February’s going to be Decluttering Challenge month at our house. Care to give it a try?!

I know, this title doesn’t sound like me, does it?  Even those of you who only know me through my blog posts wouldn’t be expecting a post about decluttering, would you?  But, what the heck.  A post a fellow blogger posted last week struck a chord, and my husband even agreed.  Crystal Byers shared an experience in a post called The Power of Suggestion, where she described how she and her husband took up a decluttering challenge last February, with a view to donating, recycling, and throwing things away.  What appealed to me most was the underlying premise of the game: on day 1, you each get rid of one thing, on day 2 you each get rid of two things, etc.  You get the picture.

Having been a mathematician at some point in my life, I was quickly able to calculate that if we each get rid of 1+2+3+…+26+27+28 things, at the end of the month we will have cleared away 812 items.  Not bad.  At first this may sound overwhelming – or impossible – but if you stop and think about it, clearing out some medicine cabinets, bathroom and kitchen drawers and overflowing bookshelves can make a huge dent in that number pretty quickly.  And that’s before you start on clothes you haven’t worn for years, paint cans that have been in the basement for years, etc.  So I am optimistic.

For most of our lives we were pretty good at casting off the items that we weren’t using anymore because we moved every 6-9 years.  Moving really helps you start again with a fairly clean slate.  However, we have now lived in the same house for 25 years (yikes), and that’s a long time not to have had a major purge – of stuff, that is!  When I retired (nearly 12 years ago) a good friend of mine volunteered that I probably thought that now that I had time I would clean out our basement.  She was right, that was on my mind, although not necessarily near the top of the list.  She went on to say that I probably thought that, but speaking as someone who had retired before I did, she could categorically state that this would not happen.  This from someone who I had always thought was diligent in carrying out all those tasks that most of us just think about but never do.  It turns out that I was wrong about her level of diligence (up to a point, she’s still diligent about more things than I am) … and she was right that I wouldn’t clean out our basement.

Until now.  Starting tomorrow, February 1, our February Decluttering Challenge officially begins.  (As fellow bloggers know, it really helps to make pronouncements in a blog post; you’re much more likely to actually do it!)


Being a serious researcher (aka google-er) about pretty well every thought that crosses my mind, you won’t be surprised that I googled ‘decluttering challenges’.  And, as is always the case, Google had plenty of answers.  It turns out that there are many ways to go about decluttering, along with 30-day decluttering plans that people are more than happy to sell you.  Since we’re going to complete our task in just 28 days, we’ll make our own plan, thanks.  As long as each day we each complete our task of x items on Feb x.  What we need is a strategy … a strategic plan.

We could start with closets, one at a time.  That would make an encouraging dent in our numbers.  Or maybe our office areas.


We could start in the basement and tackle one section of shelving, workbench or overflow areas at a time.  That would be huge.

We could tackle the garage, although it’s pretty cold out there this time of year, with sand and salt from the underside of the car that won’t improve until winter is behind us.  I vote to leave the garage unless we get desperate for items.

We could start in the kitchen, and think of disposing of most things that we (aka I) haven’t used for a few years, not even for holidays.  Or the drawers in the dining room chest of drawers, filled with stuff we (aka I) haven’t touched for years.

We could start with our bookshelves, but that usually results in one of us deciding that we just aren’t ready to part with that book.  And if we find ourselves light on items near the end, when finding 20+ items a day is becoming a bit of a challenge, finding books might get easier.

You can see that there are lots of ways of approaching this challenge.  My guess is that every household will have a different approach, one that makes sense for them and their most challenging areas.

I do know that I will not be getting rid of any of my fabric pieces or my collection of thread.  And I will not be getting rid of any of the craft items I have for my grandkids to use when they come to visit – OK, or for me to use when it just seems like the most fun thing to do.

My husband is quite confident that we can do this … at least through Feb 2 or so.  What about you?  If it holds any appeal, surely February is the best month in which to join the challenge.  It’s the shortest month we have, and there isn’t too much going on.

Thanks for the inspiration, Crystal.  Let the decluttering begin!


Image sources:Pinterest

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52 Responses to February’s going to be Decluttering Challenge month at our house. Care to give it a try?!

