Is it too early for Spring cleaning? I’m ready for some serious deep cleaning. Who’s with me? I’m starting by decluttering my whole home. And I’m making it a decluttering challenge!
My guiding word this year is SIMPLIFY. To simplify my home, I need to get rid of excess stuff. We recently got rid of our dressers—and everything on top of them—in our bedroom, and it’s been so much easier to keep our room clean. That success makes me want to get rid of even more stuff.
Last year, I started a list of areas in my home to declutter. I even made a cute page in my bullet journal, so I could cross off the things I completed.
But there was one big problem with my system. There was no plan to complete the tasks. Just a list. I tried to transfer a couple of tasks each week to my weekly calendar, but sometimes I would go weeks without doing any decluttering. I was never going to declutter my whole home at that rate.
So now I want to get serious and focus. It’s time to get the decluttering done once and for all. This time I have a plan—tackle one clutter-prone area a day for the next thirty days.
Will you do this decluttering challenge with me?
Many of you tell me you can’t even think about decorating because your house is full of clutter. So I’m turning my personal challenge into a decluttering challenge we can all do together.
I even created a free printable for us to follow. On one half it has daily prompts—one specific decluttering task to tackle each day. On the other half, it has a progress tracker—a cute house illustration you can color in for each task you complete. I couldn’t decide which house was the cutest, so I made four different designs. Choose your favorite one.
You can print out the worksheet as-is and use it to track your decluttering progress over the next thirty days. Or, you can cut out the house illustration and the daily prompts to put in your bullet journal, like I did. (Printing on sticker paper makes it super easy but a glue stick works great too.)
When we finish the decluttering challenge, we’ll each have a colorful little home illustration in our journal. I cannot wait to see yours—a symbol of the mega decluttering progress you’re going to make over the next 30 days.
How the Decluttering Challenge Works
I don’t think you need me to tell you how to declutter. I think we all know the drill. You sort through your stuff and decide if you should keep it, trash it, donate it, or sell it. It’s a simple process, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
To get it done, what we need is accountability. That’s why I created this 30-day decluttering challenge. It’s a realistic plan to work through your home and make progress systematically. Instead of the daunting task of “decluttering” lingering on your to-do list, this challenge gives you a specific step to complete each day. At the end of the 30 days, our homes will feel lighter, orderly, and more spacious.
Your challenge worksheet (download it above) has 30 daily prompts. Today is Day 1, but don’t worry. All you have to do today is designate an area to hold stuff you’re going to donate and another area for stuff you’re going to sell. I recommend choosing an area of your home that’s out of the way, like the garage or a spare bedroom. If you can, plan on weekly trips to drop off donations. Also, make sure you have garbage bags ready. That’s it for Day 1.
By starting today, we’ll be done by the end of February.
This decluttering challenge does not go room by room. Instead, I designed the challenge to address the most common sources of visual clutter first—the stuff we look at every day. Taking care of visual clutter first will give us visible progress because out counters and surfaces will be less cluttered. As the challenge progresses, we’ll get to the hidden clutter in cupboards, closets, and drawers.
For daily challenge reminders, join me on Instagram. Follow @schoolofdecorating and the hashtag #wholehomedeclutter. I will be posting daily during the decluttering challenge. Each day I’ll post the daily prompt and how I’m tackling it for my home. I will also add extra tips and resources relevant to that day’s task.
Follow along, and you’re going to see 30 days of real clutter in my home. I’m pulling back the curtain, so you know you’re not alone…we all have clutter problems.
I want you to share your progress too. You can tag your pictures with #wholehomedeclutter. Here are some easy ideas to share on Instagram:
- Share before photos
- Ask for decluttering advice
- Share clutter-free after pictures
- Show us what you’re taking to the donation center
- And, don’t forget to share your progress tracker – I’m excited to see them fill up with color!
What To Do When You Feel Overwhelmed
During the challenge, if any of the daily prompts overwhelm you or feel impossible, set a timer for 15 minutes. I tried to make the tasks specific and doable, but you might have more clutter in one area than another. In that case, just commit to working on the task for 15 minutes. You might be surprised at how much you can accomplish in that time, and once you start seeing some progress, you might find the motivation to finish the job. Either way, you’ll make a dent in the clutter.
Don’t forget to post on Instagram with #wholehomedeclutter—it’s your support group during this decluttering challenge. Decluttering can be hard and emotionally draining. Don’t go through it alone.
What If There’s Nothing to Declutter
Lucky you! Maybe you don’t have a coat closet or kids. If a task isn’t relevant to you, take the day off or use the time to work on another task that you know will require more time.
What If You Miss a Day
No matter what, keep going. Even if you skip a day, pick up where you left off until you complete all 30 tasks.
If you know that you’ll miss a day in advance because you’ll be away from home or want to take Sundays off, then double up on other days or extend your challenge. Make it work for you.
Home Decluttering Tips
Before you go to set up your donation area, I want to leave you with a few decluttering tips that will make this challenge easier.
Set a Goal
One of my essential rules for decluttering is to have a bigger goal than “less clutter.” The only way you’re going to be motivated to complete this decluttering challenge is if there is some other benefit. Why do you want less clutter? So you can sell your home? So you can make some extra cash by selling stuff? So you can make space for a new hobby?
There are many benefits to decluttering. Find one that excites you and turn it into a goal.
