Got clutter? Hey, we’ve got that in common! If you’re like me, you have to routinely dejunk just to keep up with things. Too much stuff makes it so I can’t function well. None of us can. So we have to routinely set up a plan to fix that. What I’m about to share with you is a month-long list, which I do one day at a time, to sift through all the STUFF that seems to accumulate. This is something I do periodically, once or twice a year or, in some areas, as needed. I call it: 30 Ways to Dejunk Your Home and Life.
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Take 15 Minutes Each Day to Dejunk Your Home and Life
With this dejunk challenge, the goal is to do at least 15 minutes each day. It’s totally up to you if you do more. Dejunking is the goal, so if you decide to clean and organize while you’re at it, that’s a bonus and totally up to you. So, depending on the day, go at the level that works for you and isn’t totally overwhelming. Also, depending on your circumstances, some projects suggested will take more than 15 minutes. In that case, set a timer, do part of the task for 15 minutes, then stop if you’d like. If it’s something you really want to continue, make a plan to finish the job. If it’s not that important to you, then consider yourself done.
Want to print just the list? Click here.
Dejunk in Small Ways to Start
Keys. Remove any keys from your keyring that you don’t use on a regular basis. Store infrequently used keys in a jar. Toss any that are no longer applicable. Try to keep just 3 or 4 keys on your main key ring. Have loose keys around the house? Gather them up and put them in the jar too. Bonus if you label your keys, but remember we are primarily dejunking.
Pens and pencils. Sharpen dull pencils. Toss any old pencils or pens. Store in one place per area where you’ll be using them. Place in old mugs, vases, mason jars, etc. Or store in a specific area in a drawer.
Purse and wallet. Clean out pockets. Keep only essentials. Toss old shopper reward cards if you’re not using them. Tuck receipts into a box or organizer. Update or remove photos. Cut up old credit cards (close accounts if not using), insurance cards, etc. I keep lots of helpful items organized in my purse with my pikle. It’s an organizer, for when you’re in a pickle. Watch and see:
Alternate Easy Tasks with More Challenging Ones
Now that you’ve started with some easy tasks, we’ll move on to some more advanced tasks. Again, the goal is still 15 minutes. At least do something. Then if you find that you’re needing more time to finish what you started, decide if you’ll do it now or schedule the remainder for another day. Admittedly, some of these tasks could go on for a length of time (ie. digital photos), but the intent isn’t to do them all here, all right now. Get a feel for what you’d ultimately like to achieve. Then make a plan for revisiting the goal periodically to declutter over time. Write the task in your schedule so you be sure to do it. Then let it go, knowing you have a plan to take care of it at a pace you can realistically do. Remember: This is 30 Ways to Declutter Your Home and Life. Some things are going to be organized infrequently. Other tasks are ongoing, and your goal now is to develop a simple system to stay on top of things.
Smart phone. Remove any apps you no longer use. Organize keeper apps into folders.
Email inbox. Unsubscribe from at least 5 batch emails that aren’t important. Create folders for 5 most-used email accounts that are important. Got a ton of emails? Make it a goal to unsubscribe from a few a day. Tip: don’t give out your personal email for everything. Create a second account just for junk. Don’t be so obvious as to call it email@example.com, because you may need to be more discrete than that. I use my junk email, for instance, when I’m shopping online and I know I’ll only be using the account once, but an email is required for signup. I pretty much ignore my junk email account. I used to look it over on occasion, because it had been a personal account once. But now I just ignore it.
Fridge items. Toss any expired items, such as salad dressings and condiments, as well as leftovers after 4-7 days. This is one task that I clean as I dejunk. It’s not much more work, and I love the sight and smell of a clean fridge. Consider adding a vented box of baking soda to absorb odors if your fridge does not already have an air filter.
Medicine and prescriptions. Toss expired medicines. Make note of items needed. I might add that you really should dispose of prescription medications properly, instead of flushing them down drains. Hospitals, doctors’ offices, pharmacies, and police departments often offer receptacles where you can safely toss unused meds.
Linens. Toss or repurpose old towels and washcloths until you have a manageable pile. Toss old linens and keep just 2 sets per bed.
Digital Photos. Start with the past week or month. Keep only the best photos. It’s totally up to you if you want to make this a long-term goal and move backwards a month at a time. Need some photo storage and organization ideas? My friend Jennifer can help you. She’s a pro. I really like her tips on sorting through and dejunking photos in this article. Yes, you CAN delete some photos. It’s the first step to organizing them. Otherwise, there are too many to organize and view.
Shoes. Donate any shoes you haven’t worn in the last year. Some charity organizations will even accept single shoes. They pair them with another shoe of similar size and donate to underprivileged countries. So if one of your shoes is lost or completely worn out, the other one might still be acceptable for charity.
Clothes. Donate any clothes you haven’t worn in the last year. Not sure when you wore something last? A friend of mine told me a fun trick she uses. She hangs all her clothing with the hanger hook facing in, toward the closet wall, at the beginning of the year. Then as each item is worn and she rehangs it, she turns the hanger the other way, hook side out, facing her. By the end of the year, she can see at a glance which items she hasn’t worn recently. Or perhaps some of your clothes are a little snug or just too small now. Hoping to fit into them again? Unless you’re actively pursuing weight loss, be realistic and donate clothing that no longer fits.