  1. Roy McCarthy says:

    Look forward to hearing of progress. I need less of a de-clutter than a sorting out of paperwork from various writing projects that somehow mix themselves together in separate piles during the night. Also I have (and have had for years) several fixes to do in the apartment lest my rarely-spotted landlord decides on an inspection 😦

  2. Oh, I’m a minimalist. I need the reverse of decluttering, where I should be cautioned to think longer before clearing something out of my (small) home. I admit there are times when I find a need for a certain item I donated (because I hadn’t used it within a certain time period). Usually I’m too stubborn (or cheap maybe) to re-purchase something. After having donated all my winter items, once I became a snowbird, I did have to finally give in after being restricted by the pandemic. I did go the first year though, where people kept asking ‘don’t you have a winter coat?’. Now I do. ☃️

  3. I love this idea and I’m in! I might not get the right amount of items each day, but yes, if it totals 812 items by the end of the month, I’m good. Makes it feel do-able. 🙂

  4. BernieLynne says:

    Our daughter and grandchildren are living with us indefinitely so I’d love this challenge but it won’t be any time soon! Although I cleaned out a fair amount of 3 dressers, one for each room, so did do some. Plus we were radical in the garage in the fall. So a few steps here and there. Problem is The Engineer likes to keep a LOT of stuff in case. Bernie

  5. What a great idea! I’m at my daughter’s 3 days a week, but I suppose I could catch up when I got home. My bookshelves alone would easily fill half the month. 🙂

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Lol. Bookshelves are my fallback position, too. I decided to start with our puzzles. I’m even going to count them all as 1, they were so easy. Mind you, perhaps I’ll keep their full count in reserve for later in the month!

  6. OmniRunner says:

    From the comments, I can tell this is a hot topic.
    I usually go through a de-clutter hour every few months (6-8).
    I’ve spent hours cleaning out the 2 junk draws in our kitchen. Then I’m done.
    The girls were home for Christmas so I had all of them go through 2 bins of shoes. They could toss them, donate them, take them with them or put just a few pairs in their old room. We emptied one entire bin!
    I de-clutter my desk draws when I’m waiting on a software update.

  7. rachelward11 says:

    I tell people I am a minimalist who lives with a normal family 😆
    I have 3 kids, a husband and a dog and if a room takes more then 10 min to clean, I pick 1 thing from the room after I’ve cleaned it and I get rid of the thing- recycling bin, resale box, or trash. It makes me feel a little better knowing next time there “should” be one less thing next time 😅

  8. somekindof50 says:

    I love decluttering … so therapeutic

  9. Oh boy decluttering is like a scary word for me and especially when mentioned in front of Jill because she is the Queen of Declutter! However, I did start on my office in December and have gotten rid of a lot of old files and papers, so that’s a start. I have recently been working on old photos and kids scrap books which is much more difficult, but I will persevere.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      The fun thing about going through old files, papers, and photos is all the memories that they invoke. Then you stop what you’re doing and get lost in the memories! Or maybe that’s just my experience! 😏

  10. Rose says:

    I’d love to join you in this challenge, I’m more of a minimalist and love to “get rid of all the things!”. But similar to Jill, my photos are my pain point (not the printed ones), the online and cloud images have run amok. Over the years, just when I think I have system, computers update, or no longer support… or somehow technology ruins my hard-work. It’s exacerbating.

  11. heimdalco says:

    My office is a MESS! Plan to declutter as soon as I can but I’ve had to get the church newsletter out, I’m almost finished with our club newsletter, I have our taxes staring me in the face & the club tax return to file. I had to stop because I got a wonderful email from the ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ people telling me a story I submitted late last summer will be in the new Chicken Soup book that comes out in April. I had to sign releases & it took some time just to be excited (they PAY me). At this rate … & with a laundry list full of excuses … I’ll get it done in June … maybe. But my PLAN is definitely to declutter my office …

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Oh my gosh, what exciting news, heimdalco (aka GS)!! Congratulations. It sounds like you’ve found much more exciting projects to see you through the winter months. Prioritizing your office works for me!

      • heimdalco says:

        LOL, I WILL get the office decluttered …. eventually. i HAVE to … somewhere in here I’ve misplaced a credit card purse & I really need to find it & the cards inside.

