Week 4 - Living Areas {Net Zero Clutter Challenge 2016} | From Overwhelmed to Organized: Week 4 - Living Areas {Net Zero Clutter Challenge 2016}
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Monday, December 19, 2016

Week 4 - Living Areas {Net Zero Clutter Challenge 2016}




Do you feel overwhelmed during the month of December with all the stuff that enters your home? It makes it hard to enjoy this festive time of year.

If you're entertaining at all over the holidays you'll want your main living areas to be clutter-free so you have space for your guests to enjoy themselves. Rooms like your living room, family room, dining room, and entry / hallway.  If you're having guests stay with you during the holidays, this would be a good time to declutter the guest room too.

I've found that when I declutter throughout the month it really helps me feel less overwhelmed and I can enjoy Christmas much more.  Will you join me in the Net Zero Decluttering Challenge this year?

Each week I'll share decluttering tips and ideas to help you declutter a different area of your home.  If you do that, you can end the month with the same number of items in your home (or maybe even less!) than what you started the month with.

This week I'm sharing tips for decluttering your living areas.


This Week's Decluttering Focus


Our living areas tend to become cluttered quickly and easily, even if we're pretty diligent about tidying up regularly. Because these are the rooms we spend most of our time in, it's easy to dump things and not pick them up.  Once there are a few items on a table or surface, it's easy to just add a few more and then a few more and before you know it... you've got a cluttered room.

One of the good things about clutter in living areas is that often it's actually items that belong somewhere else in our homes. So it's not "clutter" in the true definition of the word (things we don't need, use, love, or have the space to store). It's more like piles of stuff we were too lazy to bother putting away before. Or that other family members didn't put away. Or even items that don't really have a "home".

But, in the midst of those kinds of items, there is also likely some actual clutter. Items we actually don't use, or need, or love. And our living areas are not intended to be storage areas, so if the items have landed there, we likely don't have the space to store them elsewhere.

Those are the kinds of items I want you to focus on this week. We want items to leave our homes as part of the #NetZeroClutter challenge!

Here are a few tips to help you declutter your living areas:
  • Relocate items that you still need, use, and love (I recommend putting them in a pile or box or basket as you go through each room and then put them all away at the end, rather than putting each individual item away as you come cross it - you'll stay focused and finish quicker this way).
  • Throw away any garbage or recycling that has accumulated in your living areas (likely lots of unnecessary paperwork and food wrappers).
  • Go through your magazines and newspapers and only keep the last 2-3 of each (as long as you still plan to read them)
  • Declutter any coats, jackets, shoes, or boots that don't fit or that haven't been worn in over a year (and put off-season outerwear somewhere else in your home (spare room closet, wardrobe in the basement, storage bins, etc.) so there's plenty of room for your guests' items when they visit.
  • Add a basket on or under coffee tables or end tables for small items like remotes, charging cords, pens, notepads, coasters, etc. so your surfaces look nice and can remain uncluttered.
  • Add a basket or tray near the entry for small items like keys, glasses, wallets, spare change, etc. so they don't make the entry area appear cluttered when guests arrive.
Other posts with related tips





Once you declutter your living areas, spend 10-15 minutes each evening with everyone in the family working together to put items where they belong.


Decluttering My Living Areas


We don't have a guest room so nothing for me to declutter there.  And I generally stay pretty on top of tidying our living room, dining room, and hallway because they're all fairly small and it drives me crazy if there's stuff everywhere.  Especially right now because all our Christmas decorations are out and our tree is right in the middle of our dining room / living room.

But I did spend a few minutes decluttering several baskets in the living room (which doubles as my "office" a lot of the time) that I hadn't gone through in awhile.

I decluttered:

  • 1 lap desk
  • 1 expired coupon
  • 1 partial package of dried out screen wipes
  • 9 elastics
  • 1 mini-vac that doesn't work
  • 1 clip art set
  • 2 pens that don't work
  • 5 old SD cards (128 MB and 512 MB... wow!)
  • 2 old USB drives
  • 1 old mouse pad (got a new one a couple of months ago but never decluttered this one... time for it to go!)



I also let go of these items (not pictured):

  • 1 old note pad set
  • 1 old label maker
  • 1 photo box (I decluttered enough of the items inside it that I didn't need the box anymore!)
  • 1 set of notepad checklists
  • 6 small notepads
  • 1 pile of assorted papers 
  • 1 old headset
  • 1 boxed set of WKRP videos (so fun, but we can access them through our online streaming device now so we don't need the physical set)
  • 5 DVD's (same reason)
  • 1 CD (we never listen to it)
  • 1 old camera (we totally use our phones now)

Next I took a quick look through our hall closet and entry area and decluttered:



  • 1 jean jacket (I've had it forever and loved it but haven't worn it in several years... time for it to go!)
  • 1 hoodie 
  • 1 umbrella


Other Decluttering This Week


I didn't get to my pantry last week during kitchen week, but I went through it this week and found several old items that were either expired or that we wouldn't eat any more:



  • 1 McDonald's Halloween pail
  • 2 containers with pieces of our Halloween "gingerbread" house (once the Halloween candy arrived no one really cared about eating these pieces and they're a little stale now)
  • 1 bottle of Grenadine syrop 
  • 2 pouches of strawberry daiquiri mix
  • 1 box of chocolates
  • 1 applesauce pouch
  • 1 partial bag of peanuts
  • 1 partial bag of pistachios
  • 1 partial box of crackers
  • 1 open package of Pop Tarts
  • 2 bags of chocolate wafers
  • 3 chocolate bunnies
  • 1 chocolate kiss
  • 1 bag of assorted hand wipes
  • And later I found 3 more dried out candies and cookies to toss (not pictured). 

