One-A-Day Keeps the Clutter Away

I don’t always have the time (or inclination) to set aside a few hours for decluttering. At the same time, I like to feel that I’m making progress in ridding my home of useless things.

My solution: the One-A-Day Declutter. It’s super-easy, super-fast, and most importantly, keeps me going in the right direction.

Every day, I commit to purging ONE item from my house. It can be anything—a worn-out pair of socks, a book I’ll never read again, a gift I could live without, a shirt that doesn’t fit, an old magazine article, etc. It doesn’t take much effort, and at the end of the year, my home is at least 365 items lighter.

Since I don’t like to put potentially-useful items in the trash (and ultimately, a landfill), I keep a donation box tucked away in my hall closet. I add items to it one by one, and when it’s full, donate it to the Vets, Goodwill, or other charitable organization. (If you don’t want to keep a box of “clutter,” you could certainly Freecycle items as you go along—it just takes a little more effort.)

All-around, it’s a win-win-win: I have less clutter, someone in need winds up with something useful, and the planet is better off!

I keep up this regimen even after I’ve done a massive decluttering—in fact, it’s become part of my daily routine. It may sound strange, but getting rid of something each day just makes me FEEL good. It puts me in control of my stuff, keeps the clutter from creeping back in, and moves me one step closer to my goal of having a minimalist household.

28 comments to One-A-Day Keeps the Clutter Away

  • Robert

    Great idea! I love it! But do you ever find that you hold back on purging “too many” items on any given day, so that you have an easy choice the next day?

  • miss minimalist

    Hi Robert! Yes, I’ve been guilty of that on occasion. :-) Although usually it’s hard to hold back when I’m on a roll!

    • I can never hang on to stuff long enough to have a gagrae sale. It’s straight to the thrift/consignment store as soon as a box is full. I just cleaned out our storage room and now have 3 big containers full of stuff to get rid of, so I think I will have to call the mission to pick it up. Convenient!Lindsey Whitney recently posted..

  • What I do is to set an hour of my day to declutter and I’m doing wonderfully. You’re right about how good it feels to get rid of stuff that you don’t use.

  • Neetika

    hello miss minimalist….i am a complete follower of all your posts and i have to admit that decluttering has become an addiction for me. if i need to uplift my mood or kill boredem…i reach out to declutter and donate all of it.

  • Cari

    I like this idea. I don’t have major decluttering to do any more, but the thought of spending a certain period of time on the project is sometimes overwhelming.

  • helen

    Hi. I have been decluttering for about 25 years. I
    somehow felt that I was one of a very few similiar people and to be honest I was delighted to find this site. It makes me feel part of a community instead of
    an oddbod who gives away or donates to charity anything
    of no definate use to me. Thanks. Will continue to
    read all the minimalistic stories and look forward to
    reading the book.

  • Cheryl Thompson

    I also declutter like a crazy thing, constantly! At least one item per day :)
    I just love the freedom of having less ‘stuff’ A friend and I both recently moved houses, we have the same amount of kids (lots!) however, she needed many trips back and forward to the house with a huge van and quantities of ‘stuff’ that makes me queasy to contemplate having!! I however needed one small van, one trip, bliss!
    I follow the posts here avidly and always find new inspiration, new ways to minimalise!
    My friend was amazed at how lit tle ‘stuff’ I owned, so i’ve been explaining my lifestyle, everything has a place and everything in it’s place, and if it overflows from it’s allocated place (DVDs being one example) declutter!! I’ve explained about setting limits, for example, clothing, I nearly fainted when she told me one of her children had eleven pairs of shoes! I think i’m getting through because she keeps talking about having ‘sort-outs’ which I think is non-minimalist terminology for a little bit of de-cluttering :) result!!!

  • Susan

    Thanks for this great idea. I didn’t think I was much of a clutter keeper until I started to do this. So far I’m still working on the cabinet in my bathroom and there is still a lot of stuff in there that I know needs to go.

