31 Days of Decluttering & Organizing

31 Days of Decluttering

Not to be a cliche or anything, but I’ve got decluttering and organizing on the brain. Yes, it’s nearly a new year. And yes, most people seem to make New Year’s Resolutions about one of three things: Losing weight, getting out of debt, or getting organized.

The debt thing we, thank G-d, licked seven years ago. Sure, we’ve had our financial ups and downs since then (that happens to anyone – and especially those of us with variable income), but I’m very proud (and not just a little bit relieved) that we’ve never fallen back into that vicious cycle of consumer debt.

As for weight loss, well, I’ve lost 40 pounds over the last two years, and managed to keep it off (there’s been some 5-lb yo-yo’ing, but nothing too drastic). Of course, there are still another 15 pounds I’d really like to shed to be at my “wedding weight”.  Truthfully, I find myself resisting and making all sorts of excuses for why I can’t quite go there yet. That said, my family has been discussing doing another Whole 30 — in fact, even my kids are asking for it! And you know us moms, we’ll do anything for our kids. 😉 So stay tuned, you may see that coming up later in January or February.

All this rambling brings us to the third most popular topic for New Year’s Resolution: Getting organized in your home! Those of you who have read KOAB for a while know that much like weight loss, decluttering is a perpetual thing for me (like here, or here, or here, or here — and those are only some of them!).

I have to believe that the ongoing nature of decluttering is actually pretty normal for most of us. It’s virtually impossible to stem the tide of STUFF that comes in our front doors — the paper clutter alone from our daily mail is overwhelming. Add to that the stuff my kids bring home everyday in their backpacks (most of which goes straight to the recycling bin – I’m not a very sentimental mom when it comes to art projects). And then there is my and my husband’s schtuff. When you add it all up, it can become pretty overwhelming, pretty quick!

When my family moved into our new home in August, we were on a mission to unpack every.single.box immediately. Within four days, we had our house 95% unpacked! And now… nearly five months later? We’re still holding firm at that same 95%.

The pictures that we said we’d hang up “later”? Yep, they’re still waiting to be hung.  The closets that we quickly unpacked — just to get the boxes emptied and out of our house? They’re still a jumbled mess. The basement and the garage? Well, you can probably imagine… Rather than being our organized “behind the scenes” staging areas, they’re a black hole.

It’s high time I face these trouble spots. Not only do I hate the way our clutter looks (it just stresses me out visually!), I also really believe that when the behind the scenes stuff is streamlined and organized, the rest of our lives function more efficiently.

That’s why I’ve decided that I’m going to tackle one decluttering project a day during the month of January. I may give myself the weekends off. (Or I may use Sundays to catch up on three days worth of decluttering that I failed to do during the previous weeks.)

Some of these projects will be big – like the master bedroom closets — and some of them will be small — like the single “junk drawer” in the kitchen. But everyday, I will pick one area to thoroughly declutter — and then reorganize. Notice that I say I’ll declutter first? That’s because if I’ve learned anything thru my years of housework, it’s that you can’t organize clutter — at least not for the long-term.

In order to keep me accountable — and hopefully connect with those of you who also have decluttering on the brain — I plan to blog about as many of these little decluttering projects as possible. Yes, I’m going to air my dirty laundry (metaphorically and maybe even literally!) through blog posts and pictures.

I’m hoping some of you will join in this effort with me. Maybe you’re willing to take on one project a day (remember: small ones count!). Perhaps you’d rather pick four projects, and give yourself a week to work on each of one. Maybe you just want to tackle your basement for once and for all. It’s all good!

Public accountability helps, my friends. So please: Leave a comment below and let me know if you’re thinking about decluttering – and what plans you have for the new year!




  1. Good luck Mara! And I’m with you (metaphorically and maybe even literally!) 🙂

  2. shoshie steinhart says:

    Decluterring and organizing is always on my mind! We basically go through our toys and clothing every few months and somehow ALWAYS find things to donate or throw away. I read a book by Tim Gunn a few years ago- he writes a whole chapter on this topic of letting go of things. His rule is if you havent thought about it in 2 years then it doesn’t need to be in your house (the rule is for clothing). This rule has helped us get rid of lots of things to make room for new. BH I just had a baby, our 3rd, and we are still in a 2 bedroom apartment, so we need all the space we can get! Last night alone we filled 4 garbage bags with clothing alone! 1 for the garbage and 3 for donations.

