How I Declutter in Under 30 Minutes

My 30-Minute Simplifying Process
After a couple posts of explanation and how-to, here's where I finally convince you that I am actually doing my Project Eliminate. By the end of this series I will have written the book on it--I hope a few of you are willing to come along for the ride! In this post, I'll share my first before and after pictures of my first area on my first day of Project Eliminate (completed Tuesday) along with how I get it done in under 30 minutes.

Here's the decluttering process I use...

clearing out the excess to focus on what really matters

1. Take a "before" picture.

Don't touch a thing, just shed light (natural, if possible) on the area and take a picture. Mess it up a little like above if you really want to be happy about the "after." (Just kidding, my before pictures will be taken exactly as-is for sake of full disclosure, however embarrassing that may be.)

How I Declutter in Less Than 30 Minutes

2. Set timer for 30 minutes.

Or in my case, 27 minutes (in sticking with my 27 days / 27 areas / 27 things theme). Also turning on a sitcom or other TV show helps entertain and keep track of time. (As long as it's not a NEW show or one that is otherwise too distracting.)

Project Eliminate | my simplifying process

3. Pull everything out, and clean surfaces.

Whether it's a drawer or cupboard or closet or bookshelf. Pull everything out of/off of/away from the area being worked on. Then surface clean underneath/behind where everything used to be--dust, wipe up crumbs, vacuum. This is Project Eliminate and Spring Cleaning all-in-one!

How I Simplify in 30 Minutes

4. Put away items that belong somewhere else.

Don't dive into deciding what to keep/what to get rid of until anything that belongs somewhere else is taken out of the picture. Even if that item might need to be gotten rid of, return it to its proper location and deal with it when you get to working on that area. Right now, focus on the area in front of you.

Easy Process for Deciding What to Keep and What to Get Rid Of

5. Separate items to keep or put in outbox.

Pick up each item and decide if it should be {a} kept, or {b} put in the outbox. If it's absolutely to be kept at this time, return it in an orderly fashion to the area being worked on. If there is any question about keeping or not, put it in the outbox to see how you feel about the space for a few days without it. At that point you can decide if it's really essential and worth keeping, or if you liked the clutter-free space without it and should get rid of it for good.

So what exactly goes in the outbox?
--Anything that isn't used. If it's seasonal, it should be used at least once a year, and anything else should be used within the last 3-6 months.
--Anything that you don't love. If you don't love it, then why keep it in your life?
--Anything that needs replaced. Do you use it, but it's so worn out that you probably shouldn't use it anymore? Start a running list of items that need replaced.
--Anything that isn't needed. This gets foggy considering very few things are "needs." But your answer to this question will define how minimalist you're ready to go at this point in your life. Just be honest with your current goals and try to figure out what qualifies as "needs" in your life for the time being.

Project Eliminate | How I Declutter in Under 30 Minutes

6. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done, and share your progress!

The "after" is so worth it all. See what I mean about decluttering doing all the organization for me?! Just get rid of a few things, and everything fits nicely and neatly exactly how it should. Now blog about it or post it to Facebook or invite your friends over to see the progress; others only know to get excited for you when you get excited for yourself!

Easily sorting stuff

Minimizing the Unnecessary | a simple process

30-Minute Decluttering + Organizing Process

And that is how I declutter in under 30 minutes.

Note... I do not always finish decluttering every area in under 30 minutes. While some areas are small enough to go through in 30 minutes or less, more often I'm working on decent-sized projects that require more time. But that's okay. I tell myself I'm spending 30 minutes to "start" the project, and when the timer goes off I'm usually so into the progress being made, that I don't care if I spend an extra 10, 15 or even another 30 minutes to get it done right.

Happy decluttering/organizing/spring cleaning!


also see:
new? start here...
project eliminate series
simplifying home series
monthly dose of simple