Decluttering challenge image for January's 12 Months of Cleanliness post

I alluded in my last post to the fact that I have some fun things planned for this blog for 2019. One of those things is the 12 Months of Cleanliness challenge. Each month, I will issue a new mini-challenge for myself. These challenges are built to create new habits. By December, I should have 12 new cleanliness habits built up. This first month, I’m excited to start with a decluttering challenge!

Why a Journey to Cleanliness?

Let’s do a visualized tour of my home right now. Step into my mud room to see a peeling, dirt-covered floor with a few discarded pairs of shoes within a foot of the door frame. Boxes and Christmas presents are piled so high you can barely see the foyer bench beneath them. The closet door is held open by a box that fell off the top shelf. Make it past all of that, and you’ll see our kitchen, with bills piled up on the countertop and a sink full of dirty dishes. And if you still dare enter our house further, you’ll get to our living room, with its floor of folded laundry and with every other surface covered by Babyface’s stuff.

If just reading the preceding paragraph gives you anxiety, you’re not alone. I have anxiety every time I step through our front door. It’s compounded by the fact that we have a 2-month-old baby who, while currently not mobile, will be mobile very soon. Not only that, but her mere presence in our lives has led to a dramatic increase of surprise, drop-in, “just came to see the baby!” style visitors who are not always forgiving of the fact that our house looks like it is inhabited by a football-team of teenage boys.

Taking Control of My Home

For years, I’ve left 99.9% of all household care to Ginger Snaps. In my defense, for the first years we were together, I was working full-time and working toward my Master’s Degree. After that, I transitioned to working two full-time jobs, holding my own at a traditional 9-5 while simultaneously fighting to build my freelancing career. Now that Babyface is here, however, I have left my 9-5 to pursue my dream of working from home while raising our daughter.

With my change in careers comes a shift in our family dynamics and our household division of labor, and I am in a position to need to do a lot more of the household chores. But here’s the thing: I’m a slob.

To claim control of my household will take a fundamental shift in my habits and in how I prioritize my time. That type of shift does not happen without effort, and if I try to go from Pigpen to Donna Reed overnight, I’m going to crash and burn. Instead, I’m challenging myself to get there in a year through incremental, month-by-month changes.

An Invitation to Journey with Me

I can’t be the only person in the world who is pants at cleanliness and organization. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who wants to get better at it. If you’re like me, I invite you to take this journey with me.

You might not be reading this at the same time I’m writing it, but my goal is to create cleaning and organization challenges that can help anyone—at any stage in their personal Organization & Cleanliness journey—get to the next level. Most importantly, each month’s challenge needs to be fundamentally doable. Re-read that first paragraph and know that if I can make it through these challenges, anyone can.

And I can. Because here’s something you may not know about me: I’m super freaking competitive. I hate to lose. I’m certainly not going to lose to myself.

So, with that out there, let’s get to our first month’s challenge: The Daily Decluttering Challenge.

January: the Daily Decluttering Challenge

Christmas is my favorite holiday. But if you’re anything like me, it always ends the same way: With my living room piled with new things I have no room for because my house is stacked ceiling-to-floor with old things I don’t actually need. So, I’m starting this cleaning challenge with something that I hope will lessen that anxiety: a quick-and-easy decluttering challenge.

The premise is simple:

Every day, I will get rid of at least 1 item.

At the end of the year I will have at least 365 items fewer than I do right now.

Decluttering challenge image for January's 12 Months of Cleanliness post

As with any good challenges, this needs rules. Here are mine:

  1. I can get rid of more than 1 item in a day if I want to. However, extra items don’t roll-over to the next day. Each day starts fresh.
  2. Items I purge as part of my daily routine (read: outgrown baby clothes and expired food) don’t count.
  3. Throwing away garbage also doesn’t count.
  4. If I bring something new into my home, something has to leave my home. This exchange doesn’t count toward my 1 purged item a day.
  5. When I fill a bucket for Goodwill, I have to put the bucket in my car right away.

How’s It Going? (Updated 2/1/2019)

So, how am I doing with this challenge so far? Overall, pretty well. I am selecting items daily–more if I buy stuff–and setting them on the dining room table to be brought to Good Will.

So far, I’m not doing well with Rule #5–putting stuff in my car and getting it to Goodwill. There are 2 main reasons. The first is that Ginger Snaps takes the car that we use to work most days. The second is that I didn’t plan ahead and I don’t have bins to put my items in. But I’m working on it. My main goal for February (other than instilling my next month’s challenge) is to get in a habit of taking stuff to Goodwill when I drop Babyface off at my aunt’s on Tuesdays. Stay tuned next month to hear how it goes.

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