    • Mara Strom says:

      It is truly amazing how the stuff just sneaks its way in! (I sometimes wonder if it’s multiplying while I sleep!) We just did a huge declutter back in May and while our house isn’t horrible right now, it is shocking how the process never seems to come to an end. (Much like laundry!)

  3. I too am beginning to tackle the clutter. I’m starting at the top of the house with the kids rooms (all clothing needs to be switched out for new sizes), and we’ll just keep going until the basement is done. Hoping to complete by January 15.

    • Mara Strom says:

      Wow – Just two weeks! That’s ambitious. Although sometimes it’s better to just roll up your sleeves and be done! I love that you’re working from the top down. I read a book about cleaning your home once and that was the author’s “rule”, too.

  4. Lisa Helprin says:

    Good for you and good luck! Your articles are my favorite part of Kosher on a Budget!

  5. I’m in with you on this one! really been needing to do this and with a new baby its a necessity! thanks for the motivation 🙂

  6. Our office is a disaster. I just finished the nursery (95%), and our bedroom needs a bit more organization. I actually just started stopping to procrastinate on these things, but it’s so hard! How do you find the time?? I’m in. At least I’ll try!

    • Mara Strom says:

      Little projects each day! Don’t try to do a whole room, or a whole closet. Pick one shelf, one spot and finish that one entirely. Momentum is good, too! You can do it!!!

  7. I’m going to try too. Now to make a list of everything that needs decluttering…

  8. I am CERTAINLY thinking about decluttering, even though we got rid of a lot of things when we moved 2 1/2 years ago.

    First there are clothes that are either too warm to wear (we moved from NJ to FL!) or are too fancy (we haven’t yet had any events here in Florida and don’t think we will, to the best of my knowledge.) And yes, there are the clothes that no longer fit ; I don’t want to keep them around, even though I am working seriously at getting to the point I was when they fit.

    Second, our space is much smaller than the previous home we occupied, and I find myself spending considerable time every day putting things away. What I mean is, yes, I leave things laying around, but, also, there isn’t a lot of space to EASILY put things away to avoid the clutter. Also, there are things like my books that I want to have easily accessible, but I have them shelved in my closet because there is no other room.

    Finally there are things I just don’t need or feel connected to anymore. Some things like certain pieces of jewelry (nothing fancy), etc, that I will offer to various family members before either giving them to the consignment shop, selling on Ebay or giving away as gifts.

    So BRING IT ON – I am ready for any good suggestions (and maybe I can even share a few) that I can get.

    • Mara Strom says:

      Smaller spaces are very motivating for decluttering, that’s for sure! Good luck! I hope you’re making great progress so far!

  9. Day 1 Dining Room table cleaned off (this time of year we eat outside)
    Day 2 Junk drawer in Kitchen is no longer full of junk!
    Day 3 Microwave stand with all it’s baskets of junk!

  10. I have been living in a hotel since 9/22 when i had a house fire . wow did i realize all my procrastination with varous decluttering tasks made a horrible and embaressing mess. As i have let go and gone thru box after box of unsalvageable paperwork etc . And feel good about throwing things away that were just not needed. But i noticed today, i have three junk drawers in this tiny one bedroom + living room suite. Yuck!! one drswer at a time for the next three days!! great plan . thanks for the motivational assistance!!

    • Mara Strom says:

      Oh gosh, Leslie! I’m so sorry to hear about your house fire. That must have been so terrifying and upsetting – and to still be in a hotel several months later… Good for you for continuing to take charge of your living environment — even when it’s a hotel room. How much longer until you’re back into your house?

      • maybe Sunday … i hope not . the house is not finished. i cannot live in it with it partially completed. i have tried to go to the house every day and go thru the bedrooms that were not touched by the fire. the daily goal is 3 items or boxes to complete. then those items are garbage , donated, or do i really need it or can i recycle it. Slow progress but i am doing it!! Once the house is finished i will have 30 boxes to go thru to return stuff to its home, trash, donate or recycle. friends who offered to help when it happened, will b recruited to help with that task. it will be a party of sorts.

        • Mara Strom says:

          WOW! You really have your work cut out for you, but it sounds like you’ve been smart and have done a little bit at a time. Just like with losing weight, that’s the best way to lose the clutter, too! Good luck, Leslie!!

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