Posts Tagged Decluttering

30-Day Declutter Challenge: Go From Stressed To Clutter Free Fast + Free Calendar

30-Day Declutter Challenge: Go From Stressed To Clutter Free Fast + Free Calendar

30 Day Declutter Challenge

I’m a big fan of bite-sized challenges to kick start new behaviors and a 30-day declutter challenge is a great (and practical) way to make a tidy house happen. I want to break down how to do this 30-day challenge and then give you tips to make it stick. Because the last thing you want to do after you declutter your home and work hard to clear away the clutter is to fall back into old habits.

NAVIGATION

Everyday Clutter Zones
Problem areas for decluttering
tackling tough clutter
clean sweep

By the end of this 30-day declutter challenge you’ll be able to:

  • Declutter your home in 30-days with easy steps
  • Stop stressing and bring some order to your messy house
  • Learn some practical tips to declutter your home
  • Keep your home clean, clutter-free, and organize long term

Why Does A 30-Day Declutter Challenge Work?

Why Does A 30 Day Declutter Challenge Work

A declutter challenge is an easy step by step process that gives you one simple thing to do each day. Focusing on one little thing each day makes it easy, but after 30-days, it adds up to a big change. It can be overwhelming to think about cleaning your whole house, but if we break it down into smaller parts, it’s much easier.

How Do I Motivate Myself To Organize My House?

How Do I Motivate Myself To Organize My House

At the end of the day, there is one thing that will actually make you successful when it comes to decluttering your house and getting organized: Action. You don’t need to have the answers, you don’t need to get it all right, you don’t even need to know the best way to start decluttering, you just have to start.

You’re going to have some missteps, you might accidentally toss something you’ll need later, or you might put it away to realize it wasn’t in the right spot. But here’s the thing, you’ve made forward momentum. There will be some of you who read this post with aspirational intent, but it’s the people that get up from their computer after reading this post and just start that will actually make it happen. Even doing it badly is better than not doing it at all.

Where Do I Start Decluttering?

Where Do I Start Decluttering

A lot of people get all worked up when they think about getting rid of stuff and declutter a whole house or apartment. Something about the process makes them jump to the most extreme case. Don’t get bogged down with what you think are going to be the most challenging parts or overwhelmed by the entirety of your whole home.

My best piece of advice is: Start Small and Start Easy. Don’t take on the largest mess in your home right away and don’t start with difficult things to throw away like sentimental items. Start in one small place and things you have zero qualms getting rid of.

refrigeratorFor me, it’s the fridge. It’s a very small space and I don’t have to worry about sentimentality when I toss that third jar of mustard in my fridge that expired long ago that I never really liked anyway. Many people will start with their fridge, the bathroom vanity, a nightstand or their junk drawer (you know you have one). These are places that are a limited scope and don’t carry a lot of emotional work with them.

Once you’re done with one, try another place. Each time you finish try a little bigger space. Then start to tackle things you might have more to process emotionally around. What you’re doing here is building your “decluttering muscles” so when you get to tougher stuff, you have a practiced history to lean on.

There may come a point where you only have the really sentimental stuff or things that are wrapped up with a ton of emotions. But since you took this measured approach, even if you stop right there, you can look back at all the meaningful progress you’ve made; you came a long way!

How To Do Your Daily Declutter Challenge

How To Do Your Daily Declutter Challenge

Each day check out your free printable calendar that you can download below. Try to do this at roughly the same time of day to help build the habit. Set a timer for 15 minutes and get to work.

At the end of the time take a moment to consider the progress you made in that area and over the previous days of the challenge. If you’re feeling motivated, don’t just stop at 15 minutes, but commit to doing 15 minutes each day.

DECLUTTER CHALLENGE CHECKLIST

  1. Check your declutter challenge calendar
  2. Set a timer for 15 minutes
  3. Declutter for the full time
  4. Reflect on the progress you’ve made
  5. Keep going if you’re in the zone!

Tips To Make Your Declutter Challenge Successful

Tips To Make Your Declutter Challenge Successful

Here are some things that will make your time decluttering a bit easier and ensure success at the end of your 30-days. Use the calendar as a guide, tweak it to suit your situation and needs.

Start where it makes sense for you. Each of us have our own flavor of clutter. Start with things that will be easy to declutter and are common problem areas for you.

Even if you don’t know where to start, move towards action vs inaction, even if you do it poorly you’ll be ahead of not doing anything at all.

DECLUTTER CHALLENGE TIPS

  • Don’t try to do too much at one time
  • Take time every day to maintain
  • Take before and after photos
  • Start with the easiest areas first
  • Have a bias towards action
  • Declutter first, organize second
  • Be honest with yourself

30-Day Declutter Challenge Calendar

30 Day Declutter Challenge Calendar

This 30-day challenge will help you declutter your house from top to bottom. Working a little bit each day you’ll move from room to room to make it all happen. Below is the 30-day declutter challenge checklist and calendar laying out what you need to do each day, but feel free to make some modifications so it works for you. I’m also going to break down each day with some added resources for you to check below, so grab your calendar and keep reading!

