The hurricane method of decluttering. Part 1

The hurricane method of decluttering, as Moni dubbed it, is when one rips through the house decluttering a vast amount of stuff all at once. A person’s hand is often forced into this action due to a sudden change in circumstances which makes a big declutter necessary.

A hurricane declutter was exactly what I was helping a friend with on the weekend. She had been thinking of moving but found a new place quicker than expected, and just when her best friend was leaving for an overseas vacation. She phoned me in a panic on Wednesday last week begging for my help. I quickly agreed and took a three and a half hour train and bus trip to her home on Friday. I ended up staying until 1:30pm on Sunday. This was enough time to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

At first we tackled the kitchen together, me pulling things out of the cupboards for her to wrap and pack into boxes. We decluttered items along the way. We kept it simple with a choice of keep or go. One word choices that saved time. We did not add any in-between choices of maybe or trial separation. We didn’t have time for that. It was only easy choices of let it go or keep (at least for now).  Secondary choices would have to wait until she has moved in.

Once we had enough for a trip to the new place we loaded it up and went on our way. She then dropped her friend at the airport and returned with a nice SUV (loaned from this same friend), for us to load and transfer with. Meanwhile I stayed at the new place and unloaded the boxes. Boxes were expensive and limited so we decided it was prudent to unpack as we went rather than waste more money.

After the kitchen was done my friend started on her bedroom while I got going in the craft room. Now, just to give you some perspective here, she owns way more craft supplies than I ever have, so you can imagine the monumental size of the task I had ahead of me. Fortunately we do the same sort of craft so it was easy for me to recognise what was worth keeping (at least for now) and what I needed to ask her to make decisions on. This went amazingly smoothly and she was very good at the decision making process. She even gave me her excuses for her choices. As before, we had no time for ifs, buts and maybes so there was a vast amount of stuff that made its way to the new house. Several SUV loads in fact. Which is why I am going back next week to help sort it out and to assist in more decluttering.

Meanwhile my friend was being ruthless in her bedroom. She donated no less than eight garbage bags of clothes to the thrift shop. Keeping in mind that she had no idea what thrift shop to use or what sorts of things they would accept. Luckily she quickly found one quite nearby that would take anything she had to offer. She was also ruthless at tossing out old make-up, expired toiletries and even some sentimental items. She packed as she went, keeping aside only the things she would need for the next few days.

After numerous trips to the new place we began to see that light at the end of the tunnel. And at nightfall on the Saturday we called it quits for the day and went out for a a easy dinner and some much earned rest.

To be continued…

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter something a loved one gave you that you don’t need and is just collection dust. This doesn’t mean you don’t love the person just not the item.

Eco Tip for the Day

Take public transport where possible. It is better for the environment and actually more relaxing than tackling the commute yourself.

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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Continue reading with these posts:

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  • Getting the stuff out of your home It has come to my attention, both through comments on my blog and through real life experience, that one of the issues people have with their clutter, once they finally decide to be rid of […]
  • You just never know. Firstly I would just like to apologise for my recent extended absence from the blog this month. Unfortunately my mother took ill and I rushed off interstate to visit her in hospital and to […]
About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. Colleen, hurricane method is definitely a good description. I wish others would at least do that as they pack if they can’t do anything else. I know people I have helped who have even packed the trash. It sounds like your friend was definitely open to getting rid of as much as possible when having time for only a quick decision. I hope she will feel like decluttering more as she gets settled into her new place.

    • Hi Deb J, I as sure she will carry on with the decluttering now that she is on a roll. I will be sending her a mission each week. Because I have been along side her for the pack I am very familiar with her problem areas so know what missions to give her.

  2. Wow Colleen! You are a good friend to help her out with decluttering and moving all at once. This could only be better if there were some pictures of the volume of stuff donated. I’ll just have to use my imagination 🙂

    • Hi Kayla, I thought of taking photos but I figured to write the post was a big enough invasion of privacy without revealing too much. The before and after shots would have been amazing though I am sure. Perhaps I should have asked her.

  3. If one has to shift in a hurry, who better to call on, than the Queen of Decluttering!

    • Thanks Moni. Actually on the first day I wondered what I had got myself into. We both felt quite despondent. But day two dawned and the progress became quite obvious and the day progressed and our spirits rose. Now I would consider doing this for others.

      • Colleen, I’m sure that you could do this for a lot more people especially since you’re already looking forward to going back to help. It’s like what you do with this blog except it’ll keep you fit! Not quite one thing a day! But both methods work. You are a good friend.

      • Colleen – generally I would only recommend the Hurricane Method for one area at a time, so I salute you for doing an entire house at a time. Mind you with an entire house to pack and shift it in one weekend it probably was the most expedient approach.

        I have heard of buying boxes but its not really common in my area. I think most people grab boxes from the supermarket and I often notice house lots of banana boxes offered on freecycle which I think is awesome. I’m assuming that because this was a sudden house shift that there wasn’t time to collect and request boxes, so that was smart thinking to re-use them multiple times during the same shift.

    • Round of applause, Moni!

      • ……for calling Colleen, the Queen of Decluttering. Priceless!

        • Yes! The Queen of Decluttering! Colleen is absolutely that and more! What a great friend you are to provide such great help. You are an inspiration!

  4. You are a good friend. Looking forward to the next instalment.

  5. That was a great thing you did for your friend Colleen. I did the hurricane method of decluttering last September when I first started my decluttering journey. It was quite overwhelming for me at first but fortunately my husband was there to help and support me all the way. So yeah, to have someone to lead and encourage is amazing.

  6. This is a great decluttering story. I feel as if we sometimes have too many choices, which can then lead to indecision. When there is a very limited time period, you have to think quickly.

    • Hi Michelle, yes I agree. She didn’t hesitate on my decision but felt she need to explain herself and that was OK. I figured she would have more time to think about it between then and when I arrive next week. I am also going to help her arrange her furniture to take advantage of the space. I am really looking forward to going back and continue the work we have started.

  7. Sometimes people need a bit of a nudge or someone to hold their hand when a house move comes along. What is a chore for some is a enjoyable for others. I enjoy assisting people to declutter , if they are in need of help.
    I have an aversion to storage containers , except some in the kitchen. I refer to book shelves , filing cabinets, chests, hampers and the countless bits in Howard’s Storage World Shops. Sorry end of rant.
    I have been involved in a type of hurricane, a kitchen renovation and preparing the house for rent while my friends went overseas. Everything got done , but the stress was overwhelming .
    Some people feel they only work well under pressure , I think they are duding themselves . A bit of planning is essential.cheers

  8. One of my friends is about to move and he’s already started on a go/donate list but I see a hurricane on the horizon. Maybe I’ll try the same one day. 🙂

  9. This hurricane reminds me of when I first started decluttering in 2002!!! I read “Clear your clutter with feng shui” by Karen Kingston and she talks about the “white tornado” method. Well I swept through like a tornado all right and it made a huge difference…

    Here we are 12 years later and I am still decluttering, I should have nothing left! (However, obviously more stuff has come in 🙁 ) Anyway now I am being very careful about what I buy, doing the one in one out thing and begging people not to give me stuff, and I am slowly getting more minimal. People do say I’m very “neat and tidy” but I see plenty more which could go!

    Once again thanks Colleen for your continuous inspiration. I am now on 1,343 items or bags of items gone since I started reading your blog and keeping count. Can hardly think of any one of those things!