Welcome to the 31 Day Declutter Detox!
Whenever the new year comes up I start thinking about what aspects of my life I would like to change. This year I have decided to focus on my home.
I currently live in a tiny apartment with little storage space and use my office as my storage room.
I’ve also moved quickly several times and taken all the junk and random items left over from my roommates with me.
It is time to let some of the junk go!
How the Detox Works
For the month of January I’m going to be detoxing my home. First let me define what I mean by detox.
To me a detox is not perfection. A detox is a jump start in the right direction.
I am not expecting my home to be 100% decluttered at the end of the month. Because let’s be real, I have a life.
I am going to be happy if I complete a minimum of 15 minutes a day decluttering. I am not going to be ripping entire closets apart and spending hours in an area.
I’m going to be seeing how much I can complete in 15 minutes.
That doesn’t mean that I won’t spend hours decluttering. It just means that I’m not forcing myself too. If I start decluttering my “office” and I get enough momentum to keep going for hours, then so be it.
If I get tired of decluttering after 10 minutes I’m going to hold on for that extra 5 to hit my 15. Then I win the game.
It is alway important to set yourself up to win.
We only have 15 minutes a day for 31 days to make a large impact on our homes. That means we are going to need to use our 15 minutes very effectively.
I’ve tried decluttering several ways and I’ve found that the quickest way to declutter is to start with what is mentally easy and work our way towards items that are mentally challenging.
What the heck do I mean by that?
Sometimes we can grow attached to our stuff, especially sentimental items. If we have to think about what to do with it or if we start reminiscing then we slow down and run out of time. This is the mentally challenging stuff. AKA anything you have to think about.
The mentally easy stuff includes anything you don’t have to think about.
The easiest of the easy stuff is trash. Trash is easy because you know exactly what to do with it, you don’t have to think about it. It goes into the trash bag.
The next easiest thing is anything that doesn’t belong.
A good way to check where something belongs is to ask yourself:
“If I needed this item where would I look for it first?”
The first place you think of is the items home. If nothing comes to mind immediately then its “mentally challenging”.
When I run across a mentally challenging item I do 1 of 2 things:
- I leave it alone right in the drawer, cabinet, or closet that it’s in.
- If I’m cleaning out storage space (attic, garage, basement, or in my case, my office) that already has boxes in it. I’ll put it in a separate box to address after I’ve finished the easy stuff.
Mentally Easy Clutter
Now that we know what mentally easy clutter is, let’s address what to do with it.
When working with mentally easy clutter, my best practice is to take it to its home immediately. Here’s why:
Imagine that you are cleaning out a drawer. You’ve thrown away all the trash and now you are left with a bunch of items that need to go to different rooms of the house.
So you start making a pile for each room so that you only need to take one trip.
Then you get interrupted. It could be a text message, phone call, child, your stomach rumbling, or aliens.
You leave to address the interruption and leave your piles where they are.
The day goes on and you’ve forgotten all about your piles or you’ve been too busy to return to them.
Friends are coming over and you need to quickly clean up! You shove all the piles you’ve made (if they’re even still separate piles at this point) back into the drawer you’ve pulled them out of.
Overall you made zero progress and ended up right were you started. (I may or may not have done this several times before learning my lesson)
Now, my best practice is to put the item away immediately.
I can see you now: But walking to put one item away at a time is inefficient!
No it’s not. Not when you take into the consideration that you could get interrupted. Even if you think you won’t, you will. Trust me.
One way that I’ve found to be more efficient is to take more than one item at a time (without making piles).
Say I’m decluttering the living room and I have items that need to go go my kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom. I’ll grab as many items as I can carry that need to go to the kitchen and take them all there at once.
Another way I do it is to grab items for multiple rooms at once. Let’s pretend that I’m decluttering my living room again. I’ll grab nail clippers, nail polish, and a file in one hand to take to the bathroom and a cup and a spoon in my other hand to drop off in the kitchen sink on my way to the bathroom. Then I’ll come back and grab some dirty clothing and take it to the hamper in my bedroom.
In the 15 minute time slot, you may only have time to get through the easy stuff. That’s okay. Sometimes that is all I get too.
Other times the room doesn’t have a lot of easy stuff. Let’s talk about how to deal with the hard stuff.