Download the Declutter Challenge Calendar

30 day declutter challenge calendar

Day 1 – Fridge

First day of a declutter challengeStart with this small area and toss out everything that you don’t like, is expired or you have multiples of. Condiments are a place we hang onto things too long. Most of what we use day today is a small fraction of what we have in our fridge door. Worst case you toss something you need and have to buy it again down the road, so be very heavy-handed here. While you’re at it wipe down the whole fridge.

Day 2 – Kitchen countertops

Decluttering your kitchen countertopThe kitchen the center of the home for many, which also means it becomes a place where a lot of things get placed down. Take a few minutes today to not only clean things up, but look at them. Why are they ending up there and not somewhere else? Do they have a place they should be? Should you designate a place for them? What practical steps can you take to stop the flow of these items BEFORE they happen.

Try to spend a few minutes each morning cleaning this area, it’s the beachhead for your decluttering for your whole house, so hold strong here to set the tone for the rest of your decluttering!

Day 3 – Landing Zone

Making sense of the landing zone for your stuffWhen you walk into your house, most of us have a place we drop our essentials: keys, wallet, phone, mail, purse, etc. If you just drop them on the counter or don’t have a designated place, take time today to set one up. It should be a purposeful selected place that is only for this, is out of the way to keep things neat, but easy to drop when you walk in.

Take a look at what you always have with you and what gets dumped right away when you walk in the door. If you have keys, set a single hook that makes it easy to see if your keys are there or not. For your phone, consider a charging stand or wireless charger. When you get mail, how should it be sorted (I do trash, to do, to file). Your purse might get hung or just a designated spot to drop.
For me I keep a minimalist everyday carry setup, so I don’t have a lot. I have a small nook that I purchased a small tray to put things in and I have a mail sorting station.

Day 4 – Front Closet / Mudroom Area

Clearing the clutter from your front closetIf you have kids this is managed chaos at best. Take time to think about what really needs to be there and what might be cut out. You want just the bare essentials here, too often people will use an article of clothing once, but it stays hung up there for months. A whole array of shoes litters the floor, but you most likely only have 1-2 go-to pairs. Cut things down to items you use every day, anything else that gets used occasionally should be removed and stored away elsewhere.

This lets us cut down what we have to organize in the first place. For a kid you might have a backpack, a lunch box, a jacket and shoes. Designate a specific hook or nook for each of these (ex: jacket hook, lunchbox hook) for each kid. Set a pattern to place each thing in their respective place, if they just dump and run, bring them back to do it correctly to reinforce it. This way you can quickly scan to see that little Johnny is missing his lunchbox.

Download the Declutter Challenge Calendar

30 day declutter challenge calendar

Day 5 – Cleaning Supplies

Organizing cleaning suppliesPeople have a lot of cleaning supplies when you only really need a few essentials to make it all happen. You want to reduce things down to the very basics: An all-purpose cleaner, a glass cleaner, and a disinfectant. That’s it! You can choose to make your own, but I just use store-bought. I get the generic brands of Simple Green for all-purpose, Windex for glass and mirrors, and then a bleach spray to disinfect things. From there I have a few microfiber cloths, a textured sponge, a razor blade scraper, and a scrub brush. Start with those, toss the rest and if you need something else buy it later.

Day 6 – Medicine cabinet

Arranging your medicine cabinetAs a guy my medicine cabinet is pretty lean. I only keep a few core things, but I know for women this is a more complicated matter. Focus on things that you use every day and things you love. Most women have a few go-to looks, so toss the makeup that doesn’t get used for those.

Here is what I keep, use this list to keep just the bare essentials and customize to you.

Minimalist Medicine Cabinet

  • Ibuprofen
  • Naproxen Sodium
  • Ancetaminophen
  • Cough Drops
  • Decongestant
  • Antihistamine
  • A Few Band-aids
  • Q-tips
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrush
  • Hydrocortisone
  • Anti-acids
  • Sunscreen
  • Tweezers
  • Thermometer
  • Razor w/blades

Day 7 – Night Stand

Straightening up your nightstandYou start and end your day in your bed, so let’s get this cleaned so you can kick things off clutter free. A night stand is one of those places that ends up collecting a lot of things. Look at what is there now and try to understand why it got there. Figure out what the core essentials are for a night sleep and consider thinking about keeping your phone outside the bedroom.

Day 8 – Junk Drawer

Cleaning out your junk drawerA junk drawer is a place for things without a place. Let that sink in. Either it’s not worthy of a designated place or it isn’t getting a place it really deserves. Both are undesirable. We tend to toss things in here that we are saving “just in case”, that are useful for “something”, or we haven’t taken the time to find a place for. Take some time to be an archeologist on your junk drawer, fix the underlying issues and clean it out. Consider adding a drawer organizer so you can segment the items in there going forward. Use your “junk drawer” as a place for things without a place, once a month go through it and toss it or find a place for it, regularly clearing it out.

