Let’s face it, no one really likes cleaning, do they? Actually, that’s not true, some people are totally into that shit. I’ll never understand it. For the rest of us, who don’t thrive on organization and dusting, how are we supposed to take advantage of the bliss that minimalism promises? Luckily for you, the main reason I decided to incorporate minimalism into my life was that I hate cleaning. It took some effort to get me here, but the good news is, there are strategies that you can use that will help you eliminate a crap-ton of clutter without getting too overwhelmed. That way you don’t get to the point that you just have 80 piles of stuff lying around your house and no more desire to do anything. Let’s get into it!
Minimize your to do list
Just like the first step in organizing should be to declutter your stuff, simplifying your to do list should first start with eliminating how much crap you actually have to do!
Every morning before I start my day, I write out all of the things my brain tells me I have to do — just to get them OUT of my brain. I have found that the more I let thoughts just bounce around in there, the crazier I go. And, the less like I am to actually get anything done BTW.
Here’s how to simplify your to do list:
- Brain dump everything you brain says you have to do
- Cross out anything that doesn’t have to be done TODAY
- Write your top 3 must-dos
- Stick to THAT to do list — if you have time for more, great, if not…no biggie
I believe in this method of simplifying your to do list so much that I added it to my refillable Minimalist Journal + Planner combo! Use code: NOSTUFF20 to save 20% if you want to download it for yourself!
Set a timer
A good idea to get you started with cleaning or decluttering would be to set a 15 minutes timer. That way you know it’s going to be over soon so you don’t fall into that, “oh mah gaaahhhddd…this is gonna take forever…” mindset.
Give yourself 15 minutes and then if you’re actually in the groove with it, set the timer again for another 15 minutes.
Making the decision to declutter this way can help you avoid overwhelm, allows you to still accomplish some cleaning even if you have a limited amount of time to dedicate to it, and gives you a small sense of accomplishment.
This would work best if you designate yourself to one area. Even sectioning off each room into zones that you will focus on one at a time. FOr example:
- Under the bed
- Pile of clothes on the floor that everyone keep stepping around
When the timer goes off, quickly put back anything that needs to be crammed back into its place, toss any donates in a donate bin, and throw any garbage. The next time you have a minute to set a timer, you can grab the donate bin and continue right where you left off.
One drawer at a time
Similar to the concept of the 15-minute timer, you could also begin your decluttering journey by sectioning off each area and setting a mini goal to make it through one small area at a time.
For example, you could decide that you are going to organize the “junk drawer.” That’s it. That’s all you have to commit to. You’ll feel better, won’t spend a ton of your day on cleaning, and it just might inspire you to keep going.
Maybe this is something you could do during quick breaks throughout the day whenever you have tiny time pockets.
- When you are warming something in the microwave, clean out your utensils
- While the coffee is brewing, filter through your mugs
- Cleaning the glovebox while the kids are at their sports
- Go through your storage bins while you watch Netflix
I think we need to stop assuming that decluttering needs to be one, big, giant happening and allow it to be small moments of intentionality.
One box declutter
One of my favorite methods that I have ever heard to declutter fast came from Abraham Hicks. I can’t recall which book they mentioned this method in, but I’ll give you the breakdown of how this super-fast, effective method is done.
Again, I recommend starting in one area of your home.
- Make a pile of all the items that you instantly don’t feel an attachment to or a desire to keep. Do this in a high-energy state of mind so you are more likely to be honest with yourself about what you do and don’t want to keep. If you start to feel yourself talking yourself into keeping something, put it in the pile!
- Once you have a pile, grab a storage box and a piece of paper.
- As you put each item into the box, list it on the piece of paper.
- When you are done, put your list in an envelope with the date on the front and the location of the items that you packed away. (This is slightly different from their version, I just feel this one is simpler and still highly effective.)
- Once you’ve packed everything, tape the envelope to the outside
- Store this box in the basement, storage, or garage, and in 6 months (remember, you put the date on the outside).
- If you haven’t needed anything from the box, simply pick up the box and move it to your trunk so you can bring it to the donation center.
I love this method of decluttering because it is mess-free with only one box and you don’t have to commit to getting rid of anything right away.
It allows you time to adapt to the space you have created by letting go of these items and then when you are ready to officially let go, you already have things packed away!
Shove stuff in drawers
Okay, really pulling out the big guns here for my crazy lazy people. Honestly, if the mess feels overwhelming, start stashing stuff in drawers.
The open space and clean counter and tabletops can help boost and improve your mood.
Visual clutter can add to our anxiety every day, and if you’re really feeling it, then I am officially giving you permission to just shove it all into a drawer.
This was the method I sort of stuck to when we first had kids. I knew I didn’t like the clutter all around me so I would buy cute bins that went with our home decor and just shove all of the toys, diapers, snacks…whatever into the bins. That way I had easy access to them throughout the day but still felt the peace of a tidy home.
Have a “dump pile”
This little tidbit comes from Annie, The LA Minimalist on Instagram. She’s fabulous. I feel like she says everything I think and feel in a way that is way better put than I could ever know how to say it.
Anyway, she has a “dump pile” (not sure if that’s what she calls it).
This is a place where she allows herself to just “drop off” items that she has decided she no longer wants to keep. So say she sees a shirt in her closet that she decides she no longer wants. She will remove it from the hanger and drop it in the “dump pile.”
Once the Dump Pile is full (or every month or so) you can scoop up the contents and drop them off at a local donation center.
I love this method because it works for even a busy lifestyle. Slowly you allow yourself to declutter a little bit at a time when you feel moved to do so without making a big event of it. Genius.
Make it a family affair
If you have kids, try this method that our family has always stuck to.
Before birthdays or major holidays (when you just know grandma and grandpa are going to be spoiling the kids with gifts), we do a massive clean house session.
Now, this session only needs to take 20 minutes or so because everyone in the house is in on it.
We give the children one large garbage bag each and they go through and eliminate anything that they no longer play with.
Don’t worry, we do a nice little shpeel where we say, “If you want to all these new things you say you want, you have to first create space for them, right?”
Over the years of practicing minimalism, I have had to make a big effort to allow my children to make their own choices when it comes to their toys. AKA I no longer just randomly shove 80 of their stuffed animals into a bag and drop them off at Goodwill never to be seen again.
I believe it is important for them to go through the process of choosing what they value and what they don’t. Plus, if I keep jacking their toys from them they’ll probably overcompensate as adults and turn into major hoarders.
Now, if you want to just get right down to it, the fastest way to declutter would be to grab things that you already have in bins or boxes that you know you aren’t using and just start chuckin’ ’em out the door!
This probably works best when you get to the point that you are about to snap from the amount of clutter that is consuming your home. I know I get this way…like every 3 months.
Whatever method sounds appealing to you, just get started and go with it. Turn on your favorite tunes and make it a mini celebration.
Even though cleaning isn’t the best thing to do, you can absolutely find a way to make it less painful.