How to declutter your home of chaos in 15 minutes a day!
Your home is a reflection of who you are and the life you live. Clutter cramps your style, creates chaos, and causes discomfort in your own home. I get it! With 3 messy kids of my own, somedays I feel like all I’m doing is dealing with chaos. But by having control over the clutter – it kicks some of that excess chaos that creates anxiety and stress.
As more disorder accumulates on your countertops, in random corners and closets, and is scattered throughout the rooms of your house, the more disorder begins to seep into your life. The clutter affects you psychologically until your whole life feels helter-skelter. When chaos like this happens, my friends, it’s time to do some decluttering. It’s time to gain control.
It sounds scary, I know. But don’t confuse decluttering with rigid minimalism when you have to kick all belongings. The only thing scary about this is what will happen if you don’t reign in that stressful clutter!
My 5-day declutter series will help you make simple changes to create a harmonious home, free from clutter. You’ll feel more in control, have more mental clarity, and will actually have more time to spend doing anything other than cleaning! In one week you’ll see that a clean and orderly home will trickle through to every facet of your life.
Through this series, you will recognize how much time and money you give to things. If you really think about it–you buy an item, use it once or twice (sometimes not at all), find a spot for it, clean around it, and move it when it’s in the way. The real annoying kicker here is that when you actually need it, you can’t find it because you have no idea where you put it. Occasionally you even buy it again. Sound familiar?
Maximize your declutter success
For one week, I challenge you to freeze all unnecessary spending. This multitasking step will save you money and avoid adding any more to the existing clutter! If you’re an online shopper, put items in your cart and sit on them for the 5 days before you pull the trigger.
After the 5 days, consider these 5 questions before checking out:
1 – Is it worth the cost?
2 – Are you buying it only because it’s on sale?
3- How often do you see yourself using it?
4- Who else in the home benefits from the purchase?
5- Is this need or a want?
I guarantee you won’t end up buying even half of the stuff you put in your cart 5 days ago. Once you’ve had time to separate yourself from the urge, you’ll probably decide it’s not worth the clutter or money. You may even decide you already own something that will work in its place.
Make it a priority. Plan for it!
Set yourself up for success before you get down and dirty with the daily decluttering…schedule the 15-minute blocks so you actually get it done. For me, I have to plan it or time passes by so quickly that I’ve gotten distracted by something else that demands my attention. Consider your normal energy levels…Are you more productive first thing in the morning before your family is up? Is it something you want to do right after dinner? Or are you a night owl who is at her best when the family is in bed? Set an alarm on your phone so you don’t forget!
Day 1: Declutter your phone.
We carry around little arsenals of chaos. Do you even use half of those apps on your phone anymore? Between apps, messages, photos, and downloads, I’m guessing there’s a whole lot going on right now on your phone. Starting the organizing process with your phone may help you stay the course with the rest of it. Here’s a blog post around decluttering just your phone to help you get started.
Keep in mind, you are not going to be able to declutter your whole phone in one 15-minute interval. Not unless you have photos and videos auto-saved
to a cloud (which you should start doing if you don’t already–it will save you
loads of time in the future!).
During your 15 mins get a game plan of tackling one area first, and when time allows, get to the rest:
Uninstall all apps that are just taking up space. Which ones do you never or hardly ever use? Can you organize the ones you do use into folders to make your home screen easier to navigate?
Social decluttering –this one is my fav! Do you really know all those people you’re friends with? Let’s start unfriending and unfollowing! Unless you’re a social influencer or your job requires a huge online social network, it really isn’t necessary to have “friends” you don’t really know. There isn’t a prize for the most friends on Facebook, so clear out the clutter and make your feed what you want it to be. Skim through your feed and unfriend or hide those that don’t benefit your life anymore. EASY WAY TO GET THIS DONE EVERY DAY: go to the daily birthday events and unfollow or unfriend people on their birthday! So easy and less work. And they won’t even know (or care) that you did this!
