If decluttering your home and sorting through your stuff sounds too overwhelming or time-consuming, try out my 30 day declutter challenge. Break it down into manageable chunks by decluttering just one room, area or type of item each day. You’ll soon start to notice a difference and if you make it to the end of the month, then your home will be clutter-free and much easier to keep clean and tidy. Check out this post on how to declutter your home in 30 days.
Before you start
Here are just a few things to make a note of before you get started…
- If you get stuck – If you get stuck on a particular day, then skip it for now and come back to it another time. Some items, areas or rooms are more difficult to declutter than others. It can take practice and the right frame of mind to declutter them.
- Getting rid of unwanted items – Don’t get caught up on what to do with your unwanted items. Decide on whether they’re good enough to donate and recycle or throw away the rest.
- Unsure whether to keep or not? – If you don’t know whether to keep an item, keep it simple and ask yourself 3 questions. Do I love it? Do I need it? Do I want it?
- Lack of progress – If your decluttering doesn’t seem to be making much progress or you’ve got a lot of stuff, then do the challenge this month and do it AGAIN next month. Sometimes decluttering is best done in waves. The first time around you usually get rid of the obvious clutter. The second time around there’s generally less stuff. You’ll be able to spot some smaller items or things that you’d overlooked or couldn’t decide on the first time around. Keep going in waves until you’re happy there’s no excess clutter lurking.
- Maintaining a clutter-free home – Clutter builds up in every household. So, once you’ve completed the challenge, don’t sit back and think you’re done forever. You’ll have to keep an eye out for clutter coming into your home and have a plan for how you’re going to deal with it!
So, with those points in mind, let’s get started!
DECLUTTER YOUR HOME IN 30 DAYS
DAY 1: The children’s clothes – Sort through your kids’ clothes and remove anything that doesn’t fit, they never wear or is damaged or stained. Think about what stage of life your kids are in. Do they need lots of trousers because they’re currently potty-training? How many pretty dresses does your daughter actually wear or does she live in leggings and tops? Make a list of items you need to buy depending on your budget. Donate or recycle where you can.
DAY 2: The toys – Ask your children (if they’re old enough) to go through their toys. Make piles of the ones they play with all the time, the ones they play with sometimes and the ones they never play with. Explain that there are children who don’t have so many toys and encourage your kids to donate the toys they never use to them. Check out my post on how to declutter the toys for more help and a toolkit to help you get started if you’re stuck.
DAY 3: Fill a bin bag with clothes – Go through your clothes and take out any that you know are damaged, don’t fit or you don’t ever wear. Throw away what isn’t good enough to donate. I’ve written a whole post on decluttering your wardrobe if you want some more information on this.
DAY 4: The kitchen cupboards and drawers – Go through your kitchen and pull out all the utensils, pots, bowls, mugs, glasses, cutlery etc that you don’t use. Either donate or throw them away. If you’re not sure whether you’ll need something, put it in a box in the garage for 2 weeks and if it’s not used after that time, then donate/throw it. Clean the cupboards and drawers and put everything back in an organised and tidy way. You should have a bit more space now to do this because you’ve got less stuff!
DAY 5: Your living room – Look at your living room. Is it full of stuff that doesn’t belong in the room but has ended up there because it’s where your family spend a lot of time? Do you need a nice looking basket or toy box which can stay in the room? The toys can be thrown in there at the end of the day without having to spend time collecting them all up and taking them to your child’s bedroom each evening. Are the table tops cluttered with stuff, drawers overflowing? Sort through them!
DAY 6: Your bathroom cabinets – Take everything out of your bathroom cabinets. Sort into piles the items you use regularly, use sometimes but need to keep for the right season (sun cream), products that are out of date, too old or you’re never going to use. Clean the inside of the cabinets and only put back what you use and want to keep. Don’t stock up on extras of things. As soon as a bottle is nearly empty, put it on the shopping list and buy a new one. Unless you’ve got loads of storage space, there’s no need to stockpile 3 identical shampoo bottles.
DAY 7: Your books – Work out what storage space you have available in your home for books. Only keep enough books that will fit in this space. Give away any excess books (unless you really feel you need to buy more storage because you’re a bookworm and love books). Donate or throw away books that you no longer want, that are in bad shape or you have multiple copies of.
DAY 8: Your cook books – Do you use them or are they there to just look pretty or for the occasional reference? Think how and when you use each cookbook and make sure that you only keep the ones you turn to regularly.
DAY 9: The children’s artwork – Perhaps your children love drawing and colouring. Find a place to store the artwork that they’ve created that week. At the end of the week, ask them (or choose yourself) which ones are their best and which they want to keep. Take a photo of that artwork and save it on your computer. Throw away the actual artwork. Explain to your kids in a way that’s appropriate to their age and understanding that you can’t keep every physical thing they create but you can keep a digital copy of it. For more information on this, check out my post on what to do with all the kid’s artwork!
DAY 10: Your emails – Go through your emails, set up folders for different areas (school/personal etc), delete the ones you don’t want or need and archive the rest. As new emails come in, make sure you deal with them there and then and don’t let them build up.
DAY 11: Your paper filing system – Set yourself up with a small filing cabinet or set of cardboard files which contain all your important original documents. Go through all the paperwork you currently have, take photos/scan the documents that you feel you need to keep a record of but that you don’t need the actual physical copy and save these onto your computer into appropriate folders. Shred the originals. Set yourself a time each week where you can action all incoming post, file what you need, scan or shred the rest.
