5 a day




For those of us struggling to get started on a decluttering journey, why not try 5 a day?  The idea is that every single day you get rid of 5 items of junk in your house.  Often I'm overwhelmed if a task seems too great to get started on so breaking it down to just 5 a day is so doable.  Research shows that clutter stresses us out and our cortisol levels actually raise when we look around and see disarray.





Technically if you did this every day for a year, you'd rid yourself of 1825 items.  My advice would be to start small.  Open a drawer and quickly scan it and remove 5 useless things.  Either put them in the trash or in a box by the front door.  At the end of the week you could have 35 items to take to Goodwill or give to friends. Whatever you do, empty the box so it is ready for the next week.





If you are stuck because like me you fear that you may need the item one day, ask yourself when you last used it.  Is it something you only use at Thanksgiving or Christmas?  Then keep it because you don't want to have to replace it, just put it in a less used drawer. I bet you will find that 5 items a day isn't enough.  I only have 1 closet and a few drawers in my house and there is plenty of crap hiding in them that needs to go so let's get tidy! x


65 comments

  1. I have done this a few times. It really works. five seems like a gentler less threatening number--smile. right now I have three shopping bags for Goodwill. the hardest things to let go are gifts. things people gave me and I never really wanted or needed. How do you manage gifts?

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    1. if someone gives me a gift that doesn't fit into my life i either give it away or donate it. i don't think we are supposed to keep things forever just bc someone else gave it to us. also my friends and i no longer even exchange gifts, we go out to lunch or a movie for our birthdays. i hope this doesn't sound harsh but it's what i do! xo

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  2. This is such great advice, but I do struggle! I have sentimental items like the few pieces to my Mother's childhood tea playset and lots of the original vintage Fisher Price Little People sets my own four children played with, and now even my three granddaughters have outgrown. I have other sentimental items and gifts, too, that I am not using or displaying but cannot part with. They remind me so of people I love who are gone or still with us. In this case, I think I must ruthlessly clear the closets and drawers of other items that I CAN easily give up! Your home always looks so peaceful and restful, Janet. Love the shot of your entry. I don't believe I have ever seen that.

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    1. Isabella W, take pictures of them before you get rid of them. Make a special memory album (digital even better) of them.

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    2. joy has a great idea there. this is how i'd approach it...does the joy of the gift, toy or thing outweigh the idea of having the kind of home you envision? if it does,keep it. if not then donate or give to someone who you know would use it. that way the joy of the item keeps living even if it isn't in your home. just an idea. x

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  3. What great advice. I cleared out some things in my bathroom last weekend. Felt soooo good to actually "see" what is in my vanity drawers.
    And, that navy blue wall is everything!!!!

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    1. hi emily! bathrooms are the worst for me bc i'm always being given samples at work to try. they add up fast! i love the look of an orderly medicine cabinet! and thank you re the wall. xo

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  4. OHHHHH............OKAY I SHALL TRY!
    MY problem is mostly PAPER!!!!!!IT just accumulates with me for needing at a later date or bills or because I tore it out of a magazine and want to COPY!
    I did a new POST did you get the email...........I think something is WRONG!
    I changed to MAIL CHIMP last POST.AAARRRRRR

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    1. paper can be hard but i'm pretty ruthless. it gets dealt with right away when the mail is brought in. i've gone paperless with all bills and that has helped. x

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  5. Oh what a great idea! I feel this way about the 10 pounds I want to lose...I am staring with the first 5 then when I have managed that I will tackle the next 5...
    Wow I never knew that there was actual science behind clutter and the resulting cortisol levels...
    Feel stressed when there is a mess...so true.
    I have a bag by the front door and am off to Salvation Army Thrift shop today!

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    1. yes, i think the same thing can be applied to weight or old emotions...anything! xo

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  6. My home looks pretty uncluttered, unless you go in the attic, garage or peak under the beds or in certain cubbies. I've gotten rid of a bunch, but there's definitely more that could go. I struggle with the just-in-case items,Che sentimental stuff, and the stuff Inpaid a lot for and technically have room for, but will probably never use again. I'm loving the inspiration though!

