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It’s a new year and I am ready to clear the decks of all the clutter and junk that has wandered into my house over the years. I haven’t kept up on my decluttering and now I’m nearly overwhelmed by the amount of stuff in my house. It’s time for a major purge!
Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to do a major purge. Nearly every time I start laying things out to go through them, in come the boys and before I know it things are wandering away, or I get distracted, and I end up with a bigger mess that lingers for days! I need a plan to declutter fast.
I’ve finally learned that I need to break down my decluttering into micro tasks: Quick jobs that can be done in ten minutes or less. For me, the key is taking a few minutes each day and focusing on one very specific area. Forget whole-house decluttering or even decluttering an entire room. I’m talking one drawer, one cabinet at a time.
If you’re a busy parent like me, I guarantee this declutter fast method will cut down the clutter in a manageable way so you won’t feel like you’re living in complete chaos. Ready to get started? Here’s your micro-decluttering game plan! Remember, the key is focus: get what you can done in ten minutes. If you have more time, great, but ten minutes each day will start making a noticeable dent in your clutter in no time at all!
Our bedrooms should be our sanctuaries. A peaceful oasis where we can forget about the stresses of our life and rest and rejuvenate. Of course it doesn’t often work that way. Tonight, I can state with complete certainty that I have at least three kids’ books on my nightstand, a laundry basket full of clothes that need to be folded in the corner, and a screwdriver or two on my dresser.
It’s hard to feel relaxed and centered when you’re surrounded by chaos. That’s why these decluttering challenges for your bedroom are so important. To declutter fast, pick the easiest from the list below and get to work! The next day, pick another task, and keep going until your bedroom becomes your sanctuary again.
- Old glasses (find a donation center to give the gift of sight rather than pitching them in the garbage!)
- Receipts, bills, and other papers
- Anything you don’t know what it goes to: buttons, keys, remotes, cables
- Half-read books you lost interest in
- Old magazines
- Ripped/torn clothes that you can’t (or won’t) fix
- Anything stained
- Clothes that don’t fit
- Anything you haven’t worn in a year or more
- Old bridesmaids dresses
- Graduation gowns
- Promotional t-shirts and other swag
- Socks without a match
- Stretched out bras/underwear
- Uncomfortable shoes, shoes you don’t wear, or shoes that are worn through
- Old ties, purses, scarves, and any other accessories you don’t wear often
Under the bed
- Dust bunnies!
- Empty out your under-the-bed storage containers and get rid of sweaters you don’t wear, torn blankets, stained sheets, and anything else you don’t use
- Nearly-empty wrapping paper rolls (if you don’t already have one, get a wrapping paper holder. GAME CHANGER.)
Getting ready in the morning is stressful enough without fumbling through clutter trying to find your makeup, hairdryer, or a clean towel. Get rid of anything you don’t need in the bathroom to streamline your getting ready routine.
- Expired medications
- Old cosmetics
- Dried out nail polishes, or bottles that are nearly empty
- Makeup that you’ll never wear again
- Hair products you no longer use
- Stretched out hair bands/headbands
Under the sink
- Cleaning products you don’t use
- First aid items that you bought for a very specific purpose and no longer need
- Soaps and lotion sets you got as gifts and haven’t opened
- Bath toys the kids don’t play with anymore
- Shampoos/conditioners/soap/body wash/shaving cream that you didn’t like
- Helpful hint: conditioner makes a great shaving cream so if your conditioner doesn’t work on your hair, try it on your legs!
- Dull razors
- Old loofahs/poofs/back brushes
Oh kids’ rooms. I don’t know if it’s humanely possible to declutter kids’ rooms. But they are easy to declutter fast because there is so much junk. Get your garbage bag and start tossing!
Of course, for clothes and toys still in good shape, donate or sell so someone else can enjoy them.
- Clothes that no longer fit, or are ripped/torn
- Parenting hack: I recently started keeping a box in both of my boys’ closets. Whenever they outgrow something, I throw it in the box. Once it’s full, it gets taped up and put in the attic for my younger son, or my nephew-to-be.
- Diapers/training pants that are too small
- Shoes that are worn out or too small
- Toys they’re too old for, or no longer play with
- Toys that are missing parts, broken (and can’t be fixed), or otherwise unusable
- All the party favors!!
- Broken crayons
- Anything dried out (play-doh, paint, markers, glue, etc.)
- Coloring books that have most/all the pages colored
- Scrap paper, old projects, scribble papers
- Ripped, stained, or frayed towels, sheets, blankets, etc.
- Cleaning products you no longer use
- Heating pads, back massagers, humidifiers, or other small personal care items that are broken or you no longer use
With all of their cupboards and counter space, kitchens become a black hole for clutter. Don’t let that happen by keeping up on these areas! A quick sweep each day will help you declutter fast and keep you from becoming overwhelmed!
