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Say Goodbye to Survival Mode Challenge: Day 5 (Clear Out the Clutter)


Welcome to the 7-Day Say Goodbye to Survival Mode Challenge. Each day this week, I’ll be blogging through the 7-Day Challenge. If you’ve not signed up yet, enter your name and email in the orange sign-up box at the top of the page here and you’ll get the daily emails and challenge in your inbox.

Clear Out the Clutter

As you probably already know, I’m not really into clutter. In fact, I’m positive that some people would come to my house and think it’s entirely too empty! But we love the uncluttered look. Here are four reasons we don’t have a lot of clutter:

1. It simplifies things because I have less to clean up. The less stuff you have, the less stuff you have to take care of.

2. It makes things easier to find. When you don’t have as much stuff, it’s easier to put things away.

3. It provides breathing room. I love wide open spaces — they allow my soul to breathe and make life feel calmer.

4. It saves money. The less you buy, the more you usually save. Plus, the less you have, the less you have to pay to maintain.

Here are some things that help me stay on top of clutter:

Ongoing Garage Sale Boxes

We have a designated spot in our home for garage sale boxes. In our current home, this is in the garage. As I find things we no longer need or use, I start filling up a box. When one box is full, I fill up another. And so on.

Instead of moving an item around from one room to the next when we aren’t using it anymore, I pitch it in the garage sale boxes and it’s out of our way. This method makes preparing for a garage sale quite simple since I already have a huge head start on collecting stuff to sell.

Thinking of having a garage sale? Check out my 10 tips for having a successful garage sale.

Clear Out the Clutter

Annual Clutter Elimination

Once or twice a year, I go through my home from top to bottom and am ruthless about eliminating clutter. Every nook and cranny is cleaned out and every item is evaluated.

By doing this on a regular basis, no area of our home ever becomes unmanageable. Rooms or closets might be messy or unkempt at times, but they never get so overwhelming that I can’t deal with them.

The No-Pile Rule

Except for my husband’s dresser and our laundry basket, we try to strictly adhere to a no-pile rule. I’ve found that a small pile quickly grows–without any effort. So if you don’t start a pile in the first place, you can avoid a lot of disorganization.

{Confession time: I have a few small piles in my closet right now… I’m tackling those as part of today’s project. :)}

In the Door, In Its Place

Instead of piles of paper around from place to place until you have time to deal with them, take care of them immediately. When the mail or other papers come into our home, I go through it right then and there and throw out everything that we don’t have to keep.

Bills go on my husband’s dresser, magazines go in the magazine basket, coupons go in my coupon box, and junk mail goes in the trash. Within just a few minutes, the mail is completely dealt with!

Avoid Clutter-Collecting Furniture

I’ve found my utilitarian nature helps avoid heaps of clutter. How? Because we don’t have a lot of furniture that tends to be clutter hot-spots for others. I’ve found that when there’s no place to collect piles, you are much less apt to make them.

Clear Out the Clutter

For more ideas and suggestions, check out these links:

Today’s Challenge

If you feel overwhelmed with clutter, don’t panic. Pick one space in your home to declutter as soon as you can today. This can be a drawer, cupboard, closet, medicine cabinet, your nightstand, or if you’re feeling overly ambitious, the pantry or refrigerator.

Ruthlessly clear out any and all clutter and unnecessary items you find. Consider passing on extra food and household items to friends or donating these to someone in need. Start with this one small space and I promise you will feel a sense of accomplishment right away.

Today’s Project

1. Read Day 5 of the 7-Day Say Goodbye to Survival Mode Challenge (type in your name and email address in the orange box at the top of the page here if you haven’t signed up yet).

2. Leave a comment telling us what area of your home you are planning to tackle today for at least 15 minutes and clear out the unnecessary clutter. Remember, keep it simple and don’t bite off more than you can chew!

My project: I’m planning to tackle our bedroom closet. It seems to be the space in our home that can always use a little TLC and it has a few piles of mine in it that need to be dealt with. 🙂

photo credit; photo credit

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  • Tracy says:

    We’re in the process of moving. I’m purging bookcases today. Excitement du jour: After carting around huge college yearbooks for 20-plus years, I’m letting them go. They’re not signed or particularly sentimental to me in any way, and if I find myself wanting to research anything, I can find every page online. That’s 25 pounds worth of clutter alone! (My high school yearbooks, however, will stay.)

  • Mari says:

    Funny this was on my list to do today. I am going to clean out my bathroom drawers. They are just mine hubby has his own and I just keep tossing stuff in there. They are to the point of barely closing know. I am sure there are lots of things in there that can be tossed.

    • mullai says:

      Me too, Mari!
      I actually might commandeer one of his sparsely filled drawers to accommodate more of an “everything in its place” scenario.