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    1. hi candi. our basement can get pretty bad too! but it's in constant flux bc of things going in and out as it's our only storage. larry stays on top of it! x

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  7. This is brilliant, Janet. Recently I moved out of a house I had lived in for 14 years. I couldn't believe all of the accumulated stuff, 20 years of tax returns, 15 y.o. utility bills, and so much junk everywhere. I had to pause to assess if I had a mental issue, to consider that I could be hoarder. You hear stories of people having to clean out deceased relatives' homes and it reminded me that I am not doing that to my family. A ton of weight was lifted when I gave away good (never used) things and then had a junk hauler come for the rest. The new house is tiny, which will force me to get rid of 5 things a day. You're my hero.

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    1. moving is the best way to declutter!!!! x

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    2. clearing out a deceased relative 's home when you are grieving sucks. My 3 grandparents died in the last 2 years and going through their homes was pretty sad and difficult, and they weren't hoarders. I would hate my son to be overwhelmed after my death by my things xx

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  8. Pretend you are moving overseas and have to pay the movers by the pound. That's a helpful question to ask yourself about any object you're not 100% sure of. "Am I willing to pay the movers to move this?"

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  9. We all seem to be decluttering and there are so many different ways to tackle it, breaking the task (ordeal!) down to bite sized, but yours at 5 per day seems to have the lightest touch and I'm loving it Janet! I've got my kitchen rid of a huge number this past week or two, so I feel I've earned the right to slow down the pace now, so thank you for making the rest of my declutter programme seem achievable.

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    1. hi mary. it's addicting and hard to stop at 5 but 5 is also easy if you are super busy! x

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  10. Great advice. Very manageable for those of us who easily get overwhelmed with all the decluttering we need to do! May I ask what room in your house is that that is looking into the kitchen? I like the wallpaper and mirror. Also, you've probably told us before, but what is the paint brand and color in your dark blue office? Love it.

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    1. hi jeannine. it's the back entry vestibule. it's so tiny! the paint in the office is old navy by BM. x

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  11. Some wonderful advice!!!
    Love seeing pictures of your home😍

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  12. Beautiful.
    -Suzanne in Illinois

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  13. I am trying to declutter a barn...yes a barn. And, I have been using the technique you suggested. Every trash day I go down and I get a will borrow full of stuff and put it in the bin. I am actually beginning to see a difference, so it really does work. As far as my house...well that's another matter...first the barn. LOL

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    1. if it can work on a barn it can work on a home! give it a try.:) xo

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  14. Decluttered the linen closet last Friday, and lots of old tax papers. So thankful that my husband's work has a secure shredder, so that made it easy. Took old books, maps, and magazines to the library today. I am continually cleaning out some areas, but others get neglected. Clothes are my next target, and I am finally putting photo albums together. I need to get the chipped dishes out of my cupboard too. I still have lots of children's books from my own kids and being a teacher. Those could go, but I am hanging on to them for my granddaughter if she has a child some far off day.

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    1. it all sounds so wonderfully freeing! i have a huge tub of legos waiting for a grandson. one is on the way so now they can have it! :) x

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    2. smallvoice - girls like legos too

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  15. This is grat idea and one I might have to try. My life is full of clutter!

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    1. it doesn't seem like much to start with but at the end of the year it'll make a difference. of course you can't bring anything new in...:) x

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  16. This is how I started my decluttering journey, I initially aimed for an item from each room. It gradually snowballed and became a little addictive; at that point I started tackling larger decluttering projects.

    I love your blue wall, it is very soothing to look at.

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  17. 2017 is the third year of my One-Per-Day decluttering program. My goal is to remove one item per day, many times it has been more than one. I keep the Donate Box in an out-of-the-way corner of our living room (we would trip over it by the front door). It was an easy habit to adopt. Clothes are dropped into the box as soon as I realize that I haven't worn a particular item ... instead of making a chore out of sifting items out of my wardrobe. (I did do this with jeans recently. Tried them all on, dropped the iffy ones into a pile, laundered and folded the survivors.) Right now, the Donate Box is full and it is time to load the car and take the items to the thrift store ... profits from which benefit a local all-breed animal sanctuary.

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    1. awww that's a wonderful destination for your unused items! yay! x

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  18. I learned this tip from you and it is so brilliant! Decluttering and the decisions therein go hand in hand with anxiety. And of the utmost importance in managing anxiety is making big tasks small and less imposing.
    One thing that helps me tremendously when donating something sentimental is imagining who I'd like to find it at goodwill and love it. It helps me to visualize them starting new lives where they'll be appreciated. This is a slightly delusional practice but luckily I don't care.

