Decluttering Challenge: One Month, One Item Per Day

This past month, I’ve been up to something.  Something that has been needed to get done for awhile and I just could never quite find the time or energy to do it.

That all changed when I read J$’s post on July 24th.

He was getting rid on one item a day for 30 days and challenging his readers to do the same.  I was all in!

Now, let’s be honest for a second.  I had tried The Minimalists Challenge a few times before and had always failed miserably by the end of the first week. In this challenge, you have to get rid of one item on the first day, two on the second, three on the third, and so on, all the way to thirty items on day thirty (or thirty one if it is a longer month).

Maybe I wasn’t ready, maybe I just didn’t have the time, or maybe it just got to be too much for one day, but regardless I would start out with a bang and then slowly return to the same old clutter and not do a thing about it.

And I still have “the box” in our living room, but it had been more or less neglected over the past few months.

But J$’s challenge was different.  I only had to get rid of one item a day.  I thought to myself, “Even I could do that”. So I vowed that over the next month I would.

I even created a spreadsheet to keep track of my winnings losings.  By the way, this whole spreadsheet thing is totally not me. Perhaps I’ve been reading too many spreadsheet loving personal finance blogs and they are starting to rub off on me.

It helped that some of my other blogger friends were also losing their marbles and figuring out what we really need.

 

Marbles lost: Gwen-814 Me-1

 

It’s definitely been an interesting month, but I have to say that I stuck to the plan and completed the challenge.

And lucky for you, you get to hear all about my reflections from a month of decluttering.

 

The Importance of a Routine

 

By doing it everyday, decluttering quickly became part of my new routine.  Although I wouldn’t always do it at the same time everyday, I made sure that I set aside time each and every day to accomplish this task.  After a few days, I didn’t want to mess with routine so I kept at it.

In the beginning, I would actually leave an item out in a spot that I would see it so it would remind me to grab an item for that day.  Then once I created my spreadsheet, I kept that open on my computer so as not to forget.

 

Tackling One Area at a Time

 

Unless you are already a minimalist, finding one item to get rid of every day is actually very easy. Although we have already combed through our belongings many times before, somehow more and more stuff finds its way back into our humble abode.

So I picked a strategy that made this decluttering goal even easier.  I would pick one area: one cabinet, one drawer, one closet and start there.  I would head to that spot every day and remove an item that I didn’t need/ use anymore and be on my way.

It made it easy.

Every day, I knew exactly where to go to accomplish my goal. Once that one area was free from clutter, I would move on to another area. Over time, I finally started to make a dent in some of our most cluttered areas. And now when I open up that cabinet or drawer, I admire my declutter work, rather than stress about having to clean it up.

 

Time Schmime

 

The essence of this challenge doesn’t take much time at all.  All you need to do is find one thing to either throw away, donate, or sell. Some days I would spend less than 30 seconds opening up a drawer, picking up a pair of socks (or 16) and throw them in the box.  Other days, I would spend more time, maybe 10, 20, or 30 minutes combing through an area.  Regardless, as long as I removed one item, I had met my goal for the day.  For those of us who are short on time already, which is pretty much all of us, this way of decluttering didn’t use much at all.

 

Once You Pop, You Can’t Stop

 

I found decluttering to be just like Pringles.  Most of the time, I would set out to find my one item, but that would quickly turn into 2, 3, 5, or even 10 items.  Just by looking for one, I would find many, many more.  It almost became addicting.  But regardless of how many items I pitched in one day, I still only counted it for that day. No cheating and putting them on other days to make it easier for me.

 

Sometimes They Weren’t Ready To Go (or maybe it was me)

 

A few times I stumbled across some items that I was not ready to throw into the donation box. When this would happen, I told myself that I didn’t need to purge it at that moment and I would give myself some time to see if I would actually use it over the next couple of months.  Honestly, I have started using some of these things, like an old running tank and a pair of pants that I hadn’t worn in years.  Unfortunately, there are still a few things that I decided to keep and haven’t touched yet, but I’ll give myself a few months and if I don’t then it’s time to pitch it.

 

How Big Tasks  Can Seem Overwhelming

 

When first setting out on this decluttering journey, I must admit that I was extremely overwhelmed with the size of this task. It’s the reason that I had been putting it off for months and months years and years.  I didn’t want to spend days going through our stuff and at the end suffer the mental anguish of having to part with some important items.