Day 9 – Socks and Underwear

Sorting socks and underwearIt may not be for everyone, but many years ago I went to a single type of underwear and a multiple of identical socks. This lets me have some uniformity with things, I stopped wasting time matching socks and it lets me rotate underwear and socks easily. When things start to get worn out, I buy a whole new set, toss out the old and replace with all new.

Most people have their favorites or things they wear most days. In general, I suggest cutting out everything else. If you don’t love it, toss it. If you have something that you don’t like or something that bothers you about it, replace it now. The cost of most of these things isn’t high, so be pretty heavy-handed here.

how to embrace a minimalist wardrobe

Day 10 – Linen Closet

Thinning out the linen closetGo through and toss out the things that are getting worn out or maybe don’t fit the beds you have. If your linens are running thin, consider doing a clean sweep and buying all new bed sheets and towels; from time to time it’s good to start totally fresh. Try to only have 2 sets of linens for each bed: one on the bed, the other in the wash or waiting.

Day 11 – Laundry Room

Laundry room organizationGo through all your cabinets and drawers, toss things that you haven’t used or just adding clutter. Focus on things you use daily or weekly, toss things that are used rarely. Go through you cleaning products here and pare down the bare essentials. If you have time, consider what bothers you when you do laundry, take the time to fix it now.

Day 12 – Desk

Straightening up your office deskThis might be the first big challenge for some of us. What I suggest doing is taking your paperwork and sorting into three piles: to do, to file, to shred. I give more tips about how to declutter your office here and how to maintain a simple office in this post.

Once you’ve pulled out all the papers in the office, next I want you to use what I call “the box method”. To start get a big box and go through your entire desk and put everything in that desk into this box. Put the box in a closet somewhere for 60 days, set a calendar reminder for two months out. Don’t leave a single thing on your desk except your computer, keyboard, mouse and a lamp.

Then when you sit down to do something, if you need something that was in your desk, go to the box and pull out that single item. If you need a pen, get only one pen (might as well make it your favorite pen!). If you need to staple something, you can get the stapler, use it, then put it in your desk.

At the end of 60 days, you’ll have only the core items you need in your desk and nothing else. Go through the remaining items to double-check nothing super important is in there, then toss it all.

Day 13 – Bedroom closet

Bedroom closet organizationThis is another big one, so set some more time aside for this one. Most people only wear 20% of their wardrobe, meaning 80% of your clothes you don’t actually wear. I suggest you make three piles: to keep, to donate, to toss. Then go to town sorting. Realize this is a journey, not a destination, so make a solid effort here keeping only what you wear and love, but realize too, this is the first of many cleanouts.

how to embrace a minimalist wardrobe

how to build a capsule wardrobe

Day 14 – Toiletries, Makeup, and Shower

Simplifying your bathroom suppliesI’ll be honest here; I’m a guy and I don’t get all that goes into women’s morning routines. I’ll just say this: Think about each item you have, consider your wants vs. needs, and question everything. I have one bottle of shampoo, one bottle of body wash, deodorant, razor, shaving cream, comb, toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and nail clippers.

Day 15 – Car

Cleaning stuff out your carCars are a place that can collect a lot of stuff, if you have kids, this is doubly so. How I do this is I bring my trash can out and remove all the trash that might have collected there. Then I pull out everything and put it into two piles: keep in car and things that need to be put back in the house. I grab all those house items and put them away where they go right then.

Then I’ll declutter, toss and organize what I want to keep in the car. One thing I’ve started doing is things I use every day in my car, those go in my center console storage. The rest get neatly organized into a small bin that gets put in my trunk. This lets me have the things I need, but not get bogged down in the items I have to have in my car, but are rarely used.

From there I make it easy on myself, I drive down to a local car wash/vac and have them clean it. Bonus: grab a coffee while you kick back and watch them clean your car, you’ve made it halfway!

Day 16 – Garage – Part 1

Organizing the garageHere is a big one, most likely the biggest on this list. An astounding 23% of Americans can’t even park in their own garage because they have so much junk.

Because this is such a big challenge, I’m going to give you three whole days to work on this. Consider doing these days on a weekend because it’s going to take some time. Start with taking a photo of your garage as a “before photo”.

homeowner garage stats

For this I’d start with three piles: keep, toss, donate. Get one big box of black garbage bags and one box of a different color. Black trash bags get tossed; the other color gets donated. If you are in a house with two cars, when you fill a bag, put it right into the car until its full. One car for donation runs and the other for dump runs.

Day 17 – Garage – Part II

Clearing junk out of the garageContinue your progress clearing things out. When you’ve pulled out everything and sorted, make your final runs to the dump and donation location. Then I want you to come back and take your keep pile and go through it one more time. Ask yourself critical questions about each item. Are you really going to use this in the next 6 months? What stories are you telling yourself about these items? Are you keeping this item out of guilt because how much it cost, was it a gift or other hang up?

Day 18 – Garage Part III

Garage maintenanceToday is about bringing it all back into the garage and organizing it. Take a step back and really question what you’re about to bring back in and keep. The trick here isn’t to organize your clutter, it’s to reduce the items you have to organize in the first place.

