"Rule" Update for the 365 Items in 365 Days Declutter Challenge | From Overwhelmed to Organized: "Rule" Update for the 365 Items in 365 Days Declutter Challenge

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

"Rule" Update for the 365 Items in 365 Days Declutter Challenge

I've been SO excited to see all the decluttering happening in our 365 Items in 365 Days Facebook group.  People are sharing before and after pictures, asking questions, giving advice, encouraging each other, and just motivating the heck out of each other!  It's a joy to be part of :)

If you aren't sure what I'm talking about, here's a description of the 365 Items in 365 Days Declutter Challenge!  And if you want to join in, you can find all the posts about the challenge in the 365 in 365 tab at the top of the page, or in the list at the end of the post.  You can join any time!

Several questions have come up about the "Garbage doesn't count" rule.  Actually it wasn't one of the actual rules, but it was in the Q & A section and I didn't leave it very open to interpretation so I guess it kind of was.  Anyway, today I want to address your questions and update that rule.

Why Doesn't Garbage Count?

I've been asked this question, or versions of it, a lot in the last few weeks since the challenge launched.  Here's what my original thinking was:

The idea for the challenge is to encourage you to get rid of clutter in your homes.  Clutter is anything you don't need, use, love, or have the space to store.

Our homes are usually filled with stuff that falls into that category.  By getting rid of an average of one item per day, I didn't really think garbage needed to count.  Of course, as I mentioned in the initial post, it's good to get rid of garbage.  But I wanted the focus to be on decluttering the things in your home that are overwhelming you.

But What About...?

As participants were starting out the challenge, I got lots of questions and comments about specific items and whether they counted or not.  Mostly items that were technically garbage, in that they couldn't be given away, donated, or sold.  But in the spirit of the challenge, they were really clutter, because they were items that people had held onto for various reasons, or that they'd planned to use but hadn't, and they were now ready to let them go.

It was getting complicated.  And I want this challenge to be simple.  Not necessarily easy... otherwise it wouldn't be a challenge!  {And I'm sure there will be lots of tough decisions made this year about what to keep and what to purge.}  But the challenge itself should be easy.  It shouldn't require a rule book :)

So... Garbage Counts Now!  {Some of it anyway}

Now don't go all crazy here... I don't mean you can count the wrapper from the chocolate bar you just ate, or the juice bottle you just emptied.  Those things aren't clutter.

I still want you to focus on the items in your home that are weighing you down!  The empty jar from the salsa you just finished doesn't count, but the 36 jars you've been keeping for years to organize craft supplies or make jam in, that you NEVER use and are just taking up space in your cupboards and making you feel guilty whenever you see them... those CAN count (when you get them out of your house).

I don't want to get too specific about what is clutter and what is garbage.  It's a fine line or a slippery slope and I want you to exercise your own judgement here. 

Can you give me some examples?

Like I said, I don't want to give a list of what garbage you can count and what you can't.  That's too complicated and this challenge is supposed to be simple!

But here are a few examples to help you decide for yourself.

  • While decluttering toys, you come across a few broken ones.  You can't donate or sell those, so they're garbage.  But you CAN count them in your decluttering numbers.  Same idea for other items that were once useful but that are now broken.  Especially items that you kept thinking you'd fix but... ahem...  never do.  Not that I know anything about that :) 
  • While decluttering your kids' closets and dressers, you find some stained clothes.  You don't want to give them away, but you CAN count them in your decluttering numbers.  {Note: you can repurpose them as rags (unless you already have lots!) or donate them to animal shelters}
  • While decluttering your living room, you decide to finally get rid of dozens of magazines that you've been holding onto for ideas and inspiration but that you rarely look at.  They are clutter, so you can count them.  But the magazine from your alumni association that you usually toss in the recycling after a quick thumb through?  I wouldn't count that. 
  • While decluttering your filing cabinet, you shred bags and bags of old bills and documents that you've been hanging on to for years.  You can count that.  But if you regularly shred incoming mail, I wouldn't count it when you empty the shredder every week.  

Really I just want you to use your judgement.  You know yourself and you know what is weighing you down.  You know your home and the clutter that overwhelms you.  As one participant said, you're really only cheating yourself if you're counting "regular" garbage as part of the challenge. 

I'm not going to be checking over your lists at the end of the year to see what you've gotten rid of :)  And what one person counts as clutter or garbage might not be the same for you.

I got a lot of different responses when I asked the members of the Facebook Group how to word this rule change!  But it all came down to knowing yourself and using your judgement.  Just another reason why I love that group :)  Have you joined it yet?

For those of you who have not been counting items that you now can count, please adjust your total or estimate what you've thrown out to the best of your recollection.  And thanks for your feedback :)

Remember Why You're Decluttering!

The goal is to get clutter out of your home!  The purpose of this challenge is to motivate and inspire you to do that.  I want you to enjoy the peace and freedom that come with a less cluttered home.  

So are you ready to declutter?!  

Remember to tell your friends and family about this challenge.  You'll be doing them a favour if they need some encouragement to purge!  Plus, the prize at the end will be based on how many people are participating :)

If you're a blogger, you can grab this button to spread the news.

I'm Doing It! 365 Items in 365 Days Declutter Challenge

And if you need any decluttering ideas, check out my Decluttering/Purging Tips & Ideas board on Pinterest.

Or my 31 Days of Easy Decluttering series (tab at the top of the page).

It's going to be a great year of decluttering!  I'm so impressed with all the progress people have been making already.  I'll be sharing my progress here soon too. 

Have you joined the 365 in 365 Challenge yet?  What do you think of the rule change?  What's your motivation to declutter this year?

Happy organizing decluttering!

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Here are all the posts in the 365 Items in 365 Days series: