decluttering challenge.

20 Must-Try Decluttering Challenges That Actually Work

Decluttering is more than just an act of tidying up–it’s a commitment to enhancing your living space and mental well-being. It’s no wonder why decluttering challenges have gained popularity as a means to tackle the overwhelming task. 

These challenges provide structured and achievable goals that can transform cluttered spaces into tranquil environments. Whether you’re facing a mountain of items with sentimental value or the daily influx of trinkets and mail, there’s a decluttering challenge tailored to help you overcome the chaos.

Decluttering becomes easy by breaking down the process into daily, actionable tasks. For example, the 30-Day Declutter Challenge focuses on small assignments to be completed in short time frames, making the task manageable even for those with busy schedules. Other methods, like the 12-12-12 Challenge or the Four-Box Method, introduce sorting tactics that make decisions about what to keep and what to discard simpler for beginners. And for those looking to dive deeper, approaches such as the Minimalist Game or the KonMari Method provide systematic ways to reevaluate your belongings and the space they occupy.

Key Takeaways

  • Decluttering challenges are designed to create manageable tasks to clean and organize spaces.
  • Different challenges suit different needs, from quick daily tasks to in-depth sorting methods.
  • These methods can lead to long-term changes in both your living space and your approach to possessions.

Best Declutter Challenges for Beginners

Decluttering can be overwhelming for beginners, often leaving them unsure of where to start or how to declutter. Here are some declutter challenges that provide structured, manageable steps, guiding beginners through the process and helping them learn essential decluttering strategies:

1. The 12-12-12 Declutter Challenge

The 12-12-12 declutter challenge is a simple yet effective decluttering strategy. It involves finding 12 items to throw away, 12 items to donate, and 12 items to be returned to their proper place. This challenge is excellent for beginners because it sets clear, achievable goals, making the task of decluttering easy. 

Breaking the process into three distinct categories helps reduce clutter and encourages a habit of organization and charitable giving. 

Participants need to approach their space with these three objectives in mind, which promotes a more mindful and decisive attitude towards the items they own. This method declutters physical space and provides a sense of accomplishment and clarity, paving the way for more advanced organizing tasks.

Pick any room to get started, and feel free to restart the challenge if you still have more items that need decluttering.

2. The Closet Hanger Experiment

Popularized by Joshua Becker and Oprah Winfrey, the closet hanger experiment helps identify which clothes you actually wear versus those you don’t. 

Start by organizing your closet so that all hangers face the same direction. When you wear an item, return it to the closet with the hanger facing the opposite direction. Continue this process for a set period, commonly six months. 

After the set time, assess which clothes were worn and which were not by the direction of the hangers. Then, seldomly worn pieces can be marked for donation or sale. 

3. The Five-Minute Daily Declutter

The Five-Minute Daily Declutter challenge focuses on your ability to make decluttering a consistent, manageable part of your routine. Incorporating a brief, daily decluttering habit can lead to significant progress over time. 

Start by setting a timer for just five minutes each day. During this time, focus on a small area you can effectively clear out or organize. This could be as simple as:

  • A drawer: Take everything out, and only put back what you need.
  • Your desk: Quickly file away papers, and dispose of unnecessary clutter.
  • A shelf: Evaluate items for their usage and remove anything that’s simply taking up space.

The key to this method is consistency—not the amount of time spent. The short duration is just to get you started. The impact lies in the compounding effect of these short, focused decluttering sessions. You’ll be surprised how much you can get done in such a short amount of time. Here’s a weekly breakdown to help get you started:

  • Monday: Clear your nightstand of any unused items.
  • Tuesday: Sort through mail and recycle junk.
  • Wednesday: Organize your bathroom countertops and get rid of unused products.
  • Thursday: Declutter a closet or part of a closet.
  • Friday: Dispose of expired items in the fridge.
  • Saturday: Organize digital files.
  • Sunday: Relax, reflect, and plan for the upcoming week’s declutter session.

4. The One-Item-A-Day Challenge

For 30 days, choose one item to discard, donate, or sell. This challenge is great for those overwhelmed by large-scale decluttering tasks, as it focuses on slow, steady progress and decision-making skills.

5. The 10-10-10 Declutter Challenge

The 10-10-10 Declutter Challenge is a straightforward method to declutter and organize your living space. The 10-10-10 challenge is particularly effective because it is simple, manageable, and time-based. Participants set a timer for 10 minutes to declutter 10 items in 10 different areas. This challenge can be repeated as often as needed in one day or over 10 days. It is flexible enough to be tailored to any living space or lifestyle. 

The challenge can be changed to the 5-5-5 declutter challenge for people with less stuff. Just set a timer for 5 minutes to declutter 5 items in 5 different spaces.

6. The Just One Challenge

This challenge focuses on removing just one item each day for thirty days. It teaches consistency while easing participants into letting go of things. 