Jewelry. Donate or toss anything you haven’t worn in a year or that isn’t sentimental or expensive. For some of my friends, this goal is a hard one. You’ll have to decide if you have the space to store what you have or if you need to purge your collection. You might consider whether you’re able to keep things untangled and in nice, wearable condition. Many women use a jewlery box. I can’t find anything in a box. So I hang my jewelry. This way I can easily see what I have. I purchased this hanging organizer on etsy. You’ll see they have a variety to choose from.
Cosmetics. Toss anything that is over a year old. Can’t remember when you purchased it? Better toss it. Sometimes when I’m uber organized, I remember to write the purchase date on the product with a permanent marker. Perhaps a better method would be to write the “toss by” date. I typically do this with mascara, since it seems to give me the biggest problem if I use it too long past its prime.
Nail-care products. Toss anything old. Polishes thicken over time. Try thinning with a little nail polish remover. If the end result still isn’t what you want, toss.
Loose change. Toss in jars kept in specific locations, such as the laundry room or bedroom. Take to the bank or coin machines to exchange for extra cash. Or you might consider donating your filled jar to someone in need. Lots of people do this at Christmas time. It’s a great way to show someone you care.
Old statements. Focus on your 2 biggest, bulging files. For me, it’s utilities bills and bank statements. Want to know how long you should keep important papers? I like Penny Pinchin Mom’s advice. She’s super organized and knows her stuff. Click here to see how she takes care of her paperwork. Clean Mama also shares a very helpful printable/infographic.
Car console crap. You know that spot in between your driver and passenger seats where you store junk? Yep, that’s it. Toss nonessentials. Store only essential items such as sunglasses, lipgloss, tissues, and a little spare emergency change.
Trunk junk. Open the trunk and eyeball it. What do you notice first thing? A soccer ball from last summer? A bunch of junk? Keep emergency essentials and anything you use regularly. Put away, donate, or toss everything else.
Eating utensils. Toss any that are bent, chewed up by the garbage disposal, or otherwise gross. Donate any you really don’t need. Total bonus if you have an organizer and take a few minutes to separate them into designated bins. Total, total bonus if you label each bin so your family members might put items back in the right spot. For a gift to my ultra-organized husband last year, I organized our insanely messy drawer. Sorry I don’t have any before pics to share. But I can say that the project took me way less time than I thought. Toss the junk, sort the good stuff, and stick in an organizer tray. I purchased this one at Ikea. A year later, and our utensils are still organized, even with two sons who help to unload the dishwasher.
Cooking Utensils. Donate any utensils you haven’t used in a year. If it’s a bulky item used infrequently and you just can’t part with it, store it in an out-of-the way place.
Spices. Toss spices that are really, really old. Actually, they should go after a year or two for best flavor. Bonus if your spices are organized in a rack.
Books and magazines. Donate books that you’ll likely never read again. Toss magazines that are from last year. Consider unsubscribing from any that you can read digitally.
Bathroom essentials. Yep, it’s the drawer with the toothpaste and gunk in it. Give a quick toss to any items you don’t use daily or on a very regular basis. Keep 1 toothbrush, 1 tube of paste, and dental floss. Store extras in a hall closet so you’re not sorting through clutter every morning.
Pantry goods. Shelf by shelf. Toss expired items or donate things you really just won’t eat. Don’t organize anything unless that’s your next goal. Just toss and shut the door after. 🙂
Socks and underwear. Toss or repair anything with holes or stains. Missing a sock? I wait for one or two wash days. Any missing socks are tossed after that. I figure if I can’t find it by a couple of wash cycles, then it’s not worth keeping the lone sock. That said, I have learned with little kids to buy lots of the same kinds of socks. Then I don’t bother matching them anyway, and they all just go in the drawer. Also, since my little dude is growing like a weed. I have to constantly check to make sure his underwear and socks still fit. So I go through his drawer each change of season and toss or stock up as needed.
Cleaning supplies. Toss anything you no longer use or that is expired. Make note of replacements needed. Here are my must-have supplies I keep on hand:
Misc. stuff. Got a junk drawer or cupboard? Open it and quickly toss immediately obvious junk. Don’t think too hard. Move bulky items that are needed but interfere with closing the drawer or door easily. Bonus if you organize a little bit as you go, putting like items, such as nails, screws, rubber bands, clips etc. in baggies or small containers. Don’t get fancy. The main goal is to just purge.
Freezer food. Shelf by shelf, toss anything over a year old. Tried a bag of something and didn’t like it? Toss or share with someone who would like it. Choose 1 or 2 items that you’ll use this week. Don’t worry about organizing, cleaning, or defrosting the freezer, unless that’s your goal.
Crafts. At first glance, which things can go? Old paints? Scraps of fabric or paper? An unfinished project that you don’t care about anymore? One of my friends is proud to be a “craft hoarder.” She has no intentions of tossing any of her craft supplies. If you have the space, and hopefully a door you can shut to hide it all, then, by all means, keep every scrap of crafting materials for your creative needs. For the rest of us, toss what you can’t keep in your closet and call it good.
We’re done! Did you enjoy 30 Ways to Dejunk Your Home and Life? What did you learn? What did you do that was different from our list? Please share in the comments. We’d all like to learn from you.
Want to print this list? Click here.
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