January is the Month of Baby Steps —- 2013 Declutter Challenge

{via Luelurs on Tumblr}
{via Luelurs on Tumblr}

So you’re committed to making 2013 the Year of Living Simply? Awesome!

The first thing you should consider doing is joining the 2013 in 2013 Declutter Challenge. The aim is to declutter an average of 5.6 items every day for the entire year, meaning by the time New Years Eve rolls around, you will be living with at least 2013 items less than today. It’s the ultimate Year of Simplicity!

The second thing to do is read and download the first monthly checklist right here.

Each month I will publish a printable checklist for you, which will outline the areas of your home to focus on over the next few weeks, as well as specific tips and suggestions for getting the most out of each decluttering session.

Being January, everyone is super keen to get their simpler lives underway – I get this. In fact, I’m often gripped with a demented need to start afresh every New Year.

But because I’m all about approaching simplicity in a slow, sustainable, realistic way, January is going to be devoted to taking baby steps. I think people often dive in to decluttering in a gung-ho, adhoc way. For example:

You decide to declutter and spend the weekend ripping into every room, determined to clear out the crap. Then, about halfway through, while the contents of every drawer, cupboard and wardrobe are littered across the floor, you run out of steam. You stop making good decisions about what you no longer need, and eventually give up and shove whatever is left back in the cupboard, leaving it more of a mess than it was before.

(If you’re thinking this sounds familiar, don’t worry, I’m with you. I did this exact thing more times than I care to count…)

This is why January is about baby steps. Establishing a slower, simpler rhythm to your decluttering means you are far more likely to keep it up as the year progresses.

Your Never-Fail Decluttering Technique

As this is the first month, I wanted to give you some basic guidelines on how best to declutter. If you don’t have a process or a framework to refer to, sometimes it can get overwhelming and you find yourself giving up halfway through.

So here is the basic process I use whenever I’m decluttering part of my home:

1. Decide on which single surface to declutter. Once you begin, do not move on to another until this one is completely clutter-free and organised.

2. Establish an area as your work space. Clear a flat surface to use for sorting, organising, etc.

3. Grab three boxes or bags:

  • Donate box – for anything in good condition. These could be donated to charity, given as hand-me-downs to friends or family, or given away for free using Freecycle.org or hard rubbish collections.
  • Throw away box – anything that is not in good, useable condition
  • Recycle box – for any items that can be recycled, instead of simply thrown away
  • Holding box – this is an optional fourth box to keep any items you are torn about. The holding box can keep them out of the way for six months, when you can decide (based on whether you have missed or needed the items) if you will keep or donate the entire box without opening it.

4. Remove everything from the space you are decluttering. Place it all on your work surface, leaving the decluttered space completely empty. Clean it with a damp cloth.

5. Pick up each item individually and ask yourself the questions below:

  • Do I want this?
  • Do I use this? (Or have I used it in the past year?)
  • Do I need this?
  • Do I love this?
  • Is it beautiful?
  • Is it meaningful?

6. Decide if you will keep the item, donate it or throw it away. Only then should you put the item you are keeping back in its place.

7. Work your way through each item until all the contents have been sorted.

8. Box up the items for donation and recycle/throw away the things you can’t give away. Put away the things you are keeping – be it on the newly decluttered space or elsewhere.

9. Sit back and marvel at the beautiful clutter-free surface you’ve just created.

The January Checklist

You can download the checklist for January by clicking the link below:

2013 Declutter Challenge: January Checklist

Each project shouldn’t take longer than 30-45 minutes (some significantly less than that).
You will be looking for things you no longer need, want or use. But on top of that, these areas will also offer up a lot of rubbish. It truly is amazing the stuff we accumulate and these areas are hotbeds of junk collection!

  • Kitchen Drawers
    • Cutlery
    • Utensils
    • Tupperware / Plastics
    • JUNK DRAWER

For more advice on tackling the kitchen drawers, check out this post.

  • Medicine Cabinet
  • Purse / Handbag
  • Car
  • Entryway
    • Coat rack
    • Hall stand
    • Hall closet
    • Shoe basket
    • Drop zone for keys, sunglasses etc
    • Mail

For more advice on decluttering and organising an effective entryway, head over to this post.

Let’s Do It…

Grab your bags, give yourself 30 minutes and let’s make 2013 the year you simplify your life!

As you work through this month’s tasks, don’t forget to keep count of the items you’re decluttering – we’re aiming at an average of 5.5 items a day.

Tell me, do any of the January tasks scare you?

9 Responses to January is the Month of Baby Steps —- 2013 Declutter Challenge

  1. I’ve been eagerly waiting for this post to arrive in my reader! yes!! I’m ready to kick the clutter in the butt and simplify and above that, KEEP IT SIMPLE! I struggle with clutter on a daily basis, and am excited to do this. I’ve already completed the reverse 100 thing challenge (140 gone!!) and I think a slow approach will be good for the long term.

    Decluttering the entryway scares me, because we have lots of storage, but don’t use it well at all. lots of garage-type junk is kept there (no garage) and it looks ugly. after 7 months of living in my flat, I’ve only just bought a shoe shelf, better late than never!!! so we’ve made a start, and I have some ideas regarding a dropzone etc. so excited for a simpler, better, happier 2013!

  2. I really enjoy your posts. I totally agree with the baby steps. It has been amazing as I have taken baby steps how much easier it is especially when I come back to an area and realize so much is gone already and now takes a lot less effort. Here’s to more success toward a simpler life in 2013!

  3. You’ve neatly explained the same technique I’ve been using for a few months to take a small area’s worth of items to a clear workspace to sort out into containers.

    The key in that for me has been when clutter remains in its hiding place, I attach emotions to that place and the items. By simply moving the items to a workspace – the emotions are left behind and I can make decisions quickly and clearly, making quick work of the are to be decluttered.

    Can’t wait to accomplish a lot of decluttering/clearing out in 2013!!

  4. I spent most of 2011 and 2012 going through my home before a move. After 18 months of cleaning and sorting, I’m taking on the 365 challenge to remove 365 items from my house. I’m not a collector and don’t have kids, so this requires some careful detail and consideration. 34 days in and I’ve donated 64 items! That’s a good start! I’ll keep looking through your check lists for inspiration. Thanks!

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