NEW YEAR = NEW HOME, PART 2 (clearing clutter & creating lovely spaces DIY-style)

Peter Walsh‘s “31 Days to Get Organized” challenge has not only proved to be extremely beneficial practically, but it has also helped me meet all my crazy, hormonal, pregnancy nesting needs! The timing couldn’t have been better. And, of course, following a challenge such as this via Facebook is extremely easy/convenient… and FREE! For those of you who may have missed it (or perhaps missed a few of the challenges), below you will find the complete rundown of every 10 minute daily challenge task in order, plus how we responded to all of them in our own home. Isn’t it hard to believe that we’re already 31 days into the “new” year? I hope it’s been a wonderful year for you so far!



A re-cap (from my previous post)

Day 1: Spend 10 minutes ONLY and remove all the things from one room (preferably the living room) that don’t belong there.
I cleared a particular pile of stuff on our work desk. It took me a little longer than 10 minutes, but only because I am pregnant and moving slowly!

Day 2: “Empty your sock drawer onto your bed. Immediately sort pairs together. Discard any single socks, any socks you no longer wear, any frayed or ‘holey’ socks. Arrange like colors/types together and put them back in drawer. Bid the others farewell!”
My husband and I did this together… and found 16 socks that don’t belong in either of our drawers. 

Day 3: “Keep Your Lid On! Today your task is to tackle all those disposable plastic storage containers that you have in cupboards and drawers in your kitchen. Get them all out onto the kitchen counter. Discard any that don’t have matching lids, that the dishwasher has mangled or that are stained. My rule: no more than 15 plastic storage containers! Here’s the deal: with takeout containers, margarine containers and coleslaw containers there’s a constant inflow of these puppies into your home – the trick is to keep them under control. So … take a deep breath, drag them out and take ten minutes to get it done!”
I asked my husband to help with this as we store our plastic containers in a low cupboard and I am having trouble bending down ;)I realised whilst completing this task (which literally took less than 2 minutes!) that we are probably fairly organised in this respect… and we definitely have no more than 15 containers (far less in fact).

Day 4: Sort out your remote controls. Take the ones you use (and only the ones you use), clean them (we used a disinfectant wipe) and pop them in a box that will always be kept in the same place in your living room. Use this box to also store the case for whatever DVD you are currently watching.
I did complete this task, but as we only have 3 controls that we always keep in the same place (on top of a speaker), it seemed a bit of a non-event. However, it was good to give them a clean and we’ll use the box for a while to see if it does indeed make a difference.

And what we have done since…

Day 5: ”Romance & Calm: Grab your partner and head for the master bedroom. Spend ten minutes TOGETHER gathering up and removing anything from the room that doesn’t belong there or doesn’t help create a calm, romantic haven for you both. (If it’s just you in your home you can do this equally well for yourself!) This is about taking care of you and your relationship.”
This was a must for us! Our space really needed a good sorting out and has been so much more calm and pleasant to spend time in since. Over Christmas we had some boxes in our room as well as piles of baby clothes and other things we were in the process of sorting out. It was nice to be done with it all finally. I don’t know about adding romance to our lives (with having a 22 month-old toddler running around and me hitting 37 weeks pregnant tomorrow, romance is not high on the list of priorities 😉 ), but this clutter-clearing exercise was great!

Day 6: “Don’t Throw in the Towel!” Go through all cupboards and drawers where towels are kept. Get rid of any that are frayed or feel like sandpaper. Fold your towels uniformly (fold in half, in half again and then in thirds).
I loved this challenge, partly because it forced my husband to finally let go of an “ugly” towel that he’d been in possession of since the early 1980s! It was actually in good condition, but didn’t match anything else we had and was unnecessarily frilly, in my opinion. Folding all towels uniformly and finding the perfect space for them in the linen closet was also freeing. They look great now!

Day 7: “The Unmentionables! Last week it was the sock drawer so don’t tell me you didn’t see this one coming! Your ten minutes today is dedicated to your undies drawer. Get all your underwear onto your bed – discard the old, soiled, ripped, “I’ll-never-wear”, Bombay bloomer or blown-elastic models. Sort the rest and commit today to wearing some of those classier undergarments.”
OK, I need to qualify my NOT doing this challenge. Essentially, I am pregnant… very pregnant! And I am loath to part with my existing maternity lingerie right now. That would be pure insanity! I am happy to dispose of it all and replace with pretty new non-maternity things once baby has arrived.

Day 8: Paperwork Part 1: Designate a place for the mail to live in your home. As soon as mail arrives, sort it into 3 piles; junk, requiring attention (eg, bills) and magazines. Junk mail is to be placed in recycling immediately! Bills, etc. go into a mail tray. Magazines are unwrapped immediately and placed neatly together for later reading.
We have a tray on our computer desk. All new mail goes on top of the tray. All junk mail and free local papers are placed in the recycling immediately. Only vouchers are exempt from recycling and we recently purchased a box from IKEA that we have labelled “Free Money”, which now contains bonus offers, vouchers, etc., which are clipped together in relevant groups (like groceries, travel offers and so on).


Day 9: Paperwork Part 2: “Here’s a way to start afresh in 2013 with a clear desk and a simple way to manage paperwork.” Take every piece of paper on your desk, put it in a box and put it to one side. Alongside your mail tray, add another tray for things that also demand your attention; this includes things such as school schedules, invitations to respond to, etc. This tray needs to be dealt with once a week. Your mail tray can be dealt with twice per month (eg, the 15th and the 30th). Organise paid bills, etc in an expanding file or folder with labels such as “car payments” on plastic sleeves to keep track of things.
We already have a system of sorts for dealing with bills, etc. But the desk is certainly looking tidier now!

