Minimalist Mama

New Year means new chance to change your clutter-y ways

Happy New Year! A new year often signals an opportunity for change. To some it is an arbitrary date on the calendar, but to others it means the chance to enforce better habits. No matter which applies to you, I have some tips to jumpstart your minimalism journey with a 30-day decluttering challenge.

Before starting any challenge item, make sure you are in the right mindset and have minimalized any distractions that could derail you — send the children to a friend’s house, turn off the television or mute social media notifications on your phone.

Get a calendar and write down one small task you will complete each day. If you are an more advancedminimalist, you can try more challenging tasks, such as the Minimalist Game by “The Minimalists” Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus. On the first day of the Minimalist Game, you discard one item, then two items on the second day, and so on.

But for those who are just starting out, this is a helpful daily to-do list that isn’t too overwhelming:

Day 1: Empty the junk drawer.

Day 2: Clean out your movie and CD collection. Evaluate which ones to keep and which ones can be donated.

Day 3: Clean out your television stand. Remove extra decorations and tchotchkes and dust the ones that will stay.

Day 4: Clean off your bookshelf and go through your books. Donate any books your children have outgrown, and you no longer wish to keep. Toss or recycle old textbooks and encyclopedias.

Day 5: Do you have a wallet stuffed to the brim like from George Costanza from “Seinfeld”? Clean out your wallet, put change in a jar, file any needed receipts, and discard expired loyalty cards and coupons.

Day 6: Clean out your purse. Dump it all out and evaluate what you need to carry with you each day.

Day 7: If you found seven lipsticks in your purse and dumped them all in the bathroom drawer, today is the day to clean out the makeup drawer or that cluttered area next to the bathroom sink.

Day 8: Go through the cabinet under the sink. Remove expired items, and discard unused products.

Day 9: If you have a linen closet, clean out and evaluate what is stored here. How many sets of sheets and towels do you really need? (Two — one in use and one in the wash.)

Day 10: Clean out your tub or shower area. If you have children, significantly reduce the number of toys and playthings; your child probably won’t even notice. Combine bottles to save space. If you don’t use it, toss it!

Day 11: Today, tackle a bedroom closet and purge it of items you no longer wear. A new year is a great time to face your hangers the other way so you can easily see which items you haven’t worn.

Day 12: Have closet full of jackets or children’s clothes? Go through it and see how many items you can donate.

Day 13: Go through your family’s shoes and donate or discard ones that no longer fit.

Day 14: Go through the mail pile; create a drop zone to reduce the clutter on your counter.

Day 15: Clean off the kitchen table and wash the tablecloth and placemats.

Day 16: Go through the medicine cabinet and first-aid kit. Discard and replace any expired medications.

Day 17: Clean out the cleaning supplies. Properly dispose of products you no longer use. Do not combine products as it could result in a dangerous chemical reaction. Consider using all-natural, safer cleansers such as white vinegar and baking soda.

Day 18: Open the coffee mug/cup cabinet and discard and donate any chipped mugs or excess cups.

Day 19: Go through your plastic storage containers — throw out old and stained containers or ones that do not have lids. Reduce the number of items in this space.

Day 20: Open the fridge and freezer. Throw out expired and unused condiments. Check labels and dates on frozen items. Wipe down the shelves.

Day 21: Clean out the drawer with unopened plastic silverware, takeout sauce packets, baggie ties and miscellaneous kitchen supplies.

Day 22: Purge two kitchen cabinets — check for expired and duplicate spices or unused baking supplies.

Day 23: Clean out the space above the washing machine or the laundry room.

Day 24: Go through children’s toys or tackle a spare bedroom.

Day 25: Go through the board games and electronic games. If all the pieces are intact, consider donating them to a local shelter or classroom.

Day 26: Purge extra hats, scarves and gloves.

Day 27: Clean off and wipe down kitchen countertops.

Day 28: Clean out desk drawers and reduce paperclips, pens and other office supplies.

Day 29: Vacuum and mop all the floors. This will help you identify areas of your home where clutter accumulates.

Day 30: Wash your car, inside and out.

Remember, the tasks in this challenge are meant to get you started and should be completed in less than a couple of hours — some in just a few minutes.

Once you have seen how much progress can be made, it’s easy to create a cleaning schedule to ensure that it doesn’t get cluttered again.

Share any tips with me at

Minimalist Mama is published on the first Sunday of each month in the Lifestyle section. Brigandi can be reached at