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Every year, one of my resolutions is to declutter and organize the house. Seriously, it’s been a yearly goal of mine for at least a decade.

I improve a little every year, but I still have to fight my natural messy tendencies.

Can you totally relate or does home organization come naturally to you? If you’re a natural, I’ll try not to be too jealous! 😉

Home organization just doesn’t come naturally to me.

Yet I love how tidy and organized homes look. I mean, I love everything I see on HGTV or in Better Homes and Gardens magazines. Those images of clean and tidy spaces make me feel good and energized to make changes…

And I’ve noticed that those times when I’ve succeeded to a degree and my home is tidier, that’s when I’m calmer, happier, less stressed, and get more done.

I want more days- and more weeks and months!– like that.
And it sure would be nice to make some major progress on this goal in one month.

So, to work on this resolution, I’m focusing on following along with a book that I bought by Ruth Soukup. It’s written to help you make that major progress that you want in just a month.

It’s called “31 days to a clutter free life.”

Every chapter of this book gives pointers for tackling a different category/area of the house for that day, and is short and to the point.

Sometimes it just really helps to have a to do list made for you that you can follow along, and that’s where this book helps out. If you look around your house and just don’t know where to start, “31 days” will give you that jump start with an easy-to-follow daily decluttering to do list.

I figure I can do multiple rounds/reads of the book and declutter more each time I go through the process. I know myself well enough to know that the whole house won’t get decluttered the first time through, but the clutter will gradually become less and less.

To go with one of my favorite analogies about reaching a lofty goal: It’s a marathon – not a sprint. As a lover of exercise (at least, certain kinds!) and plenty of experience with how the work from each day builds on the last, this resonates with me.

And while I go through this book, chapter by chapter, one week at a time, I’m working on making good habits and building up my decluttering “muscles” as I do this.

The first week of 31 Days of Decluttering

In an attempt to stay motivated and continue decluttering, I’m going to share my progress in a few blog posts.

 

So without further ado, here’s how my first week went.

The first week

Day 1 prepare.

This day was preparing mentally and gathering supplies including a labeler, sorting/storage boxes, trash bag, etc.

Day 2 entryway.

This wasn’t completely straight forward for my family because we sort of have three entryways. Let me explain. My family mainly enters the house through the garage, so we have the garage space entryway, and then there’s the space directly inside the garage door, kind of like a mud room, but not. Additionally, our guests usually enter through the front door, another entryway to keep tidy. In case you find yourself in a similar situation, just remember that you can finagle any chapter to make sense with your own living space.

So what I did is just tidy up all three entryways!

Since entryways can naturally become a dumping ground for whatever you bring home with you that day, keep that in mind as you see what objects you discover during tidying. You can use that information to make labeled cubbies or storage for like items.

Garage: where we enter the house after arriving home in a car or walking home from school.

I really needed to clean up the floor space. I made a conscious decision not to worry about the shelf space at this time, and to leave that for round 2. My goal is to declutter well, but not worry about perfection because I want to finish this book in a timely manner!

As you can see, the entryway is much more tidy now (if not perfectly tidy). We have our rainboots together and all umbrellas are corralled in one container, easily accessible next to the door. I also finally got rid of our two old garbage cans! They were replaced by one much smaller trash can that can be lined with extra plastic bags from the grocery store (no need to purchase a special size). This trash can makes it easy to throw away any trash from the car as soon as we arrive home. It’s also easy to tie up and throw into the big trash bag that we bring down from the kitchen when it’s trash day. And of course, easy and quick to re-line with a small plastic bag.

If you have a little trash can and recycle bins near this entryway, it will also make a convenient location to sort through the mail quickly when you get home. We often don’t even open junk mail – just rip it in half and throw it away (or recycle when possible) right then and there.

Side note: When we moved into our neighborhood, I discovered that we’re not allowed to put garbage cans out at the curb, so the big ones that we brought with us became virtually useless and took up lots of unnecessary space. As I was tidying the entryway in our garage, I suddenly had the idea to reuse them as composters! I cleaned them thoroughly and set them up for this new job in our backyard. I plan to create a blog post with directions soon. If you want to know how I cleaned them well enough, follow the directions from this post.

