2020

14 Day Decluttering Challenge

I am so excited to hear and see so many families taking time to declutter and organize their homes, cars, garages, clothes, and so many other areas of their lives.

Let’s do this together and cheer each other on!!

We will start with something small and quick. Spend 10 minutes and declutter your purse or wallet.

  1. Take everything out and clean the inside.
  2. Are there receipts that need to be throw away or entered into your budget calculator? Are there cards that are expired or you don’t use any longer?
  3. Go through each item and ask “Do I need to carry this around with me each and everyday? If the answer is no, then don’t put it back.
  4. For purses use small ziploc bags or zippered pouches to categorize makeup, cards, or other small items.
Before After

Let's take 15 minutes today to declutter underneath the kitchen sink. Many times this becomes a deep dark place where no one wants to explore, but believe me - it will only take a short time to make a big difference.

  1. Take everything out and take this opportunity to give it a good clean. Often garbage cans are stowed here so take the garbage out and disinfect the can.
  2. Separate the items into categories. Do you have household cleaning items? Cleaning items for dishes (brushes, sponges, dish soap)? If there is anything that doesn’t belong – relocate it now. Is there anything that you never use or don’t like? Get rid of it – donate or toss it. It is taking up valuable space.
  3. Consolidate duplicates. Pour your three dawn dish detergents into one, get all the sponges together.
  4. Decide what you need on a daily basis for just this area. If you have extra supplies, can they be put in a laundry room, cleaning closet, linen closet or pantry?
  5. Find containers. If this is not possible, group them together. Put the different categories in containers so they are easily accessible.If extra room is necessary, consider items that could be put in a basket attached to the inside of the door.
Let me know if you have questions or special circumstances. I am always happy to help!

Today we are taking 10-15 minutes in your bedroom.

If you don’t already, take this opportunity to start a routine of making your bed. Trust me, it feels good and makes your bedroom look even better. I challenge you and your children to adopt this as a daily routine from now on. This decluttering project today is NOT your closet – it is only your bedroom. Take a few minutes to decide what you want your bedroom to represent. Think a calm, restful, and peaceful area where you retreat at the end of a hectic day. A space where your mind can relax. With this in mind, let’s get started and of course involve your bedroom partner if possible.
  1. Is there anything touching your bedroom floor that is NOT furniture? Pick up the clothes, children’s toys and other items that may have found their resting place here.
  2. Put the clothes in the laundry if necessary or put them away. Invest in a laundry hamper or use a laundry basket in your closet.
  3. Relocate toys to a “toy area” outside your bedroom. Children’s toys do not represent calm and restful.
  4. Are there books piled on the floor? Choose the few you are currently reading and relocate the rest to a bookcase.
  5. For other items not already listed, ask yourself this question, “Does this item represent the calm, peaceful nature I want for my bedroom?” If not, relocate it somewhere else in your house or donate it to families in need.
  6. Reward yourself!! Make a cup of tea or pour a glass of wine and stand in your bedroom to enjoy the peaceful nature you have created.

  7. From now on, it will be easier to make it look like this every day. Now that it is decluttered, a five-minute pick up may be necessary but that’s all the time it will take.

    Be a stickler for your space. Don’t allow miscellaneous items to live in your bedroom. Kids should know this is not a play area or a toy room. This area is your oasis, a calm and restful place where you and your spouse can relax after a hectic day.

    Enjoy your day! Great Job!

Today may challenge some of you more than others and show you how we as humans can get emotionally attached to everyday items. Today we will tackle our coffee mugs.

  1. Take every coffee mug out of the cupboard, dishwasher, and go find all the ones that have gone rogue in the bathroom, on the coffee table, in the garage, in the sandbox – you get my drift.

  2. Teaching Moment **One reason our homes become cluttered or we are unable to maintain a organized home is we don’t recognize or accept the idea of “limits”. We all have limits of space in our homes and deciding on your “limit” and then adhering to it is key.

    Unless you are going to have 47 people over for coffee at the same time, it is highly unlikely you need this many mugs. But when faced with the task of “letting go”, the excuses are plenty. “I love that one”, “that one was a gift from my child when he was three – he is now 54”, “I bought that one when we went to Venice”, and on and on.

    What the real question is “Do I want to live in a cluttered house?” “Do I want my items (even though this may seem insignificant with mugs) to control me?”

    With that in mind, let’s continue.

