Month long decluttering guide

A no-think, no-fuss, day-by-day guide to clearing out your home. 

If your guest bedroom resembles an op shop and your kitchen shelf is bowed with the weight of branded coffee mugs, then it’s probably time to declutter. 

Unfortunately, the catch 22 of decluttering is that those of us who would benefit from it the most also have the most amount of work ahead of us. That’s why we’ve created this no-think, no-fuss guide to clearing out your home day-by-day over the course of one month. Let’s get it done!

Declutter your home

Week 1: Clear the ‘stuff’

Week one is all about clearing surfaces – think kitchen counters, bathroom sinks and piles on the floor! Get rid of it all!

Monday to Friday

30+ minutes each day (can be done in short bursts throughout the day)

Do: Choose a room and set aside a few minutes to tackle that space. Walk through with a box or bag and put everything that you don’t use daily into the box. This means the pile of stuff on your bedside table, the floor, or items piled up in the corner. Once your bag or box is full, put it in your designated sorting space (you’ll go through it later). Try to be fast – this shouldn’t take too long.

Don’t: This is not a time for analysis! Don’t think. Don’t question. Don’t sort. Don’t panic. And don’t go through your cupboards – only pick up the items that are out and not in their right place.

Tip: Use a song to count the time. Once the song is over, your room should be void of any items left on surfaces that aren’t used daily. (You can keep your toothbrush out, but that old tube of cream you haven’t touched in weeks has to go.)

Saturday and Sunday

Do: Now you’ve got boxes of stuff that you’ve collected from different rooms during the week, it’s time to go through them. Put aside as much time as you can. Before you start, walk through your home giving it a once-over to pick up any stray items you missed during the week.

When you’re ready, settle into your designated sorting space. One by one, sort the contents of each box and pile it into ‘rubbish’, ‘maybe’, ‘sentimental’, ‘papers’ and ‘keep’ piles. Only keep items that are useful right now or within the next year. Return the keep items to where they belong, throw out the rubbish and leave the maybe, sentimental and papers file for another time.

Don’t: Sure, there’s lots to go through, but don’t worry! You’ll get there – we’ve still got three weeks to go!

Week 2: It’s what’s inside that counts

This week, it’s time to tackle the inner workings of the beast: cupboards, drawers and other storage spaces.

Monday to Friday: 45+ minutes each day

Do: Each day, choose a different room to focus on. Sort items from every storage space in that room into ‘rubbish’, ‘maybe’, ‘sentimental’, ‘papers’ and ‘keep’ piles. Don’t forget the junk drawer! Only keep items that are useful right now or within the next year. Return these items to where they belong and throw out the rubbish.

Don’t: If it’s broke, don’t keep it, even if you think you can fix it. This week is about purging!

Saturday and Sunday

Do: Finish off any cupboards or storage spaces you didn’t get to during the week, continuing to sort into rubbish, maybe, sentimental, papers and keep. Throw out your rubbish pile and return anything in the keep pile back to the appropriate cupboard.

Don’t: Fear not – it’s a big job! But you’re half way there – don’t give up.

Week 3: No more sitting on the fence

This week, it’s time to tackle your ‘maybe’ pile.

Tip: Many of us hoard objects because of our emotional attachment to them. If this is the case for you, then we recommend involving an impartial observer, such as a good friend or a professional, to help you make the big calls this week.

Monday to Friday: 20+ minutes each day

Do: Each day, park yourself in front of your ‘maybe’ pile and separate the contents into ‘rubbish’, ‘donate’ and ‘keep’ piles. Return the items in your keep to pile where they belong, throw out the rubbish and donate the rest.

Don’t: Even if you really like something, don’t keep items that don’t have a proper place to live; if you love them enough then find a place for them.

Tip: To make sure you actually do donate the items from your ‘donate’ pile, put them straight into your car at the end of each day. Otherwise, they’ll end up taking up more space.

Saturday and Sunday

Do: Give your home a once-over to sort any segments you didn’t complete during the past three weeks, before tackling the rest of the ‘maybe’ pile and any other leftover sorting.

Don’t: There’s a lot to do – don’t worry if you don’t get it all done. Just commit to finishing it during the week ahead.

Week 4: Mixing business with pleasure

This week, it’s time to tackle your ‘papers’ and ‘sentimental’ piles. Let’s get started!

Monday to Friday: 20+ minutes each day

Do: Start by sorting the ‘papers’ pile into ‘rubbish’, ‘sentimental’ and ‘keep’ piles. Only keep papers that are important (e.g. for tax reasons). Return these items to where they belong and throw out the rubbish. Combine your ‘sentimental’ papers with the ‘sentimental’ pile.

When it comes to sorting your sentimental items, it’s best to employ the KonMari method. For each item, ask yourself whether it sparks joy in you. If the answer is yes, put it into a ‘keep’ pile and return it to where it belongs. If the answer is no, thank the item for its service and release it to the ‘rubbish’ or ‘donate’ pile.

Don’t: throw out items that might be sentimental for other members of your household, however tempting it may be. Instead, put them into boxes for that person to sort.

Tip: When it comes to sentimental items from your children, such as drawings and class certificates, buy a large folder for each child and store the items inside. That way, you can add future items to the folder, too.

Saturday and Sunday

Do: Give your home a once-over to sort any segments you didn’t complete during the past four weeks. Be happy with what you’ve achieved!