Some challenges for you

Sanna’s success with her 20 thing a day challenge got me thinking about how short term challenges can be very inspiring for letting go of things. So today I have come up with some short term simple challenges that anyone can do. Hopefully they will inspire some of you to do a little extra decluttering.

If any of the following challenges appeal to you give them your best shot and let us know how well you did when your challenge is complete.

  1. Each day for one week choose a drawer or shelf to declutter. You might be surprised how much easier it is to find what you need in small areas once they are decluttered. Such seemingly small changes can greatly simplify your daily routines.
  2. For one week find ten things to declutter each day.
  3. Within a week find 100 things to declutter throughout your home.
  4. Choose a collection of things you feel you would like to reduce, making them easier to fit into a certain space. Remember how I did this with my craft supplies. However that was a huge challenge that took some time. You could choose a small collection of stuff such as kitchen utensils, clothing, kids toys, your socks, linen, makeup… Choose the space you want to contain it in and declutter any less loved items to make this possible.
  5. If you are a book lover, perhaps your bookcase is overflowing. Declutter enough books so that everything fits in your bookcase with enough room for five new books. From then on perhaps you could be determined to maintain this level, by using the one in one out method of maintenance decluttering.
  6. If you have a lot of clutter, choose one room to deal with. Challenge yourself to clear one cubic metre or yard of this room each day or week (depending on the level of clutter) until it is clear.
  7. If you are a good way along with your decluttering goal have a short turbo charged period of decluttering by finding fifty items in the week to declutter.
  8. If you feel you are happy with your level of unclutteredness (spell check doesn’t like that one) then choose a room each day to double check all the nooks and crannies for items you have missed or have since become clutter. Do this once a week until your whole house has been checked for clutter.
  9. Scan your home for consumables that are being ignored in preference for others. Put these front and centre and begin a use-it-up challenge on them. It is so satisfying every time you use them, knowing that they will soon be gone and not wasted. And the liberated space is a great thing.
  10. Start a trial separation challenge. Choose at least ten items that you are on the fence about decluttering. Hid them away somewhere and only retrieve an item if you are truly in need of it. Make an attempt to improvise before retrieving any item from the hiding place. At the end of two months declutter any item that you haven’t retrieved.

Good luck to those who choose a challenge to undertake and happy decluttering!

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter any gardening items that don’t seem to be getting used. Perhaps even pull out some weeds that are making your home look tatty.

Eco Tip for the Day

Modern dishwashers have filters so don’t waste water rinsing of your dished before putting them in the dishwasher. Just scrape of any scraps into the bin prior to stacking them in.

For a full list of my eco tips so far click here

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. These are good challenges, Colleen!
    My next challenge will be my paper-stack. It’s actually not that big anymore, but I’d like to get it all down to two certain containers and organize it a bit better. I think, I’ll go with a “do SOMETHING about it every day” challenge for August. Whether that be 5 minutes of sorting, throwing out 20 sheets of paper or processing upcoming mail etc. It would be nice when this challenge would turn into a habit…

    • What a great idea Sanna, I should have thought of that one for the post. It is a great way to painlessly eliminate piles of paper.

      • Though I’m still not really looking forward to that challenge, I’m looking forward to the results!! 😉

    • ha, Sanna, I had to think of you yesterday.
      I got my new insurance card and with it some paper that says in bold letters “keep it”. I went absentmindedly to the place where my desk was before and was suddenly struck. my desk was gone and I deliberately eliminated all flat surface around this area – so obviously I couldnt find a place to put this paper. So I filed it into the folder where it belongs, in like 10 seconds.
      my little experiment seems to work. 😉

  2. Some great ideas here. I have adopted the “declutter one drawer at a time” for some years, also when I am doing the ward robes and kitchen cupboards I tackle one section at a time. That way it isn’t too overwhelming. Many years ago as a young housewife I made the big mistake of emptying every shelf, cupboard and drawer in the kitchen all at once, thinking. I would wipe them out, sort and restack. What a an error! The kitchen was so cluttered I didn’t know where to start and could have sat down in the middle of it all and cried! Some years later I decided to sort out my small daughter’s bedroom. Emptied every cupboard and drawer and had just started to sort it all out when I had a phone call from my son’s teacher, asking me to collect him from school as he appeared to have broken his arm! He had, we spent ages at the hospital, then I rushed to school to collect my daughter and then went home to a huge mess in her bedroom which had to be cleared before she could go to bed! Never again! We eventually learn from our mistakes.

    • Linda – I call this The Hurricane Method – because it looks like a hurricane has hit! I’ve never been brave enough to use it in the kitchen. I have used it on bookcases but gone in knowing that the surrounding area was going to be chaotically for a couple of days. I only use this when sensible and reasonable methods haven’t given me results.

    • Hi Linda, that was a lesson well learned. And this sort of situation is why I always recommend doing large areas a little at a time. That is how I tackled my kitchen and my craft area. Although at one point I did make a big scattered mess of the craft stuff. It has got to a stage where it needed reorganising in order to reduce the storage space, which meant a lot of reshuffling. It wasn’t in an area that couldn’t be left mid job as it didn’t matter.