  3. I want you to decide where your mugs are going to live. All in one place and in a defined space. Once you have decided, let’s see how many will fit. The space defines the number of items, not vice versa.
  4. Start by getting rid of any that are stained, cracked, broken or unusable. I’m sure you wouldn’t want a friend using one of those – so why should you?? If you have two or three absolute favorites, put them in the cupboard immediately! Now for the rest, pick your next favorite from the remaining and put it in the cupboard, then repeat until the cupboard is 90% full. Yes only 90% – our cupboards do not need to be jammed. This is officially your limit of coffee mugs.
  5. If you get a new one for Christmas, ask yourself “Do I like it more than all the rest in my cupboard?” If so, take your least favorite out of the cupboard and replace it with the new one. This way your self-imposed limit will stay in check. If you don’t like it better than the ones you already own, then say “thank you” for the gift and place it in the donation box.

  6. If you have too many favorites, then you need to go back and do it again but try reversing the order – pick your least favorite until you reach your magic limit number!! You can do this! Your memories from Venice will not disappear if you get rid of the mug. We do not hold memories in these objects – our memories are in our minds!!

    Great work today!! Let me know if you have any questions!

Today we stay in the kitchen and tackle those crazy, uncontrollable food containers.

For most of the homes I have worked in, the biggest problem of “taming the containers” is that they have too many and they are located in a area that is difficult to access and maintain. With those ideas in mind, let’s get started!!

  1. Pull out all the containers, lids and miscellaneous other items within this category. I would also challenge you to find the extra’s in the dishwasher and other areas of your home. You really need to get an accurate idea of how many you have.
  2. Start matching them up. This is a great home-schooling task for younger children – let’s get them involved.
  3. Now let’s take a good look at what you have. Containers that have lost their lids are going away (I will bet you have more than enough even without these)!!
  4. Containers that are not see-through are going away (There is nothing worse that looking in the fridge and wondering “What’s in there?” just to find the left overs that have turned into a science experiment).
  5. Containers that have NEVER been used are going to be donated. This is pretty typical when you buy sets of food containers because there are always a size that is not functional for your household.
  6. Location: Find a place, be creative, that make accessing these containers and putting them away easier. My first solution is finding a drawer rather than a cupboard. Secondly, if you have to use a cupboard can you put them all in a large container so you can slide them out like a drawer?
  7. Remember our lesson from yesterday. Find your limit. Pick out your favorites or the ones that work best for your family. Fill your self-imposed limit (drawer, cupboard) then donate the rest. If new ones are purchased, old ones need to leave.
  8. Lastly, always store them with the lids on. I know this gives you less space but this keeps them more orderly and you will no longer be searching high and low for a lid that matches.

  9. Great job today!!
Before After

Today will be a fairly quick and simple task. We are going to tackle the outside of your refrigerator. It is often a convenient location for quick notes and children's artwork but suddenly it can become a clutter magnet and be out of control.

Take a before picture of your fridge. Take everything off the front. Give it a quick clean.

  1. Sort children’s artwork into piles according to child. Have them look through and pick their favorite. A file folder (or box) can be set up for each child’s art work for the remainder. I suggest an easy frame that can hold artwork and be switched out periodically. This can be placed in their room, near a family command center, or in a hallway. Explain to them their art will be on display in this new area and not on the fridge.
  2. Coupons and frequently used numbers. Often times coupons and magnets with frequently used numbers end up on the front of the fridge. I typically set up a small binder or portfolio for family resources. This way the binder or container can be placed in an easily accessible location for reference. Items can be sorted with tabs in such categories as coupons, invitations, take-out menus, babysitter resources, etc. That way all this information is in one place and off the front of your fridge. 

  3. An additional suggestion is to keep coupons or other offers in a small accordion-type container which lives in your purse or car for convenience when you are at the store.

  4. Photographs. If you insist on having photographs on your fridge, choose less than 5 to highlight. Can you put them on the side instead of the front? If you receive a new one then it will replace one of the five. I often suggest an electronic photo frame to house all these photos. This way you can take all the photos off the fridge and it is great source of entertainment for family and friends.
  5. Children’s toys such as alphabet magnets. I understand that children want to be with their parents and play in the kitchen during meal prep and other times of the day. I suggest small containers to hold these activities and then containers are placed in an easily accessible location. Children are also taught toy routines and these items are placed back in containers when they are finished.
Please let me know if there are other items you are struggling with and I can address them with you. Great job today!!

Let's talk about bathroom towels and facecloths today.

