Do you remember me starting the declutter challenge Cut the Clutter a while ago? I was so sick of all the clutter surrounding me. I had the feeling I could never find real peace anywhere in my home. It looked like I had just moved in a week ago, but at the same time as if the house hadn’t been tidied up for over ten years. Sounds a bit contradictory perhaps, but I’ve got all the before photos which show exactly what I mean.
Cut the Clutter is a challenge created by Chrissy Halton from Organise My House. She promises a clutter-free house in 20 weeks if you follow her steps. Every week you’ll be decluttering one room (or one big task, such as organizing your paperwork). Every week is divided in little sub-tasks per day. This way Chrissy brings back the overview that is lost so easily when you want to get rid of the Clutter in your home.
I promised you to give you an update every four weeks. If you’ve paid close attention, you might have noticed my first post was not four weeks ago, but six. Yet I am four weeks into the challenge right now. One reason is that the challenge has changed a bit, which I will tell you about in a second. Aside from that, I’ve had a few difficulties with the decluttering itself as well as my blog. I didn’t let a few setbacks get me down though, so here I am with my first update!
(This article contains an affiliate link. That means if you’d buy something through that link, I will get a small commission with no additional costs for you. This also does not change that everything I wrote in this post is entirely my own opinion.)
The first week of the challenge, as I had found on Chrissy’s website, was to make some preparations. No decluttering yet. She had some printables on her website to help you organize the stuff you’re decluttering. When I did my first attempt at this challenge last year, I decided it would be all the more fun if I’d make the printables pretty, so I had glued them onto colored paper. Light pink is for all the things I should get rid of, dark pink is for everything that I’ll keep. It amazed me how many categories Chrissy’d come up with! The printables were still in good shape, so I decided I’d keep these labels for the challenge.
Another task this week was to choose an inspiring quote that would help you stay motivated. The quote I had chosen last year was still hanging on our fridge;
“If you wait for perfect conditions, you’ll never get anything done.”
So true, and I still love this quote. However, you might know by now that I recently found a new quote that inspires me greatly:
“Three months from now, you will thank yourself.”
This quote had helped me immensely in my weight loss journey the past few weeks, and I reckoned it could be just as powerful in other areas of my life.
I had just started with week #2, which was dedicated to the hallway and stairs, when I got an email from Chrissy that she had turned her challenge into an e-book: Clutter: Sorted. She had gathered all the feedback from people who’d done the challenge and she had revised the program to be even more effective.
More effective! Music to my ears. As I had just started the challenge, I figured it would be foolish not to use this book instead of the sheets on her website. The first change I noticed was that the preparation week didn’t count as one of the 20 weeks anymore. Hallway and stairs was now week #1! So I kinda got thrown back a little, but to be honest, this made much more sense.
The preparation part was so much more elaborate now as well. Chrissy added a lot of printables to help you decide where all your possessions should go.
Let’s see how I did in my first four weeks, shall we?
Week #1 – Hallway and Stairs
Remember how my hallway looked? There was a freezer standing in the way, as well as a door. Boxes and bags were standing on the freezer and the floor, and shoes and mail were all over the place. I hated this room! Every time I’d come home, I’d be instantly grumpy because of all the rubbish greeting me.
So I was very happy that this room was first on the list! However, I could not take care of everything immediately. The freezer is still there, simply because it has to move to the shed, where there’s no room whatsoever at this point. The door and the ironing board also couldn’t be moved to their final location yet, because of the same reason. But somehow it’s different than before. Now at least I know when they will move, because I have the schedule of when I’ll be decluttering which rooms. So knowing how long I’ll have to put up with these items taking up space I my hallway sooths my mind a little bit.
And although we could not make it a perfect hallway yet, there’s so much that we could do. The big pile of mail is gone. The shoes are organized. I even bought an additional shoe rack, which we will use after I’ve painted it. I cleared all the drawers, which created space to organize my hats and scarfs. Our umbrella stand is visible again!
So even though it may look as if nothing much has changed, to me it’s a huge difference.
Week #2 – Paperwork
To be honest, I really was not looking forward to this week. I knew I had a lot of paperwork laying around and it would be a pain in the ass to even find it all, let alone organize it. But here’s how Chrissy’s way differed from the way I had done it all my life (or had wanted to, but had never done properly my whole life): decluttering is not about organizing things in detail. It’s about getting rid of the rubbish and sorting the rest into the right categories, so you’ll know where to find it in the future. I didn’t need to create twenty different folders with ten different sections each for my paperwork. At least, not at this moment. I just had to make four piles: recycle, action, in progress and file. The whole goal of this week was to know where to find your paperwork in the future, even if it’s all in a pile instead of neatly organized folders. What a revelation. In the past I would have gone either all the way or I wouldn’t have done it at all. And you can guess which of the two I always ended up choosing… It was just too overwhelming to even start.
But Chrissy asked me to find all my paperwork around the house and sort it into her four categories. That was it! And you know what? That was hard enough! You will not believe how much paperwork I found just laying around the house and some of the odd locations in which I found it (kitchen cabinets, anyone?). Most of it was just waiting to be filed, although lots of it was ready to end up in the recycle bin as well. The before photo doesn’t do my situation justice at all. There was so much more, and I kept finding it. It was impossible to photograph, because when I had decluttered one pile, a new one showed up somewhere else. It’s amazing how few was left over afterwards. The paperwork on the after photo has even been cut in half afterwards, because I filed the magazines somewhere else. I now need to find myself a little box to keep the rest in. Or I’ll buy some folders after all. It’s not much work anymore now!
