Decluttering for Fall: October Organization Challenge
[ Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links from Amazon. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend tools that I personally use and love and I always have my readers' best interest at heart. Enjoy! ]
Is anyone else feeling the urge to purge? I get it a few times during the year, like clockwork. I am talking spring cleaning, my natural human instinct (I presume) is to tidy up my life midyear to help propel me through the summer to the New Year when I annually try to be a better person. I need to ride that momentum from spring cleaning because summertime is my season to be let loose and live fun and fancy-free. After summer, fall always sneaks up quickly without fail. Autumn brings new semesters and new weather patterns that make for the perfect time to renew and reset my life and try to implement new habits that help me be productive and successful. So yes, as the temperature continues to drop and as I begin longing for the collegiate lifestyle I once had, I am feeling the urge for change and fresh beginnings!
Making sure I take the time to straighten up and simplify my life going into the fall season is a must for me, and it is more obtainable than you would think! If your initial reaction is, “No, I don’t want to face my messy monster yet, please don’t make me clean,” then I encourage you to try this October Organizing Challenge and see how manageable it really is.
The strategy I use to get through a major task like decluttering my unruly life is creating small, manageable tasks with deadlines. I am talking 10-30 minutes a day max! This year, I broke the organization schedule down by week, dedicating each week to a specific room or area of my life. What this means is, each day I am responsible for one part of one area of my living space! That isn’t even a whole room! What this leaves me with, are small manageable tasks that are easy to accomplish. This is the perfect formula for successful tidying. Little victories are the key to momentum. Just put on your favorite music and go!
I will be doing this challenge along with my mom during October, I would love to hear your feedback on this challenge… how the schedule worked for you and what October resolutions you made? We will share our experiences too.
I created a printable PDF Calendar for the October Organization Challenge that can be downloaded at the end of this post so you can join in on all the fun! Watch out for that link.
Week 1: Clean Up Your Closet
Day 1 of the 30 day clean is devoted to all of the tee shirts that have crinkled their way into the depths of the dresser drawer only to be forgotten and neglected. The Marie Kondo Method works best for the drawers. Pull it all out first then evaluate and refold each shirt. Decide if it truly brings you joy or if it just let it slip into the crinkled depths because it wasn’t a favorite in the first place. Those are the perfect items to ditch. This day also means bedside table drawers! Get in there. If you’re anything like me… this should be a weekly task. Better late than never!
Shoes & Accessories
Look for shoes that have lost their support or have scuffs and scratches beyond repair! Kiss nasty hats, heavily rotated handbags, and scarves that don’t keep up with the latest trends goodbye.
Time to switch out all the summery tanks for fall sweaters and jeans! Ditch the clothes that have hung unworn in your closet for over a year. During this time, I like to make sure all of my hangers match, these are the ones I use and I love them so much! I consistently order more. I also like to make sure that all of my clothes are facing the same direction. When I am organizing my clothes in the closet, I organize by color, and then by type within each color.
I am not going to lie; my current jewelry storage situation is a definite downfall for me. I have necklaces hanging in a tangled mess, earrings that are strewn about in a drawer, and everyday jewelry that I wear frequently is placed around my room in no particular fashion. Jewelry organizing for me during this challenge is going to consist of my pairing off my earrings on cards with a hole for the posts, hanging necklaces I would like to keep, and donating jewelry that hasn’t been touched in years. I like to separate any fine jewelry from my playful, trendy, “statement” pieces.
Dusting the dresser, Windexing mirrors, and metallic surfaces, and vacuuming the closet and my bedroom is the final step in cleaning my room and making it Pinterest perfect and ready to relax in.
Week 2: Clean Up Your Bathroom
Hair Tools & Products
I always begin by taking everything I have out. I tend to collect so many hair products and tools over time that get shoved far under the sink. If I left them this way, I could never use them all and I would end up wasting more money and space buying more products I didn't know I had. Once I take everything out, I pull out bottles that are nearly empty and place them out on the counter. I wipe down the tools with Clorox Wipes to clean the product residue away and wrap their cords nicely. If you have multiples of tools, consider donating them. Multiples of products can be consolidated. Once I have everything organized and put away again I can address the bottles I separated earlier. I like to keep the products I know I am going to use up either out, or in front, so they are easily accessible. Once a product is completely used up, trash it! There is nothing more satisfying than knowing I used up a whole bottle of a product and didn't let it go to waste.
Friendly reminder that makeup expires! And if you have sensitive skin like me, sometimes its better safe than sorry to use that foundation that has been sitting in a drawer for a year. I use a similar technique to the hair products when I am organizing and cleaning out my makeup.
Ditto. You get the picture.
