We Tried Decluttering and Now We’re Over It

Wellness Wednesdays

The LD staff decided it was high time we all made health a priority. Enter Wellness Wednesdays, a series of weekly health challenges by LD writers (and editors!) where we commit to seven days of healthy habits and share the results with our readers. This week’s challenge: decluttering.

This Week’s Participants: Kelly and Lauren

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Kelly: I’m a fairly organized person. I was definitely organized when I was in college (my files had subfolders upon subfolders), I was 100% organized when I was wedding planning and even my desk at work is in tip-top shape. However, recent months have been crazy and my home life is in shamblesorganizationally, that is. I’m hoping that this week will help me clear out the junk in my life and return to the state of normalcy that my clean-loving soul really needs.

Lauren: I love organization but I’m so bad at keeping my room clean. I moved into my current house in August and inherited all my furniture, so my room doesn’t feel like mine… especially since I move out in June and will leave the furniture behind. I want my room to not feel so temporary and to be less cluttered. I’m hoping this challenge will help me find solutions.

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Day 1: Phones

Kelly: OK, so my phone is generally a mess, to be honest. I’m the person who downloads a free app and promptly forgets about it. And I rarelyif everclean out my messages. In the spirit of this week’s challenge, I told myself that I don’t really need to archive text messages and deleted every single one. If I hadn’t used the app in the last two weeks, I deleted it. I also finally made those handy folders on my phoneVideos for Youtube and Netflix, Social Media for Twitter and Facebook, and Health for my workout apps, like Fitbit and Sworkit. I’m now down to only two pages for apps and even those only halfway fill up the screen. I also changed the background on my phone to a solid color to look cleaner.

Lauren: I deleted all the apps I never open and since my phone is only 16 GB, I backed up all my photos to Google Photo and deleted all my pictures on my phone. Around Christmas I organized my apps into folders by color and it was probably the best change I’ve made. It made decluttering my phone so much easier, especially since it already looks organized to begin with.

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Day 2: Email

Kelly: I dreaded this one. I had 1,295 unread emails in my inbox. 1,293 of them were unread because it was junk mail. I decided to search the senders that I knew sent me a crapload of junk mail and delete them all. It took me about 30 minutes to get to 100 emails, mostly because Outlook frequently froze with the amount of work I was giving it. I went through the remainder of my emails and flagged them by colormy categories included wedding, school emails, expenses and work.

Lauren: I love that Gmail automatically organizes your emails into folders so I went through each tab (social, promotions, updates) and deleted all the emails. I started by trying to search individual senders but that took too long… I did do some unscribing, though, before I took my shortcut. I ended up deleting about 11,000 emails and it was very satisfying.

Day 3: Closet

Kelly: This one was a failure for me. I ended up getting home from work late, eating dinner and going to bed. I will say, to my credit, after Christmas, I went through my closet and put together a trash pile, a sell pile and a donate pile of all the clothes I haven’t worn or I know don’t fit. I stopped by Plato’s closet to get some extra cash for the clothes that they’d take and then took the remainder to be donated. I will circle back to this one at the end of the week if I have time because every closet could use a good update every few months! It made a significant difference in my overstuffed, shared closet space.

Lauren: Confession: I don’t really have a closet. I tried using a tension bar to hang my clothes for a while (my room used to be a dining room…) but it kept falling. I’ve stuck my clothes back into a random hall closet for the time being, but I did weed through and pull out the clothes I don’t wear and popped them in a bag. Because I’ve been moving so much, I’ve been pretty good about getting rid of the clothes I don’t wear. Now I just need a different closet.

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Day 4: Beauty Products

Kelly: Well, that was gross. There were things in there from years ago. Years. I don’t really branch out with make-up. I stick the same brands, the essentialscontouring is out of my league. However, I am a big fan of Lush. While I oftentimes find a product that I lovehello, Dark Angelsthere are many, many products that I’ve bought and used only once or not used quickly enough. All of my Lush products (about six in total) were expired except for one. There were also random lotions and soaps in my make-up bin that I received as gifts and never used. I donated a pile to my sister and trashed the remainder. My bathroom has more counter space than usual.

