I’m not even sure if de-clutter is a word.

I’m not even sure where I came up with this system.  I’m really not sure how or where or when I started de-cluttering and realized the freedom that it brings.

I just know that it works.

Because here is a little secret just between us.  If your house is picked up and de-cluttered…

….YOU HAVE TO DO LESS CLEANING.

I know, right?

Mind-blowing.

You have to do less cleaning because:

A. there’s less stuff and less stuff means less dust and less dirt.

B. the house looks cleaner because the stuff is put away

C. less stuff means less stress

D. you’re more likely to want to clean because there’s less stuff to ACTUALLY KEEP CLEAN

Are you nodding?  Are you agreeing?  Did you take a sip of coffee and say amen?  Are you wondering how I de-clutter?

Oh, good.

Come sit by me.

And spend 10 minutes a day to de-clutter your home.

It all starts with the shoes

I know it seems random.

What do shoes have to do with de-cluttering?  I can’t explain it.  I just know that it works.

You are going to need those shoes to sprint.

Kind of like getting ready for a marathon where everyone throws their clutter out as they go.

So lace up your sneakers and line up at the start line.

If you are brilliant and are already wearing shoes, congratulate yourself and skip to step 2.

Start small

Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was clutter.

For one week set aside 10 minutes a day.

10 minutes.  That’s easy, right?  10 simple minutes.  Set a timer.  Set your watch.  Set your phone.

Choose the clutter pile that gets on your nerve the most.  The one that makes you shudder when you walk by it.

And then?

Don’t give it any more cheese dip.

Take 10 minutes and sort through that pile.  Throw away papers.  Toss old magazines.  Put bills in a folder in your office or workspace marked bills.

But here’s the key.

ONLY WORK ON IT FOR 10 MINUTES.

And when you are done.  Walk away.  Pat yourself on the back.  Tell yourself how amazing you are.  Call your mom and let her know she can stop by for a visit.

Save the next 10 minutes for tomorrow.

And the tomorrow after that.

Use the one-step rule

Don’t let your stuff travel too much.

For example, if you find a random coffee cup that needs to go in the dishwasher.

Don’t take it into the living room and set it down.

And then remind yourself it needs to go into the kitchen.

And then take it into the kitchen and set it down on the counter.

And then eventually put it in the dishwasher.

THOSE ARE FOUR STEPS.

You have the coffee cup in your hand.  Walk past the living room and the kitchen counter and put it DIRECTLY into the dishwasher.

This takes practice.  I know, I’ve been practicing for years.  But here’s the thing, the more you do it, the more of a habit it becomes.

A habit that saves your clutter, one step at a time.

Baskets are your friend

I know the basic adage of organizing.  A place for everything and everything in its place.  The hardest part of that whole idea is figuring out what all the places look like.

I get it.

I understand.  I really, really do.

That’s where baskets come in.

First of all, baskets are cute and pretty and have sides that hold things.

Here are some ideas that I use baskets for.  I use a basket for mail.  I use a basket for the kid’s papers.  I use a basket for random coupons and business cards and tiny pieces of who-knows-what that collect on the counters.  I use a basket for things I need to do.  I use a basket for items I want to donate.  I use a basket for dog supplies.  I use a basket for unfinished projects.

And on and on and on.

Around here everything has a basket.  It all goes in there if I don’t have time to sort through it or deal with it or think about it.

It just hangs out looking cute in a basket until I’m ready.

And then?  When the basket overflows I go back to idea number one and spend 10 minutes on it.

Keep the surfaces clean

In every home, there are a few surfaces that invite clutter to pull up a chair.

I don’t know why certain surfaces get cluttered.  I wish I did because I would be a zillionaire.  The key is figuring out which surfaces attract clutter and focus on keeping them clutter-free.

That’s where the baskets come in.

Every night, I check the surfaces and put the stuff from the surfaces into the baskets.

And then?

When the baskets overflow it’s back to our 10 minutes again.

Wipe down those surfaces with something that smells good

It’s like a clutter reward.

A clutter superpower.

Spray a cleaner that smells good and wipe down.

And then guess what happens?

It’s like the spray and the smell repel the clutter all on their own.

No one ever wants to put a piece of clutter on a shiny, good smelling surface.

Donate, Donate, Donate

Our house is full of stuff.

Stuff that we don’t really use any more.  Stuff that I walk by and wonder what I should do with it.  Stuff that stopped fitting into our life in 1999.

On the first of every month, I go through the house (some from the basket where I put it waiting to be donated) and gather up two garbage bags of stuff and donate it.

Someone else might need that stuff way more than me.

And my baskets thank me.

Be kind to yourself

I think that’s where clutter defeats us.

It’s why so many have tried to show clutter to the door and fail.

We look at the clutter and it overwhelms us and we sigh and look away and tell ourselves that we’ll handle it tomorrow.

Why not make your tomorrow start today?

You got this.

You can do it.