That took care of the garage. Then it was on to the next entryway.

Basement: where the garage door opens into the actual living space.

All of our winter coats, gloves, scarves, shoes, etc had become a cluttered mess – unceremoniously dumped and thrown around as we quickly entered the house and retreated to the upstairs living space.

I hung and put away our extra coats in our utility closet (because who needs 10 out all at once?). Then I straightened up the shoes on our shoe racks, organized by owner.

The most time-consuming task of this entryway was sorting through all of our winter hats, gloves, and scarves. I dumped all of the baskets into one big pile and started going through one at a time, sorting by item type and by owner, and placing them neatly back into the baskets.

I rolled the scarves into little bundles and reorganized them so all of them were visible. I folded the winter hats in half and stood them up in the baskets as well. The gloves were all matched and then put into their own big basket for use when needed.

Ear muffs and head bands were hung on the lower hooks.

My husband plays volleyball so I came up with a way to keep his things organized while also keeping it all off the floor by using the lower hooks for his bag, knee pads, and wraps.

Suddenly, the basement entryway was as cozy as I wanted it to be.

And it was time to tackle the final entryway.

Main floor entryway: where guests enter our home at the front door

This one didn’t need much tidying since we don’t use it as much. I straightened the shoes under the bench and tidied the coats hanging on the wall rack.

All in a day’s work. 

Day 3 mail.

I had actually thought about mail the day before when I was tidying the garage entryway, and I totally recommend this to you as well if you haven’t tried it. Try to bring in as little mail as possible. Go through it while you’re standing over your trash can and recycle bin in the garage.

So what should you do with anything that makes it past the recycle bins in the garage? Well, find a place to keep a small mail sorter. I put a mail sorter on the bench in the main floor entryway. Now our important mail can be put in that.

Day 4 Living Room

I forgot to take a before photo. Whoops! But trust me when I say it looks much better. Blankets are now folded and placed on the back of the couch, pillows are fluffed on chairs, and dvd cases put away. The side table next to the couch has also been decluttered of paper piles and pens, pencils, and writing pads are sorted.

Days 5-7 Books and magazines, DVDs and video games, Toys

Oh my, I procrastinated a few days and decided to skip these three chapters for now. If you knew my family and our biggest hobbies/collections, you’d understand why.

These items will need to be tackled as a family on a weekend sometime.

However, we did get around to going through everything in our game closet together. A bonus of having another snow day!

First, we emptied everything out onto the floor. Once the closet was completely empty, we went through the games one by one, deciding what to keep and sorting into piles. We categorized them by:

  • Card games
  • Puzzles
  • Board Games
  • Arts and Crafts

Then like items were placed back on the shelves together and in alphabetical order for easy retrieval. 

Here’s the pile of games/toys that we got rid of. It’s not a lot, but this whole exercise gave me the opportunity to reorganize items as they were put back into the game closet. And now we can see every game in there without digging through things!

Fridays are Family Fun Nights and now we’re ready to play all sorts of games we’d forgotten we even had!

Day 8 Junk Drawer

Our junk drawer is in the kitchen. 

The before and after isn’t so impressive, but there were quite a few things rolling around in the bottom of the drawer that are now corralled and organized.

Here’s a better look:

I had bag clips, candles, twisty ties, rubber bands, and pens galore! They are now all sorted into their own baggies for easy access.

A Whole Week of Decluttering Finished

The daily to do list in “31 days” is keeping me from getting distracted each day.

I’m quite happy with how the first week has gone and am looking forward to continuing this decluttering process next week! It’s just enough of a real difference that I can see to help me stay motivated.

I find myself looking around at the cleaned spaces and feeling so good. Totally worth it.

 

If you need a bit more motivation to get going and make a change, you should totally check out the new Netflix show “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.” I like to watch while I’m folding laundry or doing dishes. And I’m listening to her audio book (which I checked out from the library) called “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” another great and motivating book. You can also sign up for free daily decluttering tips from Marsha Sims, another one of my favorite tidy gurus.

Thumbs up,

Joni