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    1. i read something recently that made an impact on where i donate. they said they no longer donate to the goodwill but rather to a local shelter where disadvantaged families shop for free. it makes sense to me bc a lot of the time i see people like me at the GW just trolling for amazing things at cheap prices. i have enough! i have already looked up our local shelter and they are thrilled to get donations! so that would be a great visualization for me. thanks for that tip! x

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    2. Decluttering, clutter, anxiety, decision making, regret about poor choices, disarray and mess are all inextricably entwined.

      I hate having visual reminders of poor choices.

      Starting small is so key.

      Love the 5 a day (when I read the title I thought you meant veggies to eat per day! ha!) xxxx

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  19. Stephen Andrew and Janet- this is so simple and brilliant. SAJ, you hit the nail on the head with your statement, "Decluttering and the decisions therin go hand in had with anxiety." I had never put these two together, but explains beautifully why I freeze when trying to clear things out. If I need to keep the clutter, there simply is no where in this house to put it. And trying to think of clever, attractive storage (AKA hiding places) gets harder all the time. Thus, the need to dispose of things, which, in turn, causes me mucho anxiety. Five a day should be doable. And, perhaps, I can overcome my discomfort with tossing stuff out.

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    1. yes kristien and then add to your thought process SAJ's visualization trick and it should be less anxiety producing. just thinking about it makes me happy! x

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  20. Hi Janet, it's amazing how much stuff we accumulate. It seems like I am never running out of things to donate or toss. But there is a lot more I need to tackle. I was really proud of Tony recently, he cleared a bunch of stuff out of his closet without me nagging him to do it. :)

    Could you name some of the items that you have been getting rid of? Your house already seems so clutter free so I'm just curious what it is that you decided to part with!

    Linda
    xo

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    1. i should have taken photos in the beginning bc that would be a great visual but i didn't. i've gotten rid of far more than 5 a day here but here is a sample...

      clothing
      dishes
      magazines
      old paperwork
      mason jars
      trays
      jewelery
      beauty products
      hair things (ties barrettes headbands)
      unused but still good food to the shelter
      2 small appliances
      microwave
      lol omg, so much!

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    2. Wow! Well the beauty products I can see...you probably acquire a lot of them through your work! But still that's a long list of stuff given the size of your home.

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    3. linda, you'll note that most everything on the list is small stuff. that's the kind of stuff that creeps in! x

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  21. What a great idea... I have been in my home for 25 years, so things have accumulated. I may have to begin with 2 items per room for a while! Your home is very beautiful and serene.

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    1. thanks devon. i think 2 a day would be great bc that would be 730 items in one year! xo

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  22. Here's a not so good way to declutter .... a tornado hit my home January 2nd. Some damage to the roof and the attic had to be cleaned out and wet insulation removed. I am beginning to clear away 22 years of accumulation! It was always a burden thinking about cleaning it out ... guess God was ready for me to do it! Planning to be ruthless! Lusa

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    1. oh no! well good luck with the task, if you survived a tornado you can survive this! x

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  23. Love this idea! In fact I've gotten rid of more than five things each day so far. And I love your little entry hall! So cute. I imagine it's difficult to photograph such a small space, but I'd love to see more pics of this room. :)

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    1. it's hard to stop at 5! yes it is tiny and hard to photograph!:) x

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  24. Janet, Looks like your pantry is in the January Good Housekeeping. Lisa

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  25. Thank you for this inspiration. IT WORKS FOR ME.
    Now is the perfect time of the year to start to refresh while chilly temps here in the Mid-Atlantic keep us indoors and close to the clutter.

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  26. Janet....how much do I love that you did the math!!!! Five items seems like nothing, almost so small it's not worth it. But when you total it up, it's so compelling. I am inspired to do it now. Thanks! Amy

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  27. The 5 a day is a great idea ....I will start today.

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  28. Janet your blog is beautiful and an inspiration I have "lurked "for many years. I too am decluttering madly. I have reached a stage in life where I realise things are not as important as they used to be . It certainly makes me feel good decluttering.x

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  29. Janet, Love this so much! We have the same umbrella stand with vintage tennis racquets. I love mine too. I have to share this. A lot less overwhelming and still a good start and mindset for 2017! x Kim

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  30. Kim from Northern California Style sent me here. What a lovely blog and great suggestions. I need this badly!

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