Photos and videos: This is my struggle bus. Skim through and quickly delete pictures that you don’t want. Did you accidentally screenshot a pic of your wallpaper or get some shots of the inside of your purse? DELETE! Free up storage space and time it takes you to scroll back through to find pictures you actually want. Photos and videos take up a TON of space on your phone.
Sanitize your phone. While you’re purging the space-sucking things off of your phone, you might as well give it a quick scrub to rid it of all the germs and dirt that hide on it. Phones are gross. Seriously, they are one of the dirtiest things we handle on a daily basis.
Day 2: Kitchen Counters
It’s easier to keep your counters clean when you don’t start with clutter. In fact, you’ll probably be more eager to cook when you don’t have to shuffle things around your kitchen to get started
When you walk into your kitchen, how do you feel? Are you overwhelmed with all the “things” taking up surface space? If this is the case, the first thing to do is to rethink your aesthetic decor.
We all have different design styles, but there is a place and space for decor. If you find yourself constantly moving things around so you can use your counter space, it’s time to make a change. Nothing should crowd your workspace. Less is more in the kitchen.
Keep kitchen decor limited to the walls, above cabinets, and corners that don’t interfere with cooking. Countertop decor should be mostly functional. Kitchen aid mixers come in a wide range of colors and are a nice practical item to keep on the counters. You can also express your design style with napkin and utensil holders. If you have the space on the dining table or kitchen island, a reasonably sized centerpiece can add just enough decor to make your kitchen warm and welcoming.
Kitchens are the heart of the home and the counters tend to be a catch-all to your family. To avoid going back to overwhelming clutter, make a plan to declutter the drop zone each night. Waking up to clear counters each morning will make you feel calmer and balanced to start your day.
Mail used to be a big problem area for my family. But I’ve developed a routine that may work for you! As soon as the mail hits the counter, we sort and pitch junk mail. That alone should eliminate at least half of your mail.
Then it’s just about organizing the mail that actually matters. Small baskets or metal trays work great to keep bills and other important papers that you need to be organized so you can find them when you need them.
Remember, you are saving money this week – so don’t go buy a bunch of baskets or containers to reign in important papers and other items. Instead, repurpose what you have.
Once bills are paid and you no longer need the school lunch menu, activity calendars, or any other papers you need on a short-term basis, get rid of them. Do not just keep piling papers and old bills up. You’ll find yourself right back in Cluttersville.
Hold your family accountable, too. if they drop items in the “dump zone” they can be responsible for putting the items in their proper place.
Day 3: Kitchen Cupboards
When you open up the cupboard to get one water bottle, do 5 more tumble down at you like an avalanche? No worries, friend. This happens to the best of us. When those situations happen, you know it is time to analyze where these are stored and if you really need them all.
Before you hit the ground running on this one, I advise you to start small and pick ONE cupboard. It’s easy to get ramped up about tackling our kitchen cupboards but it’s equally as easy to get overwhelmed by the process if we try to do all in one go. If you are like me, you have a husband or child (or 3) as distractions that pull you away from the task. It becomes too much and we stuff everything back in and walk away feeling defeated and overwhelmed. Don’t do this to yourself.
Pick the cupboard or drawer that gets on your nerves the most. Give it 15 minutes of undivided attention–pull everything out, go through all contents with a critical eye.
- When was the last time you used (insert kitchen gadget)?
- Do you use it regularly or once every 3 years?
- Do you have another kitchen tool that serves the same purpose?
If you can’t remember the last time you needed to use a gizmo, get rid of it. You don’t need it taking up your precious kitchen space.
These next steps will be used as you go through each cupboard over the next few days:
- Make 3 piles: KEEP, PITCH, DONATE. Once you have everything group into these 3 categories you can think about what to do with the KEEP items. Do they belong where you originally had them or would they serve you better in another cupboard or drawer?
- Consider each cupboard or drawer: What do you want the space to look like when everything is put back in? Was it organized in a way that made sense to you before? Since you have a clean slate in front of you, now is your chance to group your kitchen supplies in a more accessible way.
- Wipe down and fill the cupboard or drawer back up, being careful to stick to the vision in your head. Resist the urge to just toss everything back mindlessly because you’ll be right back here in a few months.
