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The 52 Week Declutter Challenge

By , January 9th, 2014 | 14 Comments »

52 week declutter challenge
You have too much junk. I feel pretty confident making that statement because I have far less stuff than most people, and I have way too much junk. This became apparent as I was going through stuff as part of my 52 week make money challenge. As part of that challenge, I am hoping to sell some of the things I have but no longer use, in order to make some extra money. While that’s still a goal, as I’ve been going through the garage I’ve been finding far more things than I realized I had. It’s become obvious that what I really need to do is a major decluttering.

The problem I have with decluttering is the same problem that a lot of people have with saving money. Over the years I’ve formed the habit of saving stuff “just in case,” rather than selling it or getting rid of it in some other way. It’s a habit that I need to break, and it seems that a great way of breaking it has been staring me straight in the eyes: a 52 week declutter challenge.

Over the next year, I plan to rid myself of 1,378 items from my house. The concept is pretty simple. For each week of the year, I’ll get rid of a corresponding number of things from my home. For example, in week one I’ll get rid of a single item. In week two, I’ll let go of two separate things. In week three, three items would vanish from my house. This will continue until week fifty-two when I’ll remove 52 things from my house. Doing this on a weekly basis will have me purging a total of 1,378 items during the year. I’ve created the handy chart below so that I can track the purging (and you’re welcome to as well), and make sure that I stay on top of the challenge.

52 Week Declutter Challenge (click on image to print)


While the standard declutter challenge is a perfectly acceptable way of going about the challenge, I think that I’ll actually do the alternate version. I’ll be getting rid of the same amount of stuff, but this version gives me the option of choosing how much I purge from my home each week. At the bottom of the chart are numbers from 1 to 52, one for each week in the year. Each week, I’ll keep track of the number of things I have disposed of and cross that number off the bottom of the chart. I’ll then write that number next to the week. For example, if I get rid of 23 items in week one, I’d write 23, and then 23 for the total number of items decluttered. Then in week two, if I disposed of 12 items, I’d write 12 next to week two, and then add that 12 to the 23 items from week one, for a total of 35 things removed from the house.

I think this version will give me more flexibility and a greater likelihood of achieving the goal. I know that I tend to be more motivated to tackle clutter at certain times over others, and when I’m in this mood I can cross off the higher numbers. When I’m not as motivated, or when I become extremely busy on other projects, I can purge a smaller number of items.

Alternate 52 Week Declutter Challenge (click on image to print)

There is a wonderful thread in the forums that has been ongoing for a number of years which is devoted to people explaining what they have decluttered. If you are having trouble trying to figure out where to start and what you should get rid of, then this is a great place to begin. I’m excited to embark on this challenge and reap all the benefits that come with reducing the amount of stuff that I have.

Please feel free to print the charts for yourself if you know that decluttering is something that you need to do this year. If you know someone who would benefit from this type of challenge as well, please pass it along the them. I think this should be a fairly simple and straightforward way to declutter, and I also hope it helps others that need to do the same.

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  • Christina says:

    I didn’t find the Alt Version PDF, but I did find some .pngs for the Alt Version in a variety of sizes by deleting the page of this URL in the address bar: there’s a repository of Challenges in PNG and PDF format.
    I used the URL as my Website link for this comment so click on my name if it’s highlighted to search the repository.

  • creditcardfree says:

    I think attaching a number to decluttering can be an excellent exercise. I once did some challenge where I got rid of 27 items each day for 9 days. Sure sometimes it was a piece of paper, but it did make me look deep for things to get rid of.

  • Alexandria says:

    The last link isn’t working for me??

    I find it hard to believe I can purge 1378 things, but I like the idea of just trying to purge something weekly, putting it on the fridge as a reminder, and who knows? I may be surprised. πŸ˜€

  • Christina says:

    If the 1378 items include what will be reaching the house over the next 51 weeks this will be an easy challenge for me (oft-used strips of fabric sheets, circulars, facial tissues, grocery receipts, twist-ties, recipes I photocopied six years ago but never used).

  • Alexandria says:

    Thanks Christina!

  • Nate says:

    Second link fixed now. Apologies.

  • snafu says:

    I find it helpful to have a criteria for stuff to go. To keep clothes from over taking closets and bureaus, we agreed that when new apparel comes in, similar old items must go.

    To keep paper from overwhelming us, we only keep asking ourselves ‘what’s the worst thing that would happen if it went to recycle…other than legal or tax stuff.

    Anything broken gets a slice of masking tape with the dated, if not fixed in a couple of pay cycles, it’s gone, obviously not important. If replaced, new item in – old out!

    Some people say if space isn’t a problem they may as well keep stuff they don’t need, don’t use etc. It still takes effort to look after stuff – needed or not. Not every nook and cranny needs to be filled.

    We all have stuff that’s only used occasionally but if you don’t use stuff, don’t need it, don’t love it…why not sell it, regift or donate and let someone else enjoy and use?

  • scfr says:

    OK Jeffrey, I’m on board with this one with a twist … I’m going to make it an “Email deletion” challenge and my motivation is to stop having a negative impact on the environment by forcing my Email providers to expand their storage capabilities due to my failure to delete old & useless Emails. The Emails that I delete as soon as I open my Email don’t count … I will only count the “moldy” ones that have been sitting in my in & outboxes for far too long.

    • scfr says:

      I should mention that I will be using the numbers in the TOTAL column, not the “# of items” column, since deleting Emails is pretty easy.

    • jeffrey says:

      Definitely a creative take on this that I’m sure would benefit a lot of people (including myself) Best of luck with it. I may have to steal this idea for another post πŸ™‚

  • Gailete says:

    Hadn’t read this article when I made my first money of the 53 week challenge, but I got rid of 170+ items πŸ™‚ I have plenty more to get rid of as well. If I could only convince my 49 year old husband to let me donate some of his clothes that he still has from high school and will never fit him again that would be great!

  • Jo says:

    Okay, I am definitely on board with decluttering using the 52-week challenge. This is not going to be difficult in the least.

    I have an upcoming move this fall. I will be relocating from northwestern PA to a nice little city in MO. Since it’s going to be a self-move, the last thing I need to do is carry about stuff I just don’t have any use for. This means not having to rent a massive U-Haul, and then putting the savings towards my Challenge. Most of the stuff I get rid of, I can sell and also apply to my savings. Win-win for me.

    As far as getting rid of old emails, I’ve never had this issue. I’d rather apply the decluttering to actual 3-D items…..and it won’t be one sheet of paper at a time either.

    Such awesome ideas on this blogsite!


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