Lauren: I didn’t really throw much makeup out because I’ve done that recently, but I did reorganize. I put my lipsticks in a glass bowl and I have a jar for all my brushes now. I threw some of my brushes away and washed the remainder. I also went through my lipsticks and threw out the ones I don’t wear and consolidated all of them (I had to hunt some down). This was one of the hardest ones to do for me because I love my makeup so much and horde lipsticks like crazy.

Day 5: Car

Kelly: OK, so if this challenge was a month ago, this would have been a different story. I have a new car that I haven’t had the chance to mess up too badly. There was a fair amount of unused napkins, McDonald’s receipts, and empty Tic-Tac boxes to be tossed. My car was also used for wedding decor transportations so I had to do a good vacuuming to get rid of the remaining glitter and random tiny pieces of trash. My car is in desperate need of a wash, but since it was 30 degrees today, it’ll have to get the last remaining TLC at a later date.

Lauren: So my car really needs a good clean. I went through with a trash bag and just picked out all of the trash. I still have some clothes that I need to bring in and some boxes that need to be shipped but overall, I think I did a good job. My car desperately needs to be washed and vacuumed but I don’t have the ability to do that right now so it’ll just have to wait. I did reorganize my napkin stash and my center console though!

Day 6: Desk

Kelly: My desk is fairly organized already, but it could use some clearing out. I tossed all the wedding vendor contact info, contracts, ideas and general extra crap that I knew I didn’t need. I found a binder I wasn’t using and put all the “important info” documents inside of it, even taking the time to hole punch them. There was a collection of receipts, old tape dispensers and unsharpened pencils clogging up my single desk drawer so I ended up just dumping out most of it! The result: Actual space on the desk top.

Lauren: I don’t have a desk right now so instead I organized the top of my dresser, the mantel above my closed-up fireplace (old houses like fireplaces in the dining room apparently), the window sill next to my bed, and the plastic shelves I have in my room. I just threw away the trash and organized the important documents and popped them in a folder. My room feels slightly more decluttered but I’ve been struggling with organization in my room and making it feel like mine. So for now there’s less trash and more surface space.

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Day 7: Kitchen

Kelly: This one was a toughie. There were a ton of new kitchen appliances that we received from our wedding registry that we didn’t really have room for. I had to go the extra mile to stack and organize just to fit everything into our limited cabinet space. An easy task was dumping all the old, expired food out of our refrigerator and cabinet. Lastly, I topped off the clean canisters that we use for sugar, flour, and cereals to leave a little more counter space.

Lauren: My house has two kitchens, neither of which I feel fully comfortable decluttering (my four roommates and I inherited everything in the house and will be leaving everything behind when we move out). So instead I cleaned the surfaces and put away all the dishes and random things that had accumulated on the counters. I wish I could declutter the kitchens more; there’s not much counter space and so many large appliances.

In conclusion…

Kelly: This challenge could not have come at a better time for me. I had a lot of things sitting around, waiting to be cleaned and put away neatly. This challenge forced me to do it and now my apartment is the level of clean that I enjoy. While it was a good push in the right direction, I don’t foresee needing to continue this challenge anytime soon. Perhaps after we move in a few months, but not anytime before then.

Lauren: I did not like this challenge. I’m not good at assigned cleaning and I’ve been sick for a week so it felt like mandatory chores on top of my daily tasks. While my room is cleaner, it still doesn’t feel like mine. Maybe I’ll try this again in a year when I’m living my apartment with all of my things.

Kelly Morrison Menk

Kelly Morrison Menk

When not writing, Kelly works as a communications associate at a nonprofit in Washington, DC. She received her bachelor's degree from the University of Mary Washington and Master's in Communication from George Mason University. She firmly believes that running daily allows her to continue her serious Coca-Cola addiction without repercussions (no, Pepsi is not the same). When she's not working or fighting horrible DC traffic, you can find her sleeping, eating or attempting to train her two pups.
Kelly Morrison Menk
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