Want a less cluttered new year in 5 days? Here’s what to do.
1. Allot one to two hours for 5 days to declutter (basically the length of time to watch a movie). Set a timer and commit to full focus. Put your phone away from you and vow not to reach for it even if it makes notification sounds (if anything is urgent or is an emergency, you will get a persistent call – outside of this, things can actually wait for a few hours). Only reach for it once your alarm goes off, marking your decluttering time done.
2. You are going to be decluttering, not cleaning and not even rearranging things in a storage. Just declutter for now (though try not to make a mess doing this). Decluttering is about removing things that no longer resonate or serve you, even if the item is still in good condition. Overall, you want to end up keeping only the things you love and find truly useful.
3. I say a “less cluttered” new year vs. “clutter free” because depending on the size of your home, the amount of things you have and how much time you actually devote to this project (if more than 2 hours) you might not get to everything in 5 days. Aim for “less cluttered” to keep things simple, quick and easy.
4. Before you start decluttering, prepare containers to hold donations (boxes, extra bins, big paper, plastic or eco bags) and trash bags for trash. Separate trash (expired or broken items) from things that still work and can be shared. Again, this isn’t a cleaning or organizing project, just a decluttering one.
5. Have a notepad and pen on hand for capturing reminders that will pop up as you go through your things (like a shopping list or even reminders that don’t relate to decluttering), write them down and take action after you declutter. Try not to use your phone for this and we already know why.
5 Areas + 5 Tips for each: Here are my recommended areas to start with.
· Duplicates – how many can or bottle openers do you need? Only keep the best kitchen utensils that do the job and make your life easy. Duplicates include having too many “to recycle” containers saved from food deliveries – go ahead and share some of that or use them to store small supplies in other parts of your home.
· Broken appliances – either have broken items repaired already (is it still worth repairing by now?) or get rid of it.
· Check the fridge and pantry – throw out anything expired / give away food items you won’t use, won’t eat or can’t even recognize (description is in a foreign language).
· Check your cookware – throw out Teflon pans that are scratched (not healthy) and other cookware that seems hard to clean after use. Check out any other kitchen items that are so used up that they already look like bacteria breeding grounds. - something like an 8 year old plastic chopping board that used to be white and is now yellow or flatware with rotted looking wooden handles.
· Check your trash can, is it a good-sized one or is it constantly / instantly full that things are dumped around it halfway through the day? This will for sure contribute to a messy kitchen.
· Part with anything (clothes, shoes, purses) that you are over with even if it was a gift.
· Clothes that are itchy or too tight in certain areas even if you look nice in it. (“Tiis ganda” isn’t really worth it if you are consumed by the discomfort while wearing the item versus being present and enjoying yourself wherever you may be.)
Tiis ganda* is a Filipino term that means enduring pain or discomfort for the sake of looking beautiful or stylish… even if one is slowly dying inside. :-)
· Shoes that hurt your feet or give you blisters (sure some new ones need breaking in but if on the third time, it still hurts to wear, you can say goodbye. Share! Your health and well-being are more important, don’t you agree? Nod yes. Yes, it is!
· Anything cracked and peeling. Purses, belts or footwear (specifically faux leather and rubber soles) that have not been used for a long time (#pandemic) and kept in the heat and humidity can start to crack and slowly disintegrate. Inspect what you have and let go. Sad, I know.
· Check your accessories especially costume jewelries. Let go of anything tarnished, out of style or pieces you have too much of.
The Bathroom / Toiletries:
· Check towels that have become too thin and have holes. How about gifting yourself fresh, fluffy ones for the new year? How’s the shower curtain looking? Is it moldy? Time for a new one!
· Throw out empty bottles, even those half-full ones containing products you realized don’t suit you.
· Check the sink section and make room. Only put products that you use daily around this area. Extras or rarely used items can be stored somewhere else. For shiny new products, ask yourself, will you really use it when your current ones already work well for you? You can share those too!
· Check your perfume collection, old ones can leave a stain on your clothes as well as have scents that are too strong to be pleasant when kept stagnant for too long. The goal is to smell good, not make other people dizzy. :-)
· Again, check your trashcan. If it’s too small or placed too far away, you won’t be encouraged to throw out empty bottles or anything else that can be thrown away.
The Playroom / Kids Room:
· Donate books that are too young for your kids.
· Share toys that your kids no longer play with (plushies, gadgets, costumes etc.).
· Work with them in deciding which taped artwork of theirs gets to stay on the wall. You can offer to take a photo to remember them or place quality ones in a memento art box. “Quality” would be defined by you and your child. :-)
· Check their closets for any items they have outgrown. Share them or store in a separate bin if you plan on having more kids in the future.
· Leaf through old school papers or projects, will they really refer to those again? Which ones are really worth keeping?
The Miscellaneous Supplies:
· Check the art supplies – throw dried up markers, used up paints, hardened paintbrushes, chopped up tiny pieces of crayons etc. Share stocks if you have too much.
· Check the school and office supplies – say goodbye to broken tools like scissors or staplers that don’t work well, those just take up space. Assess how much pens you own, will you really use all of it? Spread them around. How about getting rid of that fax machine or any other obsolete office equipment? Gogogo! :-)
· Check the medicine supplies – check the expiry dates. Are there half-used meds that were supposed to be kept in the fridge but have been out in the heat for too long, untouched? Throw those out. If you don’t remember what a capsule or tablet is for and there’s no visible expiry date because that part has been cut off, chances are you won’t use them again.
· Check the pet supplies – get rid of any toys your pet no longer plays with. The same goes for expired medicines, toiletries and outgrown accessories.
· Check the hardware supplies – throw out dried up paint, hardened paintbrushes and roller brushes, broken pieces of already replaced items (broken faucet, hoses with holes, rotting pieces of wood, busted bulbs). Chuck, chuck and chuck.
· When is the “perfect time” to do this decluttering project? Just a suggestion, Dec 26 to 30 – right before the new year. It’s an awesome feeling to rid yourself of things that no longer serve you. Out those go from your space and excluded from your new year! Of course, you can start right now too (anytime of the year you read this will do), just promise yourself and keep your word to focus on the task of decluttering until your timer rings time's up. You can declutter multiple times a year!
· Make sure to put a trashcan in every room that’s big enough to accommodate frequent chucking.
· Get rid of donations and trash right away. It’s pointless to do all this and have all those items still in your home weeks and months later. It has to leave your space ASAP like, yesterday. :-)
· Where to donate? Check Segunda Mana, Goodwill, research orphanages around your area (call them first and ask what they will take – usually gently used clothes or books and food – adding in some cash will help). You can also blast this question (where to donate) on your social network and learn many other resources that may be nearer you. You can even ask your village or condo guards if they have small kids (for your kid stuff donations). You can also give the guards food (not expired!) you won’t eat etc. You can also donate items to the garbage collectors – just make sure to neatly pack useful items (food or clothing) so it won’t be confused as trash. It’s best to tell them what it is so they can separate your donations from the trash. I saw my neighbor give a bag full of still good jeans (he whipped them out to show them with a smile) and the men were happy to get them and gingerly placed the bag of jeans in another part of their truck. :-)
Has the decluttering bug gotten to you? Don’t let my 5 days / areas stop you. Keep going! Now is the time to apply some ruthlessness! Remember, any thing or object that further complicates your life, out it goes! With clutter out of the way, there will be less stuff to clean and rearrange. Yay! :-)