But by only focusing on one item a day, the task never felt too big. It was the aggregation of marginal gains.  Over time, the small dents started to add up and began making an actual difference.

Most of the last month, I’ve been able to focus on easier items. You know the stuff that I’m not super attached to, making any post-decluttering suffering very minimal.  But it did bring some items to the surface that need to be dealt with, so I expect this journey to get harder the longer I continue.

Discomfort is what makes us grow.  It is what pushes us out of our comfort zones. I’m not going to shy away from the hard stuff this time. Get ready discomfort, I’m preparing myself to lean into you.

The rest of the stuff in my house doesn’t stand a chance.

 

My Declutter List

 

Wanna see what I pitched over the past 30 days?

  1. pair of sweatpants/ pair of shorts/ sweatshirts (2)
  2. scarf/ belt
  3. glass pitcher
  4. lanyard from conference
  5. napkin rings
  6. heart candles
  7. expired medicines
  8. kale slicer/ chip clips (15)
  9. work out pants/ running shorts/ sports bras (2)
  10. glass jar
  11. tea (3 packs)
  12. cookie cutters
  13. socks (5 pairs)
  14. bathing suit (3)
  15. hair scarves (9)
  16. car phone charger
  17. book
  18. flower vase
  19. small container
  20. Pair of shorts, t shirts (2)
  21. keychain/ lanyard/ old phone case
  22. 4 textbooks
  23. shirts (11)
  24. Fondue set
  25. coin purse/ TRX warning card
  26. decorative spoons/ cheese platter serving fork
  27. socks (16 pairs)
  28. Old phone charger/ emergency underpants
  29. belt (2)
  30. pants (5)/ shirts (2)
  31. bracelet/ purse/ keyboard

 

Feels good to get that off my chest and out of my house :o)

 

But did you guys notice any of the weird things that made up that list?

 

Socks: I mean, really, 21 pairs of socks? And I still have more than enough, so don’t worry about my feet getting cold as soon as the weather starts to dip.

 

I think I’m good, no need for these

 

Emergency Underwear: A silly stocking stuffer that I received a few years ago (I think from my sister). It has been in my drawer ever since. Guess it’s a good thing that I haven’t needed them yet ;o).

Conference Lanyards: I also had a bunch of lanyards from previous conferences that I have been too.  Every year I kept thinking that I would reuse it, but strangely enough they always give you a new one when you register. Maybe FinCon should offer a free drink ticket if you BYO lanyard?

TRX Safety Thingy: Yep, this little piece of plastic is to warn people that I am working out.  All the people who might be wandering down our long driveway. It’s also to warn people not to open the door, so I don’t go flying onto my face. As much as that might be a sight to see, my TRX is hanging from a beam in our garage so that problem is already solved. Don’t need this thing anymore.

The other side says: Do Not Open This Door!”

Random House Decor: I also got rid of a bunch of home items, like various jars, vases, some tiny little fork/ knife things that I’m not even sure what they are, and chip clips.  We had so many chip clips.

 

The Hardest Part

 

I’m sure many of you are wondering what has been the hardest part thus far.

 

Was it figuring out what to get rid of? Nope.

How about finding the time to do it every day? Nah.

Didn’t I run out of things to get rid of? Definitely not, at least yet that is.

 

Honestly, the hardest part has been trying to get Mr.Wow on board. Sounds eerily familiar to stories I’ve heard of people trying to get their spouse on board with FIRE.

For months, maybe years, he has been talking about how badly we need to go through and get rid of things we have.  Recently, he’s also been all crazed about #vanlife so I thought this challenge would be easy for him to get onboard.

Boy was I wrong.

The only time that I got him to purge anything was when I physically picked up an item that was his and asked him if he wanted it.  I was able to convince him to go through his shoes and a few drawers once.  I even got him to help me clean out the pantry one day too. It was obvious that he didn’t want to do it, but being that he is the chef, I needed his input as to what I could pitch and what needed to stay.

