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A “100 Things” Decluttering Challenge

Guest post from Deborah

My husband and I own a smaller home — around 1000 square feet with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. We don’t have children or hobbies that contribute to owning a great amount of stuff, but somehow the stuff seems to accumulate on its own!

The stuff seems to come into the home from several places:

  • I’m a librarian and my husband is a history professor — we receive many, many books that we won’t read.
  • My family is wonderful at giving items to each other for no reason — because we don’t want to throw them away!
  • As a professor, my husband often receives small gifts from students.
  • Friends often give us things that they think we’ll enjoy… and then those items sit in a closet or a cabinet for months without being touched.

I know we are blessed to receive so many free items from different people — but quite often, these items just sit around the house, gathering dust. It never seems to be enough stuff to have a yard sale, and nothing is usually worth enough to sell through Craigslist.

So once a year, and sometimes twice if I feel the house is getting cluttered, I do a “100 Things” project on a weekend.

It’s quite simple: I must find 100 things to get rid of in some way.

It might be a book I know I’ll never read. It might be a pair of holey socks tucked deep in a drawer that simply needs to be re-purposed as a dust rag or thrown away. It might be a stack of papers waiting to be filed. It might be a bunch of clothes I box up and take to Goodwill, or a box of magazines that I give away on Freecycle.

The bottom line is that 100 things need to leave my home or be put to some other use.

The last time I did this was in December of 2011. I gave away a box of 30 magazines to someone on Freecycle. I boxed up 20 books and donated them to a local organization hosting a book sale in order to raise money. I bagged up some clothing that we hadn’t worn in ages and sent them to Goodwill. When I pulled out the Christmas decorations, I went through everything and found broken items to throw away and other items to be sent to the local Goodwill store. And I always have a box in the garage ready to fill with random items to donate.

We are not big stuff collectors — but I’m always amazed at the amount of stuff I can get rid of once a year when I really try. And I always feel that my home is a little less cluttered at the end of a “100 things” weekend!

Have you ever tried decluttering 100 things?

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  1. chrissy says

    Haha!!! I have spent the past three days doing this. My husband is on a short hiatus from work and I view it as time for me to get things done because he is really enjoying the time with our three kids…something I enjoy…or not….every day. 😉 So far I have filled three boxes and three LARGE bags for Goodwill, two boxes and two bags for our local kids resale shop and a large box of warm winter stuff for our local refugee assistance organization. A couple of our friends work there and evidently it is typical for families to arrive in nothing but shorts, t-shirts and flip flops in December. Not such a good thing in Indiana! With three growing boys we have no end of outgrown coats, mittens and hats to share with others. The bonus/guest room in the basement was literally stuffed to the ceiling…I can now see the floor! lol There is a long way to go yet, though, I still can’t see the back wall at all. Plus….I think there is furniture in there…..

  2. Amber says

    I have to be honest, when I first saw the number 100 I thought that was a HUGE number. I am totally shocked at how little that was. I was able to get rid of 100+ things just from my book/desk/dvd corner! I’m inspired to keep going. :)

  3. Susan says

    I inadvertantly did that today. I’m moving in a few weeks and started packing. But, before I just box everything up, I decided to pair down my ‘stuff’. So, I took a bunch of stuff to the Salvation Army. Well, like the good itemizing tax person I am, I wrote down everything I donated. After seeing your post, I counted what I had on the sheet of paper and it was over 106 items. (I also threw out probably that many things today too.)

  4. says

    I unclutter at least 10 items a day this year. I”m doing the 2012 things in 2012 challenge.

    My decluttering is a mix of throw away, recycle and donate / Freecycle, because my street does not get enough traffic for a garage sale and the tax write off is helpful to us. If I could get my DH on board, to go through his stuff, I’d be thrilled! He has boxes unopened from when we moved into our house 8 years ago. Obsolete college texts, cds he doesn’t listen to, broken electronics, broken cameras, books he doesn’t read and doesn’t plan to.

    Freecycle is great, but it is frustrating when you get no shows. I also only allow people to pick up items when my DH is home and during the daylight, for safety reasons. And I put the item on my porch so I don’t have to come to the door. My home was burglarized last summer and I am concerned for safety.

  5. says

    I like this post alot! Having just moved into a new townhome, I didn’t realize how much stuff I have. And a lot of it is just…stuff! Double, sometimes multiples of items that prove not useful. It feels good to make a trash pile and a donation pile!!! I even make some good cash selling to consignment and ebay 😉 Even better for when there’s a baby on the way!

  6. Emily says

    My rule is that if it hasn’t been used or worn in the past year it needs to either be donated or pitched. This does not include seasonal items or tools/hardware. I do try to reuse and recycle as much as I can, however I have a low tolerance for clutter and have been accused by my family many times for throwing away things that weren’t supposed to be thrown away. I warn my kids not to leave their “treasures” (usually paper airplanes and trinkets) on the kitchen counter or floor, otherwise they might disappear. :-)

  7. Jessica says

    I had decided to get rid of 100 things recently, but yesterday as I was cleaning out preparing for the arrival of our first child, I realized that that number should be more like 500 things. It seems like a lot, but since I haven’t decluttered much in the past year, it will probably be fairly easy.

  8. Mrs Sunshine says

    I can’t dream of even considering getting rid of 100 things! I was out of work for almost 2 years, started back at part time (at minimum) and only at the first of this year went to full time—but at a v-e-r-y low rate. When I possibly get back to going well again I know there are boxes and bags of things I want out of here. Right now my stash is keeping me from stressing-out over low income.

    Has anyone else ever been in this boat?

    • says

      Mrs. Sunshine- I DEFINITELY have, and partially still am. I say be gentle with yourself and declutter at a comfortable pace. In my opinion, if keeping a few things can prevent some of the stress and anxiety that comes with job loss, then it’s a small sacrifice to make. Obviously you don’t want it to get out of hand, but you will know when that happens. I was in the middle of my underemployment phase when some friends came to my house to help us paint our kitchen. Every last one of them had an extremely high-paying job; every last one of them had enough discretionary income to pay someone to clean for them. There were some snarky comments made about my well-stocked couponing pantry, my desire to re-use Mason jars, etc. They really did permanent damage to our relationship. Point is, sadly enough not everyone can understand how, in some cases, a little bit of clutter is worth keeping around.

  9. says

    I never tried decluttering 100 things at a time but have had fun with FlyLady’s 21 Fling Thing. It’s so easy that 100 items shouldn’t be too hard! Thanks for the push!

  10. D says

    This inspires me again to get rid of clutter and items that I no longer use or need. Last year I kept a list of items I donated or sold and I got over 700 items! That felt so good, to know that there was more ‘breathing’ room in the house! :-)

  11. says

    I recently did a big declutter in my house and everything is quite organized. When something is given to us, the kids and I ask ourself, if we really will use it and want to find a place for it. If we don’t love it enough, we give it away. I have a thrift store basket in my house, so the kids can put stuff in easily.

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