You have made it an entire week! I am so proud of you!
    1. Gather all your towels and facecloths in one area. If you have a larger flat surface to use I suggest this instead of trying to do this on a bathroom counter. Realize also (you may want to count) you most likely have towels in the laundry.
    2. The first step is to get rid of or set aside any that are ripped, torn or worn thin. You could also set aside those that have lost their color, have been bleached accidentally, or are stained.
    3. Unfortunately, there is not a hard and fast rule on how many towels to keep but I often suggest two full sets for each person in your household. I also suggest two extra facecloths for each person as these typically need washing more often. You will also need additional sets for guests depending on how many and how often you entertain.

      Now realize, all households are different. If you wash towels after each use, you will need more. You may also have certain towels for “show” and then towels that are “used” for guests. Lastly, take into account how often you do laundry. So here is where I encourage you decide what is absolutely necessary for your situation.

    4. Now place towels and facecloths back in the bathrooms where they are used or in a common linen closet. I encourage my clients to fold their towels and place them on the shelves with the folded side facing out. This gives your closet a nice uniform, organized look.
    5. What to do with the towels that are left? I keep four towels and a few face towels in our laundry room as “car/garage/dog” towels and then you can donate the rest. If they are tattered it’s ok, places such as Goodwill have fabric recycling where they will take any type of fabric item and send it to a recycling center to be made into other usable products.

    6. Great job today!!

Today we are tackling T-Shirts!

I was motivated today to write about t-shirts because of this wonderful organization Project Repat. They will take your collections of t-shirts and make them into memorable quilts. Of course, if you have a sewer/quilter in the family they may help you with this as well.
  1. Choose one member of your family and gather all their t-shirts. For me this would be my husband.
  2. Start by sorting through and getting rid of any that don’t fit or are torn, stained or worn thin. 
  3. Just like in the days past, choose how much space you will allot for t-shirts. I then had my husband hand me his most favorite – one at a time. As we went through this process, I folded them and put them in the allotted drawer. When the space was full, we made sure all of his favorites were included and the rest went to the donate pile.
Now there are always excuses and exceptions. I had a client who’s husband had nicer work t-shirts and and more worn “work outside” t-shirts. She decided how much space they could designate for each type and then proceeded through the same process.

If you are keeping “worn out” shirts for outside work, be honest with yourself about the number. I have two. If a family member has a job that requires tattered t-shirts, this may be more. Again, certain circumstances can be different.
  • Folding – I will be doing a live video tomorrow on folding. If followed, I will ensure you the number you can put in your drawer will increase and with them standing up instead of on top of each other, they will also be more accessible.
  • If you feel inclined, repeat the process for other family members. Stay tuned for a folding “live” video tomorrow.

Enjoy the rest of your day!!

Movies

Today we will take 10-15 minutes to declutter our movies. Even in this day and age of streaming, many people have DVD collections that are dear to their hearts. Today I hope to give you some strategies to downsize your collection and easily organize what is left.
  1. Gather all the movies together, even the ones that have made it out to the car. This can include CDs, DVDs, VHS, and Beta – whatever combination makes up your collection. Spread them out on a tabletop or floor and take a “before” picture.
  2. Match them up. Any movie that does not have a mate gets put to the side. Any sleeves that don’t have a movie get put to the side. Let’s now concentrate on the ones with mates.
  3. Go through the movies one at a time and ask yourself or your family some important questions.
    • Do we watch these movies, or do we normally stream from an online service? If you don’t watch them – get rid of them!
    • Do these movies belong to us or do they need to be returned to their owner? If they are not yours – put them in a bag and return them as soon as you can.
    • Are these movies age appropriate or have our children outgrown the content? If not, get rid of them or pass them to friends who have children of the appropriate age.
    • If I wanted to watch a movie, would I re-watch this one or look for new content elsewhere? If not, get rid of it!
    • Do I have a VHS or Beta player to play these movies? If you do not have a way of playing them, they are taking up valuable space in your home for no reason – get rid of them.
  4. For the ones you have chosen to keep, set a limit on the space they will be stored. The limit will be a bin, basket, shelf – whatever works for your space. Once this limit is set, one by one choose your favorites. When your limit is full, you donate or pass along what is remaining. As a space saving strategy, I suggest a CD/DVD binder. They come in various sizes and are available most places where you can buy electronics. For my own, I place the disk and part of the paper sleeve in each pocket. This way the disk is easily identified and can easily be return to its placeholder when you are finished.
  5. Lastly, those items in #1 that did not have mates. You can set a time frame (e.g. 1 week) to find the mates or in the case of the DVD book – you can place them in without the mate.
Who knows maybe you will come across a favorite movie today that you haven’t watched in ages and have a family movie tonight with popcorn!

