Creating a Life Free From Chaos

40 Days of Clearing and Decluttering: A Lenten Challenge

Today is Ash Wednesday, and I always struggle with the notion that I should deprive myself of something for Lent, or at the very least, challenge myself to do something noteworthy for the 40 days leading up to Easter. In the spirit of “giving something up for Lent,” I’m challenging myself (and you!) to 40 days of decluttering, clearing my space and life for a more intentional lifestyle. Even if you don’t observe Lent, would you like to join me for 40 days of clearing?

40 Days of Clearing and Decluttering: A Lenten ChallengeI’m tackling the 40 days in sets of five, by category:

Clothing and Accessories

  • Any clothes that don’t fit and don’t spark joy when you wear them
  • Accessories you don’t wear — belts, scarves, handbags, etc.
  • Shoes you never wear, are worn out, or don’t fit correctly
  • Coats and jackets you don’t like or wear
  • Jewelry that no longer sparks joy


  • Old magazines and newspapers — recycle anything you’re not going to read
  • Books (gasp! I know!) — unless it’s a beloved book you intend to read again or reference often, consider passing it along or donating to a library
  • DVDs and CDs you no longer watch or listen to
  • Email — if your inbox is overflowing, take some time to clear it out so you don’t miss important messages. Few things are as nerve-wracking as an overflowing inbox.
  • Unsubscribe from email newsletters and email lists you don’t love or you don’t find useful

Decor and Furnishings

  • Excess furniture — take a fresh look around your home and get rid of any bulky furniture you don’t need. Create visual space and a lighter feeling!
  • Excess bedding — sheets or pillowcases with stains or holes, mismatched pieces you hate. I like to keep two sets per bed that mix and match well with each other.
  • Knick-knacks you don’t like or don’t want to continue dusting
  • Artwork that no longer suits your style
  • Any decor that doesn’t bring you joy. Your home should be comfortable and be inviting — it’s your sanctuary.

The Bathroom

  • Toiletries you don’t use or are expired
  • Make-up that doesn’t suit you or is past its prime
  • Extra towels — it’s amazing how towels seem to pile up! I like to keep 2 per person, plus a couple extra for guests.
  • Those travel toiletries and hotel soaps that pile up in the bathroom cabinet. Donate them to a homeless shelter or use some to create a hospitality jar if you have frequent guests.
  • Expired medication — give to your pharmacy for safe disposal or do what I do — dump it in used kitty litter when I’m taking out the cat box!

The Kitchen

  • Clear out your pantry for any food that’s expired or that you know you won’t eat
  • Empty your freezer of those freezer-burned mystery meats, and clean out the fridge of expired condiments any anything that smells off or looks odd
  • Cookbooks you never use
  • Specialty gadgets or appliances you never use — the pineapple corer, the yogurt maker, the snow cone machine. We all have something!
  • Extra coffee cups and plastic to-go cups that seem to multiply in the cupboard

Home Office

  • Pens that don’t work, dried up markers, broken pencils
  • Junk mail and old paperwork — shred or recycle
  • Craft supplies in excess of what you actually intend to use this year
  • Your to-do list — take a long, hard look at your tasks and get rid of the fluff. Delegate what you can and get back to the tasks that mean the most to you and your goals.
  • Any obligations you have in your schedule that you don’t enjoy or feel are worthwhile to your goals. Be intentional about what you fill your time with.

Sentimental Items and Kid Stuff

  • Old photos you don’t like, are unflattering, bring up bad memories, and duplicate copies
  • Gifts you received that you’re only holding onto out of obligation
  • Old greeting cards and notes that don’t hold special meaning for you. Likewise kid scribbles, artwork, and school papers — curate the best and let go of the rest!
  • Kids’ toys that are broken or outgrown
  • Kids’ clothes that are outgrown, torn or stained beyond wearability. It’s OK to save a few special baby outfits that bring you joy, but let go of the rest.

Your Life

  • Social events you don’t enjoy — you don’t have to say yes to every invitation. Save your energy for what truly matters to you.
  • Let go of guilt over the past. You can’t change the past, so there’s no point in wallowing in regret.
  • Free yourself from worrying about the future and put your energy into living with positive intention.
  • Make a plan to clear the debt from your life as quickly as possible. Make a budget and plan where your money will go.
  • Let go of anything that clogs your schedule and prevents you from spending quality time with God, your family, and much-needed time alone to recharge.

What categories of your life do you need to “let go” of something (cue the Frozen soundtrack)? Is there something you can give up for Lent that will simplify your life and help you live more intentionally?

How Decluttering Can Help You Live a More Sustainable Lifestyle

This is a guest post from Emily Folk.

As you get out of bed, you step over the piles of clothes you’ve tossed all over the floor throughout the week, with a sigh of frustrated dissatisfaction. You rub your eyes as you make your way over to the light switch and trip over piles of shoes, bags, and shampoo bottles tossed carelessly onto the ground. As you make your way downstairs, you can’t even sit on the coach because you have piles of Target’s clearance items stacked onto each chair, table, and in Fido’s dog bed, too. Your life is officially a Hoarder’s episode gone wrong.How Decluttering Can Help You Live a More Sustainable Lifestyle

So maybe your life isn’t quite as dramatic as this scenario, but that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from decluttering your life a little, too. Did you know that there are over 300,000 items and products sitting around in one American household alone?