I’d set yourself up with some good shelving and storage containers, and label things clearly. I’d suggest trying to use a uniform container and one or very few sizes, this will make things look very orderly and keep it organized too. Put things that you don’t use often up higher and things you’ll use a lot in easier to reach places. Don’t stack things so you can’t get to them easily and try to only put containers one row deep.

Download the Declutter Challenge Calendar

30 day declutter challenge calendar

Day 19 – Maintenance Tidy Up

Guide to tidy up your houseYou had a big few days with the garage. So today go around to all the places you’ve already gone through and do a quick maintenance tidy on them. This will help keep your momentum going!

Day 20 – Kids Toys

Donate unused kids toysGo through and remove broken toys, toys that are no longer age-appropriate and items they haven’t played with in a long time. Donate where it makes sense.

Day 21 – Kids Closet

Sorting through kids closetFollow the same rules you learned with your own closet. Use the lessons you learned from your own experience to teach your kids in this moment. Involve them in the process.

Day 22 – Outdoor/Patio

Clear out outdoor patio spaceGo through your outdoor space and tidy up. Clear out dead plants, unused pots, and clean up outdoor furniture. Clear out your flower beds, coil the hose properly, rake leaves and fix whatever bothers you. Consider calling in a professional power washer for the house and deck, often these cost $200-$300 for the whole house and make a big impact.

Day 23 – Purse/Daily Bag

Decluttering your purseAnother place where things just naturally collect. Go through and clean out your bag, get down to the bare essentials. Take this time to think about the things you have in your bag, , magazines and replace things that never worked well for you or you didn’t like. Consider how you could better organize the items in your bag or purse with smaller pouches, reserving the main pockets and organization for only those things you use every day.

Day 24 – Family Room

Family room cleaningTake time to tidy up, remove things that collect there. Toys are big offender here if you have kids, so take the time to pare down again on toys if you can. Think about what messes are made, why it happened and how you could prevent them before they happen.

declutter your home room by room

Day 25 – Magazines and Books

Toss old magazinesGo through and make three piles: keep, toss, and donate. If you have a pile of unread books consider setting a goal of reading 10 pages each night to start making headway.

Day 26 – Powder Room

Tidy up powder roomTidy up the room, clear out the vanity of extra stuff, and consider adding a setup of your basic cleaning items right there for easy use. If you have extra time today, do some maintenance tidying in the previous areas.

Day 27 – Kitchen Pantry

Sorting out the kitchen pantryMuch like the fridge, go through items and toss things that your family doesn’t love or are expired. The pantry is a place where a lot of things that we used once to make a single dish and never again end up. Pare down your spices to a basic collection of your favorites. Here I’d suggest being pretty aggressive with toss (or donate) items because the cost of replacing is pretty low, so a mistake isn’t a big deal here. Focus on things you use every week.

how to stock a minimalist kitchen

Day 28 – Food Storage Containers And Pans

Use food storage containersEvery time I go into someone’s kitchen, I see them have a lot of pots and pans, but they often have their favorites. Saying things like “eggs stick to that pan” or something that signals it’s not really working well for them.

I suggest a small soup pot, a large soup pot, a good 8” pan, a 12” pan, a Dutch oven, two baking sheets, and a casserole dish. Keep those things and donate the rest.

For food storage containers I’d suggest something a little drastic. Toss everything. The problem people run into with storage containers is they have mismatched containers that don’t nest and they then have to go find a matching lid. If you stick to only one container type, every container will fit every lid. They then will also neatly stack in your fridge every time.

Then go find one container you really like and buy 10-20 of them. I found a great container that was pretty cheap so if it got funky, I could toss it without much guilt. It’s a decent size to hold a fair bit, but small enough so I can take with me if I want to pack a lunch in it.

equipping a minimallist kitchen

Day – 29 Kitchen Final Sweep

Declutter Challenge Kitchen cleanupYou’ve tackled the fridge, counters, pantry, cleaning products, landing zone, pans, storage containers, and spices. Now let’s round out the kitchen with a final declutter from top to bottom. Plan to give yourself a little bit more time today to get this done.

Start with re-tidying everything you’ve already done to keep it going. Now tackle any outstanding areas in your kitchen. Use your three piles to sort and if you’re really hung up on something, try the box method sparingly. Consider the items you use every day or weekly, the rest should be a candidate to get rid of or at the very least find a place to store them out of way and off the countertops. Be judicious about what makes the cut to have a home on top of the countertops, aim to have very few things on the counter.

Download the Declutter Challenge Calendar

30 day declutter challenge calendar

Day 30 – Final Push

Final push to decluttering your houseAt this point, there isn’t much you haven’t touched in your home. Think about things that you might want to do a second sort on to declutter a bit more, do those first. Now go back through the above list and do a quick tidy on all your previous work. Finally, tackle any extra things that aren’t on this list.

Take the time to really round out the whole 30-days, even if you have to work an extra day or two. You’ve come so far, finish strong!

