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So, you're fed up with your cluttered house and have finally decided enough is enough. You're sick of the mad morning rushes to find backpacks, boots, or an item of clothing you'd planned to wear. You are cleaning because there's just so much clutter to dust under and around - or sometimes skip altogether. More importantly, despite all your diligent cleaning, you still end up feeling exhausted and frustrated because the house still looks messy and not very clean.
You long to open a drawer or cupboard and instantly find what you need. Your dream is modest; you don’t want a picture-perfect home, just a neat, tidy space where everything has its place and where there's a place for everything. You want some sanity in the madness of your cluttered home.
Decluttering your home is your only option. This is not to be confused with reorganizing or spring cleaning. You will just end up moving clutter from one place to another or dispersing it around. Your home doesn't need a good spring cleaning, it needs is a good decluttering - and understandably, you don’t know where to start.
This 7-day challenge will walk you through the process of thoroughly decluttering every room in your home in a few simple steps. A word of warning, however - it's not going to be effortless, so be prepared for some hard work and some tough decision-making, especially if you are attached to your "stuff". But the end result will be a totally transformed home and a tremendous feeling of relief and pride.
Decluttering your home goes far beyond having a sparkling streamlined home that's easy to maintain and clean. It's about making your life easier and more comfortable and ultimately, creating a warm and inviting haven for you and your family. This is a reward that is well worth the effort.
Chapter 1 – Why Less is More
In addition to the immediate benefit of having a tidier and nicer-looking home, decluttering has other powerful benefits, some of which go beyond the tangible.
It declutters the mind. Our minds are constantly processing everything around us even if we aren't aware of it. Clutter and mess cause the brain to go into overdrive, processing all the forms, shapes and colors in a space, often leaving us feeling drained and tense. After you declutter, you will notice that you feel calmer and happier in your space because your mind is calmer.
Decluttering relieves stress. Naturally, a decluttered mind will mean lower stress levels. In fact, a study carried out at UCLA found that families who lived in cluttered homes had higher levels of stress and tended to have more confrontations. In other words, decluttering is a great stress-buster!
3. Decluttering saves money. Once you experience the peace of mind that comes with a neat, decluttered home, you will be inclined to make wiser buying decisions to avoid bringing new clutter into your space. You will buy only what you really need - and plan beforehand where the item will go in your home and if you really have room for it. You will actually be amazed at how much money you were spending on things you didn't really need. Getting rid of duplicate gadgets and appliances that are just taking up space will also save money on maintenance and upkeep.
4. It makes cleaning easier. This is a no-brainer. Less stuff makes for easier cleaning and less time spent on cleaning. Your home will also stay cleaner longer because there's less clutter to gather dust.
5. Decluttering frees up time. Less cleaning and maintenance means you have more time to spend on things that bring you real value and enrichment, such as spending more time with family and friends, pursuing causes you are passionate about or spending more time outdoors.
6. It transforms your mindset. When you step inside your door into your neat, sparkling home and experience the peace and tranquility it brings you, you will reflect on your lifestyle. You will begin to realize that our crazy, consumer-driven culture does not bring us happiness after all. A simpler lifestyle with fewer possessions will allow you to focus on the truly valuable things in life like family, friendship, travel, and improving your mind. These are the things that bring happiness and contentment.
The bottom line is that decluttering has a profound effect on your overall wellbeing. So, with all these benefits in mind, let's roll up our sleeves and jump into the 7-day decluttering challenge!
Chapter 2 – Days 1- 4
Decluttering Key Rooms
The first four days of the challenge involve a major decluttering of the rooms that are used most often in the home. Once you have done this, you will have completed half the challenge. Remember, the goal is to declutter and not to organize or rearrange. That will come later.
Day 1: Declutter Bedrooms • Head for the closets! The rule here is that anything that hasn’t been worn in 6 – 12 months simply has to go. The same applies to things that don’t fit well and duplicate items of clothing. Keep only the clothes that you currently wear, including shoes, handbags, belts, and other accessories.