Medicine

Today is an important day. We are going to declutter and organize your household medicine.

For safety reasons, it is good to declutter this area on a regular basis.

  1. Gather all your medicine in one place. Find it in the kitchen, bathrooms, medicine cabinets and everywhere else it may be hiding.
  2. Take anything that has expired and put it in the “dispose of” pile. Medicines are chemical compounds and can breakdown over time and potentially become ineffective or even toxic.
  3. Remove any medication that is discolored, dried out or separated. These medications are suspect and should not be administered.
  4. Remove any medication from a previous illness. It is always good practice to consult a physician before administering medication – even if you have taken it in the past.
  5. Take what is remaining and break it into categories. These categories could include cold remedies, pain relief, stomach medication, etc. I always recommend small bins to contain these categories. Label them and store them all in one location.
  6. In the Yakima area, your “dispose of” pile can be taken to the Yakima Police Department on 3 rd Street or the Sheriff’s office at 1822 S. 1 st Street
  7. Here is a link for more information.
Additional items to remember.
  • Store medication in a safe location and out of the reach of children.
  • Medication is best stored in a cool, dry location. With this in mind, medicine cabinets are not the best location. You may want to store dental or hair supplies in this area but because of moisture it is not the most optimal for medication.
  • Keep prescriptions for each family member separate.
Great job today!!

Shoes

For some this can be a daunting task, but we will take it slow. I want you to only do one family member’s shoes at a time so this challenge may last you for a few days.

  1. Gather all the shoes in one place, take your before picture, and then match them up.
  2. To declutter shoes, start with ones that are worn out, do not fit any longer, hurt your feet, are out of style, or you haven’t worn for a long time. These are easy to declutter and can be donated to a local charity.
  3. Next put shoes in categories. Do you have too many of one category? Be very honest with yourself and decide if you absolutely require 27 pairs of flip flops or 10 pairs of black stilettos. This is the point in time when you remind yourself why you are decluttering and your end goal of having a more organized and calm space.

    If you are having difficulty at this point, take shoes that you may feel you can get rid of and place them in a box. Mark a date six months from now on the box and place it away somewhere. Make a reminder for yourself of that date. If in six months, you haven’t looked for those shoes, chances are they can be donated.

  4. Lastly, decide what space you are going to designate for your shoes. This will be your self-imposed limit. Put shoes away until this limit is reached. Keep in mind that you do want to make sure you keep shoes that are a necessity first for each category then fill up the rest with your favorites. I know it can be tough, I’m a shoe girl myself.
Great job today! Share your pictures on my Facebook page.

Magazines

Paper is often a huge culprit of clutter in many households. One major player in this challenge is magazines. In 2018, it was estimated that the USA published over 7200 different magazines with a revenue of approximately 28 billion dollars.

So let’s gather all your magazines together and start decluttering.

  1. Put them all in a pile and let’s take a before picture.
  2. Separate the magazines into their respective piles and then go one step further and place each pile in date order with the oldest on the bottom. How many different subscriptions does each person in your family have?
    Statistically it has been shown that the average person in the US reads 2.7 magazine issues per year – that is not very many compared to how many are purchased.
  3. Decide for yourself how important your magazine subscriptions are. I know it is fun to have the new shiny book show up periodically in the mail, but do you honestly look through it, learn from it or share it? Or is it a moment of excitement and then it becomes clutter on the ever-heightening pile in the magazine basket in the corner where you will read them “someday”.
    Magazine companies also have an uncanny way of sending you “renewal” notifications long before you are reaching your expiry date. Look on the most recent magazine label of each of your subscriptions to see your expiry date. I recommend looking at this date each time you receive a renewal. You may be paying for renewals into the year 2055 if you aren’t careful.
  4. I recommend that the newest edition of the magazine is kept in your home until the next one arrives. If you have not had time to read it before the next one is there, chances are you never will. If you notice this trend, it may be time to save yourself some money and cancel the subscription. You can always go and periodically buy one issue if you feel the need.
    If you want to keep an article, recipe, or resource from a magazine. Take a picture of it and keep it digitally. Another solution for recipes is to cut it out and make a plan to prepare it in the next week or so. Do not cut out another recipe until the first one has been prepared.
    Magazine clutter in our homes is absolutely unnecessary. With digital media and the plethora of other resources we have at our fingertips, magazines that are not being read or used as current resources are NOTHING BUT clutter!
Tips for today:
  • Keep the latest editions and recycle or donate the rest.
  • Be very honest with yourself if magazines are worth your time and money.
  • Get in the habit of searching out the previous edition and recycling it when the new one arrives in the mail.
  • PLEASE check those expiry dates – I bet you will be surprised.
Great job today!!

