4 Foolproof Ways to Fit Decluttering Into Your Schedule Today

published Apr 4, 2018
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(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

This year, we’re on a mission to help you tackle spring cleaning on your time. Each weekday until April 13, we’ll guide you through a plan to clean and organize different areas of your home, but you’ll have the flexibility to choose exactly what to work on and how long you have to dedicate to the job. Sign up with your email so you don’t miss a spot!

Decluttering isn’t always on everyone’s list for spring cleaning — it’s not really a cleaning task is it? But if your main goal is feeling like your home is refreshed and renewed, then taking some time to purge and organize is certainly a step in the right direction.

I’m afraid to tell you that there’s no single magic trick that will work for every space and every person who wants to achieve a lifestyle that’s a little lighter on stuff. The best way to do it is just to do it. Get started. Declutter one area of your home today.

(Image credit: Minette Hand)

Today’s Task: Declutter

Decide how much time you can dedicate to decluttering around your home today, then choose your micro-mission:

If you have 1 day…

Choose and empty one closet. It can be any closet. Maybe the hall closet or a linen closet. And a garage storage area or a pantry both technically count as closets, in my opinion. Or maybe you want to tackle the ominous clothes closet (although, spoiler alert: you’ll get another chance to handle your wardrobe later on in our spring clean). Just pick a big messy space and organize it.

You can choose any method that works for you, but I think the best way is just to pull everything out of the closet and spend time going through your stuff. Identify things you can donate, recycle or throw away. See if there’s anything in your formerly-crowded closet that can find another home in another place. Then take everything you want to keep and put it back in the closet in an organized way that makes sense to you.

If you have 1 hour…

Choose and empty one drawer. Like I wrote to the “1 day” taskers above, feel free to remix this particular assignment for your home: Maybe your drawer is the junk drawer or a section of your dresser. Or maybe your “drawer” is a kids’ toy bin or the cubbies in the TV console. Just pick one overstuffed spot and dig in.

Your goal, no matter which target you choose, is to streamline and organize the stuff inside. I would start by taking everything out of the drawer and wiping down inside. Then work through your things to identify what can be donated, recycled or thrown away. Along the way, you’ll certainly come across things you forgot you had. Be honest with yourself about whether or not you need it. And if you do decide to keep it, ask yourself, “Is this drawer the place I would look for this?” Chances are you could find a better home for some of your things.

Once you’re sure you’ve got a streamlined collection of stuff, you can neatly lay everything back inside your drawer.

(Image credit: Minette Hand)

If you have 10 minutes…

Designate an outbox and walk around your home until it’s filled with “maybe” finds.

Your outbox can be a tote bag or a laundry basket or just a cardboard box you haven’t broken down for recycling yet. Carry it around your space and look for things that you could see yourself living without. Play fast and loose with that “could”: Anything that you — maybe one day, in another universe — could live without goes into the outbox. You’re not getting rid of it, just hitting pause. Once it’s full (or once your 10 minutes is up) take your outbox and leave it in an out-of-the-way place.

Someday down the line — maybe on the last day of spring cleaning — revisit your outbox. Did you miss any of the stuff inside? No? Then you can feel good about sending it off to another home.

If you have 1 minute…

Pick up five things to find homes for them. That’s it! The first five things that stand out as out of place — a pair of shoes you tossed off by the door, a clutter of toys in the living room — pick them up and carry them to where they belong.

If you’re on the fence about anything, we’re all here to pep talk you through it! Share your decluttering woes in the comments.

If you haven’t signed up for email updates yet, what are you waiting for? We’re just getting started on the fun! Catch up with the last two assignments here and here.