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The Declutter Diaries: Day One

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The Declutter Diaries is a series of posts I did for a former blog as a glimpse inside a real decluttering project.  To set the stage, at the time I wrote these, I had two kids aged 3 and 5.  My house had been accumulating junk stuff since we had moved in when I was very pregnant with my second child.  In the fog of baby and toddler days, I had never really been able to deal with the clutter, and kids only added to the clutter crisis.

Now I felt overwhelmed by my house and all the stuff in it.  I’ve never been particularly good at keeping my stuff tidy, and I had hit the breaking point.  So I decided to spend the 90 days of summer doing a major purging and organizing project which I called my 90 Day Declutter Challenge.

The Declutter Diaries: the inside story of a real decluttering project

Here begins the Declutter Diaries: Day One [with occasional editorial comments from my present self] [screen fade…]

The Beginning of the 90-Day Clutter Challenge

So here it is: day one of the 90-day clutter challenge.  The first order of business is to come up with a plan to keep the basics running: food, sanitation, and necessary responsibilities.  Regardless of what I am doing in the decluttering department, my family still expects to eat, have clean clothes, and use a reasonably clean bathroom.  Bills must be paid and my preschoolers need my attention and help throughout the day.  All of this means I need a plan to keep these things going while I tackle my monumental project. [You need a plan, too!  Sadly, the house does not run itself while you do big projects.]

You need a weekly routine to keep the basics going while you declutter

I started by listing all the things I need to do during the week.  Then I wrote the days of the week across the top of a paper.  In each day’s column, I divided up the weekly tasks to spread them out evenly (more or less).  Then I added in anything that happens on a particular day as well as daily tasks.

This gave me a weekly schedule overview on a single sheet of paper that I could hang up.  I did not assign particular times to any tasks, though I did have a general morning, afternoon and evening order.  My goal for doing this is to have a quick reference guide for what I need to do each day.  That way I can make sure the basics are getting done without having to think too hard.  [Great idea, Past Self!  Having a routine to take care of the basics is essential for household happiness.]

Working with Your Personal Productivity Rhythm

My current plan is to try to do household basics in the morning and then tackle clutter right after lunch.  I’m trying to work with my personal productivity rhythms.  For me, that means the hour or so right after lunch should be a good time to tackle clutter.  For you, it might mean first thing in the morning or late morning.  Whatever works for you, go with it.  I am open to modifying this if it isn’t working well.  [More good stuff.  Know your personal productivity rhythms, and be flexible to modify your plans.]

Work with your personal productivity rhythms while you declutter

For now, I’m also going to try to go with 60-90 minutes of focused work time.  I toyed with the idea of going with the Flylady method of 15 minutes decluttering at a time, but I think that works better AFTER a major decluttering to maintain things.  If I break it up into a bunch of 15-minute chunks, I’ll lose too much time trying to figure out what I was doing and getting back into the groove.  So, I’m going with one work session that isn’t too long—no need to burn out.

Have you got a plan in place for keeping the basics running?  When would be the best time for you to tackle clutter?  [Good questions to answer BEFORE you undertake a giant decluttering project.  Do you need some help getting your decluttering supplies together?  Check out this handy Declutter Supply List.]

Read Day Two


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