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Decluttering Fast: A 15-Minute Challenge

Sometimes decluttering fast is the best way to get organized, clear clutter, and make space for the things I truly enjoy.

Decluttering a house or even just a room can be overwhelming as a whole project, so I like to work on the spaces in short, 15 minute blocks of time.

I set the timer and clear clutter fast. When the timer goes off, I stop — unless I’m having fun and feeling motivated, in which case I keep going.

Recently after doing four 15-minute sessions over two weekend days I took eight bags of treasures to the ARC drop-off: DVDs, little-worn clothing, books, toys and knick knacks.

Each bag that goes out the door frees up lovely open space. 

A pretty, uncluttered bedroom.

What I’ve discovered is that decluttering is a lot like paying off debt. In the early stages you have to spend extra time going through everything, when you feel like you have absolutely no time to spare.

But as each space gets uncluttered, time gradually returns. 

As each space or closet or cabinet becomes tidy, it’s faster to find things and easier to keep clean.

You may find, as I do, that walking into an uncluttered room fills your spirit with peace. What a nice feeling to cultivate at home.

5 Decluttering Hacks to Clear Clutter Faster

Here are five tips to help you get started and maintain a clutter-free living space:

1. Start with a plan

Before diving into decluttering, take some time to develop a plan of action. Decide which areas or rooms you want to tackle first and set specific goals for each space. Having a clear plan will keep you focused and motivated throughout the process.

2. Sort items into 3 categories

As you go through each room, sort items into three categories: Keep, Donate/Sell and Discard. If you haven’t used or needed something in a long time, it might be time to let it go.

3. Organize one area at a time

Decluttering can quickly become overwhelming if you try to tackle the entire house at once. Instead, focus on one area or room at a time. This approach allows you to see progress more easily and prevents you from feeling like the task is insurmountable.

4. Create a clutter-free zone

Designate a specific area in your home that will remain clutter-free. This could be a countertop, a shelf, or an entire room. Having one space that is consistently tidy will serve as a reminder of what the rest of your home can look like and encourage you to keep decluttering.

5. Perform regular maintenance

Once you’ve decluttered your home, make a habit of regularly tidying and organizing your belongings. Allocate a few minutes each day or set aside time each week to address any new clutter that accumulates. This consistent effort will help prevent the clutter from building up again and make future decluttering sessions much easier.

How About You?

What space would you like to declutter first? Leave a comment below! Feel free to share your project, your results, your suggestions, your frustrations, or anything else you want to say about tidying up your spaces.

Working steadily and encouraging each other, we can do this!

For more on this topic, you might also enjoy “Answering Your Decluttering Questions.”

This post was originally published on March 2, 2018 and was updated on July 27, 2023.

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is the author of 17 books, including Small Bites and 101 Things To Do With Bacon. She shares ideas to simplify cooking, gardening, time and money. She is also the owner of Cross Media, Inc. and founder of the BENSA Bacon Lovers Society.

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8 thoughts on “Decluttering Fast: A 15-Minute Challenge”

  1. I am definitely in. I will tackle my dresser(a total catch all) and my closet(a total catch all for anything that didn’t fit on the dresser). Maybe I will even take before and after pictures.

  2. I just tackled my jewelry and earrings: previously stored in a box, a couple of drawers and two of those hanging jewelry holders. I donated many earrings, bracelets and pins that I never wear, threw away the broken, and became reacquainted with some things I had long forgotten. Everything is now beautifully organized. The project took about two hours and was helped along by some good music.

    My big challenge now is the four boxes of china/crystal/silver that my mother in law gave me when her mother passed away. We don’t use it, but feel a guilt about getting rid of it. What to do with stuff from the 20s and 30s, that no one really wants anymore, but….?

    • Pam, thank you for sharing your specific strategies for decluttering jewelry. Good music while sorting is a great idea! 🙂

      Regarding china and crystal, I have 16 pretty cut crystal wine and champagne glasses that belonged to my grandmother. I decided to split them in 4 sets of 4 and am giving them to the young women in my family for engagement gifts along with a bottle of Champagne. The first set to my oldest niece was a huge hit and she cried happy tears. I like that the pieces will stay in the family.

      I understand the conflict with sentimental pieces. Another idea is that you could set a beautiful table with all the china and silver and crystal and take a high resolution photo to remember all the pieces. Then sell them on eBay to someone who will really enjoy them, and do something significant with the money. Good luck, and let us know what you decide to do. xo

    • I hear you , sister! You might enjoy Pam’s comment below. I have more sorting to do in this category, too. I just gave away a box of costume jewelry. They were pieces I hadn’t worn in years, and I knew it was time to say goodbye. I’m going to try and sell some of the better pieces on eBay. Good luck! Let us know how it goes. xo

  3. In. Need to declutter the entire house in 15 minute segments – had a heart attack last year and still very low energy and sleepy.

    • I’m sorry, sweet Lulu. That’s tough, and I hope your healing quickly appears and you regain your energy.

      Here’s an idea: You may wish to buy a little plastic digital timer at the Dollar Store (look in the kitchen gadget section) and just keep it set on 15 minutes. Gather some bags or boxes so you have places all ready for items to donate. Then do a 15 minute focused decluttering/cleaning on one space. Stop when the timer goes off and put the box/bag in the trunk of your car. Keep doing this process, and little by little things will start to improve. I am praying, and pulling for you. Let me know how it goes, okay? xoxo

  4. This is sooo me! I am much older that most of your replies–I can tell. So everything in the family has sifted to me. I have been “editing” my house for a month, closet by closet and shelf by shelf. It’s so rewarding–find something I once loved, give it a kiss, and take it to Pennies for Change, our domestic violence shop. So glad I found your blog!! I’m at grandmanaturediary.blogspot.com


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