My goal for this decluttering challenge is two-fold: To get our home ready to sell this Spring and to make down-sizing easier—we want all of our stuff to fit in one 22 ft. moving truck.
Set New Standards
Decluttering is the perfect opportunity to make up new rules for what you’re going to allow in your home. Thinking about this ahead of time will make it easier to toss some things without a second thought. Here are some examples:
- You want less plastic in your kitchen – toss out your plastic food storage containers, sell small appliances you don’t need and use the money to buy new glass containers
- You want non-toxic cleaning supplies and beauty products – trash all your toxic products and replace them with non-toxic options
- You want more closet space – commit to a 40 hanger closet, edit your wardrobe until it fits
Set aside 15 minutes a day to focus on this challenge. Consistency is the key to success. Pick a specific time to do your daily task (in the morning, right after work, after kids go to bed) and do it at the same time every day.
Assign Tasks to Other People
You do not have to do this decluttering challenge by yourself. Give yourself a break by assigning tasks to the other people in your home. Have your kids sort out the books they’ve finished reading and want to donate. Give your husband a trash bag to put donations in and have him clean out his closet.
Recruit help to tackle a bunch of decluttering tasks all in one day. Make it a family day. When you finish, do something to celebrate.
It’s Not Useful If You’re Not Using It
It’s easy to get rid of junk, harder to part with useful items. But if you’re not using it right now, then it’s not useful, it’s wasteful. Don’t think about how something might be useful to you again someday in the distant future, think about someone else who needs it right now. Someone who could use it today. But they can’t do that if you keep it stashed away in your closet. There it isn’t any good to anybody.
To Keep or Not To Keep?
Check out these five simple questions to ask about clutter. I think they’ll lead you to make the right decision.
If You Can’t Let Go
There’s a real scientific reason it’s hard to get rid of things. Watch my video on overcoming the Endowment Effect.
Do What’s Easiest
There are a lot of options for getting rid of stuff. You can sell it, donate it, trash it. Which one you choose will depend on your goals. I love Kalyn Brooke’s advice on the matter:
“Do what’s easiest, and what essentially eliminates all that clutter you purged. You’ll be much happier after it’s all gone, no matter how it’s done!”
Kalyn also put together a short list of places to sell or donate your items. In addition to her list, my husband and I have had success selling high-quality clothing and electronics on eBay.
Don’t overcomplicate this step.
Go Where the Decluttering Takes You
If completing one decluttering task requires you to clean out a different cupboard, or shelf, or closet, then knock it out. Do whatever is necessary to finish the original task. For example, if clearing off your kitchen counters requires you to make space for small appliances in the pantry, then do it right then and there.
Don’t shuffle things around. For the things you’re keeping, give them a permanent home, even if that means doing more than the original decluttering task.
In the Kitchen
Once you print your worksheet, you’ll see there are SIX days dedicated to decluttering the kitchen. All the cupboards, drawers, and countertops are clutter magnets. Here’s a good list of things to purge from your kitchen.
My favorite tip is to de-duplicate. When we got married, we ended up with two blenders and two toasters that we held on to for years. I’ve never used two blenders at the same time, but I had them just in case. Get rid of duplicates. Also, take stock of your items that do double-duty. We now have a Ninja Kitchen System that has a blender, food processor and shake cups. When we got the ninja, I got rid of our old food processor, NutriBullet, and blender.
Home Decor and Accessories
I’ll be the first one to say; you probably have too many accessories in your home. I love home decor, but we need far less than we think. Home decor and accessories are a significant contributor to visual clutter in our homes. It’s time to simplify the decor. I love these honest decluttering tips from Abby of Just a Girl and Her Blog. Once you’ve decluttered your decor, learn how to style the decor you keep.
Keep New Clutter at Bay
Don’t do all this work for not. Start simple routines that will keep clutter from accumulating again. Do an evening pick up. Follow a weekly cleaning routine, like Clean Mama’s cleaning routine. Try these 31 hacks for keeping a clean and organized home. Now that the clutter is gone, you can create a stylish, uncluttered home.
Above All Else, Make Decluttering Fun
Let’s admit it, decluttering isn’t fun. But the result—a clean, orderly, spacious home—is worth the work. Here are a few ideas to add some fun to the process:
- Ask a friend or family member to help. Enjoy some good company while you sort and purge. Last year my sister helped me go through my kitchen cupboards. We took two big boxes to Goodwill; then I took her out for lunch.
- Listen to music, podcasts, or audiobooks. Decluttering is the perfect binge-listening time. I use an external portable speaker connected to my iPhone, so I can stream podcasts while I declutter.
- Use the progress tracker because it’s cute but also because it’s motivating. It might seem silly, but the progress tracker gamifies decluttering. For every task you complete, you get to color in the corresponding numbered section. I designed the numbering to encourage you to want to finish coloring. That’s why the front door is number 30. You can’t color it in until you finish the decluttering challenge, but you know it will be the best part—choosing a fun color for the front door.
- Join us on Instagram with #wholehomedeclutter. Trust me when you see my clutter and everyone else’s, you won’t feel alone, and we’ll be there to cheer you on. Plus, you’ll probably be inspired and motivated by the decluttering tips and the after pictures of clutter-free spaces.
So will you do this with me? Grab your printable now. Today is Day 1.