This January, my mom and I decided to do a declutter challenge. We live in different provinces, and we thought it would be a fun way to tackle decluttering our homes, share our love of minimalism, and cheer each other on throughout the process.
My husband and I had moved away from our home for a semester while we were both remotely doing school and work, so the timing seemed perfect to create a fresh start as we came back to the home (and all the stuff) we had left months earlier.
The challenge was simple: Starting on January 1st, we’d get rid of one item. On January 2nd, 2 items; on January 3rd, 3 items; and so on and so forth until January 31! (In case you’re doing the math, that’s 496 items over the course of the month!!)
I was so excited to begin this decluttering journey, that the first day almost felt a little anti-climactic when I only had to get rid of one thing.
By day 4, my husband was interested—he declared that he was joining us, and he promptly decluttered some cords from our drawer of miscellaneous tech supplies (does anyone else have one of these stashed away somewhere…?) to catch up to our current number.
In the end, we got rid of a whopping 992 items!
Wow—I did not think we even had that much stuff to get rid of!! We’re currently living in a basement suite while we’re building our home, and I mistakenly thought that because we lived in such a small space, we were living minimally….boy was I wrong!
I also cannot believe how much lighter and better I feel after doing this challenge! It has definitely made a huge difference in my mental health and well-being.
Below, I’ll share a breakdown of what we got rid of each day, but first I want to share a couple of things I learned from our decluttering challenge:
1. An organized home can still be cluttered
I’ll admit it, I’m one of those people that generally have an organized and clean home. Does it get messy? All the time. Do I go on a furious cleaning spree anytime someone is coming over? Absolutely. But typically, I prefer to have a clean and organized space, because it helps me to do my best work and truly enjoy my home.
All that being said, this month made me question whether or not I really was just as clean and organized as I claim to be. Sure, my kitchen and closet may have appeared tidy from the outside, but when I discovered cracked storage container lids without containers buried in the back of my cupboards or shirts I had bought more than 3 years ago that still had tags on them, I knew I had a clutter problem—I was just a little better at hiding it.
Decluttering consistently over time gives you a framework for attacking the spaces that you would normally pass over because they are “out of sight, out of mind.”
2. Decluttering helps you learn what you truly need
Doing this declutter helped us to evaluate what we truly needed for our current home and lifestyle. Over the years, I had accumulated so many kitchen food storage containers, but when I actually laid it all out on our kitchen table, matched lids and containers, and looked at the pieces we typically used, I was able to reduce it by over 50%!
It also helped me to identify what we still needed. Last summer, I decluttered an old pair of winter boots that had served me well for more than 7 years but were broken and unable to be fixed. Since my husband and I had been away for the last four months, we suddenly came back to the cold prairie winter and I realized I didn’t have any winter boots!
I want to reassure you that there is nothing wrong with realizing you have a gap in your wardrobe or an item you need for your everyday life and acquiring what you need, even as you declutter!
3. Look forward
Quite often, we keep items because of the money we spent on them, guilt, or because we worry that we may need them for some unknown purpose in the future.
If you find yourself humming and hawing over items as you declutter, take a moment and truly be honest with yourself—is there a definite scenario in the future where you will make use of this item?
If you cannot think of anything, it’s time to free yourself of the guilt that this item carries with it and pass it along or donate it to someone who will make the best use of it.
4. Find an accountability partner
Sharing this challenge with my mom and husband was so fun—and it kept me accountable to make sure I actually did it every day! Find a friend or family member to take part in this with you and see if you both can make it the entire month!
Here’s a breakdown of what I got rid of each day during the challenge:
Day 1 – Old body spray perfume
Day 2 – Slippers and running shoes that no longer fit
Day 3 – A broken hairbrush and 2 books I no longer read
Day 4 – 4 old gift bags
Day 5 – Teacup and saucer, vase, flannel, old book, and magazine
Day 6 – An old fan, dish drying rack, old camera bag for an old camera I no longer own, keychain, a little piece of home decor, and the bag of table clips from my wedding (I am passing these along to a friend who is getting married this summer)
Day 7 – 4 magazines, a sweater that doesn’t fit, stretched out reading socks, and a ball
Day 8 – mismatched socks with holes, old pj’s, stretched out tank top, a stained tee, and face lotion I don’t use
Day 9 – Salad tongs, knives, spatulas that broke, spoons, and our Costco membership (we decided to “declutter” this and let our membership lapse for now because we don’t shop there often enough ourselves for it to be worth it!)
Day 10 – Food storage containers and old/duplicate recipes
Day 11 – Food storage containers, old tea, an old journal
Day 12 – heels that didn’t fit, old comb, pillowcase, sweater, tee, camera manual, old makeup sponge, broken cord, makeup mirror, earbud case, rubber edge of an old cheese grater, bath pillow
Day 13 – Christmas packaging, old Christmas candy, recipe book, 4 shirts, old razor
Day 14 – Paper user manuals
Day 15 – Digital photo declutter
Day 16 – Decluttered my craft drawer – old coasters, fabric scraps, keychains, sewing kits, broken ruler, and buttons
Day 17 – More miscellaneous craft supplies, old laptop case, old magazine, 1 scarf, 3 shirts
Day 18 – Baseball cap, 2 skirts, 9 shirts, mittens, bike locks, 3 pairs of pants, poncho
Day 19 – tea, old greenery, old sunscreen, first aid stuff, and teacup toppers
Day 20 – Digital declutter (computer files)
Day 21 – Old makeup, makeup brushes, jewelry
Day 22 – Old journals and papers
Day 23 – Old journals and papers (I combined these two days in a larger declutter)
Day 24 – Old documents that I no longer needed to keep
Day 25 – Old gift bags, cards, and wrapping papers
Day 26 – Old gift bags, cards, and wrapping papers (This was also a larger, combined declutter)
Day 27 – Digital declutter (phone apps and computer files)
Day 28 – Digital declutter (old photos on phone)
Day 29 – Digital declutter (computer files)
Day 30 – Digital declutter (computer files)
Day 31 – Digital declutter (computer files)
I honestly think I could have done a full month decluttering my digital files—which has inspired me to tackle and declutter this area of my life further!
To sum up this post—and if you’re still with me at this point, congratulations!—I found this challenge to not only be a refreshing way to begin 2021, but a great way to create margin in my life, practice generosity, and re-evaluate my priorities.
Have you done any decluttering challenges? Let me know!