  • Leigh

    I have several cleansers (detergent, bleach,& the like), body soap, nail polish remover, and shampoo that I no longer use. Most of the cleansers are not green (an understatement!). I want to de-clutter and get rid of them all, but I have been conflicted about passing on toxic chemicals or alternatively pouring them down the sink or throwing into the trash. I imagine that I would be laughed out to the curb if I tried to take them to a hazardous waste facility. Any thoughts or suggestions?

    P.S. The soap and shampoo can probably be donated. It’s the cleansers that I have the most angst about.

  • What a wonderful idea!! I can see 2 items right now that I could wrap in a paper towel (they are glass items) and place in a box.

    I’m trying to decide whether I should get rid of my fancy cup and saucer collection. It’s the only thing I’ve ever collected. I love their intricate painted flowers, but I hate dusting the things.

    I wonder – should I find someone who collects cups and saucers; give them to our church’s yard sale; take them to goodwill? Somehow I’d feel better knowing who has them. Strange isn’t it?

  • […] Minimalist suggests a One-A-Day Decluttering regime, and if you have children at home or a demanding job, getting rid of one item per day may be all […]

  • Ann

    My spiritual teacher taught me the daily act of gifting. Everyday you give something away to someone or to your charity box or if you are feeling stuck gift the earth by taking out the recycling. Some days there are lots of things, some days just one. But there is always something to pass along.
    Give yourself the gift the space – release an item today, and everyday from here on it. Always feels great ~ Ann

  • susan d

    I am off to attack my basement. It is the dumping ground in my house and I really feel that it weighs me down. I think it will be a good burden to get rid so as we start the new year.

  • […] One-a-Day Keeps the Clutter Away […]

  • […] I recently read (well, skimmed) The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Living Guide.  One piece of advice that stuck with me is to purge one item every day- even if it’s just a sock without a mate. You can read more about that philosophy from the author’s blog. […]

  • Sarrah

    I have been following the declutter-one-item-a-day rule. But instead of collecting a box full; I pu it up on yerdle.
    Its the best app I have come across. The idea is simple. You dont need it. Somebody else does. And you may need something else too.
    Its not just declutter. Its also DONT BUY NEW. its Recycle at its best :)

    Give yerdle a shot if you arent an addict already!

  • Tina

    I keep a big bag ready to go to Goodwill. I also have a pile for the library. I just found some more things to give away. DVD’s I won’t watch again. Craft magazines which have hard to follow instructions. I still have a few dishes to get rid of and some big bowls I never use. I will have to discuss those with my spouse as you guessed it, they were hand-me-downs. I clean out under all the sinks frequently because what if there was a leak back there!

  • Tina

    I have been steadily decluttering. Even my beloved earrings. I have given away 6 pairs so far. I have more china and more cooking and baking supplies to declutter. I think I have 1sweater put away with my sweatshirts in the storage room in the basement.

  • Tina

    I was looking at some decorating magazines I took out of the library. They had a section on houses for sale. Enormous places costing in the millions of dollars. I can’t imagine living like that if I had the money. Think of the repairs and upkeep involved. I think I might get a pied a terre somewhere else in the world.

  • Tina

    I don’t look at decorating magazines anymore. The houses are mostly too big with too much stuff in them. After I gave away my pretty cups and saucers and pretty bowls and they sold right away, I found some more beautiful small plates and a different size of small bowl. Next year, I know what I will donate to the history museum.

  • Tina

    I found a charity that takes donated vases and bouquets and uses the flowers to make new arrangements for nursing homes, food banks, etc. I am going to see about volunteering and giving them the few vases I still have left.

  • Ruth Hardy

    One of my Quaker Friends told me about this in October to this year. I have already started. I keep a bag in the hall and pop things in it. Today it was 2 books, yesterday was a blouse, the day before was a book. I am waiting until the building work is done on my house to really tackle one of the rooms upstairs so that I can finally have a couple of workable rooms as I work from home. This means less time working downstairs where people think I’m just sat doing nothing. When I have a bag full of books I take them to the local book shop who buy them off me.
    Thank you for your site. It’s an inspiration to those of us who hoard.

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