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30th Oct 2021

Goodbye, clutter: This 30-day challenge will help organise your entire life in one month

Trine Jensen-Burke

declutter challenge

Forever tidying, but feel like nothing ever stays tidy?


And while mess certainly is annoying, did you know a cluttered, messy home could also be playing havoc with your wellbeing?

Feeling stressed out and anxious are feelings many of us are familiar with, interfering with our sleep and energy, but also our overall wellness and health.

Often, our busy lives are being blamed, as well as money worries and even social media. And while they all no doubt contribute to our stress, have you stopped and looked at the state of your home lately?

Is it tidy and organized? Or, like so many of us, have you got so much stuff it’s hard to keep on top of all of it? Clutter, whether scattered around your house or hidden in drawers and behind doors, comes with a mental cost, explains psychologist Sherrie Bourg Carter .

“Messy homes and workspaces leave us feeling, anxious, helpless, and overwhelmed. Yet, rarely is clutter recognized as a significant source of stress in our lives.”

In fact, research shows that – in addition to stress – clutter can spur on anxiety and depression. Especially in women.

A 2009 study in SAGE followed 60 dual-income spouses and analyzed what language they used while giving self-guided home tours. Using their words, researchers grouped them into two types describing either a stressful home or a restorative home. In comparison to women who used “restorative language,” those who used “stressful language” had an increased depressed mood as the day went on.

“Cortisol data show a link between unhappy verbal characterizations of arrays of household possessions [chronically messy, cluttered rooms or unfinished remodelling projects] and higher stress levels as measured by the hormone cortisol in the mothers in the study,” said UCLA anthropologist Jeanne Arnold.

Clothes, shoes, decor, sports equipment – we all have more of everything these days, and this clutter culture is causing us to feel stressed and anxious.

But guys – it doesn’t actually have to be this way. I recently came across this de-clutter challenge that was trending on Pinterest, and it sounds like the perfect place to start if you are feeling a little overwhelmed at the thought of decluttering. Why? Because instead of trying to de-clutter your entire home in one day or even one weekend, this chart lets you tackle one task a day for a month – something which is far more doable and realistic.

Have you been putting off de-cluttering for days, weeks, months, or maybe even years? If so, there is no better time than now to start.

1. Empty out one junk drawer

It doesn’t matter how many you have… don’t even think about that! It will only overwhelm you. Choose one and tackle only that one. Whether it’s old flyers or bills, dried out elastic bands, golf balls, garbage wrappers (you’d be surprised) … get rid of it! A good rule of thumb is that if you haven’t used it in the last three months, you probably don’t need it.

2. Purge your closet of the things you no longer wear

Time to take a trip to your local charity shop! If you have to think twice about a piece of clothing, throw it in that plastic bag.

3. Go through your movie collection

Keep your favourites – no, they’re not all your favourites – and ditch the rest. Plus, does anyone really need those things when you have Netflix?

4. Clean out your TV stand

5. Go through your mail – all of it

The flyers and newspapers start to stack up quickly.

6. Clean off the kitchen table

One day it’s clean and the next day, it’s as if it turned into an open concept storage unit. Move the laptops, dirty dishes, homework, and loose sheets of paper. Being able to eat at a clean table during meals will also help foster less stressful quality time together.

7. Purge two kitchen presses

You’ll soon see how much easier cooking and keeping the kitchen clean will be.

8. Discard old books

Of course, you’d keep your favorites, but ask around to see if anyone would be interested in reading any. If not, donate them.

9. Clean out your wallet

This may be the easiest one to do because your wallet is likely within reach right now. So empty it completely… Get rid of the empty gift cards, faded receipts, creased business cards, and whatever else you’ve managed to slip in there.

10. Clean out your handbag

Empty everything out of your bag and once you’ve gotten rid of all the rubbish or old items, only put back in the essentials: wallet, small makeup bag, a pen or pencil, a planner, a little pack of tissues… it really depends on the person. The point is, you don’t want to carry around more than you have to.

11. Purge your makeup bag

Makeup doesn’t keep forever, so make sure you toss any old mascara wands and foundations that have gone gloop-y. Keep what you wear daily, bin the rest.

12. Clean out empty/almost empty containers in the shower

The good thing about this is that you don’t need to open each and every bottle. Just pick it up and give it a quick shake… you’ll be able to tell whether it’s empty or close to it.

13. Purge your bathroom cabinets

There is no doubt a lot of stuff lurking in there that can go straight in the bin.

14. Go through your shoes

If the shoes are old and worn out, throw them away. If they’re relatively new but don’t fit, donate them to a charity shop or friend.

15 Purge two more kitchen presses

See number 7.

16. Organize your hot press or wherever you keep bedlinens and towels

Take an inventory of everything you’re storing in there and get rid of the old, holey, tattered sheets and blankets.

17. Purge your medicine cabinet

Old or expired medication is not something you want in your house.

18. Go through your freezer and dump anything that has been there for ages

19. Clear off your kitchen counters

Set aside a block of time – however long you think you’ll need – and just do it.

20. Empty another junk drawer

See number 1.

21. Go through your fridge and dump old items

See number 18.

22. Purge two more kitchen presses

See number 7.

23. Get rid of unused accessories

Don’t get stuck in the trap of telling yourself maybe you’ll wear it again one day because you probably told yourself that last time.

24. Clean out your car

There is no nicer way to start the day than getting into a clean and tidy car.

25. If you have children, get rid of unused toys

If something hasn’t been used in forever, ask your children if these can be put up for donation or sale. This might take convincing, but know this: Many studies have shown that kids play better when they have fewer toys.

26. Organize toys that are left

Designate a play area or toy bin where all the toys will go from now on. If you already had something like this, enforce it again.

27. Go through board games and electronic games (donate what’s unused)

The same goes for board games and game consoles. Keep them neat and tidy and in one place – especially when so many little moving pieces and wires are involved. If no one uses them, we’re sure someone somewhere will find immense joy in a board game or console you don’t use anymore.

28. Organize and discard cleaning supplies

If you want to take a leap, get rid of all your toxic cleaners and replace them with natural alternatives. This will create a safer and cleaner home.

29. Purge two more kitchen cabinets

See number 7.

30. Clean! Get your newly organized home all sparkly and gleaming

Now that everything is organized again, cleaning should be a breeze.