    • HI! I’ve been lurking for awhile and am now posting for the first time. I think I’ll do the one shelf/drawer method for a week. Frankly, I prefer the “hurricane method”. Several years ago, I emptied everything out of my kitchen (except the appliances) onto the dining room floor and then put back only the things I really needed. It only took me one morning. I got rid of 156 items that morning (OK, I counted each rejected spoon separately). All this from a small kitchen for one person who’s moved about once every six years. I’ve gone through one of my bookcases and turned on its side every book I really don’t need to keep 169 of them. Now it’s just a matter of actually getting them out of the apartment.

      • Hi Bev and welcome to 365 Less Things. I used to prefer the hurricane method but that was back in the day when decluttering meant getting rid of stuff not used now then replacing it with other stuff. This time around the plan is to remain decluttered for life. I find focusing on it slowly brings ones attention to the reasons behind clutter and cements the habits needed to not end up back in this position again. I hope this isn’t the case of you. The hurricane method sure does get the task over and done with more quickly. I hope you will be able to get those decluttered items out of the apartment soon so you can truly enjoy the fruits of your labours.

      • Bev – I try to alternate between one or a few a day and hurricane. Sometimes I’ll pull an entire cupboard or ??? apart because I know I’ll have to have it tidy before the end of the day or within a few days (if its something really big) but I have to be in the right frame of mind. There’s nothing like sitting on the floor surrounded by piles of stuff and getting hit by that overwhelmed feeling. I can remember pulling everything out of the hall cupboard (which was my craft cupboard and everything else cupboard) and had big piles all around me. My husband came and admired the progress and then enquired how was he supposed to get to our bedroom?

        Usually in the weeks that follow a ‘hurricane’ I’ll go back to daily mini missions for my sanity’s sake. There is usually ‘clutter residue’ after a Hurricane ie stuff that’s not going back in the cupboard/bookcase/drawer etc but has not had its final fate determinded (ie might need a trial seperation) and so that’s a good time to be dealing with that. I find that my family love the dramatic big reveal of the revamped area post-Hurricane Method (you can almost hear the chant “Move The Bus, Move The Bus”) but during the Hurricane Season (LOL) they pretty much have to fend for themselves and there’s usually a lot of debris, so I like to space out the Hurricanes.

        Of course, if it was something like a drawer where it could be done in a more contained manner or in a shorter time frame, then yes it would be very satisfying work.

  3. I live in Oregon and have been reading this blog for about a year. This my first time commenting. I thought I was at the maintenance stage after years of working on my clutter, in fact people always remark about how organized my house is and how there’s no clutter. As I was getting ready for a garage sale my granddaughters are having and trying to get ready for new flooring in living and dining rooms showed me just how much clutter I have! About 1/4 of my garage is filled with items…I passed the 100 items within 2 days. This a great site to keep my motivation up. Keep up the great work.

    • Hi Calla and welcome to 365 Less Things. Isn’t it amazing how the clutter just keeps showing up. It was very fortunate for you that your granddaughters were having that garage sale though. I hope your new flooring turns out beautiful. I would like to get hard wood floors in my living area one day but I will wait until the carpet wears out altogether. Right now it is just boring and a little worse for wear.

      I am glad you are enjoying the blog and are finding it inspiring. A little encouragement to declutter is always a good thing, especially when using the gentle approach.

      • In reference to the flooring, I’ve lived with my carpet for 9 years and finally decided just to replace it as it will never wear out since I want it to! My neighbor down the street had to rent 2 pod storage units that are parked in their driveway while doing their floors. I think I’ll be able to just be able to move my things into the three bedrooms, it will be crowded for a bit, but worth it in the end.

        • Hi Calla, good point. I am sure my furniture isn’t going to be able to be moved into the other rooms. Although if you disassembled the spare bed we might get away with it. And we could put some stuff on the balcony for a couple of day. You have given me something to think about in advance should we eventually decide to do the job. Thanks.

  4. I think I’ll do #10! These are some great ideas

    • That sounds like a fine idea Kayla. I think it is time I gave my daughter the items I have hidden away in my bedroom. That will free up a drawer, although I don’t think I have anything to put in it. 😉

  5. Colleen, these are some good challenges. I’m thinking I need to work on digitizing as much as I can and also helping Mom. I’m not excited about either one.

    • I can’t say I blame you Deb J. Digitising can be a very boring process. I still have photos to sort but, for now, I think I am quite happy to ignore them. I much prefer making craft items to sell while using up craft supplies that I have had forever.

      • Colleen, thankfully I don’t have so many photos as I do papers. But I am working on a way to cut those without having to digitize them. I will let you know if it works.

