Deep Thoughts

Less is More: 2016 is the Year of Declutter

This is the year that I’ve decided to get off my ass and get things done.  It’s time.

Regular readers of my blog (Thanks to all 3 of you!) may remember a post I wrote a while back called “Confessions of a Pack Rat (who is the daughter of a pack rat who is also the daughter of a pack rat)”That was about 2 1/2 years ago. Guess what? Yep! Nothing got done. I talked about the big game, but I never played.

I’ve decided that 2016 is the year to get this shit done. It’s time.It’s been long enough. I can get through the stuff in this house now without getting overly emotional about it. I’ve come to terms with my mother’s passing. Don’t get me wrong – I still grieve; I still miss her; it’s still difficult. But there is also a part of me that can see my mother (and grandmother) looking at me and shaking their heads. “You’ve got to let it go, Carleen. It’s been long enough.”

Here’s the thing that so many people deal with: “Where do I start?!” It’s overwhelming. I’m dealing with a house that my grandparents moved into in 1972. I’m dealing with about 4 1/2 decades or more of stuff. I’m dealing with stuff that belonged to at least 5 people. Whew! Yeah, it’s a lot.

One day, a friend on Facebook posted a link about the 40 Bags 40 Days Challenge.  The link she posted was from last year’s challenge, but it was clear that the challenge would be up and running again this year.

I thought, “This is it! This is the motivation I need.” I read the challenge and it just confirmed that this is going to be what gets me going.

It’s not about “Time to clean the WHOLE house!” Instead, it’s about small, manageable tasks that can be done one day at a time. The goal is to declutter – one bag at a time. Now, that I can do!

The Challenge runs during Lent – so this year it is officially from February 10 through March 26. But it can be done year round, really. And a lot of people do it year round.

Because I’m addicted to Facebook (Hi, my name is Carleen), I joined the Facebook Group for the Challenge. What I saw and read there hit me on a number of levels:

  • Yes, I’ve got big tasks ahead of me, but I’m not alone.
  • I know what needs to be done and how to do it.
  • I have it a lot better than some folks out there.
  • I have it a lot worse than some folks out there.
  • I can do this.

In fact, the people in this group got me so motivated, that I started my decluttering already. And they are so NON-judgmental, that I felt comfortable posting before and after photos of what I was doing.

I started with the linen closet. This is something that I’ve wanted to do for a while. I knew that things I needed where in there – somewhere. The last couple of times a friend visited me this year, we said, “Okay. We’re going to do that linen closet.” Yeah, that didn’t happen. But I got so motivated by this group of intrepid declutterers! One day, I just started taking everything out of the linen closet. It took over my living room and it took me 2 days. But I ended up with 3 – 33 gallon bags of trash, 7 boxes of things to donate, and a number of things to give to my cousin to help him and his fiance furnish their new home.

Check out the before and after photos:













Isn’t that awesome?! I only kept what I need. And I can find everything easily. A place for everything and everything in its place.

The next project was the small bathroom/powder room. This was tough. The cabinets above the commode were jam-packed with stuff. I had to be careful sliding the doors open because stuff would fall out. And there was still epoxy on the commode and tile floor from when it was installed. So I had to get on my hands and knees to scrub everything. The room is very narrow and there isn’t a lot of space, so my back wasn’t too pleased with me. And those cabinets are really high up – I’m 5’11” and I needed to get on a chair to reach the upper shelf. But I got it done!













The difference is amazing. And I felt REALLY good about getting those two areas done. Since then, I’ve also cleaned out three drawers in the hutch and the top of the hutch.

I’ve ended up with so much just to donate – the animal shelter got lots of towels to use for the animals’ crates, my church got a bunch of office supplies (that they will be sharing with the school office), and the kids at the school got some tablecloths to protect the furniture while they are working on their art projects. I also set up more donations with both the church and the school secretaries. Knowing that I have a place for usable items to go is really helpful.

