Got some unexpected free time in the schedule?
Maybe your local church, school, or sports team gathering has been cancelled. Maybe your vacation plans got upended and now you’re going to be safe at home for the next few weeks instead of leaving. Or maybe your local stores are all out of necessary supplies so there’s no use leaving the house anyway.
Either way, I think we all want to remain productive. Maybe some extra time at home could do us all some good—if we choose to use the time wisely.
I’ve seen some recent chatter about people spending extended periods of time at home. Tasks such as Cooking, Cleaning, and Decluttering seem to top their list of goals.
Although Clutterfree, the first app to provide everything you need to own less was just released this week, I thought it might be helpful to create a list of home-based decluttering tasks for you to work through with your family today (or one each day if you’re planning to be home that long).
14 Achievable Tasks to Help Declutter Your Home
1. Take the 12-12-12 challenge. The rules are simple: locate 12 items to throw away, 12 to donate, and 12 to be returned to their proper home. That’s it. Repeat if desired.
2. Fill an entire trash bag. Get a trash bag and fill it as fast as you can with things you can donate at Goodwill. Ann Marie hosts a 40 Bags in 40 Days challenge every year during the Lenten season. You can still hop in late and join the community of people completing this challenge daily.
3. Sort through a pile of mail or paper. Junk mail piling up on your kitchen counter or a stack of paper somewhere it shouldn’t be? For this challenge, look for piles of paper in places they don’t belong (kitchen counters, dining room tables, coffee tables) and tackle those piles first. Work to get through them quickly and easily.
4. Set a physical boundary for toys. I’m not a big fan of making your kids declutter their stuff unless you’ve led by example, so don’t start with this challenge. But when the time is right, take a look at the toy collection in your home and create a helpful physical boundary for them (a shelf, a closet, a wall, etc) and then help your child curate their toys to fit.
5. Clean commonly-touched items. It’s always important to keep often-used surfaces clean of germs and contagious viruses and stuff. Maybe now more than ever. Using an effective cleaner, take time to clean countertops, faucets, doorknobs, drawer pulls, light switches, remotes, keyboards. You know, all the things that should remain clean in order to shorten your time at home.
6. 15-minute family challenge. If your whole family is getting tired of the indoors, see if you can talk them into a fun game. Take 15 minutes as a family and see if you can find 100 things to remove from your home. Give them instructions to scatter, declutter only things that belong to them, and see if your total pile numbers 100 things by the end.
7. 20-minute linen closet clean-out. You can probably declutter all the old towels and linens in your linen closet in 20 minutes. Set a timer and get it done. You’ve been meaning to anyway, now’s your chance.
8. Declutter one room in 45 minutes. Take a look around the house and see if there is a lived-in room that you can declutter entirely in 45 minutes. Maybe your living room, family room, or dining room. Work hard to challenge your assumptions about what needs to stay in the room, removing as much as you can. When it’s complete, take a break and enjoy the peace and calm of a clutterfree room. Maybe tackle a new room tomorrow?
9. Skip one television show. I mean, really, you can only watch so much television before you start feel terrible anyway. So skip one show that you’d normally watch (if you enjoy sports, that’s already been settled for you) and use the time to declutter. That’s 30 minutes (or maybe even 60) of progress creating a new living environment.
10. Clean out your car/vehicle. Too often our vehicles fill up with unnecessary things: old CDs, sunglasses, Happy Meal toys, receipts, coins, empty water bottles, paper trash. Grab two bags: one for garbage and one for items to relocate. Fill them quickly with everything in your car that doesn’t need to be there. You’ll be surprised how quickly you can empty your vehicle of unneeded clutter.
11. Clear out clothes you don’t wear. Open your closet and drawers, notice how you usually wear the same things every day? Now’s a good time to get rid of the others: clothes that don’t fit, clothes that are too old, clothes that are out of style, clothes with holes, clothes that just don’t complement your figure the way you thought they would…. clear them out and open up your closet (and mornings).
12. Sort through your pantry. Seems like now is a pretty good time to get a good handle on what home essentials you already have and what is still needed. So take an afternoon this week to sort out your pantry—removing anything old, expired, or unlikely to get used.
13. Food storage containers. Your kitchen doesn’t need to be a punchline about Tupperware lids and the fact that they never match the container you need them to. We declared Tupperware bankruptcy many years ago, getting rid of our entire stack, and replacing them with Rubbermaid containers that stack easily. Do the same.
14. Clear your desktop. A clutterfree desktop is such a beautiful place to get work done—whether it’s career-based work or home-based work. So find some time and finally clear yours. Process piles of paper and remove unneeded supplies to craft an entirely new work environment. Who knows? Given the amount of free time you’re going to have at home over the next couple weeks, you might be surprised what new opportunities you are paving the way for.
We live busy lives—maybe too busy from time-to-time. Spending a few extra hours or days over the coming weeks at home with family may be just what we need as a society. If that’s you, for whatever reason, I hope you find the list above helpful in making the most of your time making your home the best it can be.