Not sure why it was so hard for him, especially after he made fun of me for all my useless shot glasses. While I haven’t ditched the shots, shots, shot glasses yet, they’re on my radar.  They’ve been safe so far since they are in the garage and I have only been focusing on the inside of our house.  But if anyone knows of a bar that is looking to stock up on shot glass decor, let me know. I may have a dealer.

 

The Ah-Ha Moment

 

Throughout this past month I had a big ah-ha moment.  I realized that we have a lot of stuff. And a lot of useless stuff, at least to us. And this useless stuff still takes up space and mental energy knowing that we need to do something with it. This stuff was and still is a little overwhelming.

Originally, I thought that this challenge would last a month and that would be that, but it became obvious that this challenge is not stopping. There are still plenty of areas inside the house to tackle, as well as *gasp* the garage.

But that being said, I really have learned a lot from partaking in this challenge and feel just a wee bit lighter and way happier than I did a month ago. I’ve also started listening to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, so I’m curious to see what kind of an impact it will have on my decluttering next month.

 

Off to donate

 

Has any one else been partaking in the 1-item-a-day decluttering challenge? How are you fairing so far? If not, who’s up for the challenge now? Any one, any one?

25 Comments

  • Dads Dollars Debts September 5, 2018 at 6:36 am

    Nice work. It feels good to declutter and one item a day is a good way to go about it.

    Reply
    • Mrs WoW September 5, 2018 at 7:35 am

      It has been awesome! I’m so glad that I’m finally got my stuff together and out of the house.

      Reply
  • Mr. SSC September 5, 2018 at 7:08 am

    We used to do the 70 in 7 challege where we’d find 70 items in 70 days to trash, donate, sell. But, the long distance move had us de-cluttering like mad. We ended up with so many loads of things to donate, trash, or sell. I have a similar TRX style workout dealio for the door. Fortunately, I don’t have to worry about someone opening the door I use, unless they’re a creeper quietly living in our attic… 😀

    I second the vote for a free beer if you byo lanyard to Fincon.
    Mr. SSC recently posted…AC Replacement: Shopping Around Saves Money

    Reply
    • Mrs WoW September 5, 2018 at 7:37 am

      Moving is a great way to deal with stuff; however, sometimes with the harder items, I found it easier just to pack it away then actually deal with it. Cheers to free beer!

      Reply
  • Gwen @ Fiery Millennials September 5, 2018 at 8:12 am

    You’re going to clean out the GARAGE :O WOAH. You are serious! I was going to ask about the emergency underpants but you explained them. I had a lot of questions.

    Reply
    • Mrs WoW September 5, 2018 at 8:21 am

      Oh so many questions! Mr.Wow wasn’t too sure about them either.

      Reply
  • Mrs. Doodlepop September 5, 2018 at 9:29 am

    Awesome read, thanks for sharing your decluttering experience. We went through our bedroom this weekend both finding items to donate and rearranging the room and it feels so great! It’s now a place I look forward to sleeping in every night. We are also slightly obsessed with #vanlife and have plans to become nomads early next year, but I cannot get my husband on board with decluttering either! Very similar sounding struggles. This was a real conversation in our house this weekend. Me: We have 5 spatulas. I think we can get rid of 4 of them. Husband: But they are all different sizes and each one has a unique purpose so we need them all. We compromised and got rid of 2. It kills me but it’s progress!! Every item donated gets us closer to a carefully curated collection of favorite things 🙂
    Mrs. Doodlepop recently posted…The Happiest Marathon on Earth

    Reply
    • Mrs WoW September 5, 2018 at 6:58 pm

      Glad to hear that I am not alone in this. Mr.Wow actually did a bunch of decluttering this weekend for once, but alas there is still much much more to be done. Curious to hear more about your nomad plans cause we might be in a similar boat, have you written about it yet?