Linens & Washcloths
Wash and fold any towels, bathmats, and washcloths in the bathroom. Be mindful of curtains as well. Old towels can be removed and replaced.
The only thing that should remain on my counter after I clean is a mirror, my toothbrush holder, and some pretty handsoap. Maybe I'll get wild and leave a small plant or lotion out as well. Wish me luck!
Shower Scrub Down & Bathroom Deep Clean
This is fairly important and should ideally be happening at least once every other week if not weekly. Now that the bathroom is decluttered, it should be much easier to clean the hard to reach places like drawers and cabinets.
Week 3: Clean Up Your Living Space
If you have a large home, this is a multiple day project, So I am listing it first just in case you want to make adjustments this week's tasks to better fit your decluttering goals! Kitchen Tasks may include;
Finding and removing any expired food from the fridge and pantry.
Clearing countertops of any clutter and cleaning with disinfectant
Removing old Tupperware that has lost its lid and donating reusable water bottles that are broken or unused.
I cannot stress this enough, consolidate your mug collection. You'll find so much space you never knew you had!
Doing the dishes and putting them away
Making a grocery list
Disinfecting the in-sink disposal, I use Plink once a week or every other week.
Wipe all your cabinets
Cleaning the oven, microwave, or any other appliances you may have.
As you can see, the tasks for the kitchen are endless. If you live in an apartment this task may take significantly less time. But if you do live in a large home or have a tight schedule, feel free to move this task to a day that is more flexible or to split it up throughout the week.
In my Fort Worth Apartment, I had four junk locations. One was a basket on my bar top where I stored pens, sunglasses, note cards, keys, and random supplies like tape and thumbtacks. In my armoire, I stored an assortment of drinking and party hosting paraphernalia such as bottle openers, glass indicators, cocktail napkins, and cork ornaments. In the garage, a printer stand that held old birthday cards, various ornaments and supplies, I can not even categorize the items I squirreled away. The bottom line is these are junk drawers, and my junk drawers need constant attention.
Surface clutter to me is any decoration, or item that has been placed out in my home as opposed to put away. These items are sometimes sentimental, most of the time they are not. So I only want to keep decorations that are particularly tasteful, valuable, or sentimental. Anything that I have accumulated that can not be described this way will be rehomed or donated to simplify the space around me. That way, I can use my home to truly showcase what is meaningful and important to me.
Today is the day to move those seats all the way forward, pull out your trusty mini vac and remove all the crumbs, sand, dog hair, and old receipts that have been collecting in your car's secret nooks and crannies. Wipe the seats down with a leather conditioner, replace your air freshener, and voila! Good as new. If you're like me and your car needs professional help, I opt for a more heavy-duty clean and wax. Before I go, I throw all the random objects that have accumulated in my car into a bag or basket and remove it from the car completely. This allows me to put the loose items away where they belong and take my car to get professionally detailed and shampooed
Living Space Tidy
Straighten Picture Frames
Put away shoes
Wipe down remote controls
Light some candles
Desk & Office Supplies
Every once in awhile, I like to make a pile of any pen or writing accouterment I can find and immediately cull the herd by half. I take out any pen that seems lesser or more used than the others. Then I will take the remainder and test them out, removing any that do not work or have run out of ink. After that, I will organize them by type and store them away. Don't forget to go through stationery, note pads, and file loose papers as well.
After a long week of cleaning, I will make sure everything is disinfected and vacuumed. I'm also going to use these deep cleaning days to return and tidy up anything that may have come unraveled again over the week.
Week 4: Clean Up Your Social Media
Cleaning up facebook should consist of these things;
Removing Old Pictures and Tagged Pictures (I'm talking the ones we all have that should have been removed a long time ago)
Skimming through likes and groups and eliminating connections that are no longer relevant to your lifestyle. For example; San Diego Blogging Communities are more relevant to me now than Fort Worth Buy Sell Trade or Fort Worth Mom Pages.
Briskly scan and clean up your timeline and information. Update profile and pinned images.
Audit your friend group. Can I make my circle any closer, have I lost touch with some of these people? Do they share topics that I agree with and am interested in?
Cleaning out an old email account includes tasks like creating folders, updating contacts, unsubscribing to the endless spam emails for shops you like that you somehow always end up being resubscribed to. Deleting read emails. I read somewhere that your inbox should only contain the most pertinent messages of the week that either need to be read, or acted upon. When I first cleaned out my email, I had to declare "Email Bankruptcy". I created a folder and moved my entire inbox to the email bankruptcy folder, then I was able to clear my inbox and begin organizing the incoming messages with ease. I didn't have to delete the old emails that were weighing down my inbox and can return to them at a later date to organize them at my convenience (if I ever decide to return to them. I haven't yet, stay tuned for updates).
