Change Your Space – The 365-Day Challenge

M and I thought we’d freshen things up as we head into spring. Which made us think of spring cleaning. Which made us think of the 365-Day Challenge we saw issued at (community member) Natine’s blog last year. Perfect to get spring started out right! Natine was gracious enough to guest post here today to explain how and why it works.

Natine's clutterSix months ago, after rooting through a closet overflowing with apparel that hadn’t seen the light of day in eons, I decided for the bazillionth time to de-clutter. Instead of turning the resolution into a massive undertaking, I chose to unload stuff slowly: One.  Item.  Per.  Day.  Then, assuming there’s nothing like public humiliation to help keep one motivated, I announced “My 365-Day Challenge” in cyberspace and added a web page to keep track of my progress.

It turns out clutter covers more turf than just clothes closets and bookshelves. We have boxes full of unorganized photos, surfaces covered with dust-collecting bric-a-brac, piles of CDs and DVDs, and a pantry full of cans and boxes stashed behind cans and boxes. Despite e-banking and bill-paying, paper piles continue to accumulate. In fact, technology has created its own brand of clutter: the laptop has files in files in files; my cell phone has 1000s of (unorganized!) digital photos; the DVR is full of saved programs we don’t have time to view. If clutter inspires creativity as some experts claim, I should be a virtuoso of brilliant endeavors.

I write this on Day 227, the same number as the amount of items I’ve given away so far. (When asked to guest blog, I briefly considered aList of give aways rapid unloading of more items so as to appear more impressive, but that felt somewhat unethical.) I don’t actually remove one thing per day, but I’ve diligently maintained the list of give-aways as things are moved onto the go-pile. When I bring new items into the house – clothes, kitchen gadgets, etc. – I put an equal number of items into the charity box without adding them to the total. All things considered, it seems likely I will succeed in de-cluttering at least 365 things in 365 days.

I truly do not miss what’s gone. The clothes in my closet right now fit my current body – not the one I had or hope to have some day. My cosmetic clutter is less. I have fewer things to dust. It turns out eliminating is liberating! Energizing! Empowering! I may not yet live in the Zen environment I fantasize about, but I am definitely motivated to move into the next de-clutter phase. Paper piles? Photos? E-files? Hmmm…

Are you uncluttering some aspect of your life? Please share your strategies!

We Can Do It(1)

Natine at Write-Minded WomanNatine is a recalibrated woman of the Sandwich Generation, who challenges herself to write regularly. She mines her mind, flexes her fingers, and publishes her pith at Write-MindedWoman.com. [Click here if you would like to read the original inspiration and here to see the follow-up]

14 comments

  1. Thanks for the post, Natine! I loved the idea of this challenge when I read about it last year – I believe I said I’d wait to see how you did before jumping in. Sounds like it’s going well and having real impact. I do believe I’m ready to have a go at it myself! -El

  2. Almost every day I do this. I’ve been doing it for at least 5 years. But with all the files and photos online, the job is not only never-ending, but seems to grow by the month. I need to keep at it, but it starts to bug me that I never get ahead.

    1. It is a never-ending endeavor, Luanne, much like getting fit; you can’t just do it and move on to the next thing. You have to MAINTAIN it! One-in-one-out helps with items; not so much with paper (I’m a teacher, so that gives you a picture!) I’m impressed you’ve been doing it for 5 years — BRAVO!!! 😀

  3. When you issued this challenge last year, Natine, I took the pledge, but unfortunately I’m not as tenacious as you. I do try to get rid of one thing if I buy another, but haven’t done so well at throwing out an item every day. It’s interesting that you mention the clutter/creativity connection because just this morning there was an article in the WSJ about this very subject. It seems for some people clutter does aid creativity, but for others it is a paralyzing barrier to getting work done. The problem–as you might suspect–is when these two opposites have to share the same space (or house).

    1. You’re exactly right, Dee Dee. Clutter is an obstacle for me, but my husband thrives in clutter (that’s a whole post in itself!) I like things to have their designated places, and be in them. If I do nothing else in the morning, I make the bed so I have one uncluttered surface to look at. And if I DON’T make it, I make it before I get into it at night. I know; that’s just weird. 😛

      I didn’t know you took the challenge, though. There’s no official start/stop date. Maybe now is the time? Ha! The gauntlet is thrown! 😉

  4. I de-clutter every month when I get a notice from the Disabled Veterans, Salvation Army, Kidney Foundation or Charlotte Rescue Mission that they’ll be in our neighborhood. Once they call and I commit to having something, it will be on the front porch. Amazingly, I always find a couple bags of things. I do believe there is a cloning factor in my home. In the end, I feel good and they’re happy, it makes de-cluttering fun!

    1. Great built-in motivation, Jill! We used to have similar events around here, but it’s been a long time. Like you noted, it’s amazing that there’s always a bag (or more) of stuff that can be rustled up for donations. Hadn’t considered the cloning factor, though…so THAT’s where all the stuff comes from! 😀

  5. Thanks for contributing to the blog Natine; Good stuff here! I organized a recently vacant bedroom in my house ( the two adult children that just moved don’t qualify in the ‘having gotten rid of’ category as we see them on a frequent basis and hope that continues) and made it into a craft room. It is so wonderful to be able to find something right away and not have to search through piles of stuff in boxes whose contents don’t even closely resemble each other. The amount of kept fabric that were waiting for be made into a quilt stand a much better chance now and some of the older materials (yarns, kid friendly fabric, notions, etc..) that I will never use, I did donate to my granddaughters school for various projects. So many more areas of my house to sort through and organize as well. One more reason to be happy Spring is here. – M

    1. What fun to gain a whole room, M! Sounds like going through all your accumulated crafts materials was akin to rooting through a treasure chest. 🙂 That in itself is motivation to keep going!

      Thanks for inviting me. This was fun!

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