Your Vehicle

Today we will move outside into your car. In this time of craziness and quarantine in our world, many of us are spending less time in our vehicles. What a great time to declutter them. We will just tackle a few small spots today.

  1. Pull everything out of your console and glove compartment.
  2. Sort into categories and throw away anything that is trash, old, melted, or used up.
  3. Give the inside of these areas a quick vacuum and wipe. It is always nice to have them clean.
  4. Put the owner’s manual back in the glove compartment. In addition, find current license and registration and slip it inside the plastic cover of the manual. That way you will always be able to locate it when necessary.
  5. Now of the categories left, decide what is absolutely necessary in your car. Families with small children will be different from the needs of a 30-yr old in a sports car.

    Remember, less is better and all emergency supplies with the exception of a few small things can be placed in the trunk or back area using a tote with a lid.

    For the glove compartment, I suggest a small clear pouch with a few necessities such as tissues, wipes, etc. Your console could contain mail keys, spare change, cell phone charger, etc. I also ensure these categories are contained for easier access such as a small change purse, a twist tie for the charger, or even Ziplock bags.

  6. Great job today!!

Kitchen Counters

The kitchen is usually the hub of the household and is used for many functions. One of the main functions is meal preparation for which we need counter space. Have you ever noticed how show homes, design magazines, and dream kitchens have very little to nothing on their counters? This is on purpose. It visually creates a calm atmosphere. The additional bonus is that it makes cleaning a breeze.

  1. Take a before picture of your kitchen counters. Take everything off them and give them a good cleaning. If you have dishes in the sink, take this opportunity to get them caught up including drying them and putting them away.
  2. Think of your kitchen counter tops in terms of sections. There may be a section from the fridge to a bank of cupboards or a section from the sink to the end of the counter. When we start putting things back on the counter, I challenge you to only put one thing back on each section. I also suggest that item is at the end of the section or in a corner. This will help free up as much counter space as possible.
  3. Small appliances are one of the main sources of clutter on countertops. I suggest only placing one or two appliances on your counter’s top. These would be items you use on a daily basis, for example a Keurig coffee maker or a blender. Try and find a space for all other appliances to be put away. If you need to use a nearby closet for appliances that are used infrequently, do so. Also be honest with yourself if you have used the appliance in the recent past or if it is just taking up space.
  4. Around the sink should be clear of clutter. Dish soap, brushes and sponges can be stored in a plastic container under the sink and only brought out when needed. I also recommend drying dishes and putting them away as soon as they are washed. Your countertop is not a storage place for dishes – your cupboards are. Involve your family in washing and drying dishes right after a meal. Not only will this keep your counters clutter free, it is easier to get the dishes clean if they don’t sit.
  5. Paperwork. Kitchen counters, a.k.a., horizontal surfaces tend to attract paper. To combat this, institute a rule that NO paper is stored on kitchen counters. Mail, homework, notices, and any other type of paper can be managed in another area of your home. If you process paperwork on an eating bar in your kitchen, store this paperwork in a small plastic bin that can be put away or placed in another room. When it is time to be processed, you can bring it out to the counter and then it can be put away again off the counter.
  6. THE MIXER. Many ladies will ask me about the large mixers on the counter. These are nice items that can be used for decoration on your counter tops but if you don’t use them a lot, I suggest finding some cupboard space.
  7. Consider your countertop like a runway – things happen here and are NOT stored here. You want to have your countertops as clean as possible so action can happen. You don’t want to have to clear a space before you can prepare dinner – what a waste of time. So find alternate places for the cereal boxes, the bottles of balsamic vinegar, the coffee pods, etc. This may require an additional piece of furniture or sorting out some of the cupboard space you already have. You can do it!!
You made it!!

Great job accomplishing 14 days of decluttering. I hope this has inspired you to declutter additional areas of your home as well as feeling the benefits of owning less and becoming more organized.
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