
And if you don’t actually want to see something every day, it’s probably not worth keeping anyway.
All you need is to set your mind
Getting rid of all these “someday” stuff and sentimental items collected over the years can be very hard.
First, because realizing the amount of clutter you have in your home can be absolutely overwhelming.
And second, because you’ll surely ask yourself “What if I want/need it back someday?”
Well, let me tell you a secret. It’s only hard until you fill in that first trash bag. After that, it feels so good that you could actually imagine your clutter-free home.
It took me almost a month but that first trash bag was the best motivation I needed and the first step to my clutter-free home.
So will you try decluttering my way? If you do, make sure to grab the free decluttering checklist available to you for free when you sign up to the mailing list.
Or maybe you have some other tips you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments.