The 30-Day Decluttering Challenge: Experience & Tips

Low contrast photo of a white desk and chair in front of a white wall. On top of the desk is a white framed mirror and a comic-drawn hand is spraying cleaning fluid onto the mirror. The image is for a blog post about the experience doing a 30 day decluttering challenge including review and tips to get started. Caption reads 30 Days of Decluttering, Review and Tips.

Last Updated on 17/04/2022

Last month I finished my first-ever 30-day decluttering challenge, which was inspired by The Minimalists’ game but tweaked to my own rules.

So how’d it go? I got rid of 465 things in total and it was a really positive experience. In fact, I feel like I could carry on for another 30 days!

The thought of decluttering 465 items from your home might seem overwhelming at first. Fear not, however, because once you get going it’s actually much easier than it sounds. Here are some things I did to keep the process as stress-free and fun as possible, plus some stuff I would do better next time I do a decluttering challenge.

Make your own rules. It’s your decluttering challenge and you’re the boss.

This is a big one. The original “game” implies that your 30 days must be consecutive, and it stipulates that all items from each day must be gone by midnight. That’s just not realistic, and you can make your own game, with your own rules.

For me, the 30 days did not have to equate to one month. A day is a day, period. In such, my personal 30-day challenge actually spanned the course of over two months. I tidied and decluttered when I wanted to, and when I had time.

Also, because I try to clear stuff out responsibly and not just add more junk to our landfill, it was not possible to get rid of most items before midnight of each respective decluttering day. Some things needed to be listed for re-sale, some things had to be put aside for municipal recycling, and some things for donation simply needed to wait for the charity to come pick them up.

Make your own rules that work for you.

Decluttering isn’t supposed to add more stress to your already busy life. It should alleviate your stress, and ultimately boost both your clarity and comfort.

Pick some easy wins to start your decluttering challenge.

If you’re thinking “good gosh, where do I take 465 items from?!” – stop right now and take a step back. You’re only looking for one item on Day 1, two on Day 2 etc. So just start with that one thing on day one.

To get going, it’s helpful to target an easy win. Something you already know you dislike, something that you’ve outgrown or is broken, something expired, or unusable, or dried up. Things that you have the least emotional attachment to are easier to declutter. Once you actually start sorting through your stuff, you’re going to get a ton of ideas for what to declutter next. This is part of the process, and it’s both liberating and fun!

Have some boxes or containers ready to sort your decluttered stuff into waste, re-sale, recycling, and donation categories.

I can’t recommend this one enough. I was a bit unprepared in my first week of the challenge, and the stuff I decluttered started forming a very unsightly pile. This stressed me out. I had to walk past that pile about 30 times a day!

Then I remembered I had a bunch of Ikea containers in the cellar from my old office, so I got those out and used them to create categorical “buckets” for re-sale, charity, and gifts. I was pretty good about bringing the garbage and household recycling out on the same day. But having those extra bins for the other categories seriously helped me further sort through what I had sorted out.

Get a system in place to sort through what you’ve decluttered. I used these bins for my interim sorting station.

Make space for sorting and keeping stuff for sale organised and ready to ship.

This ties into the last point. Getting the stuff  to give to friends and family out of the way was a rather quick process, but all of the things I decluttered which could either be re-sold for some pocket money or donated to charities needed to be put aside until they were sold or picked up. This called for some space. Be prepared to designate a corner or some space for your re-sale and charity items until they are really truly out of the way.

I do not recommend parking your decluttered items in a closet. You run the risk of forgetting about them again (out of sight, out of mind). And you want this stuff gone! I deliberately kept my containers of sorted-out stuff in plain sight because I knew this would irk me to get them moving.

Still don’t know where to start your decluttering challenge?

Are you still feeling stuck on where to actually start your decluttering challenge? Check out my list of 10 things to declutter today to get you going on your own 30-day challenge. Pick something small to start, like a small drawer or one solitary shelf. Take it from there, and set your own pace. Don’t forget to have fun in the process!

Experience and tips for doing a 30 day decluttering challenge. It might sound overwhelming doing a declutter challenge, but these tips and tricks make it easy!
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