Sort the clothes into three boxes: those that need to be thrown out altogether, those that can be donated and those that you absolutely want to keep but store away (these are things that have sentimental value like a wedding dress or a sweater your grandmother knitted for you years ago but of course, you never wore).
• Do the same for all drawers and shelves in the bedrooms. Get rid of books, gadgets and knickknacks that are just sitting there gathering dust. Sort them in boxes to be donated or stored later.
• Tackle the nightstands, which always tend to be cluttered with tissue boxes, phones, medicine and other junk. Declutter and place these things in the drawer, where they are still close at hand but out of sight. Nightstands should be bare except for a bedside lamp.
• If you have a vanity table, get rid of items like unused hairbrushes, perfume bottles and accessories you never wear. Keep only the things you use on a daily or regular basis.
• Sort toys in your kids' bedrooms keeping only the ones your kids play with often. Get rid of old stuffed toys unless they have a sentimental value, games your children have outgrown, broken toys like Barbie dolls without arms, deflated balls and that old Barney doll the dog chewed up. A colorful touch is a great way to keep all your kids' toys close at hand but out of sight when not used.
• Another great way to declutter a child's bedroom is to enlist the help of your kids in a fun game, where they choose four or five of their favorite toys to keep in their rooms and store everything else away in a hall closet. These toys can later be replaced with five new ones from the storage closet when the kids get bored with the ones they have.
• Get your family involved in this part of the challenge, including your spouse or partner. They should be responsible for deciding what items of clothing they want to keep (while applying the 6 – 10 rule) and get rid of the rest. That way, you will avoid blame of throwing out a favorite sweater or shirt.
• Be firm and don't waver. Get rid of everything you don't need. Don’t argue with yourself that the green evening dress is still in fashion and may come in handy on a special occasion - just ditch it. You can always buy a nicer one if that future special occasion does come up.
• Again, toys and items of clothing with sentimental value that you absolutely can't part with can be stored away but should not be cluttering your closets and drawers.
When you are done, all closets drawers and shelves should contain at least half of what was in/on them before. Mission accomplished!
Day 2: Declutter your kitchen
Brace yourself. You’re going to be absolutely astonished at all the stuff you will find stashed away in your kitchen cupboards, totally forgotten! You'll probably find stuff you bought and never used as well; pasta machines, mini-blenders and other gadgets you thought would make your life so much easier when you bought them.
• Again, apply the trusty 6 – 12-month rule here with no buts, while going through every cupboard and drawer in your kitchen. Get rid of everything you have not used within that timeframe. The likelihood that you will ever use it or that it's necessary for your kitchen is almost nil.
• Keep only the essentials. You don’t need 10 spatulas, 6 baking dishes and 30 mugs if your family consists of 4 people. Keep only the items you need to keep your kitchen functioning and ditch the rest.
• Get rid of duplicate gadgets and appliances. For example, if you have a multi-purpose kitchen machine, it can serve as a blender, juicer, mixer and food chopper, so you can get rid of other similar gadgets.
• Place working appliances and other sorted items in boxes. They can be donated or sold in a garage sale to make you some extra cash.
• Go through spices, canned goods and other food items and throw out anything that has expired. If you have a pantry, declutter that as well and place all food items in it to make room in your cupboards.
• Declutter your countertops by placing items on them in your now-emptied cupboards. Your countertops should be bare except for the things you use every day like a coffee machine, kettle, fruit bowl or blender.
• Group utensils and cutlery in drawers where they are easy to find.
• Get rid of chipped and cracked plates and glasses, stained pots and rusty utensils.
• Separate pots from pans and sort them in different cupboards. Make sure you match everything with its proper lid.
• Sort essential plastic containers and make sure each has a matching lid.
When you are done, your drawers and cupboards should contain much less than they did before and countertops should be bare except for essential appliances and items.