How To Make Your Decluttering Stick For The Long Term

How To Make Your Decluttering Stick For The Long Term

Now that you’ve done so much work, we want to maintain it. I’d suggest you take before and after photos so you can remind yourself where you came from and how much better it really is to be on the other end of it.

  • Build a habit of maintenance tidying each day
  • If you keep cleaning up the same mess, ask why then fix that
  • Involve others you live with and gain buy-in, build their habits too
  • If something bothers you, take five minutes and fix it right then
  • Take a step back and question items in your space
  • Calendar times to clean up and tidy monthly
  • In 6 months, do another 30-day declutter challenge for a deeper clean

 

Download the Declutter Challenge Calendar

30 day declutter challenge calendar

Your Turn!

  • What tips do you have from your own decluttering?

30 day declutter challenge post

How To Stop Shopping – 5 Strategies That Make All The Difference

How To Stop Shopping – 5 Strategies That Make All The Difference

how to stop shoppingHumans are funny things, we may want to stop shopping, but when it actually comes to making it happen, we find ourselves back in the store or shopping online. The reasons are complicated, you may be shopping to deal with stress – a little retail therapy – you might find yourself among friends who shop socially, it could be a great deal or sale, or any number of other reasons.

We have lots of reasons, but whatever yours happens to be, it led you here; searching for how to stop shopping. Let that sink in, if you find yourself here, it’s a problem and we need to fix it. The good news is, I have been where you are and escaped that cycle, even going on to not buying a single thing for an entire year!

How To Stop Shopping So Much

how to stop shopping so much

Before I get into my strategies to help you stop shopping, let’s take a minute to focus on what the outcomes of shopping too much or even a shopping addiction could mean. This helped me a lot when I started my minimalism journey. Think about made you want to figure out how to stop shopping so much. What was that feeling or driver?

Next, I’m going to ask you to do something you don’t want to do. I want you to sit here for a moment and let the dread, the uncomfortableness, the emotions consume you. Notice how it makes you feel, the thoughts that spiral from it. I want you to feel the dread, the anxiety, the shame, and stress that comes from shopping too much.

The reason for this? Sometimes the best way to change a behavior is to think about what it would be like to have a healthy relationship with shopping. But if it was that simple, you’d just do that. Instead, I find sometimes it can be more effective to run from something, rather than towards something. There is something in our DNA rooted in our flight or fight response that makes this true. Unchecked it can be a destructive force, used as a tool, it can propel us forward.

How To Take Control Of Your Shopping Habit

how to take control of your shopping

When you feel the temptation to buy more stuff, I want to you remind yourself of that feeling. When you’re feeling tempted while out with friends, when you feel stressed, when you start to justify a purchase, I want you to let that feeling overcome you as a reminder of what you’re moving away from. This will start to make saying no to buying something a relief rather than a challenge.

Now to the strategies that help me break away from the consumer cycle and stop shopping needlessly.

Say “next time”

say next time

This was a really big hack for me when I was trying to stop shopping. I set a rule that if I saw something that I wanted to buy that wasn’t on my shopping list I wrote at home, I’d tell myself “next time I’m in this store, if I still want it, I’ll buy it then”.

This stemmed the flow of impulse buys majorly. It works so well because you’re not even telling yourself “No” just “not right now.” The funny thing is often when I saw the item again, I often found myself wondering why I wanted it in the first place.

You can do this with online shopping too. If you’re trying to stop shopping on Amazon, they have a “save for later” button. I do this for every purchase I make online now as a habit unless I am replacing something that was broken/worn out.

Remove The Triggers That Lead You To Shopping

remove the triggers

Think about what are the thoughts, situations, and triggers that lead to shopping? It could be that we shop because we find ourselves at the mall with friends. What if instead, we proposed going to the park on a nice day. What if instead of spending $20 on a new top, we went to a wine bar and got a bottle with the same friends.

Do you shop when you’re stressed or bored? What could be an alternative response?
The point is that when we shop too much, it’s way easier to stop the circumstance that proceeds us being at the store than to not buy when we are already at the store. Identifying the steps that lead us to shop makes us aware and thus more intentional. Recognizing the triggers is half the battle.

Ask Why To Stop Shopping So Much

ask why you want to buy something

When you’re considering buying something, take a second and ask yourself the five whys? This technique is from the engineering geniuses at Toyota, but can work wonders in everyday life too. When you want to buy something, ask yourself “why do I want to buy this?”

In your mind I want you to answer this question, then consider the answer. Take the answer and ask yourself, why is that the answer? Then keep on repeating. What you’re doing is digging deeper to the root cause of why you’re buying this item. When you get to the end and you feel you can’t break down the answer anymore (could be 3 “whys” or 7 “whys”) then think about that final answer. Does that final answer make sense with the purchase you’re about to make?

It’s easier to see in an example:

five-whys-to-shopping

So, when we look at the above, we see how we took buying a shirt and distilled it down to “I want to be loved and accepted.” This then lets us compare the action we are taking (buying a shirt) to the TRUE desired outcome (love and acceptance). We then can ask does that action result in the outcome, in this instance we most likely would say “no”.

the purpose of stuff

At that point we have also learned something about ourselves, we can then ask, “what could I do that would get me closer to my desired outcome”. This one-two punch will let you stop your buying habit and build a new one that’s positive.

