How to Make Decluttering Fun

Last night during a free clutter webinar with Leo Babauta, a viewer asked me how I make decluttering fun. It’s easy for me to say that decluttering is fun now, because I can so clearly see the benefit to living with less. Maybe I didn’t see it as completely fun in the beginning, but I remember feeling very hopeful and excited as I was going through the process.

I knew that decluttering was just the beginning of some great possibilities and that it would give me the momentum and inspiration to make other great life changes.

  • Becoming clutter free made it easier to become debt free.
  • Becoming debt free made it easier for me to quit my job.
  • Quitting my job made it really easy for me to do work that I love.

If decluttering feels like an overwhelming chore, think about the hope and possibility that comes along with it. That will help to lighten the load, literally and figuratively. The following decluttering ideas might help too.

How to make decluttering fun.

Make it a game. Announce a family clutter busting contest. Offer a non-thing prize to the whomever dumps the most stuff in 60 minutes.

Hide stuff. My husband and I hide things from each other. If one of us is traveling alone, the other does a little decluttering and hides something or a few things. If we can’t guess what’s missing, it’s an automatic donation. It’s fun to guess what’s missing and reminds us that we are in this together.

Travel lightly. You might not be ready to live out of a backpack like Warren and Betsy, but you might want to see how it feels. The next time you go away for a few days, instead of packing for every scenario, just bring a backpack with the bare essentials. It will remind you that you don’t need much to live well.

Connect with other declutterers. Inspire, motivate and be inspired and motivated with others that want to lead a clutter-free life.

Decluttering isn’t cleaning or organizing and shouldn’t be treated as a chore. Remember you are doing this to live a healthier, happier life.

While committing to live a clutter-free life is serious, your decluttering actions should be light hearted. After all, placing items in a box and giving them away is hardly rocket science. Turn on some music, do a little dance and box that crap up.

Parting with some items can be emotional and stressful, but adding humor and joy will help.

How do you make decluttering fun?

 

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Comments

  1. says

    My favorite “HIDE STUFF” What a wonderful idea!!! I actually find decluttering a lot of fun now that I don’t have much. What I don’t find fun is “organizing” that I don’t like at all. So, I prefer to get rid of things than to organize them. ha!

  2. says

    I have gotten my daughters involved in volunteering at a local kids outreach warehouse. Because they have worked there several times, they are more motivated to share some of their stuff and donate it to the children’s outreach. Just yesterday we were going through clothes and they kept saying, “Some other child will really love this, let’s get rid of it.” When we finished going through their clothes, they asked if they could go through their clothes.

    I posted about this earlier today. I think what has made it fun for them is having made a connection to where it is going.

    • Christine says

      Jill – what’s your local kids outreach warehouse like? I’d like to find one in our are and volunteer – and if we don’t have one, maybe I can start one. Does it only have children’s toys, clothes, etc?

      I wish I lived in Phoenix, Minimalist Mommi! I would get your help ASAP! I notice most of the comments on here are from people who like to declutter… why are fellow clutterers keeeping quiet? LOL

  3. says

    It’s insanely fun to me and has been my entire life. I have no clue why, but I would often tell friends I wanted to declutter their room for fun at sleepovers. I think it helps (from friends I’ve helped) to get a partner who finds joy in getting rid of things! Whether it’s a pro organizer or your BFF, it’s fun to have someone to do it with who will push you enough and respect your boundaries.

    P.S. If you’re in the Phoenix area, I’ve been offering FREE help de-cluttering and re-organizing. Available to anyone doing the ClutterFat Challenge. :)

    • Moira says

      Oh wow Minimalist Momm, I wish you lived near me and were my BFF ha ha.
      I can understand how you enjoy clearing away clutter. I got fed up with the excess in my own home, (not a hoarding disease but certainly too much stuff)and am enjoying the wonderful clear feeling when I move sutff out.
      Yet I still hit a wall…after a while I get emotionally weak, and become less capable of being ruthless. I know I dont want the stuff, I love the feeling of a decluttered space when I’ve achieved it, but I seem to hit an emotional wall and become much less effective at discarding stuff.
      My living room and kitchen are great now AND I’m enjoying maintaining them, it’s just as much fun. But a small attic and a craft room are slow hard work. I keep hitting that feeling of being overwhelmed and I would benefit from another person’s point of view.