Best Challenges for Hoarders

Addressing hoarding behavior requires a more sensitive and structured approach to decluttering. The key is keeping decluttering simple while addressing the situation’s magnitude. Here are five challenges that can be suitable for hoarders and everyone else as needed:

7. The 20-Minute Declutter Session

Set a timer for 20 minutes each day to focus on decluttering a specific area. This short, consistent effort is less overwhelming and helps to gradually ease a hoarder into the decluttering process. The key is consistency and tackling small areas at a time.

8. The One-Surface-At-A-Time Challenge

Select one surface daily or week (like a table, countertop, or part of the floor) and clear it completely. The objective is maintaining that cleared space, gradually expanding to other areas. This challenge helps in creating visible progress and can be motivating.

9. The Bag-A-Day Challenge

Fill one trash bag daily for thirty days with items to be thrown away or donated. This challenge provides a tangible goal and can be adjusted according to the individual’s comfort level – starting with a small bag and gradually moving to larger ones as the process becomes more manageable.

10. The “Keep, Donate, Discard” Sorting Method

Over the course of a month, go through belongings and categorize them into three groups: Keep, Donate, Discard. It might be helpful for hoarders to start with less emotionally charged items and gradually work up to more sentimental objects. This method encourages decision-making and prioritization skills.

11. The Memory Box Challenge

Hoarders often keep items for sentimental reasons. This challenge involves choosing a single box in which to keep sentimental items. The box size limits how many things can be kept, encouraging careful consideration of what is truly important. As the box fills, it may be necessary to reevaluate its contents, teaching the skill of valuing quality and significance over quantity.

Best Systematic Declutter Challenges

Systematic declutter challenges offer a methodical approach to organizing and simplifying your living space. These challenges, designed with specific tasks and timelines, ensure a comprehensive and structured decluttering process. They provide a clear roadmap, helping you tackle clutter step-by-step and transform your space efficiently:

12. Weekend Decluttering Sprint

Embark on a weekend decluttering sprint to tackle a significant amount of clutter in a short amount of time. It’s about making the most of your weekend to create a more organized, clutter-free space.

Before you start, set specific goals for each day to stay focused. Create a plan of action for different areas in your home. Then, set a timer for each decluttering session to maintain momentum.

13. The 30-Day Declutter Challenge

Taking on a 30-day declutter challenge is a manageable way to tackle a large mess in your home over time. Below is a focused plan to help you clear clutter over a month, divided into weekly tasks.

Week 1: Surface Clutter

In your first week, address surface clutter throughout your home. Dedicate 20 minutes each day to clearing countertops, tables, and desks. Begin by throwing away any obvious trash, and then move items back to their intended homes. By clearing surfaces, you’ll immediately notice a more organized space.

Week 2: Storage Spaces

Next, focus on storage areas, including closets, drawers, and cabinets. Start with one storage space per day, removing items you no longer need, use, or love. Sort things into categories: keep, donate, or discard. Organizing these spaces can significantly reduce your home’s overall cluttered feeling.

Week 3: Digital Decluttering

This week, focus on digital spaces. Allocate time to sort through emails, organize digital files, and clear your desktop. Unsubscribe from unwanted email lists and delete old files that are no longer necessary. A clean digital environment can be just as refreshing as a physical one.

Week 4: Sentimental Items

Finally, it’s time to handle sentimental items. Recognize that this category can be tricky, so be patient with yourself. Consider which items truly hold meaning and selectively choose what to keep. Remember that the memory, not the object itself, holds value. If possible, digitize things like photographs or cards to preserve them without the physical clutter.

14. The Four-Box Method

The Four-Box Method streamlines your decluttering process by dividing items into four distinct categories, each with a specific purpose:

  • Keep: Items that are essential or bring joy to your life belong in the Keep box. Ensure these items have a defined place in your home and serve a real purpose or value to you.
  • Donate: Pieces that are no longer needed but are in good condition should go into the Donate box. By donating, you’re passing along items that may benefit someone else, and it’s a responsible way to declutter.
  • Sell: Objects of value that you’re ready to part with can be placed in the Sell box. Selling items can be rewarding and offers a way to recoup some of the item’s original cost.
  • Discard: The Discard box is for items that are no longer useful, broken, or cannot be donated or sold. Responsible disposal means recycling items when possible and ensuring waste is minimized.

15. The Konmari Method Overview

The KonMari Method, developed by Marie Kondo, is a systematic approach to decluttering that focuses on keeping items that bring joy into your life. Begin by categorizing your possessions and inspecting each item to determine if it “sparks joy.”

