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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Pack Rats – 30 Day Declutter Challenge

Tips to help you purge your house or room

How many of you are Pack Rats? Why not join me in a 30-day declutter challenge and take control of your pack-rat demons by using 8 decluttering rules. I know, you are all about to say, no, not me, but seriously, lets sit back and be honest with ourselves.  Wait, I have an idea, lets do a little test.  From where you are sitting, STOP reading! Now look around, and no, not just a casual glance left or right but a complete 360 degree turn.  Now, what do you see, or better yet, what don’t you see.  Now pause – zoom in on that drawer, yes, that drawer – you know the one I am referring to.  See, case in point.

Hidden Clutter – We all have it.

The reason I am asking is that for some odd reason, I started to clear out my desk this morning, its small (too small, barely holds my monitor), and the top shelf of my hutch was piled three layers high.  USB cables, extra storage drives for the computer, books:  hiking  computer programming, website design, survey methodologies.  Seriously, a mishmash of items, and needed some TLC.  Like all good cleans, my desk snowballed into my ancient rubber-maids full of computer and electronic odds and ends.  My day was planned — organize, sort, reacquaint with what is hidden away and hopefully purge.

Starting at Ground Zero

A more organized blogger than myself would have look at the mornings plans with purpose — lets document, document, document — make it a story, take some photographs, add some reality.  It was not until the end that I realized, hey, I should write something today and fell to Daily Post for some inspiration.  Then again, why worry about what I accomplished today, as, I look around the room, there is plenty other clutter to take photos of.  The remainder of the office clutter (not yet tackled), and lets not talk about the rows of book cases, do we really need four copies of the same book borrowed from work?

Here are two photos of the office – on the left, our success – on the right, still more clutter in the room.  Rubber-maids and book shelves full of work resources, a moving box full of quick birthday presents and odd gifts, a few bags of children’s books, endless.  What is even funnier is that when I say look in a drawer, hidden atop my organized desk is such a nook — a box, full of 9 hard drives from various old computers ranging in sizes up to 2 terabytes.  It is hard to throw away what works …. wait, I have yet to look in the garage or the basement.

Some Decluttering Success
Still a bit more clutter

So why do we keep what we do not use?  How can we remind ourselves to purge, to throw away, freecycle?   I think for most of us it is a combination of a few things:

  1. For starters, there is always the hope that we will finally find a use for item X.  But lets be honest, how many of the three TV stands buried in the garage will ever be used?
  2. There is sentimental value — a baby rocking chair, an old hockey jersey – how where do you draw the line?  For me, my golden rules is one box of memorabilia.
  3. Lets have a garage sale — now seriously?  For starers — who wants to be up at the crack of dawn?  Will you really make any money?  Haggling — uggg! Setting up — double ugg.  And at the end of everything, you still will have “stuff” that will need to go somewhere (See #4)
  4. It is simply too much work — sorting, organizing, disposing of.  Purging takes time and dedication — it is easy to clean, but what do we do with the excess?  My last round of purging children’s items resulted in 6 garbage bags of donation clothing.  Now where to take it, will it fit in the car, isn’t it easier just to ignore the piles?  This past weekends adventures — one large garbage bag and a box full of recyclable electronics.  Again — now what do I do?

We Need Decluttering Help

Where do I turn to — well for fun, I did a quick google search.  My first hit — 31 Days to Declutter Your House which sets out 8 decluttering rules as follows :

  1. One year rule – If you haven’t worn it/used it/looked at it in a year, get it out of your house.
  2. Broken beyond repair – It’s broken, it’s busted, it’s a goner.  Get it gone.
  3. Not even yours – This is the worst type of clutter – you don’t even own it!  Give it back to the person who does.
  4. Guilt – Life gets busy, and you shouldn’t put more pressure on yourself by feeling responsible for things.  They are just things, and don’t get you any closer to your goals.
  5. ‘Just in case’ – Think about your items you keep for this reason.  Have any of those events come up when you actually needed them?  Maybe, but it doesn’t matter right now.
  6. Publications – Magazines and newspapers are old; the information contained in them is likely outdated.  All of this information is easily found on the web.  This goes for books also.
  7. Done – There are items we are just done with, but haven’t gotten around to getting rid of them.  Now is that time.  Done.
  8. Simply the best – Only put back into your closets and cupboards the best of what you own or things that you simply cannot part with.

Keeping these rules in mind will help you really make the most of your purge.  Are you ready to start getting organized by letting go?  The author, Karen, also offers a detailed book for $10 which I may need to give a read.  Karen, if you are reading this, say hi!

Around the Internet

In addition to the eight rules I referenced above, continuing to search through Google, I found many websites with handfuls of hits and tips ranging from Pinterest which hosts 1116 pins on hits and tips to Declutter and Purge (Checkout the Pinterest topic here), to articles on Oprah.com on Clutter Control,  tips on the “Quickest Way to Purge & Clean a House & Get Rid of Clutter” (view link here). However, no matter what strategy or website you seek for guidance, they all seem to have the same basic steps:

  • Sort things into “keep” “give” and “trash” piles.
  • Put away what you keep.
  • Haul the rest away.

The 30 Day Challenge

So who is up for the challenge?  With summer coming to an end, and fall  just around the corner, over the next thirty days I propose we all take a declutter challenge – put those rainy days to good use. Share your thoughts – send me links to your photos, lets all jump into the new year with a little less chaos in our drawers, hidden under our bed, at the back of the closet and in our garages and basements.


Mark Hanlon


Mark is an avid photographer, Starbucks addict, motivated cyclist, struggling runner, and rocking single parent living outside of Toronto, Ontario. Living with two chronic ilnesses, Crohn’s Disease and Diabetes, life for this Transportation Planner and Registered Professional Planner (RPP) can be an interesting mix.