Week #3: Kitchen
This week I got kinda stuck. There was still some left-over paperwork (I kept finding new paperwork EVERYWHERE) and I had a very busy week. The paperwork demotivated me a bit and I realized this must have been the exact same thing that had made me fail last year.
Suddenly it was week #4 and I had not even started with the kitchen yet. I decided to dedicate my weekend to decluttering the kitchen and the left-over paperwork. Ruud stepped in to help me on the actual tasks of week #4; decluttering the food.
I wanted to take decluttering the kitchen to the next level; I wanted to organize it as well. As I said before, this is not what Chrissy asks you to do. Decluttering is only about getting rid of the stuff that doesn’t belong in a particular place, whether it is to move it to the right location or to get rid of it entirely. But I decided to do a bit more, since my kitchen hadn’t been organized properly since I had moved in. At that time, the kitchen cabinets where the only cabinets I had, so I stuffed them with all sorts of things: mail, books, CDs… Not exactly the sorts of stuff you need in your kitchen cabinets. Most of the stuff had been moved already (or so I thought), but in the meantime all the things that did belong in the kitchen where stored in odd ways. I wanted to take the opportunity to finally get everything in their rightful cabinets and drawers.
The decluttering began with sorting the unnecessary things in the room, as always. I was baffled at how much items I had laying around in my kitchen cabinets that actually belonged elsewhere! After I’d removed all the unnecessary things, the result was unbelievable. I ended up with a little drawer, two big drawers and two cabinets being completely empty! I had extra room! Who would have thought? The amount of paperwork coming out of my cabinets amazed me, especially since I had decluttered all my paperwork just then. It’s mind-blowing how much stuff we can stack up without even realizing.
I used my freed cupboards and drawers to organize my kitchen supplies. I moved almost everything into new cabinets. It’s so much more logical now, although I still open the wrong cabinets sometimes when I need something. It will take some time to get used to, but I am so happy I did it. Diner plates and breakfast plates are on different stacks now, our kitchen counter has a lot less appliances and I can grab a wooden spoon without having to leave my stove. Also, even with our dish washer still broken, there’s no dirty dishes on the kitchen counter anymore! It’s a joy to look at my kitchen now!
I have to say I am not completely done with the kitchen yet. There’s still two cupboards left to declutter (one with pans and one with cleaning supplies) and I need to go over the tops of my cabinets and fridge. It was impossible to declutter everything and reorganize the whole kitchen in one week. But I am so glad I chose to do it this way. It’s such a joy to work in my kitchen now and to even look at it. The main problem areas have been tackled. I feel happy in my kitchen now and that’s what’s most important.
Week #4: Food
Kitchen and food weren’t joined together in one week. That’s a good thing! Both took quite a while! As I said before, Ruud took care of decluttering the food while I was doing the kitchen and the paperwork. After the weekend, there was only a little bit of food left to declutter, which I took care of during the week.
To be honest, I was so glad that Ruud took care of most of the food, as this was the most difficult task to do for me. Throwing away food hurts. I just can’t do it. I had so many baking supplies that had expired. Perfectly good (expensive!) chocolate melts, colorful cupcake decorations, cupcake mixes I didn’t even know I still had… All this happy food wasted. The baking supplies were the worst part for me, but we also had so many spices that had expired, and super delicate oils. And most of it got expired, because we were waiting for that very special occasion to use it. How stupid is that? We were not using it on regular days because it was too special and now we had to throw it all away! I vowed never to let ‘special’ food get wasted again. Whenever I will buy something special, I will use it whenever I please. Food’s there to get eaten, special food is there to enjoy immensely!
Again, the before photo doesn’t show half of what we got done this week. It was however the only before photo I had of my food. I had only photographed rooms and some cupboards. I didn’t realize at the time that a whole week would be dedicated to decluttering food. Oh, well, you can at least see my pantry looks somewhat more organized now, right? And I’d love to take a moment to appreciate my new camera, please. Look at the difference! As for the food, you just have to believe me that it really makes a huge difference.
The upcoming weeks will be dedicated to the following areas/tasks:
Week #5 – Utility
Since I do not have a utility, I will exchange this week for my pantry, as there is no week dedicated to that in the book. (It might seem fairly organized in the picture above, but believe me, theres an entire non-food section that looks like it has all exploded.
Week #6 – To Do List
This will be the perfect week to make concrete plans for the goals of my Day Zero Project that I still have left to do! How convenient, as I am halfway the project now. It’s the perfect time to create a strong plan for my goals!
Week #7 – Living Room
This should be a fairly easy room for me, as it is already quite decluttered except for some small areas, so if I’ll have time left, I’ll work on enhancing the looks of my living room as well, to make it more homey.
Week #8 – Diary
This should be a very useful week, as I always have too few hours in a day. I am struggling to have a more productive schedule for months now, but somehow it doesn’t quite work. I hope this week will help me with that!
I will not do my weeks in the above order, by the way. I know the pantry will take up most of my time, which I don’t quite have at the moment. However, in a few weeks Ruud will have a week off and we decided to dedicate that week to decluttering our pantry. I will do an easier week first. I’ll get back to you in four weeks! Wish me luck and let me know what you think of my after pics! If you’d like to do this Cut the Clutter challenge yourself, you can get Chrissy’s ebook here. I promise you, it’s so worth it. And if you don’t want to miss my next update, make sure to subscribe to my blog!