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Decluttering burst: Let go of 100 things in less than an hour

I’m all for the slow and steady approach to change. It took me years to completely declutter our home, become debt-free, retool my calendar and get my life back. Each change took longer than I thought it would but once it was complete, I knew it happened at just the right pace.

Interspersed in all the slow and steady were little bursts of fast and furious. These little bursts helped me maintain motivation to stick with my tiny shifts that were contributing to years of massive change in my life.

My little bursts of fast and furious...

—While we were decluttering, we had our “last yard sale ever” and donated everything we didn’t sell that day instead of dragging it back in the house to sell at another yard sale.

—Instead of TV free nights, we called the cable company and cancelled our account.

—When I got a bonus from work, instead of shopping or treating myself to a weekend getaway, I applied it all to debt.

—I started minimalist fashion challenge Project 333 instead of slowly decluttering my closet.

The bursts weren’t the norm. The norm was day by day, dollar by dollar, shirt by coffee cup, inch by inch progress.

If you are in the long process of simplifying your life, try this decluttering burst.

Set your timer for 60 minutes and get rid of 100 things. Grab a box for trash, and a box for donations. Next, choose the recommended areas and items below that resonate with you (or create your own) to equal 100. Write down what areas you are going to attack and how many items you will declutter from each. When you start the timer, use your list so you don’t have to waste time thinking about where to start.

10 things from your bathroom

Suggested items—expired cosmetics, products you never use, extra towels and toiletries. If you find unopened boxes of toothpaste, soap, shampoo or toothbrushes that you won’t use, donate them to a local homeless shelter or distribute in your homeless community.

10 things from your junk drawer

Suggested items—if you haven’t used it in months, don’t know what it is, or are saving it “just in case” (because just in case means never.)

10 things from your kitchen

Suggested items—duplicate measuring cups. Appliances you don’t use. Extras: dishes, cups, dish towels. Food: trash expired food and donate anything unopened from the pantry you never use.

10 things from your car

Suggested items—shoes and clothes you stashed just in case but never wear. Travel cups and paper clutter. Your car is not a storage facility.

10 things from your computer

Suggested items—junk email. Documents you haven’t opened (ever.) Blurry photos. Clutter isn’t always visible.

10 things from your linen closet or laundry room

Suggested items—extra towels, sheets, blankets.

20 things from your arts/crafts/hobby room

Suggested items—anything you aren’t using that is taking up the space you need to create.

10 things from your bedroom

Suggested items—extra books, decorative items you don’t enjoy, extra furniture, nightstand clutter.

20 things from your closet

Suggested items—clothes that don’t fit. Shoes that give you blisters. Anything with a price tag on it. Things you don’t like to wear. If you are ready to end closet chaos, try Project 333.

20 things from your kid’s room

Suggested items—clothes they don’t wear and toys they don’t play with. Include your children and ask them to fill a box with things they’d like to donate to children who have much less than they do.

20 things from storage (in the garage, attic, storage shed…)

Suggested items—anything in a box that you don’t use, miss or remember. Things you are saving “just in case” (because just in case = never). Aspirational items—get rid of things you a bought for a life you thought you wanted but don’t.

Try the decluttering burst to inspire long-lasting change in your life. Big change takes time and can sometimes feel heavy and frustrating. Find ways to have fun along the way. You’ll be so glad you took time to enjoy the journey. I hope this decluttering burst helps!

Courtney Carver changed her life by simplifying it after a devastating diagnosis in 2006. She’s the founder of bemorewithless.com and minimalist fashion challenge Project 333. Her new book Soulful Simplicity will be published December 26 by Tarcher/Perigee a division of Penguin Random House. Carver shows us the power of simplicity to improve our health, build more meaningful relationships, and relieve stress in our professional and personal lives.

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