Just thinking about decluttering your home can be overwhelming.
It’s a helluva job and the very idea of tackling it all at once would make even me want to crawl back into bed.
The easiest thing is to NOT think about it.
OK, so I don’t mean ignore it. I mean break it down into smaller parts so you’re not thinking about the WHOLE thing at once. Because, if you’re overwhelmed you need to start small. And there’s no such thing as TOO small — the most important thing is that you just start.
Here are 10 decluttering tasks you can do in 10 minutes. Because we should all be able to find a spare 10 minutes in a day at least every now and then.
10 decluttering tasks you can do in 10 minutes
Take everything out of your cutlery drawer and throw away anything damaged or unlikely to be used again (are you really going to use that plastic/disposable cutlery again?).
If your kids are older consider whether you still need ‘child-friendly’ cutlery. Calculate how much cutlery you really need and only put back that amount.
If there are other kitchen items cluttering up your cutlery drawer, move them to your utensil drawer or donate/sell/recycle/bin them if they’re never used.
Empty your handbag and throw away any rubbish. Group together like items — makeup, pens, coins, toiletries — and then cull each group. How many pens do you need in your bag?
Consider using bags within your handbag to help keep it free of clutter and make it easier to find items. For example, a small makeup bag can prevent you unnecessarily rummaging around your handbag every time you need your lip balm and can also be helpful when switching from one handbag to another.
Pick a surface — any surface and make it your goal to clear it in 10 minutes.
Look carefully at what type of clutter seems to accumulate on that particular surface and ask yourself why. Does it have no home to go to? Is it too hard to put it back in that place?
Figure out a way to address the issues that contribute to the build-up of clutter on this surface. For example, find a permanent home for this clutter or bring that home closer to this surface (put hooks or bins nearby).
Pens or pencils
With three school-aged children and a teacher husband, I could almost start a stationery store from my home! It is incredible how quickly you can accumulate pens and pencils.
Sort through your pens or pencils and throw away any that are broken, out of ink or, in the case of pencils, break when they’re sharpened. Keep only enough that you’ll use.
You could bundle up and put away any that you think you might use in the future when the others run out (I do that with school-quality lead pencils as the kids always need topping up as the year goes on) or you could donate them. Ask local playgroups or community centres if they’d like any colouring pencils if you have too many.
Sit down with your phone, laptop or tablet and chose one thing to tackle in the 10-minute limit — photos, messages, emails or apps.
If you’re deleting photos, ask yourself if each time if it is worthy of being printed out as this may help you decide which to keep and which to delete. Old screenshots, anything blurry or any duplicate photos can certainly go.
Delete old messages or old emails. Unsubscribe to any emails that you never read or action.
Go through your settings with the aim of reducing the number of notifications you receive. This will mean less distractions and more calm.
I did a big clean and cull of our bath toys when the kids were younger and it was such a good idea. They had far too many and they were just getting mouldy or full of gunk. I bought a small plastic basket (so the water could drain from it easily) and only kept what could fit in there.
This is great 10-minute declutter that you can do while the kids are in the bath.
Start by throwing away anything that is old and remember that make-up does expire. Usually you can keep make-up for about 12 months but anything that comes in contact with your eyes (mascara, eyeliner) should not be kept for more than three months after opening. This is because make-up is a breeding ground for germs and you do not want to get an infection in your eye.
If you have a lot of unopened make-up or nail polish that you won’t use, consider passing on to friends or family who might appreciate it.
Go to your fridge and pantry with the intention of finding and disposing of food that is past its used by date.
If you find items that are close to expiring bring them front and centre so you use them soon (and so you don’t buy more of them until they’re gone!). Consider what dishes you might be able to cook with these ingredients. Now might be a good time to start meal planning if you don’t already.
Go through your first aid box or medication supplies to see what has expired. Expired medication is, at best, ineffective or, at worst, dangerous.
Medication needs to be disposed of carefully. You can take expired medication to your local pharmacy where they will do it for you.
Remember medication should not be stored in bathrooms as it is too humid for safe storage. A good place is high up in a kitchen cupboard or pantry.
Here’s a personal question … how is the underwear situation going? If you have more than enough underwear and you’re holding on to a few holey faves then it might be time for a quick undie cull!
Calculate how many pairs of undies you really need and then cull from the top down, not the bottom up (so to speak!). Start with the nicest pair you have and then work your way down until you reach the number you need. Anything less than that can go!
Do you want a calm and clutter-free home and life?
Sign up for our step-by-step, room-by-room decluttering program — Create Your Calm & Clutter-Free Home in 12 Easy Steps.
Or just want more free tips? Join our mailing list to receive our monthly newsletter and our list of 33 Things You Can Throw Out TODAY!