Now it’s time to continue on. Ash Wednesday is here and the Challenge officially starts. The nice thing is that nothing is set in stone. If I need to skip a day, I skip a day. And I know that it doesn’t all have to be completed by Easter Sunday.

I filled out my “Challenge Planning Sheet” according to task rather than day (see below). I’m actually giving myself much longer to get everything completed. As I said, I have a lot ahead of me. For right now, I want to get things moving in the right direction. I want to get these spaces decluttered enough that I can have people over to help me. I’ve had offers from family, but, in all honesty, I need to do a lot of this beginning stuff on my own. I touch every item, every piece of paper. And that takes time. They have lives and families and jobs of their own. I don’t need to be wasting their time.

But I have broken down the Garage into 4 separate tasks because it’s a BIG job. I have a 2 1/2 car garage but can’t even stand in there. It’s full. Full. Full. Full. There are things in there that haven’t been seen or thought about in more than a decade. There are things in there that I’ve wanted to get my hands on. And then there’s just crap. So, it’s a big project. For THAT I will ask for help from my cousins. We’ll pick out a weekend, rent a dumpster, and just go to town. By that time, I will hopefully have a decluttered and cleaned house and will be able to have them spend the night if need be. What’s great is that we’ll have fun doing it. My cousins are pretty awesome.

How about you, dear reader? Do you think you can find something to do each day? Find one bag of trash that’s been needing to go out? Donate a box of hygiene products?

Do you want to join me on this journey?


1 Linen Closet 17-Jan 18-Jan 3 – 33 gallon 7 boxes X
2 Small Bathroom 24-Jan 24-Jan 1 – 33 gallon 1 – 13 gallon X
3 Hutch Drawers 25-Jan 25-Jan 1 – grocery various X
4 Hutch Top 29-Jan 29-Jan 1 – grocery various X
5 Hutch Lower (cabinets)
6 Large Bathroom
7 Kitchen Cabinets (Top)
8 Kitchen Cabinets (Bottom)
9 Dining Room
10 Uncle Carmie’s Dresser
11 Gram’s High Boy
12 Gram’s Dresser
13 Gram’s Closet
14 Mom’s Dresser (Top)
15 Mom’s Dresser (Drawers)
16 Mom’s Armoire (Top)
17 Mom’s Armoire (Drawers)
18 Mom’s Closet
19 Under Mom’s Bed
20 Top of Mom’s Bed
21 Mom’s Room (general)
22 Storage Closet
23 Front Hall Closet
24 Living Room
25 Pantry (basement)
26 Basement by stairs
27 Basement Kitchen
28 Storage Under Stairs
29 My Closet
30 My Dresser
31 My Room (general)
32 My Desk Area
33 Piano Area
34 Long Bench Tables
34 Long Bench Tables
35 Short Bench Tables
36 Short Bench Tables
37 Book Cabinets
38 Porch
39 Porch
40 Garage
41 Garage
42 Garage
43 Garage



4 comments on “Less is More: 2016 is the Year of Declutter

  1. Yes! I need to do this. I can do this. I WILL do this!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think is this awesome, also. I’ve done “one bag of clothing donated” twice now from my closet and the result is amazing. There is much more I need to do. I can’t do it all in consecutive days, but I don’t hear that being the point. I hear the point as starting, seeing it through, and completing the job. I’ve got some big Rubbermaid tubs of photos and things, but sorting through them for duplicates and triplicates (back from the days when we ordered or our photos…) is a huge deal. I’m very overwhelmed about opening those.But condensing them and gaining SPACE would be worth it! Thanks for the inspiration!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nancy Heredia

    Oh my yes indeed, this also speaks to me. My small NYC apt. needs a make over, and a fresh coat of paint before I even begin to consider new furnishings. Old clothes, photographs I don’t even want or care about and just a lot of miscellaneous stuff accumulated, mostly paper. If you can do it, so can i! I’m done having the same conversation with myself over it!

    Liked by 1 person

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