I use the archive tool to go through my feed and eliminate old pictures that no longer represent who I am or what I am doing. For example; breakups are tough, but the memories can be sweet. Archiving old posts with ex bae is a great way to hold on to pictures from formals or birthdays that have meaningful comments and sentiments without having them out on display for everyone to see. There’s nothing wrong with keeping one or 2 of the best pictures from a friendship that didn’t last on the timeline. Archive the rest of them if they don’t add to your fabulous feed or make you feel amazing! Remember that cleaning out Instagram can also mean unfollowing accounts that don’t boost your confidence or help you grow. I like to go through my accounts and unfollow people when I start to feel that I am missing out on my close friends’ posts or if I start to compare my life to others’.
On Pinterest, I utilize the showcase tool to emphasize the most relevant content on my Pinterest page. Then I go through each board and delete (yes delete) any pins and boards that are no longer relevant to me or my clientele. My favorite tool to use is the secret board, allowing me to archive boards and pins that may no longer be useful or relevant to me.
Every once in a while I do a thorough detox of my hard drive. Files do not have to be deleted unless they are no longer relevant. I don’t delete any document that I created myself, however, screenshots, instructions for assignments, stock images, and documents downloaded from the internet are great candidates for the recycle bin. I like to make sure everything is filed away in folders and the folders are organized within their own folders.
For example: Hard Drive -> TCU -> Year 3 -> Semester 2 -> Exercise Physiology -> Study Guides.
Is it a lot of work? Yes. But it is so worth it when someone asks me to locate a file or when I want to read a peer-reviewed article I saved about blood flow restriction training. I take pride in having the old college filing system on lock.
I am shocked at how many apps I have on my phone that I have never used or rarely ever access. Not only do they take up space and make my home screen look crowded and cluttered, but they also have access to important data and information on my device. Remember all of the terms and agreements you blindly accepted for each app allowing it to access your basic information and contacts? Well if you don’t remember, just know that many apps are constantly accessing search information, GPS location and images. I just feel that deleting some of these unused apps will at least minimize the possibility of potential privacy invasion.
This… may take me the whole month. I wish I could go back to the day I snapped my very first picture on a phone. Now I know how to add keywords, organize albums by subject or location, and rename photos for search engine optimization. Unfortunately, I learned all of these tricks far too late. Full Disclosure I have 31,000 images stored locally on my iPhone. This does not include images that have been moved to the cloud. I have a problem. I know I can minimize my photos by a fraction by simply deleting screenshots, irrelevant images, and I can do my best to organize the images I have. At this point, I think chronologically might be my best bet! I will let you know how this project goes!
Week 5: Clean Up Your Life
This week is devoted to going into November as good as you can be! I try to identify habits or trends that have been holding me back the previous month and make small efforts to correct them. These topics listed below are trends in my own life that I return to fairly frequently. They may prove to be areas you need improvement in as well!
There is a lot of power in our words. I particularly think reframing how I word things can affect my overall attitude toward the subject. I read a great blog about this topic. The author, Mikey D, laid out three easy to follow principles of cognitive reframing. I use these principles to guide the process.
The first basic principle is that events or situations do not have inherent meaning; rather, you assign them meaning based on how you interpret the event. This can be difficult to accept. Just remember, even when something that seems horrible happens to you, it is only horrible because of the way you look at it. You can always choose to find a positive perspective, even if it is hard.
The second principle is that every thought has a hidden “frame” behind it. The frame is your underlying beliefs and assumptions that are implied by your thought.
The final principle is that there is a positive intention behind every negative thought. That inner voice of yours that expresses negativity is only doing so because it wants to help you in some way. That doesn’t make the thoughts right or acceptable of course, but it does mean that your inner voice is not an enemy to be resisted. By finding the positive intentions behind your thoughts, you can work with your mind to find a positive reframe. That is far more effective than chastising yourself for having negative thoughts in the first place!
For example; “I’ve Been Rejected! I’m Worthless!” can be reframed as “Missing this opportunity may turn out to be a fantastic thing for me” or “I can’t take it personally; there were several extremely qualified applicants” or “It’s better that I tried and failed than to have not tried at all”.
Accepting that you have a bad habit is the first step to recovery.
Make an effort to catch some Zzz's and give your brain what it deserves.
Plan November Goals & Calendar
ALWAYS go into a new month prepared. Then nothing can stop you!
TLDR; Free Organized for October Challenge Printable!
Thank you so much for reading this post or scrolling through to the bottom. I know this was a long post. To make things super simple going forward, I've gone ahead and created an easy to use monthly spread calendar for this October Organization Challenge! I want you to join in with me and succeed!
Click HERE to download a free printable calendar to help you keep track of your progress As always, thanks for stopping by!