I also did a quick declutter in my bathroom drawer and tossed the following expired or unusable items:

  • 1 bottle of hair colour
  • 1 bottle of face toner
  • 1 headband
  • 2 scrunchies
  • 1 tube of cream
  • 1 old eyeliner pencil
  • 7 sample of various products

And I bought a new toilet brush this week and tossed the old one, so that's one in and one out!

I also decluttered a few items while I was getting ready for Christmas.

  • 1 box that used to hold Christmas cards to send (I've used up a lot of them the last few years so I am down to just 1 box now)
  • 2 gifts that we bought a few years ago for our kids but never gave and now they wouldn't want them



My son did a little spontaneous clothing decluttering recently but it never left our home (I keep "too small" clothes in a basket in each of my kids' closets until there's enough to bag it up and either pass it down or donate it). Now we're giving the following to his younger cousins:

  • 2 trackpants
  • 2 sets of pajamas
  • 4 t-shirts
  • 6 pairs of socks


My Progress in the #NetZeroClutter challenge


I'm so glad I'm doing this challenge, because it's such a busy time of year and I normally wouldn't devote much time to decluttering. But because I know I need to write a weekly update, I'm intentionally going through areas that I wouldn't otherwise tackle right now. And it feels GREAT! It just reminds me how little time it takes to really make a big difference in our homes :)
This week 12 items entered our home (mostly stuff related to our kids, plus 2 items for our home).   And 101 items left our home! So that puts me at -89 items this week in the #NetZeroClutter challenge and -362 overall.  I won't likely have many items going out this coming week, and LOTS coming in before my next update so I'm curious to see what my total is then!




What's Next For You?


Take some time this week to declutter your living areas. Or anything you'd like to declutter!  Take some pictures and share your progress on social media using the hashtag #NetZeroClutter.  Let me know how you're doing in the challenge so I can cheer you on!

Sign up to receive my blog posts by email so you get each week's post in your email inbox.  You can unsubscribe after the challenge is over if you don't want to continue receiving my blog posts by email.




I'd also love for you to join our 365 Items in 365 Days Facebook group as you do this challenge!  You'll be able to share with others what you're decluttering and feel encouraged and inspired by everyone else who is also decluttering!

If you'd like more decluttering ideas, you can check out my Decluttering/Purging Tips & Ideas board on Pinterest.



So that's this week's post in the Net Zero Decluttering Challenge!  I'm enjoying doing this challenge and I'm excited to have you join me.  I love hearing all the stories of how much more you're enjoying your holidays because you're not overwhelmed by all the stuff in your home!

How much did you declutter from your living areas this week?  How about your kitchen items last week?  How are your overall in / out numbers?


Happy organizing decluttering!



I link up at these great parties - Check them out!

Here are all the posts in this challenge in case you missed any or want to share some with your friends or family!




8 comments:

  1. You always impress me with your progress, but now you've got me looking at my red jean jacket with a different pair of eyes...

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    1. That one was tough Janet... I've decluttered our jackets at least twice a year for 4-5 years and I kept hanging onto this one thinking I'd wear it again because I love it so much. But I can't remember when I wore it last. I'm not as "cool" as I once was I guess :)

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  2. The photos of items let go of are inspiring. They are great visuals for showing how many small decisions can add up to a lot of letting go...and decluttering.

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    1. I'm always amazed at how so many little things can really add up Linda! Both in terms of having them clutter up our home and in how much better it looks when we take a few minutes to deal with them!

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  3. I love the point you make about the items in the living spaces not really being clutter, but rather just being "away from home." That is so true! One mother I know says a large part of her day is simply walking around, putting things away. By the time you get rid of the trash and put things back where they live, there may not be too much left to deal with!

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    1. Yep... in living areas more than any other area of the house I find this to be true Seana. It's not the same as decluttering a garage or a storage room at all. And just putting things away makes such a huge difference!

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  4. I'm so glad you included "Throw away any garbage" I find it amazing that with all the trash cans in my home, I find trash on tables and floors. Ugh. Great reminder. I may send this to my kids as a reminder. ;)

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    1. It's funny how that happens isn't it Sabrina?! But starting with that will definitely help our living areas feel less cluttered. Hope your kids get in the habit of tossing it in the garbage :)

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I love hearing from my readers! This is a great place to ask questions, answer questions, and share your organizing tips. Thank you so much for commenting! I look forward to getting to know you better :)