- Expired food (don’t forget the spice shelf!)
- Exotic ingredients that you don’t use, or only used for one recipe that you won’t make again
- Dishes/glasses/mugs that are chipped or cracked
- Serving pieces that never made it out of the box
- Small appliances that you don’t use regularly
- Bottles, sippy cups, or anything else your kids have outgrown
- Plastic storage containers without lids and vice versa
- Promotional/souvenir mugs that have no sentimental value
- Food that’s been frozen too long (here’s a handy guide)
- Anything that looks/smells off, even if it hasn’t expired
- Sauces/condiments you don’t use
- Old keys
- Lighters that don’t work
- Candle stubs
- Old warranties, receipts, bills, invoices
- Cables you don’t know what they belong to
- Single batteries
Living Room/Family Room
As the main living space for the family, the living/family room is ground zero for clutter. Declutter fast by pitching these items.
- DVDs/VHS you don’t plan on watching again
- Books you’re not going to read again
- Old magazines/newspapers
- Shabby or frayed blankets and pillows
- Knick-knacks that hold no sentimental value or don’t fit within your decor
- Toys the kids no longer play with or have grown out of (if you need a great toy organizer, I’ve been super happy with this one!)
- Dried out pens, markers, white-out
- Any paper you possibly can (here’s a handy guide)
- Make sure you’re signed up for e-statements and paperless billing to cut down on the paper clutter coming into your house
- Extra office supplies (do you really need three tape dispensers, five pair of scissors, and eighty pens??)
- Anything from old computers/electronics: software, cables, speakers, manuals, keyboards, etc.
If your garage is anything like mine, it’s going to take way more than ten minutes to declutter. But remember, we’re not trying to tackle an entire space in one day. To declutter fast, pick one shelf, one corner, one cabinet to tackle, and come back the next day for more. Here’s what you should pitch:
- Old, dried out paint (check your local hazmat collection dates for proper disposal)
- Anything you haven’t used for a six months to a year that’s not of sentimental value (serve-ware, small appliances, tools, etc.)
- Old/expired seed, fertilizer, and other garden things
- Leaky hoses
- Rusted out tools that you can’t bring back to life (be honest with yourself: if you’re not going to take the time to fix it, pitch it)
- Broken or outgrown toys (roller skates, balls with a leak, too-small bicycles or helmets, leaky pools/swimmies, etc.)
Don’t Forget Your Digital Life
These days, electronic clutter is nearly as bad as physical clutter. Take sometime to clean up your phone and computer in addition to your physical space.
- Old emails
- Go through your pictures and save only the best shots. While you’re at it, be sure to back up your photos if they’re not automatically backed up to the cloud. I’m sure most of us know someone who has lost all of their photos due to a computer crash. I recommend an external hard drive. It’s worth the investment to save your memories.
Letting Go of Sentimental Items
It can be touch to get rid of mementos and other items with sentimental value. For years (and several moves) I hung on to shoeboxes full of tickets, programs, cards, and other things from my past. Recently, I let most of them go, and I have to tell you something: It was freeing.
In reality, I hadn’t looked at most of those things in years. In many cases, I was no longer in touch with someone who had sent me a card, or I had no other memory of going to see a show than having seen it. Why was I holding on to all of this extra baggage? Purging it from my life felt like a giant weight lifting from my shoulders.
Even though it may be tough, I strongly encourage you to go through your boxes of mementos to see what you can get rid of.
- Cards (I save one card from each important person in my life so when they pass I have a record of their handwriting, but I pitch the rest).
- Movie tickets: most of them were faded beyond readability anyway!
- Programs and tickets to plays, concerts, and sporting events: Generally I remember going to these events, and if I don’t, it’s probably not worth holding onto the program/ticket to try to jog my memory! I realized I didn’t actually care what date I went, who was in the cast, or where the event took place. So why hold on to the program/ticket? I come from a theater background so this was a bit of a tough swallow, but six months after my great purge, I don’t feel like I’m missing anything.
- Kids art projects: This is something I’m still struggling with. I get rid of the scribble scrabble and worksheets but the art projects and the first writings my son is doing I’m having a hard time letting go of. If anyone has tips, let me know in the comment field!
If you’re getting rid of bags and boxes of stuff, why not try to make a little money on the side? If your clutter is in poor condition, get rid of it. But if it still has life in it, consider donating, or selling. Here are some options for selling your stuff:
Go Forth and Conquer! Declutter Fast!
There you have it! I hope I’ve convinced you that with just ten minutes a day, you can take back control of your house and crush the clutter. How do you declutter fast? Drop a note in the comment field so we can all be the kings and queens of our castles again!