Yes, yes, YES you can.

All you need are 10 minutes and a few cute baskets to show clutter the door.

Just make sure to start with the shoes. 🙂

Comments

  1. Image for Joan Joan

    Hello! As a long time follower, I just had to comment on this post as I LOVE it! Currently, I am in a major declutter, clean, and organize mode and it is true about the good feelings a little "session" provides. Not only do new habits develop but the steps become increasingly easier and more efficient. Lastly, being one who gravitates towards wonderful home fragrances, I adore my spray cleaner and it is a treat to polish off surfaces with such a product. Thank you KariAnne for sharing such inspiring posts - I look forward to my email notifications when you add new info! Sincerely, Joan

  2. Image for Mary from Life at Bella Terra Mary from Life at Bella Terra

    Love your 10 minute rule. I will not go to bed with a dirty kitchen and have learned, while things are simmering, baking, sautéing, is when I wash the dishes and clean up the counters. Sitting down to dinner with an already clean kitchen helps me enjoy my meal even more! Lately, I've been doing "life stage" cleaning....going through and donating all the games, toys, kiddie wrapping paper, etc. that was the center of my life when the children were little, but no longer. It almost needs to be a quarterly or annual thing because life is just flying by too quickly. Still enjoy all your blog posts!

  3. Image for Linda Linda

    Karianne, totally agree! Clutter breeds more clutter. Every night before going to bed I pick up and fluff pillows so when I wake up I start with a clean slate. Still trying to teach my married kids that this does work! Haha!

  4. Image for Eileen Eileen

    Being a "collector", I happen to have baskets, ahem, lots of baskets, so step one is done. I've referred to myself as a "basket case" on occasion!! Since I've been decluttering, ie moving items into an outdoor shop in preparation for a future yard sale, a whole collection of recently emptied vintage gym baskets that I happen to be keeping now have a new purpose, thanks to you. I'm going to rethink how I can set them up for success going forward. I mentally followed my coffee cup and ended up with more than four steps....wow! Rethinking that process. Thanks so much for the mental gear shifting!! Oh and btw, moving something directly from A to Z adds steps to my fitbit, so win-win.

  5. Image for nedra nedra

    Hello, I will be building a new, smaller home this summer so I am in the process of going through everything that I own in hopes that my new home will not be crowded with clutter. My biggest hurdle are pictures in frames. I have a ton of them! My adult children have taken some but there are still a crazy amount. I would love to hear your suggestions. Wish I had time to scrap book but....

    1. Image for Jeannie Jeannie

      Yes, pictures in frames, me too!!! I was recently thinking I should pull out the photos and donate the frames. They are just sitting in a box taking up space!

  6. Image for NormaJean NormaJean

    For years, I have taken a small laundry basket and each night before bed, I walk from room to room tossing in items that don't belong in that space. As I enter the next room, if an item in the basket belongs in there, I put it away. It makes an amazing difference to get up to a house that may need dusting or vacuuming, but is clutter free. I'm also always on the look-out for items that are taking up valuable real estate, and that my family no longer needs, likes, or uses, to add to my donation bin. Once the bin is full, I throw it in the car to take to the Donation Center on my nest trip into town!

  7. Image for David David

    Excellent advice and I vow to take it! I once followed some advice I read that said when you put something down you should ask yourself "is that were that goes?" and adjust accordingly. This worked OK for a while until one day I was trying to stay on task but was super exhausted. I heard myself ask "is that where that goes? and, suddenly, another voice shouted crankily: "IT IS NOW!!!" And I realized that the voices in my head were arguing with each other and I was on a slippery slope. I like your approach better. Now if i can just find my shoes....

    1. Image for Cathy Brown Cathy Brown

      Oh, your comment was belly-laugh-worthy. We just moved from a 3br, 3bath, 3-car garage to a double-wide 'manufactured home'. (Yes, we did it on purpose). The former owners left literally everything here, and due to a series of odd circumstances we had to pack up and get out of our 3,000sf plus in about 5 days. That was while I was getting through all the paperwork of buying a home and selling another simultaneously. Yes, where I put something at this moment is indeed "ITS WHERE IT BELONGS NOW!!!" (Need I add that there is frequently the "F" word in there somewhere?) :-))

  8. Image for Linda Miller Linda Miller

    ...sip...sip...AMEN! Coffee's done, I'm putting on my shoes and heading toward my office closet (it's a disaster). Pray for me. lol Great advice today dear!

  9. Image for Jeanne Jeanne

    I love this...it is all so true...works in the office too....just like your Step 1, I had a boss who explained that a piece of paper should 0nly be touched once...pick it up and do something with it...rather than pick it up and move it to a new spot where it will sit and do nothing...or something like that. Love the de-cluttering!