Categories to Tackle in Order:

  • Clothing: Examine every piece of clothing you own.
  • Books: Keep only those that are meaningful to you.
  • Papers: Discard unnecessary documents, keeping only what’s essential.
  • Komono (Miscellaneous Items): Assess items in areas like the kitchen and bathroom.
  • Sentimental Items: Save these for last, as they’re the hardest to decide on.

In each category, take each item into your hands and ask yourself if it elicits a feeling of joy. If it does, it stays; if not, thank it for its service and let it go. This process extends beyond mere cleaning—it’s about cherishing the things that matter.

Organizing Principles:

  • Vertical Storage: Store items so they can be seen and accessed easily.
  • Folding Techniques: Properly fold clothes to maximize space and visibility.
  • Everything has a home: Value the possessions you choose to keep and make dedicated space for everything.

Remember, this is not a quick fix but a philosophy to embrace a tidier lifestyle. It’s about mindfulness, introspection, and forward-looking behavior. Through the KonMari Method, you aim to transform your space into a more serene and joyful environment.

16. Declutter 365-15 Minutes a Day

The Declutter 365 Challenge is a year-long program designed by Home Storage Solutions to help participants declutter their homes in a manageable and systematic way. It’s structured around the concept of completing small, daily tasks, each taking about 15 minutes, to gradually declutter various areas of the home over a year. This approach is based on forming a habit of regular decluttering, making the task less overwhelming by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable steps.

The challenge offers various resources to keep participants motivated and on track. These may include text message reminders, printable calendars, planner stickers to schedule daily tasks, and access to a premium Facebook group for additional support and group coaching.

Best Declutter Challenges for Minimalists

For minimalists seeking to refine their spaces, the best declutter challenges focus on reinforcing simplicity and intentionality. These challenges encourage identifying and keeping only items that serve a purpose or bring joy, further enhancing the minimalist ethos. They offer a structured path to eliminate excess, maintain a serene environment, and embody the minimalist principle of ‘less is more‘ in daily living:

17. The Minimalist Game

The Minimalist Game by the Minimalist is a practical approach to decluttering, designed to be played over 30 days with escalating commitment. 

On Day 1, you remove one item from your home. On Day 2, you remove two items, and this pattern continues. By Day 30, you are tasked with choosing 30 items to discard. And by the end of the challenge, you have decluttered 465 items. The items can be donated, sold, or thrown away as long as they’re out of your house by midnight each day.

The game starts easy but becomes challenging as you progress. Week 1 may feel manageable, but by Week 2 and beyond, the daily requirement demands a more thoughtful approach. Success in this challenge hinges on perseverance through the increasing difficulty and constant decision-making. 

As the days pass, the number of items you must find and remove from your home grows, compelling you to dig deeper into your possessions and evaluate what you truly need. Share your progress with #minsgame for support.

18. The One-Month Capsule Wardrobe Challenge

Select a limited number of clothing items for an entire month (typically 30-40 items, including shoes and outerwear). This challenge encourages minimalists to be creative with fewer items and identify what they truly need in their wardrobe.

19. The Mindful Space Challenge

Each week, focus on a different room or space in your home. Spend time in that space mindfully, evaluating each item’s purpose and presence. Remove anything that doesn’t align with your minimalist values or doesn’t serve a functional or deeply personal purpose. This challenge encourages continuous reflection and refinement of your living space.

20. The One In, One Out Rule

The “One In, One Out” declutter challenge is a simple yet effective rule to help maintain a clutter-free environment. This approach is particularly useful for those who have already decluttered their space and want to keep it organized. 

You should remove an existing item for every new item you bring into your home. This strategy ensures that the total number of items in your space remains constant, preventing the accumulation of clutter.

Some see it as a lifestyle more than a challenge. However, for some, it’s a challenge to maintain a clutter-free lifestyle and this rule can be set as a challenge by anyone.

Benefits of a Declutter Challenge

Participating in a decluttering challenge can offer numerous benefits, both tangible and psychological:

  • Reduces Stress and Anxiety: A cluttered environment can contribute to feelings of stress and anxiety. By decluttering, you can create a more tranquil and orderly space, which can help in reducing stress levels. The act of organizing and clearing space can be therapeutic.
  • Increases Productivity: Clutter can be distracting and make it harder to focus. A decluttered space can increase productivity and efficiency, as it becomes easier to find things and focus on the task at hand.
  • Promotes Better Decision-Making: Decluttering challenges often require you to decide what to keep and discard. This process can enhance decision-making skills, making it easier to prioritize and manage items in the future.
  • Encourages Mindfulness and Intentionality: Engaging in a decluttering challenge can foster a more mindful approach to your possessions. It encourages you to consider what items are truly important or bring value to your life, leading to more intentional living.
  • Fosters a Sense of Achievement: Completing a decluttering challenge can provide a strong sense of accomplishment. Clearing clutter is a visible, tangible achievement that boosts your mood and self-esteem.
  • Improves Quality of Life: A decluttered environment is often more pleasant and comfortable. It can improve your quality of life by creating a more peaceful and enjoyable living space.
  • Facilitates Generosity: Many decluttering challenges involve donating items, which not only helps to clear your space but also benefits others. It’s a great way to give back to the community.
  • Enhances Creativity: A decluttered space can foster creativity. With fewer distractions and more room to think and work, you may find it easier to engage in creative activities.
  • Improves Financial Management: By decluttering, you often become more aware of past purchasing mistakes, which can lead to more thoughtful spending and better financial management in the future.
  • Supports Environmental Sustainability: Decluttering often involves recycling and repurposing items, which is beneficial for the environment. It encourages a more sustainable lifestyle by reducing waste and the need for new products.
  • Creates a More Functional Space: Decluttering can significantly improve the functionality of your living space. It makes using and enjoying your home easier, as each item has its place and purpose.

