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Decluttering games can be used to jumpstart a new decluttering project or make maintaining a clutter-free home more fun. Here are 12 to try!
I believe that we should make life more fun whenever possible. In my house, we celebrate something every day—whether it’s International Nutella Day, National Lazy Day, or Andy Warhol’s Birthday.
I’m not quite crazy enough to find decluttering fun, but there are definitely ways to make it more enjoyable. (Or at least ways to give yourself an interesting kick in the pants when you’re reluctant to get started.)
Here are some decluttering games I’ve collected. Our family has used them not only to help clear out our 2500 square foot home when we got rid of everything, but also to maintain our current relatively clutter-free state.
Decluttering games that challenge you to purge something every day
The 30-day Minimalism Game
This one was proposed by The Minimalists, and it starts out easy, but can get pretty challenging. Over the course of a month, you’ll purge the number of items equal to your challenge day.
On day 1, for instance, you get rid of one item. Day 2, you purge 2 items. On Day 3, you toss three items, etc. As you can see, this one might get a bit tough by Day 30.
If this feels like way too much stuff to let go of, you could modify it to be a 7-day Minimalism Game. Purge the number of items equal to the challenge day every day for seven days, and restart with one thing next week (and the week after that) if necessary.
One item every day for (at least) a year
This is a gentler version of the challenges above, and it’s great for maintenance if your home is already fairly clutter-free. Challenge yourself to get rid of one item every day. Include your decluttering as part of your daily routine—maybe every day after you eat your breakfast.
Of course, you can make this more challenging by purging 2, 5, or 10 things every day.
One area a day
If the challenge above feels like it would keep your house cluttered forever, consider decluttering one area every day as a part of your daily routine. Remember that you can make the area you’ll declutter as tiny as you like—one shelf, drawer, or basket is plenty. Consistency is key here, and if you try to attack too much at once, you’re sure to burn out.
To prep for this challenge, take a few moments now to make a list of all the tiny areas in your home. Pick one to tackle each day, and write a “last completed date” next to it on your list. Before long, you’ll have been through everything.
Decluttering Games That Help You Purge Lots All At Once
The 27-Fling Boogie
This is a method coined by The Flylady. (Her website is great, by the way, for easy-to-follow, low-pressure routines to keep your home clean and tidy.)
To perform the Boogie, grab a trash bag, and walk around your home until you’ve found 27 items that can go. Of course, these don’t have to be items for the trash. They can be things you’ll sell or donate. Just make sure that you include the donation of the items as part of the boogie-ing process.
I like to either:
- Put donations in my car immediately so I can drop them off on my next errand day
- Immediately schedule a pickup with a local charity that will grab the donation off of my porch.
I have also seen this called a “Fill the Trash Bag” Challenge, where instead of limiting yourself to 27 items, you instead walk around until the trash bag is full or until a set time—say 10 minutes—has elapsed.
If you’ve got a mix of things that need to be trashed, things you’d like to donate, and things that you can put away, this game is for you.
Grab three boxes: one for trash, one for donations, and one for items that need to be returned to their homes. Head around your house and find ten items for each bin.
This is a fun challenge to do with the whole family–including the kids. The four of us love friendly competition, so we’ll set a stopwatch to see how quickly we can fill our boxes or compete to see who can add the most items to each bin.
The KonMari Method
Ok, this one isn’t really a game, but it is a very specific method which will provide a good framework for your decluttering. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for awhile, you’ve probably heard of Marie Kondo. Her megahit The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, has inspired a Netflix show and helped zillions of folks to declutter their lives.
If you’re using Kondo’s method, you declutter items by category, not by location. Categories should be decluttered in order.
Here are the categories:
- Miscellaneous items
- Sentimental items
Pull out ALL of your items in a particular category–all of your clothes, for instance. Include your clothes in the dresser, the closet, the coat closet, etc. This will help you see the total amount of stuff that you have. Return to your dresser, closet, or coat closet only the items that “spark joy”.
I think this method is overwhelming, but if you have lots of motivation, a deadline, or extra help, it is very effective.
Decluttering Games that Will Help You Learn What You Actually Use
Turn the Hangers Around
This is a good game for discovering which items in your closet you actually wear. Turn all of your hangers around so that they are on the rod backwards. Make a note on your calendar to finish this project in 6 months.
As you wear an item, wash it, and return it to the closet, turn the hanger around the right way. When your follow-up day comes, donate or sell anything that is still on a backwards-facing hanger. (If you haven’t worn it in six months, there’s a good chance you never will.)
Pack It Up
For this game, you remove everything from a certain area—your closet, your kitchen, or your whole house—and store it elsewhere.
When you discover that you need an item, you dig it out of its storage location and return it to its former home. After a specified period of time—probably no longer than 6 months—you donate or sell whatever you haven’t gone looking for.
The Minimalists suggest that you get your friends together to pack up your house just like you were moving and have a “packing party” as a variation on this game. Although I’m sure it’s effective, packing up everything at once sounds like a nightmare to me.
I have had friends that had a lot of success doing this in a small area of their homes, though—say the playroom, kitchen, or closet. Consider packing up all of the kids’ toys to see what they miss, packing up all of your kitchen utensils to see how many pans you really use, or packing up your whole closet to see how many pairs of jeans you truly need.
Other Ways to Challenge Yourself
Partner up with a spouse or teen. You each will choose ten items that belong to the other person that you think might be able to go. Once you’ve each found then ten items, go through the box of items that have been purged for you. See who can let go of the most items from his or her box.
(This is a great idea for all of you folks who are dying to get your housemates on board with decluttering.)
Buy One, Get Rid of Two…or Three
As one of my habits for a clutter-free home, I recommend keeping a policy of “one in, one out”. If you bring something new into your home, it’s time to let something else go. This is a great policy if you’re happy with the current number of your possessions.
If you’re in decluttering mode, though, you’ll be able to purge items more quickly (and resist the temptation to buy a ton of new things) if you challenge yourself to purge more than one item for every new thing that comes in.
Flylady came up with this one way back in 2012. She has specific challenges to do every day for 16 days that coincided with the London Summer Olympics. It would be a fun project to do anytime, I’m sure!
As I said, I like to keep life fun, so I’ve made you a Decluttering Bingo card. It’s got 25 quick-win tasks designed to be done in about 10 minutes each. Head on over to the Mamas’ Lounge Subscriber Hub to grab it, along with tons of other free resources to help make your mom life simple, efficient, and joyful.
I hope one of these ideas helps make your decluttering process a little more fun. Decluttering will never be as enjoyable as National Water Balloon Day, but it doesn’t have to be miserable.