- Now for the items that you don’t want to return to this cupboard but want to keep…set aside until you get to the cupboard where you want it stored at the end of this project. Trust me, although this will feel counterproductive, it will make sense when your kitchen is organized in a way that suits your needs better.
After you see the first cupboard decluttered and reorganized, you’ll be motivated to move on to the next. I encourage you to let that motivation get you throughout the room but I caution you to start any cupboard unless you’re sure you have the time to devote to finishing it. If you don’t, you run the risk of wasting your time and making zero progress.
Day 4: Closets
Does the thought of even opening your closet doors make you a little queasy? I’m a recovering clothes hoarder and I’m raising 3 more. It’s amazing how much we all can stash and still manage to close the door!
The process to declutter closets looks like the one you did in the kitchen. Tackle one closet at a time–or in a big closet, just a section of it since you only have 15 minutes.
- Make the 3 piles again–KEEP, DONATE, PITCH.
- When going through clothes, consider the following:
- Does it fit?
- Is it damaged or stained? If yes, can it be salvaged? Would you wear it if it didn’t have the defects? If you wouldn’t, donate or pitch it, depending on the severity of the damage.
- Is it in-season or can you store it for the appropriate season to free up space?
TIP: For clothing items, you’re in limbo about, put them on a hanger in the opposite direction. If 6-12 months pass and the hanger is still standing out from the rest, it’s time to part ways.
- When going through other items stored in your closet, ask yourself if it truly makes sense that it’s even in the house? Would it make more sense for some of the items to be stored in the garage or basement? Was the closet just a place to hide it?
Move through each closet following the steps from the kitchen. Be prepared that your house may look more disorganized while you have the piles going. But once you have put them back away or donated and pitched, you’ll see the difference.
Day 5: Entry space
The entry space is an important functional part of the house for most families. It’s where we store the things we need when we leave the house–jackets, purses, backpacks, shoes, etc. When you get ready to leave your home, can you quickly find those things? If not, it’s time to rethink this space.
- Comb through any bins, hooks, and baskets for non-seasonal items to store elsewhere. The entry space area should only have what you need for the current season. Otherwise, it becomes a messy free-for-all that leaves you feeling flustered and your house feeling chaotic. Decluttering the space will make it feel larger and more inviting.
- Think containment! Like in the kitchen, baskets, and bins can contain some of the looser items such as mittens and gloves, sunglasses, soccer shin guards…whatever you keep by the door.
- If you have the space, does it make sense for each household member to have their own bin? This makes it easy for each person to find their stuff when they’re leaving the house. Plus, going forward, each person can be in charge of organizing their own bins seasonally.
- What about shoes? Do they get kicked around in a jumbled mess that makes it hard to find a matching pair? Shoe racks take up space but are helpful in keeping pairs together. Fun rustic bins work great for tossing shoes in for a smaller area. There may still be a bit of searching to find the match to a shoe but at least they’ll be contained and not strewn across the floor waiting for someone to trip over them.
You Did It! You Lived Through a Declutter!
As you quickly knocked out each day, I hope you felt your stress around your home melt away with each 15-minute session. During this declutter, I encouraged you to not purchase anything new. But as you’ve made it through each cupboard, closet, and room, you may realize that you need a few bins or totes.
Make a list as you go through each space. Now that you’re completely done decluttering, you have a big picture idea of what you actually need. Rushing out midway to buy organizational tools will add to the clutter and potentially cause more feelings of overwhelmingness. With just short bursts of decluttering, it slowly chipped away at your mountain and might have just given you the motivation to set aside time to tackle a bigger area. Some areas may feel like it takes forever but it will be so rewarding in the end. Especially when you don’t feel like you’ve spent entire days organizing!
If you were hoping I was going to cover the toy area – well sister you are in luck! I have an entire post just tackling the toys. I love to do this before birthdays and holidays so I actually know what my kids need rather than filling the house up with more stuff.
Feel like tackling this again? Snag my free checklist delivered to your inbox, so you can do this again when things start to pile up.