      Reply
      • Mrs. Doodlepop September 6, 2018 at 8:11 am

        I haven’t written about it yet. Honestly I’ve been pretty overwhelmed (and excited and nervous and scared! All the feels!) at the thought of overhauling our life with a change this big, but something inside me keeps saying it’s time to go and have a big adventure. We have been breaking it down into small steps to make forward progress and feel less overwhelmed. Next weekend we are test driving some vans! Writing about it would probably help by forcing me to organize my thoughts which is probably why I’ve been avoiding it haha 🙂 good idea though, I have a long plane ride to NYC this weekend and that sounds like a great time to sit down and write.
        Mrs. Doodlepop recently posted…The Happiest Marathon on Earth

        Reply
        • Mrs WoW September 6, 2018 at 8:17 pm

          Any chance you are going to FinCon? I would love to chat more about this. Regardless, you should definitely write about it too

          Reply
          • Mrs. Doodlepop September 9, 2018 at 9:30 am

            We went to FinCon last year but unfortunately aren’t going this year. Feel free to email me (liveyourdoodlepop at gmail) 🙂 I’m interested to hear what you guys are thinking!
            Mrs. Doodlepop recently posted…The Happiest Marathon on Earth

  • 5am Joel September 5, 2018 at 10:17 am

    Dude! I totally need chip clips! Wish I knew you were ditching yours. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure 🙂

    Reply
    • Mrs WoW September 5, 2018 at 6:58 pm

      Man, I’m sorry. What else you need?

      Reply
  • Josh Jensen September 5, 2018 at 11:22 am

    Is it too late to request a chip clip? Ours is cracked and barely works.
    I did this challenge last month too, but I totally cheated. When I got rid of 7 books, I said, “well, I’ve done my work for the week!”

    PS – Thanks for putting the “Shots” song in my head again.

    Reply
    • Mrs WoW September 5, 2018 at 6:59 pm

      I think I still have a few clips to spare, coming right up… And you’re welcome!

      Reply
  • Freedom 40 Plan September 5, 2018 at 12:20 pm

    I too need to go on a de-cluttering spree. I’ve just been waiting for a rainy day to dive in. Hmm, that sounds like an excuse doesn’t it…..sigh…
    Freedom 40 Plan recently posted…Monthly Net Worth Update – August 2018 – $1,812,938 [+$29,792]

    Reply
    • Mrs WoW September 5, 2018 at 7:00 pm

      There’s always a good excuse not to do it so you just gotta start. I believe in starting small and gaining momentum. Go grab one thing right now and either toss it or place it in a box to donate. I’m going to done mine right now too.

      Reply
  • J. Money September 7, 2018 at 4:04 am

    YESSSSS!!!! LOVE!!!!!!! PROUD OF YOU!!! 🙂

    Reply
    • Mrs WoW September 7, 2018 at 5:43 am

      Its all thanks to your inspiration J$!

      Reply
  • FIRECracker September 22, 2018 at 2:50 am

    Cool challenge! I like the idea of starting small and then pushing yourself more as time goes on to get a snowball effect (could probably do the same with savings too).

    “I found decluttering to be just like Pringles. Most of the time, I would set out to find my one item, but that would quickly turn into 2, 3, 5, or even 10 item”

    This is what I found when we were first looking for stuff to sell before leaving to travel the world. Once you start decluttering, you can’t stop!

    Reply
    • Mrs WoW October 1, 2018 at 6:17 am

      Maybe that’s the reason we are making moves with our decluttering ;o)

      Reply
  • This Month’s Favorite $$$ Reads (And Listens!) | Best Frugal September 28, 2018 at 5:06 am

    […] Decluttering Challenge: One Month, One Item Per Day by Waffles On Wednesday — “Unless you are already a minimalist, finding one item to get rid of every day is actually very easy. Although we have already combed through our belongings many times before, somehow more and more stuff finds its way back into our humble abode. So I picked a strategy that made this decluttering goal even easier. I would pick one area: one cabinet, one drawer, one closet and start there. I would head to that spot every day and remove an item that I didn’t need/ use anymore and be on my way. It made it easy. Every day, I knew exactly where to go to accomplish my goal.” […]

    Reply
  • bobbie bennett September 28, 2018 at 5:30 am

    Love this idea,as decluttering often becomes overwhelming. I’m trying again right now-thank you!

    Reply
  • Brad October 1, 2018 at 4:51 pm

    Nice. We’ve tried to keep this going by leaving a large box in the hall. My wife and I try to drop items in each week. At the end of the month we call green drop who picks it up and gets it to a Chairity we select in advance. We like to think of it as give 365.

    Reply
    • Mrs WoW October 1, 2018 at 5:41 pm

      Yes, I love this. Its also nice to know that we aren’t the only people that have a box in the middle of their house ;o)

      Reply

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