Like many Americans, I suffer from TMSS – too much stuff syndrome. As I yearn to declutter, the amount of stuff cluttering the rooms in my house is overwhelming.
I could start in one corner and work methodically through each room. But I’m more likely to follow through if I have a challenge to motivate me.
Here are a few systems I considered to help me get started. They might also help you say goodbye to clutter.
5 per day
It’s a simple concept, but it gives you a daily goal and breaks the decluttering down into smaller chunks. As the name suggests, a Five a Day system involves unloading five items from your home each day.
I find it best to put a box in the back of my car and put things in there that I can use each night. Items that cannot be salvaged end up in the trash.
When the box of usable items is full, it goes straight to the thrift store.
In my experience, packing a box around the house means you’ll have a box sitting around for weeks or even months. Storing it in the van makes it easy to move unwanted items out of the house as soon as possible.
40 bags in 40 days
The 40 bags in 40 days challenge is the brainchild of blogger Ann Marie Heasley. It was created to coincide with the Christian observance of Lent, the 40 days leading up to Easter. However, you can take the challenge any time that suits you.
The Heasley system is essentially the Five a Day challenge on steroids. Rather than unloading a few items each day, you drop an entire bag of stuff each day.
2022 in 2022
If you need extreme decluttering, the 2022 challenge in 2022 may be right for you. This system requires – you guessed it – that you get rid of 2,022 items by the end of this year.
Nourishing Minimalism blogger Rachel Jones first used this technique over a decade ago. According to Jones:
“The rules are yours: if you have a stack of magazines that you need to get rid of, you can count it as one article or you can count each one as one article. You can even guess the number! The goal is to see progress as you eliminate.
We are coming a little late in the year, so you will have to be ambitious if you plan to take up this challenge! If you don’t feel quite up to it, start planning for 2023 in 2023.
100 things challenge
Popularized by author Dave Bruno’s book of the same name, this method of decluttering challenges you to live with the bare minimum: just 100 things.
In Bruno’s case, he distinguished between personal items and family items. Shared goods such as the kitchen table, plates and food did not count towards the 100 things. Instead, he limited personal possessions to 100 items. Of course, you can invent rules that work for your family.
Maybe you don’t just want to declutter, you also want to organize. The 12-12-12 system combines both objectives.
Joshua Becker of the Becoming Minimalist blog proposed this approach. Each day, you find 12 items to give away, 12 items to throw away, and 12 items to put back in their place. Becker says:
“On more than one occasion, this challenge has actually become a fast-paced competition between my wife and I…and your kids don’t have to be too old to participate as well.”
The Simplicity Space blogger Courtney Carver came up with the idea of limiting her wardrobe to just 33 items for three months. This minimalist fashion challenge is called Project 333.
Once the challenge is over, decide which clothes to keep and which to go. Then repeat until you’ve definitely reduced your wardrobe to a manageable size.
Take this decluttering challenge if you want to clear out the pantry, freezer, and fridge while saving money. A pantry challenge can be as short as a week or as long as a month. The goal is to eat with what you have on hand and severely limit your shopping.