Like many Americans, I suffer from TMSS — Too Much Stuff Syndrome. While I long to declutter, the sheer amount of stuff crowding the rooms in my house is overwhelming.
I could start from one corner and work methodically around each room. But I’m more likely to follow through if I have a challenge to motivate me.
Here are some systems I have considered to help get me going. They might also help you kiss the clutter goodbye.
5 a day
This is a simple concept, but it gives you a daily goal and breaks decluttering into bite-size bits. As the name implies, a Five a Day system involves unloading five items from your house every day.
I find it’s best to put a box in the back of my car and place usable items in the box each night. Items that can’t be salvaged end up in the trash.
When the box of usable items is full, it goes straight to the thrift store.
In my experience, packing a box in the house means you’ll have a box in the corner for weeks, if not months. Storing it in the van makes it easy to move unwanted items out of the house ASAP.
40 bags in 40 days
The 40 Bags in 40 Days challenge is the brainchild of blogger Ann Marie Heasley. It was created to coincide with the Christian observance of Lent, the 40 days leading up to Easter. However, you can do the challenge at any time that is convenient.
Heasley’s system is essentially the Five a Day challenge on steroids. Rather than unload a few items each day, you ditch an entire bag of stuff each day.
2022 in 2022
If you need extreme decluttering, the 2022 in 2022 challenge may be right for you. This system requires — you guessed it — that you get rid of 2,022 items by the end of this year.
Blogger Rachel Jones of Nourishing Minimalism first used this technique more than a decade ago. According to Jones:
“The rules are your own: If you have a stack of magazines to get rid of, you may count it as one item or you can count each one as an item. You may even guess the number! The point is to see progress as you eliminate.”
We’re getting a bit late in the year, so you’ll need to be ambitious if you plan to tackle this challenge! If you don’t feel quite up to that, start planning for 2023 in 2023.
The 100-thing challenge
Popularized by author Dave Bruno’s book of the same name, this decluttering method challenges you to live with the bare minimum: just 100 things.
In Bruno’s case, he distinguished between personal items and family items. Shared goods such as the kitchen table, plates and food didn’t count toward the 100 things. Instead, he limited personal possessions to 100 items. Of course, you can make up rules that suit your family.
Maybe you don’t want to simply declutter, you want to organize too. The 12-12-12 system combines both objectives.
Joshua Becker of the blog Becoming Minimalist came up with this approach. Each day, you find 12 items to donate, 12 items to throw away and 12 items that need to be returned to their proper location. Becker says:
“On more than one occasion, this challenge actually became a quick competition between my wife and I … and your kids don’t have to be too old to participate as well.”
Blogger Courtney Carver of The Simplicity Space came up with the idea of limiting her wardrobe to only 33 pieces of clothing for three months. This minimalist fashion challenge is called Project 333.
Once the challenge is over, decide which items of clothing are keepers and which need to go. Then, do it all again until you have permanently pared down your closet to a manageable size.
Take this decluttering challenge if you want to clear out the pantry, freezer and fridge while saving money at the same time. A pantry challenge can be as short as a week or as long as a month. The goal is to eat from what you have on hand and severely limit your grocery shopping.
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