        I had forgotten I’d submitted the story to Chicken Soup. Two weeks ago they contacted me telling me my story was in the top submissions being considered. Then I got another telling me it was among the finalists. Friday I got en email telling me my story will be included. It’s been very exciting. In 2015 they used a story I submitted.. The topics for submissions are endless. Go to the web site for topic info. I’m SURE you could find a topic for a submission with your talent. chickensoupforthesoul.com

  12. Hi Jane and thanks for this. I think decluttering is a nice non-controversial topic for Jan 31, 2022. things are so polarized these days, it’s refreshing to think of something that for the average person of a certain age… is a no brainer. We have lots of stuff.

    My current decluttering project is a very big one which I started it over a year ago. I have decided to take the nearly 40 photo albums I have compiled over the past 50 years or so and condense them into 3, one each for my kids and one for me. I have culled the photos and am currently working at the rate of about 6 pages an hour which is one double sided page per album. At this rate, I hope to be finished before the garden is calling; we’ll see.

  13. Good luck with the decluttering, which is an ongoing project for us. When our daughter Dee moved in this summer for a short stay—Yay, she is still here!—we decluttered so massively that I’m sure we got rid of 812 items, especially if old papers, folders, and various flyers count. (Why was I keeping all that stuff?) Then there was the closet, stuffed full of old clothes that I was never going to wear again. So much from just one room. Sobering.

  14. Belladonna says:

    Getting rid of things is my thing to do! Absolutely love it…. cheers to your fun month!

  15. Wynne Leon says:

    This is very inspiring! Strikes me that I might need to draw some boundaries about whose stuff to get rid – because I could very easily declutter 28 of the kids toys but perhaps the point is more about cleaning “our own” house so to speak. 🙂

  16. Good for you, Jane! You can do it. I know exactly what you mean about the garage. I might need some professional help with mine.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Here the garage needs to wait until the temps move well above freezing instead of well below freezing, and our mounds of snow and ice are but a memory. But then getting help might be a very good idea! 😊

  17. margiran says:

    Thinking of joining in as February seems a great month to do it. I’ve reached the throwing into boxes stage many times, stored in garage then started to put back into cupboards amidst husband’s many protests!!! 😀 I’m a dreadful hoarder. But I have made a promising start this year in small ways, getting rid of ancient stuff from overloaded cupboards and some out of date books.
    I like the calendar table idea though.
    Now, where to start in our 4 bedroomed house for two which is heaving at the doors?! 🤔
    I know, it’s extremely sad.
    My mindset always says to me, “keep that, you just never know when it will come in useful again”! 😂

    • Jane Fritz says:

      It sounds the philosophy behind this approach might be just the ticket. Start anywhere at all. Even if you only get to Feb 5 you will have chosen 15 items. Maybe your husband could be appointed to actually find new homes (donate, recycle, etc) for the items every day. Who knows, you might even keep going after Feb 5! 😊

  18. boblorentson says:

    You’re talking about quite a challenge when one person (me) is a minimalist and the other a maximalist, who I believe is in a secret alliance with Jeff Bezos. As soon as I mention decluttering, she mentions books, and that’s that.

  19. Jane, I do this every spring when my big clean begins. It’s amazing how many clothes I used to have and had not worn for years. This spring the shoes go and decor I have to dust everyday!!

    • Jane Fritz says:

      The decor you have to dust everyday. Hmm. Aside from giving you dispensation not to dust them everyday or even every week, this is still a good idea. Some of those things have too much meaning for me, but perhaps I should think seriously about how many knickknacks are needed! Good idea.

  20. LA says:

    This makes me so happy and excited!!

  21. debscarey says:

    Jane, I think it’s a great task to undertake in February. I’ve a friend who’s a professional declutterer and she recommends sorting out some less obvious areas. One of the things I’ve done is cleaning up of the images on my phone. You might find that’ll up your daily total when things get rough 😀 I didn’t chuck them all out, II also sorted them into more useful directories. Sorting out the in box was another one which is a great time saver (and so stress buster). I now regularly unsubscribe from all kinds of stuff. That might help your numbers too 🙂 All the best with it!

    • Jane Fritz says:

      What an interesting reminder of yet another area requiring decluttering, Debs. That is one thing I’m pretty good about, along with backing up my computer files from time to time. My husband read your comment and then thought maybe he could just delete one email for his day 1 contribution. Not! 🤣🤣😏

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