    • Deb J – I’ve been digitising papers this evening – the document destruction wheelie bin leaves tomorrow and it’s last chance to get papers in it. From here on in its either shred it myself or stockpile for the next DDWB until end of financial year next April. So nothing like leaving it until the last minute but I decided I didn’t like either option and over the last two days I have squashed in the last of the scanning.

      I have literally scanned hundreds of documents lately, and I’ve decided the key isn’t to try and make it less boring (let’s face it, it is boring) the idea is to make sure it is eventually done. Say I decide I want this folder done by next week. So I break it into smaller 7 piles and using lime green post-it notes (you can pick what ever colour you prefer, but I find the loud colours work best) I write in big letters the days of the week with the date and slap those on each pile. So each day I did that days pile of papers and I renamed the digital files and e-filed them. Once that was done I’d reward myself with either watching some TV or some reading time.

      The temptation is to keep scanning, but I think it is wise to name and digitally file as you go, as it is easier while you have the physical copy there in front of you. And it prevents creating another big job for yourself at the end.

      Then when you complete the folder a week later, you give yourself a reward. It might be a day off from housework, coffee with a friend, or skite here on 365 less things!

      • What a great idea Moni. I’ve been looking at the big picture even when I know better. If I get in an hour a day it won’t take long to get it all done. Thanks for the reminder.

        • Deb J – consider 15-30 mins a day to begin with. Once you see some progress stretch it out a bit more. It is boring work but it’s pretty awesome when you scan the final piece!
          But definitely break it down into a daily requisite.

          • Moni, I think I will divide it all up and then each day use as much or as little time as is available that day.

      • I love your system Moni. All very organised, systematic and with rewards to encourage adherence to the rules. Well done!

  6. Hi Colleen! I liked all the challenges, because my house has mix of cluttered spots and decluttered spots. I decluttered a big, bulky computer desk and replaced it with a much smaller version (previous desk had drawers, shelves and plenty of clutter space, new one has no drawers, no shelves and no clutter space). My husband trashed lots of papers he had kept “just in case” and I temporally put a few things that had been housed in the desk in a a book shelf that will be sorted latter. I also had Calla’s perception of the clutter state of my house: I thought I was all decluttered, but the more I dig, the more I see that I can improve more. Together with that there is always the maintenance decluttering which eludes me from time to time. These challenges will come in handy.

    • Hi Andréia, well done! I loved the photos you sent me of the change the dest made. Do you mind if I add them to my before and after page. It seems you desk change is much like Lena getting rid of her desk altogether. You have both eliminated areas to collect clutter. If these areas aren’t available you just have to declutter the stuff that was there and deal with any other items immediately that you previously would have dumped there for late. Once again, well done.

  7. I printed it out and put it in my new small notebook and will go back and pick one once I get through the bookshelves and sewing limit sorting I had planned to do this week, but had tax paperwork for son’s business to deal with instead.. Anyone who doesn’t have much paperwork can consider themselves blessed. The challenges are good to get our decluttering mojo going again. In the meantime this 90 degree plus weather just keeps going on and on. I felt cooler when Moni said a blog or two before that it was too cold for her to go outside and declutter. So when some of us are too hot the others are too cold. Our spring was about 2 days long and I suspect fall will be the same.

  8. Love this post Colleen! I am going to take on several of these challenges, but especially 9 and 10. I’m already contemplating the items that will be in my trial separation.

  9. These are all great! I’ll start with #1 and add “box” to shelf and drawer. I have several boxes that need going through again.

  10. #4 – my CD collection sprawls. I need to have a close look at it and check what can go and what stays. I think I havent done much about it, because I didnt bother digitizing. this will happen this week.

    #10 – trial separation works just fine with my desk right now, I have the feeling I will end up living without it.
    in addition I was eying some kitchen utensils lately, I think they will have to live behind the curtain for some time, a pan and a wooden spoon are already there… I think I will make it even harder and try one trial separation item a day in august!

  11. Hi Colleen, it’s funny that youentuoned the book(-shelves), since I’ve decluttered about 1,5 bookshelf. I didn’t know what to do with the empty space, so I put a little chessboard on the shelf. Although, I might decluttering that one well, since I haven’t played chess since primary school!

  12. These are some fantastic challenges! Tomorrow I’ll drop off the things to that charity for their fundraiser and I am so glad to get that junk out of my attic. Just a few final items then to take to the cat rescue, etc. They like the sheets and towels for the critter carriers. Tomorrow a.m. just for fun, I may set the timer for 30 minutes and run around like crazy to see what other stuff I can donate. 😉

    I don’t recall when I joined this community, but I remember one of the first things I did was go through boxes and boxes of paper. That might have been a couple years? Colleen? Any idea? Anyhoo, I haven’t looked in those boxes since and I’m thinking it might be time to go through and SERIOUSLY purge. Honest-to-Pete, what is the point of hanging on to all that junk??

  13. I think given how much I enjoyed the Sanna challenge and how initially I didn’t think I could find 20 items for 20 days…….I would go with number 7. A turbo session of 50 items in a week. I seem to like working against the clock and numbers.