Decluttering in 15 seconds

Filed in Blog by on February 21, 2011 10 Comments
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It's time to declutter for love!

It's time to declutter for love!

Last week’s decluttering missions, thanks to Colleen from 365lessthings was all about love. It was a week long celebration of Valentine’s Day.

As she rightly points out, the more you declutter the easier taking care of your life space becomes – it’s much simpler to clean the floor and surfaces if you can see them!

Loved ones

On Monday I was introduced to a concept I’ve never come across before – decorating for Valentine’s Day! Wow, another excuse for consumerism and plastic crap it would seem. Thankfully that is something we’ve never taken part in (and I’d be interested to know if other Brits have come across the idea), so Colleen gave me a day off to spend with loved ones. Yipee!


On Tuesday we had to take a look at vases in our home and decide which ones to keep and which ones to donate to charity. I only have two but I did have some artificial flowers to donate. I can’t stand artificial flowers and I have to say it was sweet relief to get rid of these.

Note paper

On Wednesday we were asked to sort out any paper notepads we don’t use. I keep all paper and I do eventually reuse it, so I tidied up my scrap drawer because sheets of paper have been falling out of it for weeks and jamming the drawer. If you’re shredding bank statements or other important papers, find out how to recycle shredded paper.

Aspiration clutter

On Thursday it was back to the ‘one day’ projects to see if we could release something from our aspiration clutter. I had some sewing things to get rid of and they’ve been packed up for charity. Read more about aspirational clutter.


On Friday we had to get rid of a piece of clothing we never wear. I did this a while ago and have ahem, several, bags of clothing ready for charity or for the next bag2school collection. Read tips on how to declutter your wardrobe without creating landfill waste.


On Saturday we had to look on the floor of a closet and see what could be decluttered. I assume a closet is a cupboard or wardrobe? I have two such cupboards, these are serious hotspots that are on my pending / procrastination areas to clear. I DID venture under the stairs and find a coat to get rid of – boy that was tough and scary to go in there, but the coat is now nesting in the charity box ready for recycling and I’ve gained a little confidence!

Messy rooms

Well I’m proud of myself. On Sunday Colleen wanted us to go to one of the messiest rooms in the house and start decluttering it. Since the beginning of the year I’ve been stomping around like a kid coming up with all sorts of excuses as to why I shouldn’t start. The thing is, the clutter has been growing in this particular room and I’ve been getting more and more depressed about it. So on Sunday I did indeed go into one of the rooms and make a start. Now I can actually get in there and walk in a straight line from one side to the other I feel MUCH better about it. Thanks Colleen!

My secret to managing to do this was remembering the first thing my life coach told me years ago.

She told me to tackle a procrastination job for 15 seconds.

Yes, 15 seconds! Sounds crazy right?

Go ahead and do it to one of your procrastination jobs for 15 seconds and come and tell me what happens …

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (10)

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  1. Rebecca Emin says:

    This post really makes me feel motivated! I love a good declutter and am obsessive about avoiding landfill as much as possible. I’m currently sorting out unwanted childrens bits and pieces to go to an NCT sale which will not only mean the items get reused, but also we get a little bit of cash back to put in the children’s accounts. Everyone’s a winner.

  2. Hi Mrs Green,
    thanks as always for the link and also for the 15 second tip. I took on my craft ribbon collection and of course like I am sure as your life coach intended I didn’t stop at 15 seconds but managed to tidy up the entire collection. It wasn’t a big job just one I had been ignoring even though I have had to work around the mess a lot lately. The before and after shots will appear on my Simple Saturday post soon.

  3. Mrs Green says:

    @Rebecca Emin: Hi Rebecca, glad you are feeling motivated! I was on a roll yesterday and actually got to the charity shop with everything, so I feel much lighter today! Hope the NCT sale goes well 🙂

    @Colleen ( LOVE your ribbon collection story – you are quite right; if your brain agrees to do 15 seconds (which mostly it does) you soon find you don’t want to stop. It’s very crafty, but oh so effective!

  4. Teresa Lewis says:

    I’m going through a huge decluttering of my flat at the moment of mostly paper that goes back even to work I did at school and have come on this website for tips and support so a big thanks.

    Ask me why I wasn’t doing all this before and I could tell you that I was too busy dealing with the amount of rubbish coming to me in the mail and that I was given at conferences. I spent years coming off mailing lists because I was getting duplicate mailings, monthly catalogues and heavy packages. Just stopping it coming in was a big enough job in itself. Then I started to declutter the garden project where I volunteer when we got a new manager who was keen to clear spaces of rubbish and also my elderly father’s house of outdated food and kitchen equipment (he wasn’t cooking anymore) as he was a hoarder too. All before I could attack the clutter at home.

  5. Mrs Green says:

    @Teresa Lewis: Sounds like you are working through the process well now, Teresa. It’s important to do these things one step at a time but being in the ‘fire fighting’ stage, as I call it, can be really frustrating. At least you are now decluttering your flat and talking of which I’ve not done anything on the house for a couple of days, so I’d better read the rest of the comments and get to work!

  6. Teresa says:

    My mother died a few years’ back and my father was visiting me just after with stuff he didn’t want that included her perfumes, toiletries and dried food that was bought in the 1980’s before use-by-dates were used to dump on me. I kept a few things but much had to be thrown out. My aunt took her late sister’s unfinished embroidery projects to finish off herself. I offered to come and visit my father to declutter but he wouldn’t hear of it. It was my brother and my sister-in-law (mostly the latter) who had to persuade him to part with the rest. I’ve also taken a few hidden away things such as shopping trolley and sleeve ironing board as well as confiscating some candles as he’s unsteady with his hands.