Reframe The Cost Of Purchases

reframe the cost

One of the most impactful things for me was reframing the cost of items. Let’s say you make $20 an hour and the item you are considering is $160. Ask yourself, “is this item worth me working an entire day for?” This helped me greatly and really oriented me in the right direction. This is also really helpful when you are trying to get out of debt.

Add Pain To The Process

add pain to the process

You’ll read many tips about how to stop spending money on things, but at the root, many of these will fail. Why? Because buying isn’t a painful enough process. Remember how I coached you at the very beginning of this post to sit with the dread of your shopping habit? I wanted to steep shopping with a healthy dose of pain.

Whenever I want to change something about my life and it proves to be stubborn to overcome. I recognize my lack of progress and ask myself “how can I make this MORE painful?” It’s an odd notion, but it totally works.

One personal example was me kicking drinking sodas. Instead of saying I couldn’t drink sodas, I just said I couldn’t buy at the grocery store and keep them at home. If I wanted a soda, I had to get in the car, drive to the gas station 2 miles down the road and buy a single soda. Guess what, every time I wanted a soda, I instantly weighed in my mind if it was worth all that hassle.

So, whatever it is for you when it comes to learning how to stop shopping, ask yourself, “how can I add more pain to this?”

Your Turn!

  • What tricks have you used to stop shopping?

Decluttering Your Home, Room By Room

Decluttering your home can be a daunting task, it doesn’t matter if you’re a hoarder or someone who wants to live a simple life, having less clutter makes your life less stressful. The science is in and study after study has shown that a messy house leads to higher levels of cortisol, reduces your chances for promotions and puts a strain on family life or marriage. Who has time for that?

how to decluter your house room by room graphic

I thought I’d share some tips to make decluttering your home easier by breaking down some easy steps to decluttering your home by room.

Organizing Your Messy Kitchen

The kitchen is one of those places that seem to attract a lot of junk. It’s the place we have meals, spend time with family and holds a lot of kitchen gadgets that can pile up. All this means you have a lot of opportunities to clean and organize your kitchen to be clutter free.

Decluttering your kitchen the easy way

The easiest place to start is with expired food. Go through your pantry and fridge to find items that are past their expiration date. Toss them.

Next, go to your food storage containers, pull them all out and match each lid to each bottom. Inevitably you’ll find several pieces that don’t have matching parts. Get rid of anything that doesn’t have a match and then take a step back to evaluate what you do have, do you need all of them? I find that I usually only need a few large containers and then a few medium or small containers. When in doubt, keep the ones you like the best, if you don’t like one or it’s looking tired, toss it too!

Finally look at kitchen gadgets, pots, pans, and tools that you haven’t used in a long time. Take them all and put them in a box. If you need one of those items over the next few months, remove it from the box, use it, then find a place for it on your shelf. No cheating! Only take those items out if you’re using them. After a few months, you’ll have a box of things you don’t use, so donate them.

Make Your Living Room Clutter Free

The living room is another one of those places that just seem to get messy really fast. Kids playing with their toys added to the mix make it even harder. Start by getting rid of any old newspapers, magazine, etc. We tell ourselves that we are going to read them, but for the sake of your sanity, toss everything except for the latest issue.

how to declutter your living room

If you have kids, think about thinning out older toys that they don’t play with. Stem the flow by instituting a rule of one toy in, one toy out. Have your kids choose what stays and what goes, letting them make the choice lets them value both what they keep and what is new.

Finally, have a donation box that’s very public in your home and lead by example showing your kids what you’re donating and let them come to the process on their own. If you make it obvious that you’re donating things, they’ll start asking questions and then joining in, building a genuine habit of considering how they can help others.

Organizing Your Home Office Desk

how to declutter your home office and desk

Your office is a magnet for paper clutter. Where most people go wrong is not having a plan for papers to exit, they just bring paper in and it accumulates.
If you haven’t already, transition to paperless billing so you can stop the paper from coming into your office in the first place. Then understand what you need to keep and what you can toss. The IRS officially states that a scanned copy of a receipt is just as valid as a paper copy, so have a system to take any papers you do collect to be scanned and then shredded.

How Long To Keep Papers & Receipts?

3 months:

  • Receipts (non-deducted)
  • ATM deposits and withdrawals
  • Bank statements

3 years:

  • Checkbooks
  • Pay stubs
  • Mortgage statement
  • Car loan statements
  • Insurance records (expired)
  • Charitable contributions
  • All income documentation (business etc.)
  • Receipts used in deductions

7+ years

  • All tax filings and documents
  • W2’s and 1099’s
  • Canceled checks
  • Mileage records
  • Real-estate tax forms

Forever – paper form:

  • Birth certificates
  • Social security cards
  • Passport
  • Auto titles
  • Marriage/divorce papers
  • Investment statements
  • Major purchases/home improvements for insurance
  • Wills Current insurance policies
  • Medical records
  • Retirement documents
  • Property titles and deeds
  • Contracts

Now that you know what needs to stay and what can go, set up a process to scan and file the documents you need to keep. Since you have as many of your things set up in paperless bills, this will be a lot less and most of the mail you’ll get is junk mail, which would be tossed right away.

