My friends, I hope you found some joy in the Declutter Challenge! If you were able to do any decluttering, please take a moment to celebrate this wonderful victory. We don’t often acknowledge our achievements.

If you’re wondering what’s next, let’s talk about that today. I have two suggestions for what to do next (plus one more item for discussion):

  1. Continue your progress to declutter even more over the next few months.
  2. Put systems in place to make sure you don’t accumulate a lot of clutter again.
  3. What’s our next challenge (see the end of this article for that).

OK, let’s dive into these!

Continue Your Progress

If you were able to make a little progress this past month, congratulations! How can we continue this progress?

I have a few ideas:

  1. Set a day each week where you spend 30-45 minutes decluttering. Trust me, this will be a great engine for progress. If you do this, you’ll clear out a ton of clutter over the next few months. Put it on your calendar, and don’t allow yourself to miss this date.
  2. If you have teenage kids, put them to work. Have them scan your documents for you, drop off items for donation and recycling every week, and declutter their own spaces if they’re game (hint: turn it into a game or challenge). Pay them a little, and they’ll be earning money for making a positive contribution to your house.
  3. Each month, dedicate a “Letting Go Day.” That means you spend the day moving around your house, looking for things you can let go of. Including hobbies, books, projects you’ve been wanting to do for years but never do, and activities that you rarely do but that cause you to have a lot of stuff. For example, if you’ve been wanting to do more skiing, but rarely do, can you allow yourself to let go of all your ski equipment and just rent it every couple of years?

As you do these things, remember to focus on the joy of letting go and decluttering. This doesn’t have to be painful or overwhelming, but can be a huge relief, a huge unburdening, and in fact a lot of fun if you play some music and make it a joyful activity!

Systems to Stop Clutter From Accumulating

If you’re like me, you do a huge decluttering and then hope that you’re done with it forever. Unfortunately, life has a way of piling up clutter over the years, so you have to take some concrete steps to stop the accumulation.

Here are a few things I recommend:

  1. Mark your calendar every six months (say January and July) and take a week to just clear and clean. Each day, take 1-2 rooms, and completely move everything out of them. Clean the entire room, so that it’s spic and span. Then only put back what you actually use and need. Donate the rest. It’s a huge relief to do this!
  2. Put purchases on a 30-day list. If you really want to buy something, make it a rule that you have to put it on the list, with the date you added it to the list. The rule is that you can’t buy the item until it’s been on the list for at least 3o days. This really helps to curb impulse buys. Trust me, do this!
  3. Try the 1-in, 2-out rule. That means that if you buy something, you have to get rid of two things. If you get a gift and decide you want to keep it, you have to give away two things. If you get something free at an event (like a T-shirt), if you want to keep it you have to give away two things. In this way, your possessions will get smaller as you bring things in!
  4. Also mark a day every month or two on your calendar to declutter your digital life. Clear through all the files on your computer, make sure everything is backed up, clear through your email inbox.

With one or more of these systems/rules in place, you’ll keep a ton of clutter out of your life.

Our Next Challenge

I’d like to take a few days off before we start our next challenge, to give ourselves a rest. But the challenge I’d like to do is a Daily Reading Challenge.

How will that work? I’ll post more in a few days, but basically, if you choose to participate, you’ll set a daily reading goal for yourself. That’s a goal for reading books (fiction or non-fiction), not just reading online or listening to podcasts.

Why? I know for myself, reading books has fallen a bit to the wayside, and I really want to tackle my reading list. If we all challenge ourselves to read a certain number of minutes each day, we’ll read the books we want to read! (Well, most of them.)

This backlog of reading was highlighted this past month as I saw all the books that are sitting in my shelves unread. I really want to read them!

I’ll issue the challenge in a few days — I’m excited to do this with you guys.