    I was scared to declutter at home too much in case it got filled up again with my parents’ stuff but I’m over that now as he doesn’t drive anymore.

  7. Teresa says:

    I want to add that decluttering to me is such a massive job that I’ve resolved to do a little each day rather than resolve to attack it on weekends and holidays. I can get really fed up after doing a lot that I can’t face doing it for weeks afterwards so during the ‘dry’ periods I do a bit each day.

  8. Mrs Green says:

    @Teresa: Teresa, a little every day is a good approach for many people and can be applied to all things in life. Other people prefer short, sharp bursts of enthusiasm but I think results are more long lasting if done over time because you are changing habits at the same time and preventing the problem occuring again in the future.

  9. Lynda says:

    After my husband abandoned me, about 25 years ago, I have accumulated building supplies, materials, paint, etc. BECAUSE I have VERY low SS income, and live in an area that’s constantly ‘upgrading’, with useable scraps to fetch curbside as it is set out “for the landfill”. Needless to say I do not live conventionally, don’t entertain AT ALL and am not interested in that, so I’m near to being able to repair plaster holes/ cracks, worn damaged wood trim throughout the house, replace damaged doors and hardware that’s worn, have every sort of nail/screw/hardware I need [and some to share], have found a source for free extra-thick, extra-large plastic bags to store things outdoors beneath the eave, found bolts of fabric to recover old aging dining chair seats, have new designer woven wood/ Roman shades for every bedroom -matching recycled ‘like-new’ used bedcoverings, insulated used long drapes for the LR and Den,
    an entire roomful of natural oak furniture / bookcases, desks, game cabinets, video racks, etc.,[all which brighten up my otherwise dark rooms], four large but gently used throw-pillows from old damaged patterned sofa [curbside] to ‘redecorate’ my old aging white cloth sofa, several large custom used round table cloths and lamps of every imaginable sort. I have enough ceramic tiles to choose from, laminate wood flooring, ‘like-new’ floor rugs, and accessories galore, including lightly damaged whole decorator cabinets to repurpose and hang on the walls, med. quality mirrors and excellent large framed pictures.

    Yes, I’ve lived a cluttered life, now that I’m a single elder, but now when I couldn’t possibly afford a single thing, I shop my clutter and live quite well, regardless of the rush to a material world of ‘minimalistic waste’. Yes, I’d like to be able to walk into any store and order new things as I need them, not have to store them in my home until I find enough of something that matches, and yes, I’d like to have ‘instant labor’ to take my ‘honey-do’ fix-it list down to nearly nothing – a Jack of all trades, master of some- but God’s watched over me very well, considering the vanity and corruption of the world, the outlandish profits made by unscrupulous merchants and so-called ‘craftsmen’.

    Regrets? Yes, gathering paints that are beginning to rust, not using them before the rust spreads and has to be taken to the recyclers. Also, I have found all of the tools and equipment I need to do basics myself, praise God. I’ve replaced J-traps, light fixtures, pruned my own trees, completed so many projects of recycled things that I ought to publish a book! I’ve got several large fish aquariums in hopes of raising small fish, perhaps for food and gardening boosting emulsion.

    Everything I have is a challenge to my aging mind, keeping it alert and my body active moment by moment.
    I have friends, but not visitations. I research online every problem I encounter that I cannot figure out.
    I keep up with local/ international news by emailed newsletters from those I trust.

    My God is the Great Provider, even leading me to boxes of often brand new clothing and shoes IN MY I need them. I have donated what I cannot find uses for, and keep a large supply of clean empty
    boxes of every sort which I find, to use as needed, complete with partially used rolls of all sorts/ sizes of tapes, according to the need. I recognized and have saved every like-new prosthetic should I meet one who needs it and doesn’t believe in miracle healings from Him.

    When my dishwasher went out, I already had three to choose from stored, but got in the habit of hand-washing which I prefer. As the old fridge died, I cleaned it well and use it and the old dishwasher for storage. I try to color-code the storage crates I find so I can know the catagory each one contains by color.

    I insulated an old double-doored outdoor storage building I found and put back together, designing wide
    sturdy shelves from recycled wood, all to contain and preserve the paints and flammables I have found and needed. It remains full, ready for when I have repaired holes and primed what is to be painted.

    Now, I ask YOU. If you were me, would you have traded this challenge for a pathetic life of poverty and
    wishful thinking? Or, could you sleep as soundly, knowing and trusting in the Creator who can do all things, not necessarily promising a Rose Garden/ finery and flash-dash, but giving His angels charge over you, keeping you in all of your ways safe and secure with what you really need, and a few of your heart’s desires…the closer you stay to Him?

    Declutter your minds instead, from the many useless distractions that keep you from dealing with your own
    need to know Him personally, to get right with Him at last, and to have the challenges of doing what is right with things wasted otherwise! God bless, keep and help you. : )

  10. Mrs Green says:

    @Lynda: Hello Lynda, welcome to the site and thanks for sharing your story. You sound very resourceful and independent; which is a great way to live. It means you have chosen to step outside the consumerist mindset and see life for what it really is. Through living in this way there is more opportunity to seek real meaning and value don’t you think?

    It sounds like your faith is extremely important to you and it’s lovely to see how this can work out in practical as well as spiritual ways.

    Maybe it’s time to publish that book 😉

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