To process your documents, have a good scanner that has a multi-page feed. Brother has a good one for about $50 or you can get a standalone document scanner for around $400. Have two boxes on your desk or in your office: one to scan and then one for scanned documents. Set a schedule to scan your documents once a week and once a month shred the documents in your done box.

Declutter Bathroom Countertops

The bathroom is pretty straightforward for men, little more complicated for women. My best advice is only to keep what you use every day and then allow for a few select things that are less frequently used items. Items you use every day should have a place in the shower, on your countertop or in the top drawers of your vanity. Things that you don’t use as often should be organized into a container and placed in the cabinet itself.

how to declutter your cabinets and counters in your bathroom

Makeup is one of those things that a lot of women collect because they like variety in their look, it’s expensive so it’s hard to toss and they’ll use it “someday”. The best advice I’ve seen is to only keep what you really love. If makeup doesn’t play well with your skin, the tone isn’t quite right, or you don’t find yourself reaching for it most days, toss it. If it hasn’t been used in the page 90 days and you don’t know for sure you’re going to use in the next 90 days, toss it.

Shampoo, conditioners, and soaps are something that seems to collect in the shower. Find options that work well for you and then toss everything else. For me I only keep one shampoo, one face wash and one body wash in the shower ever.

Hacks To Organize A Messy Bedroom

Your nightstand is the official junk drawer of the bedroom. It is a landing pad for a lot of things and they pile up fast. First go through and toss anything that isn’t needed, old or out of date. If you keep a book there, only keep one book that you’re reading and put the rest on a shelf, finally decide what is allowed to stay there and find new homes for the rest.

how to declutter your bedroom quickly

Most people who tend to toss clothes on the floor is a result of not having a proper place to put them or the placement of your hamper isn’t working for you. Get realistic about how you live your life and reinforce the habit. For me, I noticed that I didn’t put my clothes in the hamper because it was still full from when I folded laundry into it. It was full with clean laundry that I just pulled from.

That lead me to have two baskets for laundry and then later I built the habit to always unload the basket into my dresser every time I brought in my freshly cleaned laundry.

How To Downsize Your Wardrobe

This is hard for many people, but what few realize is that people only wear about 20% of their wardrobe. This was a big eye opener for me so I decided to only keep pieces of clothing that I really loved. If it didn’t fit me perfectly, if it hung kind of weird, if it was a pair of jeans that I used to fit in or something that didn’t match with anything else, I tossed it.

Decluttering your clothes and wardrobe simple with a capsule wardrobe

Building a capsule wardrobe is a great place to start for many people because you can have a lot of options for outfits while still keeping it pretty limited.
For me, I’ve gone as far as wearing a uniform. I have one type of shirt (in a single color) and one type of jeans and one type of shorts. I have all matching socks so I don’t have to pair them. This means I don’t ever have to think about, just grab what is on top and go.

How To Organize A Messy Garage

The garage is one of the hardest places because its such a dumping ground for so many things. In America, one in four people can’t park in their garage because it’s filled with so much stuff. The tough part about garages is that most of what is in there often falls into a few categories: things you have for something you intend to do, items from a deceased relative that has a lot of emotion wrapped up in it, items that represent something want to do more of (sports, exercise, etc) and things that don’t have a place.

How to clean up a messy garage with out a lot of hassle

All these things can be a challenge and you don’t just have to do the work to discard or organize them, you sometimes have to do the emotional work too. Add to that the sheer volume that a garage can hold and you have a lot of work ahead of you.

The temptation here is to organize it all, but that’s the exact wrong approach, you want to discard first, then you can organize. People often confuse organizing things into bins or boxes on a shelf as decluttering, but you haven’t actually fixed the problem, you only made the ugly truth look a little neater.

So get honest with yourself, start by tossing anything that is broken or doesn’t work, follow that with things you haven’t used in over a year or two. If we are honest about how likely we are actually going to use something, we can make real progress.

So those are some tips and tricks to declutter all the rooms in your house.

Your Turn!

  • What is the hardest room for you to declutter?
  • What tricks do you know of?

Decluttering your house room by room graphic

Why Your Decluttering Failed

When I found minimalism, I went through three rounds of decluttering before finally figuring out how to declutter correctly. These are the mistakes that I made on my journey to a clutter free home.

Why Your Decluttering Failed

When I started my decluttering journey, I made a list of every single place in my house that I wanted to declutter. I broke this list down into tiny little places that would take me 15 minutes or less to declutter, so I could easily tackle one space a day without getting overwhelmed. It seemed like a good enough plan of action, but after about a month of consistent decluttering, I was over it. I didn’t want to spend even 15 minutes a day decluttering anymore.