  • Jessica says:

    How do you store hand-me-down clothes or clothes in the next size up? Similarly, do you hang on to outgrown clothes in case you have more children? What about buying gifts ahead as you see them? How do you store that?

    • Jamie says:

      I have friends that do the next size up. They use totes with the size marked. Girls 2t to 4t etc.. I do have a box in the top of my closet for gifting. I buy items I see on sale, that I am given, or win in contests. It saves a ton when the kids have a party to go to, they just “go shopping” in the box, throw it in a gift bag and bam!!

    • Kim Nev says:

      I store larger size and outgrown kids’ clothes in clear plastic tubs. I use a piece of packing tape on the lid and 2 sides of the box to write the size and season. Then, the tape can be removed and repalced when the box is neeeded for another size or purpose. I store the next size up in the tops of their closet for easy accessibility as they need a larger size (sometims mid-season). I also put an empty tub in the top of the closet to toss in clothes as I discover they’re outgrown, because different brands’ sizes seem to vary it’s a constant rotation for us. Other tubs are stacked in the garage with the labels showing. I thought we’d have 2-3 yrs apart in age between children, so I saved everything from my first child. In God’s timing, I have boys 4 1/2 years apart. I feel like it was worth it to save clothes for that amount of time since we had the space in our garage. We’ve had to buy some new things for our 2nd, but the handmedowns have definitely helped our budget!

      I have a similar system for gifts. I have 3 small shelves each with a large plastic tub on them. One tub for each of my boys and one tub for other gifts, such as for birthdays and baby showers. The tubs for my boys are solid colors (not clear), so they can’t see the contents. 😉

      The tubs are an investment, but have had YEARS of use and are still in great shape. Boxes would work fine too, but don’t keep moisture out if you have any seasons of humidity. Also, they don’t stack as well unless you buy boxes at Home Depot or somewhere and get all the same sizes.

  • Margery H. says:

    ***Paper clutter!!***

    Luckily, I helped my three kids clean out the clutter in their closets after Christmas. My project this week is to tackle all the papers that have managed to multiply around the house. Most of them aren’t ready to file, but need an action done in order to check them off the to-do list! Getting there, but it’s taken all week.

  • Jamie says:

    I am going to tackle my dresser today….spiffed up the computer desk last night. We also use the box in the garage method for unwanted items. With daughters that are 18 and 13 their taste change regularly. Anyone need Justin Bieber a Twilight everything??? lol

  • Erin says:

    My husband and I are tackling our storage/exercise room due to the clutter and some moisture issues we are having. It will actually be a whole weekend project, but so worth it when we are done!

  • Patty says:

    I’m tackling many areas. I’m moving and before I pack I’m considering if it goes in a box or goes elsewhere. I will be calling the Salvation Army for a pick up. That is a nice feature. I never seem to make it to drop off the donations. But if I know a truck is coming I can set something out by the curb!

  • Malinda says:

    I tried this over Christmas break, because we felt like we were suffocating in our living room with Toys and we only have 1 – 4 year old! So we created a toy room and this gigantic train table and all toys went into his toy room, just a small basket in the living room. I can’t believe how much calmer it makes me know in the living room, since the train table was usually completely cluttered with toys! I LOVE THE OPEN SPACE I HAVE! 🙂 Thanks so much for all you do!

  • These are some great (and brutal) tips! This topic is near and dear to my heart because clutter is one of my biggest struggles – but I am battling against it! I am doing a decluttering challenge on my blog where I am getting rid of 365 things this year.

    The growing piles is just so true. I have so. many. big. piles. Ug. It’s hard for me to imagine a no-pile rule, but it sounds so refreshing! 🙂 And clutter collecting furniture – I think I’m guilty of that one, too.

    So for today I will tackle my bedside table, which is actually a small dresser.


  • Stephanie says:

    I really need to work on the computer desk. It is out in our main living area, so it collects everything from magazines and DVDs to kids masterpieces and mail. It gets out of control quickly and when it is cluttered, the whole room looks messy.

  • I’m going to tackle the vitamin cabinet since I’ve already de-cluttered a lot in preparation for Christmas parties and the new year.

  • I’d planned on decluttering two drawers this week, but had a bit of a setback that has left me in bed for a yet undetermined amount of time. (Fortunately not due to illness, though.) So I was going to say I can’t do anything. However, I saw someone mention paper clutter. Now that is something I can definitely do while sitting here! Who says I must complete tasks on my schedule? 🙂 I’ll take advantage of this time to get much needed sorting of paper clutter out of the way!

  • annie says:

    Small task today as I expect a long commute home tonight, and a special dinner will be served at 7pm – poblano chile enchiladas – thanks fishmama.