Where Can I Find a Live Challenge to Participate In?

You can participate in several live decluttering challenges this year, each offering a unique approach to help you streamline your space. Check out social media platforms, Reddit forums, books on decluttering and organization, and YouTube channels for ideas. If you can’t join a challenge, check out their Facebook or Instagram pages for inspiration throughout the year.

  1. 12-Week Uncluttered Course by Becoming Minimalist: This is a comprehensive 12-week online course that includes videos, interviews, webinars, articles, and weekly challenges. It’s designed to help you declutter your home and life, focusing on owning less and living more. Participants receive lifetime access to the course. (I’m actually doing this challenge myself this year, unsponsored.)
  2. Decluttering 2,024 in 2024 Challenge by Nourishing Minimalism: This challenge involves decluttering the same number of items as the year, so for 2024, the goal is to declutter 2,024 items. It’s designed to motivate you by tracking your progress on a chart and involves removing items you wouldn’t normally discard, excluding everyday trash. You can give yourself more credit for things that are difficult to get rid of and even involve your kids in the process. This challenge also features a supportive online community.
  3. Boomer Eco Crusader’s Decluttering Challenge: This challenge encourages participants to clear out clutter room-by-room throughout 2024. It seems to focus on getting rid of stuff even if you have been diligent about not buying new items, suggesting there’s always room for improvement in decluttering efforts.
  4. 7-Week 2024 Declutter Challenge by Nourish and Nestle: This challenge spans seven weeks, each focusing on a different area of your home, including bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, dens, linen closets, offices, craft rooms, digital devices, garages, attics, and even mental clutter. It provides weekly checklists to guide your decluttering process.
  5. Embracing Homemaking’s Decluttering Challenge 2024: This challenge offers two options: a 24-day challenge where you get rid of a bag of items each day and a year-long challenge to declutter 2,024 items throughout 2024. It includes resources like a printable tracker and suggestions for things to start decluttering with. This challenge also emphasizes community support through a Facebook group.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, you’ll find direct answers to common queries about decluttering challenges that can help you simplify your space and life.

What Is a Decluttering Challenge?

A decluttering challenge is an organized approach or plan designed to help individuals reduce clutter in their living or working spaces over a set period. These challenges come in various formats and can be tailored to different levels of decluttering needs, from beginners to those with more accumulated items. While there are structured rules or guidelines, many decluttering challenges allow for flexibility. 

Why Should I Join a Declutter Challenge?

Decluttering challenges offer structured, attainable goals, making decluttering less overwhelming and more achievable. Additionally, they can provide motivation and support from a community of individuals with similar goals. Participating in a decluttering challenge, especially as part of a group or online community, builds social connections. Sharing experiences and tips may lead to new friendships and a sense of belonging.

What Is Involved in a 90-Day Decluttering Challenge?

A 90-day decluttering challenge ups the ante, offering a more comprehensive approach to tackling clutter. Over three months, you’ll gradually work through different areas of your home, dedicating more time to sorting, donating, and organizing your possessions.

What Are Some Effective Strategies for Tackling a Bedroom Decluttering Challenge?

For a bedroom decluttering challenge, start by sorting items into categories, removing what you don’t use or need, organizing your closet seasonally, and using storage solutions to maintain order. Address one section at a time to avoid becoming overwhelmed.

How Can the 20-20-20 Rule Be Applied to Organize One’s Space More Effectively?

The 20-20-20 rule suggests that if you can replace an item for under $20 in less than 20 minutes from your location, it might not be essential to keep. This guideline helps reduce fear of decluttering items you’re hesitant to part with by focusing on their true necessity and ease of replacement.

What Is the Core 4 Method and How Does It Streamline the Decluttering Process?

The core 4 method focuses on decluttering four main areas of your home: clothing, paper, komono (miscellaneous items), and sentimental items. Concentrating on these specific categories one at a time makes the process more manageable and efficient.

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