There are as many ways to declutter as there are people. That is why I don't ever lecture people on the right or the best way to get rid of their clutter. I'll work with you to find the best way for YOU to declutter, but I need to talk or exchange email messages before I can figure that one out.
That's why I try to cover many different ways to declutter in my blog posts.
Today, I am going to suggest a mini decluttering challenge and get you ready for the holiday season. We'll start a little early because there are always lots of things to do just before the most wonderful time of the year. Also, you can do this challenge any time of the year; this exercise is not limited to the pre-holiday season.
4-week declutter challenge
By four-week challenge, I don't mean 28-days continual challenge. What I'm proposing is once a week challenge, that can be done on any day of the week.
The challenge has a limited time frame and is not meant to be a thorough decluttering project. But, it will help your home appear significantly cleaner and more organized.
Before you start the challenge, make sure to have enough garbage and recycling bags. You should wear comfortable clothing while you are doing the activities related to the challenge. Put some music on while you declutter to keep your motivation up.
Week 1: garbage and recyclables
This week I want you to go to through every room, every nook and corner, and even behind some furniture that can be moved without too much effort (e.g., a sofa, desks, chairs, kitchen table, ottoman, etc., but not kitchen appliances, washer and dryer or big armoire) and collect garbage and recyclables.
Garbage is any clutter that you DO NOT need to ask yourself, "Do I need this?" because it's obvious.
Here are list of items and area you should check:
- Find every single garbage bag or can in your home and empty all of them.
- Check the laundry room floor and toss a sock that's been lying there for a while; you will not find the matching pair.
- Go over the kitchen counter and recycle old bills and letters.
- Go over the kitchen table and toss food wrappers, dried out food pieces and other garbage.
- Check the kitchen floor for food bits like uncooked spaghetti pieces, paper bits, empty cardboard boxes, and so on.
- Open the fridge and look for expired condiments, dried out veggies and other gone bad food.
- Go into the bathroom and look for expired medicine and toiletries, (e.g., sunscreen, shampoo, hair care products) old magazines, etc.
- Check the bedrooms and search for expired makeup and skincare products, old magazines, spare buttons for clothes you don't have anymore.
- Go down the basement and toss faded wrapping paper, broken Christmas ornament, broken toys your kids played with 15 years ago, old unused calendar and empty boxes for products you don't own anymore.
- Go inside the home office and get rid of any obvious paper clutter that can be recycled or shredded.
- Check the living room for old magazines no one reads, old newspaper, expired coupons and other paper items. Flip the sofa cushions and look for candy wrappers and other trash.
- Take out the garbage and recyclables right away if you can, or put them near the entrance until your next garbage day.
- If you feel like decluttering while you pick up the garbage, please go ahead. But be mindful that adding decluttering steps will slow down your progress.
Anyway, good job! You deserve some rewards! Do something you like, like ordering a takeout and watch your favorite tv show, a night out with your friends, a brunch at your favorite restaurant or a box of chocolate.
Week 2: kitchen
This week, we are going to declutter kitchen.
Why kitchen? Because lots of activities happen in and around the kitchen during the holiday season. A clutter-free kitchen is a stress-free or nearly stress-free kitchen. So it's good to get this area in order.
Let’s look at the following areas and items:
- On the kitchen counter, is there anything that isn’t related to cooking lying around? Like bills that need to be paid or a consent form you need to sign for your child's field trip? Pay the bills, file or shred it, and sign that form and hand it to your child. Clear the counter to create more cooking/prepping space.
- Check each drawer to see if you have lots of items that are broken, never used or rarely used. Can you toss or donate them? Also, for duplicate items, you might want to keep one and donate the other.
- Check inside each cupboard and look for items that you never or almost never use. Consider selling or donating them.
- Are your knives in good order? Are they sharp or do they need to be sharpened?
- When the last time you cleaned your toaster?
- Do you have any food that you don’t eat sitting in your pantry? Unopened, unexpired items can be donated to food bank.
- Do the positions of your coffee maker, juicer, blender, etc. make sense? Can you create a better work flow by repositioning some of these items?
- Make a shopping list for any items that you don't have and need for the holiday (e.g., paper plates/cups. napkins, paper towel, replacement for broken items, packaged herbs and spices, getting knives sharpen, ordering turkey, etc.)
How does your kitchen look now? Do you like it?
Week 3: living room
As with kitchen, a living room is the hub of holiday gathering. You'd want to make sure that there will be enough space for all of your guests and that they will be comfortable.
If you survived the Week 1, I'm assuming that you've already got rid of visible clutter and garbage in this area.
This week, we are going a little bit deeper and work on the following:
- Look for out-of-place things, e.g., skateboard, bicycle, pairs of skates, tools, dirty laundry, dirty dishes, coats and jackets, shoes, and so on. These don't belong to the living room. Put them back to their natural habitat.
- Is your couch covered with stuff other than cushions such as books, magazines, newspapers, coasters, decks of card, slippers, cardigans, etc.? Go through these items and decide if you want to keep them or not. If you decide to keep the item, move them back to their usual place within the living room or, in case they belong to another part of the home, send them back to their natural habitat.
- Go over your floor, chairs and coffee table and repeat the same process you just went through with your couch.
- If you can’t decide whether or not keep or toss/donate an item, put them away in a box or a bag for now. Make sure to revisit this undecided pile in the near future.
- Take out the garbage as soon as possible, and plan a trip to drop off donation items within a week. If you have items to sell, take pictures and list them online for selling.
- Finish it up by vacuuming the living room floor.
Congratulations! You’ve finished the Week 3 challenge. You only have one more week left. Keep up the great work!
Week 4: bathroom(s)
Bathroom(s) is one of the most high-traffic areas in your home, and it’s the place that gets dirty and gross the quickest. With guests visiting during the holiday, you might need to clean the bathroom more frequently.
Keeping your bathroom clean is easier when there is no clutter. So that’s what we are going to do on this last week of the challenge.
Let’s go over the following areas and make sure your bathroom is clutter-free:
- Look for out-of-place items such as dirty laundry, books, toys, etc, and send them back to their natural habitat.
- Go over the contents of the medicine cabinet and throw out or give away (if that’s acceptable) anything that you don’t use, don’t want to keep, broken or redundant. When you’re done decluttering, take everything out of the cabinet, wipe the inside, reorganize the contents as you put them back.
- Go through each drawer and do the same. Wipe inside the drawers.
- Inspect around shower and bath area and see if you have too many products such as shampoo, body soap, shaving cream, shaver, puffs, body scrubs, etc. Do you still use them, or can you toss some?
- Is your counter space covered with stuff? Go over each item and toss what you can. Wipe the counter, and organize what you’ll keep.
- Is everything in good working order, or is there anything that needs to be repaired?
- Clean the floor, the toilet, the tub, the sink, the mirror, the fan, and the walls.
Alrighty! You’ve done it! You’ve just completed the 4-week challenge!
Congrats, and have a great holiday!