    My nightstand drawer! I want to hear angels signing when I open it “Ahhhh”.

  • Kelly says:

    I am currently working on major project of going all the tubs of baby and kids clothes and organizing them by size. I donate any items I do not think will sell, post items on FB garage sale sites, and have a basket I will take to a local resale shop for store credit to buy spring clothes for my kids!

  • Jennie says:

    The mail is my biggest source of clutter and stress! It piles up so easily until I literally have stacks 6 inches tall! Drives me crazy. So I’m going to tackle the mail – maybe tonight. (Sick boy at home and we have a small home business that keeps me busy too.) I like the idea of 4 categories – file (immediately), bills, coupons, and recycle. That would certainly change the way my counter looks! Thanks for the good idea.

  • Sophia R says:

    I’m not sure if we are moving, or buckling down for another year in the apartment. Either way we need more space before baby#2 comes! I’m packing one of our two closets. Just the things that we don’t use often, but use often enough to keep (camping gear, seasonal, and such). I’m finding a lot of things that can just be tossed!

  • Karen says:

    I’m moving in 3 weeks, so I’m de-cluttering every day! Today, I’m relaxing, but on Wednesday, I emptied 2 cabinets and a bunch of floor space.

    • Tommie says:

      I cleaned out my pots and pans cabinet, I did not choose it, it chose me, I needed my big red pot to make dinner and well it was buried.
      I made great progress! Photo’s on my blog if anyone is interested. 🙂

  • Sandy says:

    I just spent the last week purging and cleaning out every room in our house. It feels great! I had dreaded the chore for so long, but it was so worth it. It feels so clean and open now in our house. Less stuff=less stress!

  • Amber says:

    I’ll be cleaning the bar out…or as we know it, the extra closet where we put stuff.

  • Susie McCreary says:

    I’m tackling my built-in bookshelves as soon as my kids are in bed… yes more than 15 min but a huge eyesore. And we homeschool so this area is overused and underrespected! Problem with decluttering stuff like this though is I find I have things that need to be re-located… but I don’t have a spot to re-locate them yet! FYI, we are heavily cluttered and disorganized… and are in the process of digging our way out and adopting much healthier habits, so glad to have come across this encouraging blog.

  • Bethany says:

    I agree with you but my husband is on a totally different page here and likes to hang onto things in case we need them at some point in the future and he gets frustrated with me when I get rid of stuff…

  • Amy says:

    Oh how I wish my closet could look like those pictures!! It always seems like my clothes get stretched our or worn too quickly and start to look sad on the hangers. 🙂 Where did you get those pictures? I need some more inspiration… 🙂

  • Christina says:

    My 8 year old steps daughter who lives with us loves things and is extremely sentimental. She gets a lot of stuff from her mothers side of her family which is not all age appropriate and she is very attached to it. She is also very attached to gifts from friends. How do I encourage her to part ways with the items she doesn’t need, play with or are too young for her?
    We don’t have a garage or basement so storing items is difficult. We have a storage unit but hope to get rid of it soon.

    • sona says:

      Only because you asked…Perhaps since her parents are not together she has increased sentimentality? And perhaps she needs these things as comfort, sort of a reminder that she is loved and not forgotten etc. I would proceed with caution. Discuss the situation with her father and allow him to lead. Perhaps some items can be kept at moms or maternal grandparents home to “visit” when she is there, explaining the lack of space to them, being careful to not sound ungrateful. Lack of space may be the best option for a short season for such a young child who may be experiencing unstated insecurities. Best of luck in a difficult situation.

  • alicia says:

    I am tackling the mudroom area, a week back to school has left it a mess, and there are things that need to go!

  • Brandi says:

    I just read this post and your cleaning off the kitchen counters post. I would love to see one on non-perishable food storage, your shelves with canned goods/pastas etc. Right now I have mine in the lazy susan with some (flour/sugar/oatmeal) in the cupboards. But I would love to use the lazy susan for appliances to clear off my counters.

  • Judy says:

    I put away all my Christmas decorations this morning (yes I know a little late, but we have been out of town so I do have an excuse). I went through them and got rid of ones that I no longer need, like, or use. Then I went through the rest of the house and did the same thing. I love to declutter, organize, and get rid of things. We have a local facebook page where you can sell items too, so being a SAHM I can also make a little extra money for us by selling some of the items we no longer need or use. Your blog inspires me! Thanks!

  • Joyce says:

    I will be tackling the area next to the side table next to my bed.

  • Elizabeth says:

    I will tackle the bins of clothes (overflow that doesn’t fit in the closet). Feel if it doesn’t fit in the closet or drawer, we have too much, but hadn’t had time to sort and rid of them. Would like to do this for all the piles that have collected in every room, closet, house space! Thanks for the awesome tips!

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