  10. Image for Regina Merrick Regina Merrick

    I battled clutter for YEARS, until finally, I realized that it only serves to make me irritable and depressed. Now I'm trying to impress that upon my daughters, but I'm afraid they may have to learn it the way I did - the hard way. Why is it we mom's don't know anything until our kids are 40? ;) Thanks for the tips!!

  11. Image for Beverly Williams Beverly Williams

    Thank you so much for the practical tips spoken in a positive manner! I’m encouraged to get going with decluttering that has been put off for too long!

  12. Image for Janice Paschal Janice Paschal

    Great ideas. I really dislike clutter. I have a couple areas on my kitchen counter that seem to reach out and grab things out of my hand. It’s like they enjoy spending time in that space. No more!!!

  13. Image for Samantha Light Samantha Light

    Thank you Karianne, I needed a place to start! I love your blog and all of your ideas. So this is my plan for this weekend, put on my shoes and take 10min. Oh yea and find me some pretty baskets........ ;-)

  14. Image for Cristie Cristie

    Your Billiant! You know that,right!? I’m gonna gather some baskets and start Your 10 min. Plan!! On a side note... you know that Candle on your kitchen counter? The one in the basket weave? If you can understand my vague description.... who makes those??? I bought a couple of them over the years at Antique Sales or gift shops and now that I want another...I can’t find them, ugh! Help me out, girlfriend ? Luv ya

  15. Image for Carolyn Brown Carolyn Brown

    For those who are challenged with sorting mail here is what works for me. I have one very small basket. As I sift through the mail, all bills or important mail gets dropped in the basket. I am left now with junk mail. I immediately shred all junk mail. The only thing left is what I need to attend to. Works like a charm.

  16. Image for Denise Denise

    Even though I’m not a clutterer by nature, my daughter taught me “OHIO” - Only Handle It Once! When you’ve finished with that coffee cup, instead of putting it down till later, put it in the dishwasher now. Use this theory for everything!

  17. Image for Julie Blanner Julie Blanner

    I love this! The one-step rule is a great way to keep things clean, and I know it will become part of my daily routine.

  18. Image for Winnie Winnie

    Thank you - thank you - thank you! There’s hope! I live alone and am constantly battling clutter! Now I believe I have a chance to defeat it! Onward!!!

  19. Image for Katherines Corner Katherines Corner

    What wonderful , and completely clutter free post, my sweet friend. I'm so excited for you too, another book, Wow, you are amazing! congratulations! I'll get it ordered as soon as I can. I have all your others I won't miss this one (wink). Not sure if you still have time to visit Katherines Corner. I recently;y announced that I had t close my Katherines Coner Shop. So extra money is a bit scarce right now. But I've added it to my Amazon cart and will get it ordered soon. xo

  20. Image for JV JV

    We had a 10 minute de-clutter/clean up party at least once a week in house as our kids were growing up. There are 4 of us in the family and I would designate 10 minutes as clean up time. We would crank up the volume on a couple of favorite tunes and each of us gave a dedicated 10 minutes to picking up and putting stuff away. So that 10 minutes becomes 40 minutes when multiplied by all of us. It is amazing what can be accomplished in that amount of time! This way everyone chipped in, a lot was getting done, it seemed like a small investment of time and best of all, we boogied our way through it! Depending on the business of the schedule and the level of clutter in the house, some weeks we did this a couple of times. It sure made the deep cleaning easier since the "stuff" was all put away.

  21. Image for Kathleen Kathleen

    I’m right in the midst of work to de-clutter our home ~ and mine is a VERY BIG PROJECT! Kari, these great suggestions will help me keep up with the daily things that are “going on around me” and also help me avoid adding clutter back where I’ve just simplified! It’s very rewarding to see a new level of “simplicity” here, while we pass along many still useful items to others! Thank you!!!

  22. Image for Kristy Woodson Harvey Kristy Woodson Harvey

    Love this and am totally doing it! We've been in a little condo while our house recovers from Hurricane Florence, and it's making me realize how much stuff we have! Going over to my house to get baskets right now. And pulling out the Mrs. Meyers Geranium spray. It's my fave!!

  23. Image for Cathy Cathy

    That worked about 50% of the time with me. About half of what was on my desk literally needed to go into a "more work needed" (wire) basket. But if you are OC about filing, it works a treat.

  24. Image for Cecilia from Georgia Cecilia from Georgia

    I always make a huge mess when I start a de-cluttering project :( However, it is the only way I can see what I have and how to organize it. The key is to not let a room or area get to that point...right? Well, maybe in the next life I will do better! It does feel so good to organize and clean and there are many blogs addressing this subject now. I like your upbeat and fast pace approach and will give it a try. I also love your white dishes on the shelf. They are so crisp and fresh looking. Question--how did you hang the plates on the bottom shelf? This is my first time visiting your blog and will definitely return!

  25. Image for Kristina Kristina

    Hi this is Kristina visiting from BFF Open House. This reminds me of when I was growing up and my mom would set the timer for 15 minutes. I have to say, it works! There are some great tips here :)

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