  4. says

    Courtney,
    Thank you for the shout out and for including us in this great set of tips. I also happen to be one of the twisted sort that absolutely loves to declutter. Just like Minimalist Mommi the idea of going to friends’ homes to help is actually a potential for enjoyment to me. I have always believed it was due to some long-forgotten traumatic event in my childhood where I was trapped under a pile of boxes for days. However, now I know that there are others like me and I can say it out loud.

    “My name is Warren and I like to organize stuff”. Whew, thank you for making it ok to share that. Of course, now that we only own what we can carry the joy of decluttering a backpack is less exhilarating but I’m finding that what our decluttering project led to more rewarding than anything I thought possible.

    • Courtney Carver says

      Warren, So glad to share your awesome journey. I hope to connect more with you and Betsy. I have a feeling we have a lot in common!

  5. says

    Hi Courtney,
    Just wanted to say thank you for some inspiration! I have been following your blog for a little while now and you (along with some other people) inspired me to start a project in January. It’s called The Stripper Project!
    Check us out at http://www.simplyonpurpose.blogspot.com or on facebook at Living Simply on Purpose.
    People in my community are decluttering and having fun in the process!
    Diane

  6. says

    Hide stuff! Oh dear, husband would have nothing since he doesn’t know whats added or missing most days! I am a constant declutterer aas I hate clutter. It seems to build up fast with a “hoarder” type husband. I have finally convinced him that I didn’t clear the surface so he could fill it up again! Fortunately he is not opposed to my decluttering ways.

  7. says

    That was me! (That asked how to make decluttering fun). I don’t have a husband or children, but I think I might find it fun to throw things away ruthlessly. I think i met you during some of the A-list blogging workshops. See you at the decluttering workshop!

    Margaret (Horn)

  8. Karen says

    Can I recommend listening to a podcast whilst doing it? Always works for me.
    The other thing that I do (and this is a kind of reverse inspiration) is watch Hoarding shows. There are some on Youtube if you can’t find any on the telly. Works every time and frightens me into action!

  9. Dee says

    One idea someone gave me many years ago that I have used successfully to avoid hanging on to items just because of the memories they hold is to take a photo of the item. You can then get rid of the item. The photo takes up a lot less space. With digital photography it is now even easier and takes up no space at all. You can add comments about the item about how you acquired it, when, anything else you want to remember.
    An example of that would be a sweatshirt my mother made for me that included a hand stitched, quilted design on the front. After many years of wash and wear it was no longer decent to wear out in public but I could not stand to let go of “the memory”. I took a photo of it, included notes about it being a Christmas present from mom and how much love she had put into it. The shirt is gone but I will have the memory forever and the picture for the reminder.
    Another idea is to go ahead and hand down those heirlooms to the children and grandchildren while you can see them enjoy it. Why do you have to wait till your dead for everyone to argue over. Go ahead and give that china you never use any more to the daughter, provided she even wants it. When you visit her you still get to see it.
    There are lots of ways to let go of even precious items when you think of them in this way. You are not getting rid of them but giving them a new home where you may even actually see them more and get more use out of them than you did at your place.

    • Meredith says

      I have to say thank you to Dee for adding the “provided she even wants it” to her sentence about giving china to your daughter. When I got married, my mom gave me ALL of the family china, silver, and crystal. Now it’s taking up a ton of space, and she’s basically told me that she’ll disown me if I even think about getting rid of it. As a result, I am trying to save a *small* amount of things for my daughter, so she doesn’t have this feeling of wanting to get rid of stuff but being afraid to do it!

      P.S. If anyone has any tips for me on how to deal with this china/silver/crystal thing, please let me know….