DAY 12: Your computer desktop – Remove unwanted icons, empty the recycle bin, put on a personalised background picture.
DAY 13: Sentimental items – Don’t get hung up on how to simplify your sentimental items. If you love it and it brings you good memories then what about taking a photo of it to look at when you wish, but may be not keep the original item? If you really want to hold onto it then do so. Put it carefully in a box and store it safely out of the way.
DAY 14: The children’s shoes – Throw out old, worn out shoes that don’t fit or your child never wears. Find proper storage for the ones you want to keep.
DAY 15: Your garage or loft – Often the dumping ground for random stuff, stuff that we don’t want to throw away, to keep just in case we need it, not for now but maybe a different season, stuff that we don’t want cluttering up our house and we can’t, won’t or don’t want to throw away. Choose just a corner of the garage or loft to sort, not the whole space. Set your timer for 5, 10, or 30 minutes. Think long and hard when was the last time you used each item. If you got rid of it only to find you needed it, would it really be expensive to replace? Be ruthless, yet practical.
DAY 16: Cupboards throughout the house – Look through the cupboards in your house. Can you remember what’s in there or are they a dumping ground for stuff that you don’t know what to do with?! Choose one cupboard at a time, pull everything out and work through it consistently with the keep/donate/throw away piles. Find a proper home for the stuff you want to keep and immediately deal with the other two piles, so these don’t end up getting left out and contributing to the clutter.
DAY 17: Your children’s books – Either with or without your kids, sort through the books, donate the ones you don’t read anymore, throw away the tattered ones and keep the rest in a nice bookcase or on a shelf.
DAY 18: Your computerised filing system – Spend some time going through your computer. Clear your desktop of unwanted icons, get rid of unnecessary or unwanted programmes. Put on a desktop background picture that you love and makes you feel happy. Set up a filing system on your computer, clearly labelled, where you can keep all your important documents, emailed and scanned. Keep on top of this by allocating time each week to checking it over and make sure any new stuff is scanned, saved and filed neatly.
DAY 19: Photos – Do you have alot of photos? Set yourself up with a computerised filing system and spend time sorting your digital photos into folders, clearly labelled with names and dates. If you have loads of physical photos in photo albums then why not consider if you actually need to keep the originals? Try scanning them in and saving them with your digital ones on the computer.
DAY 20: The kitchen work surface – Remove all the items, clean it thoroughly and only put back what you absolutely must have there. It’s probably less than you think! Find a new home/donate/throw away everything else.
DAY 21: Your bedside table – The surface and drawers shouldn’t be a dumping ground for random stuff. Only have what you need for the night and first thing in the morning, for example, a light, an alarm clock/your phone, a book, notepad and pen. Get rid of the rest as it will distract you from a calming bedtime and good night’s sleep.
DAY 22: Outdoor coats and shoes – Go through all of this and, in the case of your kids, make sure all the items still fit. Donate/throw away the rest. Work out which coats, if any, you need out for the particular season you are in and store the rest. For example, you don’t need a lightweight summer mac on your coat rack in mid-winter.
DAY 23: Your makeup – Tip all of your makeup out on the bed. Throw away anything that you haven’t used in, say, the last 3 months. Treat yourself to some new products if your budget allows to replace the old ones you love. If you love nail varnish, keep a set number of bottles and if you come across a new colour you absolutely must have, then adopt a one in/one out policy. Organise all make up, clean brushes/pencils etc so that they are tidy and neat and you can find what you’re looking for at the drop of a hat.
DAY 24: A drawer of your choice – Pick any drawer around the house and empty it completely. Sort into piles and throw away/donate anything that you don’t want to keep. Ask yourself whether you’re likely to ever use that item. Chances are that if you haven’t used it in the last 6-12 months then you’d probably forgotten it was there anyway. Only put back what should be kept in that drawer. Make sure it’s neat, organised and re-home what’s left over.
DAY 25: Your phone – Get rid of apps you don’t use. Re-organise the ones you’re keeping so that the ones you use regularly are on your home screen. Put on a background picture that makes you happy.
DAY 26: Your handbag – Empty the entire contents of your handbag out onto your bed or the floor. Pick out the really important items that you do need to keep in your bag. Make sure they’re all in good condition and do the job you need them to do. For example, if you’re keeping a pen, make sure it works!
DAY 27: Keys – Do you have a place in your home where you keep keys? Take a moment to go through each of the keys. Think carefully about whether you need to keep each one. Do you have a spare back door key, but you actually changed the lock a year ago, so it wouldn’t work anyway? For the random keys think what they might be used for and give your locks a try. If you can’t find a purpose for them, then really think if you need to keep them.
DAY 28: Food – go through your kitchen cupboards and fridge. Throw away anything that’s stale or past it’s best. If there’s anything in there that you’re not likely to eat, see if you can donate it or give it to a friend.
DAY 29: Your jewellery – Sort through your jewellery, keep the items you love, donate/throw away the rest. Give it all a clean and put it back, neat and organised.
DAY 30: That last cupboard or drawer that you’ve been avoiding! – Go on, you know the one! There’s always one area that we avoid or put off. Do you make excuses by saying you’ve run out of time, or there’s nothing that you want to get rid of in there? Just go and declutter it now!
DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING TO ADD?
Let me know what you thought of this article and if you’ve got any comments or suggestions for others looking to get a head-start on decluttering! Drop me a note in the comments below!