Mentally Challenging Clutter
This is the hard stuff. This is anything that you don’t know what to instantly do with.
If you asked yourself the question: “If I needed this item where would I look for it first?” and you didn’t instantly have an answer its time to ask yourself:
“If I ever needed this, would I have any idea that I even owned it?”
If the answer is no, then you would probably buy it if you needed it.
I actually did this recently. I had no idea that I owned any of those sticky bows that you put on presents so I went out and bought some.
A few days later I was cleaning out a drawer I never open and I found an entire bag of bows!
Moral of the story: I you would never think that you own it, time to get rid of it.
Hard stuff also includes sentimental items.
Sentimental items are the hardest of the hard stuff.
I’m not even going to pretend that I have sentimental items figured out. This area is a work in progress for me so I’m going to say declutter at your own level.
For me I keep cards, drawings, and sentimental paper items for their “season”. A season can be the length of a holiday season, or two weeks after my birthday.
By that point I feel like I’ve had time to thoroughly enjoy them and it is time to let them go.
Another strategy that I’ve heard, but haven’t tried yet is to only keep one.
Say for example you have 17 pairs of baby socks from when your teenager was a baby. You are not planning on having another baby but are having a hard time reminiscing about how tiny your child was whenever you see the socks.
You don’t have to declutter all the socks. Allow yourself to keep one pair to reminisce and get rid of the others. This is a win-win because you get a piece of your house back by getting rid of clutter and you get to reminisce about when you had a teeny tiny baby.
The famous Marie Kondo suggests that you only keep items that “spark joy”.
I did this recently with a few volleyballs that were given to me after my mother died. I had held on to them mainly because I felt like I should or that I had to.
No one was making me keep these balls and they weren’t bringing me joy. Honestly they were more in the way and would annoy me when I had to move them.
After realizing that they did’t bring me any joy and I was holding on to them out of obligation, I found it easier to let them go.
Now that we know how to deal with the easy stuff and the hard stuff. Let’s talk about another strategy that can help us declutter.
The Law of Containers
If you are a clutter bug and have a hard time getting rid of things, then the Law of Containers could be life changing.
The Law of Containers was a HUGE lightbulb moment for me when I learned it.
The best part is that this law does not require you to buy any containers. You may not realize it, but you have a bunch already in your house!
Containers are not those plastic boxes that you buy to hold all your stuff when you run out of space.
Containers are bookshelves, cabinets, dressers, closets, and drawers, etc.
They are anything that holds your stuff.
All containers have a limit and we are going to use this limit to our advantage.
The Law of Containers is that containers have containers have a limit. This isn’t Harry Potter’s world where you can shove an entire house into a tiny tent.
Let the container be your boundary.
A real like example: In my tiny apartment I have one shelf for cups and glasses. When I moved here I had about 15 wine glasses and there was no way they would all fit on the shelf.
I allowed the shelf to be my limit and I placed the glasses that I loved the most on the shelf first. Once she shelf was full I was left will all the glasses that I didn’t love as much.
It was easy to get rid of these glasses because I knew that I had no space to keep them and they were my least favorite.
One way to look at it is that the container is making the decision for you. It isn’t emotional. There is a limit to how much it can hold. Use it to your advantage.
31 Day Detox Overview
Over the next month I am going to be focusing on five major areas of my home: Kitchen, living room, bathroom, bedroom, and office.
I’ve put these rooms in a specific order. They go from the areas that are the most visible to guests to areas that are the least visible to guests.
For easier management, I’ve broken these areas down into weeks.
Each day of the week I’m going to be focusing on one target zone within each area. For example, on the first day I’m going to be focusing on my kitchen countertops.
I’ve given myself the weekends to either catch up on anything that didn’t get done, or to take a day off.
Remember that this is a Declutter Detox. I am not expecting my house to be 100% decluttered in 31 days. I’m trying to get as much done as possible in a minimum of 15 minutes a day.
I hope you will join me in this Decluttering Challenge!
It is much easier to complete a challenge when you have someone doing it right along with you!
Over the next month I’ll be updating you on my progress and sending you encouragement as you declutter your home along with me.
Sign up here to get the daily target areas sent to your email and to follow along with me during this challenge!
This challenge starts January 1st, 2019!
Hope to see you there!