      • Marcy says

        I think I’d just give it back to her! My mom decided I needed “adult” china- the kind that all matches, so she got me a whole set. That I love. Truly, it’s beautiful. And I enjoyed it greatly, used it all the time- until, 2yrs later, I became an Army wife. I took it with me to 2 different posts, in 2 very different states, to 2 kitchens that had no room in them for such a big set of china, so it sat packed away for another 3yrs. The last deployment, I moved home with all of our stuff for a year, and left it with her.

        • Meredith says

          Marcy – I SO wish I could do this…but I tried once and she didn’t want it! She lives in Florida and I live in Ohio, so I can’t really sneak it in and split, ha. Good for you though, for finding a use for yours while you could, and knowing when to call it quits with it!

          • Linda says

            Meredith, I don’t get it! Your mother will disown you if you even think about getting rid of “family” stuff you don’t want, but you tried to give it back and SHE didn’t want it?! I say you just received full permission to dump the stuff. If she thinks it’s so valuable, let her keep it.

      • Meredith says

        Linda – I know, nothing makes sense when it comes to this topic, trust me. I think it’s what we all grapple with at times, with the whole “emotion” ruling the mind. You are right though. I just need to get up the nerve to deal with the consequences either way! Thanks for the support, ladies!

        • Courtney Carver says

          Meredith, this is a touchy subject, and happens all the time. Here’s an idea. Have a great family dinner or dinner party, and photograph everyone enjoying the china. Put the images in a card to send to your mom. Let her know that you want the china/silver/crystal to bring the same joy to a newlywed couple or struggling family that it brought to her and to you on the night of your party.

          Then go to a local church and ask them if they know someone who would really benefit from this donation.

          If that’s too much, just quietly give it away and don’t mention it.

          • Meredith says

            Courtney – I love the dinner idea, actually. And if I don’t have the nerve to bring it up myself, I could actually incorporate both ideas. I could take the pictures and save them, then find a good home for the items. I could then wait for it to come up (just in case she never asks!), and if it does, I could then produce the pictures and explain that I wanted to give that joy to others.

            Thank you!

  10. says

    Discovering your blog was discovering a kinder spirit. I find getting rid of things freeing. You need space in order to make room for “possibilities.” Your website and writing are refreshing. Thank you for sharing your perspective.

    • Karen says

      I use:
      – giving myself a manicure/pedicure
      – watching a favourite movie in bed that I already own on dvd
      – calling a friend for a natter (with free minutes)
      – baking a cake, then treating myself to a slice (or two)
      – going to the cinema if I can afford it

    • Courtney Carver says

      winner doesn’t have to do dishes for a week.
      winner gets to choose special meal for dinner
      iTunes card (I guess that’s a thing but doesn’t take up space)

  11. says

    “Turn on some music, do a little dance and box that crap up.”
    My thoughts exactly! I start with the clutter that’s bothering me the most, that way I see immediate results. Also, I challenge myself to never buy anything more than is on my list. To that end I’ll even time myself in the grocery store. I also imagine what I’d rather be doing (like playing with my son) to motivate myself to move even quicker. Browsing is the enemy of minimalism.

    • Courtney Carver says

      Christine, Great suggestions. I think you’re right. Stay focused on what really matters, and the shopping and little stuff means even less.

  12. Angela Winters says

    I am 56 years old, and when I was younger, all my “stuff” seemed essential, and now it seems to be just getting in the way of my search for my true, authentic self.
    There is a popular saying regarding men: “He who dies with the most toys, wins” but I think most older people know, deep within, that this is not so.
    As you get oder. I think you opt for a clearing away of things, you feel a greater connection with the people around you.
    I think that the Beatles had it right when they said “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

  13. kerri says

    I just wondered how decluttering helped you to become debt free? Did you just stop spending money on extra clutter??

    • Courtney Carver says

      Kerri, It helped because I loved the space I had created by becoming clutter free and stopped shopping for extra things that I didn’t need.

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