October Challenge: Declutter One Thing a Day

What can you accomplish in a month? According to science, that’s all it takes to start forming a new habit, and good habits lead to good results. That’s the goal behind our Monthly Challenge, to help you form the right habits – physically and mentally – to make significant strides toward your best, healthiest self.

“That’s the whole meaning of life is trying to find a place for your stuff. That’s all your house is. It’s a pile of your stuff with a cover on it.”

If you’ve never seen comedian George Carlin’s standup bit about stuff, it’s worth the 5 minutes. The man had a unique perspective on the world, a way of pointing out things about society. And this one certainly has its merits.

Whether we want to admit it or not, much of what he says in it is true. We live in a very materialistic society, and in that, we accumulate a lot of stuff. Whether we need it all is a debate for another time and place, but the fact remains most people have so much stuff they often don’t have enough space in their homes to store it all.

Did you know the storage unit industry is booming? In 2020, the global self-storage market was valued at $48.02 billion. It is expected to reach a value of $64.71 billion by 2026, registering a compound annual growth rate of 5.45% from 2021 to 2026.

And even with all the extra storage, there’s probably somewhere in your home that stuff has piled up and turned into clutter. Maybe it’s the corner of a bedroom or a hall closet or that drawer in the kitchen or the boxes in the attic or the trunk of your car – wherever it is, it’s there. And it’s actually hurting you.

While accumulating a few extra possessions may not seem like a big deal, clutter can negatively impact your mental health. Clutter can increase stress levels, make it difficult to focus, affect relationships, and more.

This brings us to our challenge for the month.

The challenge: Declutter one thing from your life every day

Look, digging into that overstuffed closet full of boxes, bags, and lord knows what is not all that fun. If it were, the clutter wouldn’t be there in the first place. And now that it’s there, it can be overwhelming to try and tackle that big of a mess all at once.

That’s why you put it off until next month, which allows it to grow more, making it more overwhelming. So, you put it off for another month, which allows it to grow more … you see where this is going.

That’s where the small-and-steady approach can be so ideal.

Instead of going after that closet all in one day, just declutter one thing from it every day. Maybe it’s a single box today. Then that picture you never hung tomorrow. Another box the day after that. Then that jacket you’ll never wear. Little by little, you will make progress, and because it’s so small, it’s far less overwhelming.

Think of it like climbing a mountain. If you try and do it all in one day, that’s pretty daunting. But over the course of a few days or a week, it becomes very manageable, regardless of your fitness level or climbing expertise.

And committing to this challenge is just as easy.

Start with just one focus area – the closet, car, corner of the bedroom. Even if multiple areas of your house look like an episode of Hoarders, just choose one to manage the sense of being overwhelmed.

From there, start an organized donation pile. There’s a good chance a lot of your stuff is good stuff, but it’s just not stuff you need or use anymore. Others may think differently. So, donating it is a great option. That said, we’re stressing the organized part, as the last thing you want is another pile of the clutter starting somewhere else in your home. Though, if it does, the good thing is you’ve already done the hard work of designating it, and now you simply have to do the physical act of taking it to a donation center to get rid of it.

After that, just keep it up! One thing every day for the entire month.

And the payoff for this challenge? You get to buy more stuff! … just kidding.

The sense of pride and accomplishment from decluttering is significant, with many actually feeling like a burden has been lifted off their shoulders. But, in reality, decluttering is an important part of self-care.

… and yes, you may actually be able to buy more stuff, but stuff you now actually need and will use.