While buying new goods may produce a feel-good sensation that lasts a matter of seconds, the waste they produce after being tossed aside can take thousands of years to decompose alone. Decluttering your life not only helps you live a more sustainable lifestyle, but it helps carve a cleaner future for future generations, too.

Fewer Products Equates to Less Waste

Americans spend 1.2 trillion dollars annually on one massive expense — can you guess what it is? If you’re thinking groceries, guess again. That money doesn’t go toward taxes or any bills, either. This figure representations the trillions of dollars Americans spend on non-essential goods — products and items they just don’t need.

When you think of these hundreds of thousands of products each household consumes alone, it’s not hard to imagine where each of these items will end up after a few months — or even weeks — of use.

The second you choose to declutter your life, you’re also committing to making the Earth into a less wasteful place. When you think about the fact that it takes over 1,800 gallons of water to produce one pair of blue jeans alone, you’ll find yourself much less likely to invest in the latest temporary fashions knowing that it creates an impactful amount of waste.

How You Can Transform into a More Conscientious Buyer

When you adopt a minimalist lifestyle, every purchase you do make should be backed by research and an informed mindset before you make your investment. You won’t buy shirts that only withstand one week of wear when you need a smaller wardrobe that will last throughout the years.

Whenever you need to buy new goods, food, or general products, be sure to investigate how producers made these items by examining if they contain any eco-labels that signify the use of less waste or harmful chemicals. When you invest in quality products built to last with ethical production practices that prioritize the environment in mind, you can reduce your ecological footprint considerably.

Save Money for What Truly Matters

When you’re 80 years old, chances are you won’t remember that sparkly blue dress you bought for a New Year’s party but tossed into your wardrobe instead. Those memories you made with friends and the trips you took to new and exciting places will be what truly matters in the end.

Consumerism is the primary culprit behind the reason why nearly half of American households retain no savings at all. If you find yourself in a house full of possessions with a bank account drained to zero, chances are you’re spending too much money on unnecessary goods.

When you keep your spending limited to the bare minimum, you’ll find that you have more money to spend on what matters.

Declutter Your Life Today

Reducing your possessions doesn’t have to be a life-changing process that leaves you feeling barren or in lack of what you really need. The first simple step toward decluttering is assessing the products you have and decide whether you truly need them in your everyday life.

One your take an inventory of your possessions and cut out the unnecessary junk, be sure to follow these simple steps to keep clutter at bay:

  • Use reusable bags to cut back on waste
  • Give away two items every time you buy something new for your house.
  • Ditch plastic and one-time use bottles for reusable containers instead.
  • Get rid of one item you no longer use each day.
  • Donate a trash bag full of clothes you no longer wear to your local thrift shop.

Whenever you minimize your possessions, you take the first few necessary steps toward a more simplistic lifestyle. Once your life is decluttered, you’ll find that positive energy and a sense of clarity quickly ensues. You can experience a sense of happiness in your everyday life and live sustainably after all, too.

Emily is a freelance writer and the editor of Conservation Folks. She is passionate about eco-friendly living and is always looking for ways to decrease waste in her life.

How to Motivate Yourself to Clean and Organize Your Home

It’s easy to let things go around the house, and before you know it, you’re drowning in dirty laundry, junk mail, and leftover snack plates. A clean, clutter-free home is more comfortable, and it can also boost your self-esteem, enhance your social life, and save you money. When you can easily find what you need, you can avoid buying extraneous stuff, and you’ll feel more confident in your abilities to stay on top of your world. A clean home also frees you up to invite friends over and gives you more time to go out, instead of staying home looking for your keys. Although cleaning and decluttering might seem like a daunting task, you don’t have to feel overwhelmed. Getting motivated is half the battle. With a few simple tips, you can have your home cleaned and organized in no time.

How to Motivate Yourself to Clean and Organize Your Home

Make a plan.

Start with the area that bothers you the most. It can be a small area, such as your desk or bed, or an entire room, such as the kitchen, bedroom, or bathroom. It’s hard to clean an entire home at once, so break it into smaller areas or zones. Grab a trash bag, a box for donations, and a laundry basket for items that belong in a different room. Declutter the area, put things back where they belong, then clean up. Check out this series on did about decluttering and cleaning each area of your home.

Set a deadline.

Give yourself a time frame, and mark it on the calendar. Even better, plan a party or gathering at your place. It will motivate you to get your place clean in time for the festivities.

Enlist friends to help.

If possible, grab a couple of close friends or family members to help sort, clean, and organize. They can encourage you as well as provide extra hands for heavy lifting.

Work in intervals.

Use a timer and work in increments, with small breaks for getting drinks, using the restroom, etc. Try using the Pomodoro Technique to break the time into intervals. Knowing you only have to work until the timer goes off can help motivate you to keep going. Race yourself to see how much you can do before the timer goes off. Turn on some upbeat music to keep you going, and don’t stop to talk on the phone or watch TV. If you can’t finish the entire space in one day, do what you can, and start again in your next pocket of free time.

Just Pretend.

Sometimes, making up a story in your head can inspire you to keep cleaning. If you have too much stuff and need the motivation to declutter, pretend you’re moving overseas into an eclectic loft and can’t fit all your possessions. The fantasy may help you unload a few more items. May sound silly, but I’ve seen it work countless times!

Reward Yourself.

For every area you get clean, give yourself a little reward — a long soak in your newly cleaned tub, a gourmet snack in your scrubbed kitchen, or a new candle for your perfectly prepped bedroom. It’s so much nicer to spend time at home when it’s clutter-free and clean.

How do you get motivated to clean up?