I am the kind of person that goes all out when I do something. If I wanted to clean out my closet, I’d spend a good 9 hours taking everything out, organizing and cleaning and replacing. I am not the type to do things slowly and methodically over a long period of time.

When I tried to convince myself that my 40 day, 15-minute-per-day plan was the best, I didn’t take into account my personality and behavioral habits. I probably would have done better with a solid three days of decluttering my whole house.

Reason Why Your Decluttering Failed #1: You didn’t find a plan that works for you.

A few months after my first semi-failed attempt at decluttering, I decided to try decluttering again. I knew the end result would be worth it, so I gave it another go, in a much less methodical way this time. My weekends and some weeknights soon became filled with decluttering time. I took it one room at a time this turn around, which worked out much better for me. I put everything I wanted to get rid of in boxes, and put the boxes in my car to donate.

Six months later, the boxes were still in my car. I’d decluttered a lot of my house, most of it was in the post-declutter stage. Boxes full of stuff to donate were now in my garage and car, and sometimes when I was too lazy to do a load of laundry, I’d go out to those boxes and find some clothes or dish towels to bring back in.

Reason Why Your Decluttering Failed #2: You didn’t donate the excess right away.

Eventually, I got rid of those boxes. I finally took them to the thrift store, where they could find new homes with people who actually needed these things. I felt happy, content, and finally had my weekends back. But now that my decluttering was finished, and my house was clean and clear, what would I do in my spare time?

I resorted to my old favorite hobby: Target. I made a decision; now that my house was clean and empty, it was time to define my style with some updated and “grown up” homewares. I started spending my weekends at Target, stocking up on throw pillows, bed ruffles, new sheets and duvet covers, and even researched the internet for over 40 hours to find the perfect headboard.

Why Your Decluttering Failed

The problem was that my “style” would always be changing. Sometimes I wanted a boho bedroom filled with plants, dreamcatchers, and crazy amounts of pillows, and sometimes I wanted a clean and minimalist look where everything was white and had some purpose to it. Because my style would change so often, I was constantly updating my throw pillows and home decor.

Reason Why Your Decluttering Failed #3: You kept bringing stuff in.

Eventually I realized what I was doing. I made another decision, this time a much healthier one. I was going to become a “minimalist,” give up trying to define my style, and stop spending all of my time and money at Target.

You don’t have to become a minimalist to be successful at decluttering. I just had to stop bringing stuff in, which just meant a simple change in my lifestyle. I started going for hikes when I was bored instead of going on Pinterest or heading to Target. I’m pretty sure I’ve made all of the mistakes possible in the decluttering process, but I’m happy to say I’ve learned a thing or two along the way.

Your Turn!

  • What decluttering mistakes have you made?

 

Clutter And Stress: Your Clutter is Stressing You Out

Whenever I’m in a room full of clutter, I start to feel my anxiety rise. Clutter has been tightly correlated to stress, and your clutter may be stressing you out even more than you think. This is five ways that clutter stresses you out.

Clutter and Stress

1. Clutter is Distracting

No wonder I can never get work done with a cluttered desk or office – when you can constantly see other things (aka clutter) that needs to get put away, faxed off, filed, etc, it’s hard to stay focused on the task at hand. Most people take breaks from staring at the computer, and if those breaks are filled with looking around at the clutter in your office, it could be greatly distracting you from what you’re meant to be doing.

2. Clutter Inhibits Creativity and Productivity

Being constantly surrounded by clutter can stop your creativity (& productivity) in it’s tracks. Personally, I feel super inspired and creative when I’m in a clean and tidy environment, and I have never been able to feel productive when I’m in a messy, cluttered room or space. I’ve always been one of those people that clean their room before doing any work.

3. Clutter Creates Feelings of Guilt

When you’re surrounded by clutter, it’s easy to think of what you should have done with it by now. It should have been donated, it should have been thrown away, it should be organized.

I experienced this firsthand when I went to visit my parents recently, and in my old room was clutter that I’d totally forgot about. It was just a few old clothes, a Vitamix, and some shoes, but I made sure that I got rid of it before I left. Arriving there and seeing the clutter made me feel so guilty, but getting rid of it made me feel so much better.

4. Clutter Makes Us Anxious

Imagine that you are standing in a field on a sunny day. The grass is cut short and you can’t see anything for miles. How relaxing is that?!

Now imagine you’re in a room, surrounded by stuff. The bookshelves are full, there are boxes on the floor, even the table and chairs are piled high with stuff. Did that feeling of being relaxed go away?

Clutter can unconsciously cause massive amounts of stress.

Clutter and Stress

5. Clutter Makes it Difficult To Relax, Physically and Mentally

I love having time to myself, to read, relax, light a candle, whatever. But it’s super difficult to relax when I’m surrounded by clutter. In fact, sometimes it feels downright impossible. Clutter inhibits our ability to relax because it’s hard to see all of the stuff that needs to get done and ignore it.

Clutter can have a huge impact on stress levels, consciously or unconsciously. The good news is that decluttering can lead you to a more stress free, creative, and productive life.

Your Turn!

  • How has clutter affected your stress levels?