Day 10: “Platters, Muffin Tins, Baking Trays – Back to the kitchen today and ten minutes collecting any platter, tray, muffin pan or baking sheet. Get rid of damaged, chipped, rusted, warped or never-used items and open up some space for these larger items in your cupboards. Be tough and brutal – say goodbye to anything you no longer need, use or want!”
This is one challenge we have not undertaken. We live rather small and tend not to collect so much unnecessary stuff. As a result, I often feel as though we are lacking certain kitchen items/utensils, if anything. My husband has committed to sorting out our baking tray cupboard, though, as this certainly needs doing.

Day 11: “Revisit the linen closet: Today’s the day to tackle all of the bed linen and other items that are lurking in your linen closet.” Take all items that are stained/unused/unloved and discard. Peter recommends having just 2 sets of bed linen for every bed in the house. Complete bed linen sets may be stored inside a pillow case of the same set for easy access.
I LOVED this challenge! Placing complete sheet sets within a pillow case from the same set is pure GENIUS! Not only does it make for super-easy access to exactly what you need, but it looks so neat and tidy too. Our linens are in perfect order now. And we have also been able to make some good donations to charity of items we no longer use.

Day 12: “Go Nuts in Your Closet”. Take everything off hangers that you won’t wear/don’t fit you/have holes. Go through piles of folded clothes too. Throw any items you don’t need/won’t wear on the floor of your closet. When you are done, take all good items to a charity store. “You’ll be amazed what you can do in ten minutes (or more)! Ready. Set. GO!!”
This is another challenge I will revisit post-pregnancy. Now is not the time for me to be sorting through maternity clothes, for example. This challenge is already something my husband and I do periodically (the last time was less than a year ago), so I am not too worried about this one.

Day 13: “Spice it up! Today’s the day to alphabetize your spices. A quick and simple challenge that you can definitely nail. And while you’re at it, be sure to get rid of anything that’s been in there longer than two years, or that’s been with you for the last three house moves!”
This challenge inspired us to invest in a spice rack… our first one in 10 years of living together! We went online and found a great looking design available on for a free-standing spice caddy that holds 24 spice jars. I love it already. And as I cleared out the cupboard that previously held the spices, I was also able to tackle all my baking things. The kitchen is fabulously organised now. Very pleased to have done this task!


Day 14: “Tackle the T’s: Everyone has more T shirts than they need and today’s the day to tame them! First, look at the piles of folded T’s in your closet – chances are that the bottom third of the piles are shirts that you don’t like that much and seldom wear. Let them go! Put like colors together, fold them all uniformly and be sure only to hold onto the T’s that you love!”
We already did this not very long ago. Yay! Day off 😉

Day 15: “The Half Way Point!: Organization isn’t about ‘the stuff’, it’s about creating the home and the life you want. It’s about happiness for you and your family. Today’s challenge is a little different.” Spend 10 minutes on yourself… doing something lovely for yourself.
I try to do this everyday already… whether it be meditation, taking my time in the shower, enjoying a cup of decaf, etc. 🙂

Day 16 : “That Mysterious Top Shelf in That Mysterious Closet: It’s your choice today. Pick any closet in your home and tackle the uppermost shelf.”
Well, it wasn’t the top shelf we tackled, but rather the entire closet! More donations to charity and far greater organisation of the space left. Satisfied with the results 🙂

Day 17: “Diving for Condiments: Today it’s all about those condiments hiding in the dark recesses of your refrigerator. I’d love to hear the oldest ‘Use-by’ date you encounter!”
This was a great challenge as, once I got started on this one area of the fridge, I had the motivation to complete the job. I removed all the shelves, washed, dried and replaced them, cleaned out the vegetable drawers and reorganised each shelf of the fridge. This took considerably longer than 10 minutes, but our refridgerator is spotless and super-organised now.

Day 18: “Under the Kitchen Sink – This is one of the toughest but most rewarding challenges. Drag everything out from under the kitchen sink. Discard any old, never-used, damaged or not-wanted items. Gather like things together. Consider using a plastic tote for cleaning products and a spare baking tray or similar for keeping other items together and off the floor. Consider hanging a tension rod for squirt bottle storage too. Show that space who’s boss!”
We have never owned a plastic caddy or tote for cleaning products so this challenge gave us the impetus to purchase one (from IKEA). I organised the caddy and my husband did the rest of the under-the-sink clean out. We already have childproof locks on all kitchen cupboard and drawers.

Day 19: “A Huge Challenge: Today we’re tackling magazines …. one of the most common hurdles I encounter in decluttering homes. I know this will be tough for many but it has to be done.”
We’re ahead of the game, yet again it seems ;). Very recently we sorted out our entire bookshelf, recycling unwanted magazines and books and reorganising everything. Peter Walsh suggests keeping only the latest editions of whatever magazines you subscribe to. As I have no current subscriptions (and don’t plan on having any), I am quite happy to keep my favourite magazines in one small section of the bookshelf. It’s definitely manageable.

Day 20: Flat surfaces: Small or large, flat surfaces seem to attract clutter! Today I want you to choose just one flat surface in your home, spend ten minutes getting it in order, and then COMMIT to keeping that space clear and uncluttered.
We have actually tackled a few different flat surfaces in various areas around the home recently, but the one I chose specifically for this challenge was the glass shelf in my built-in wardrobe. This is a spot where I keep things that are personal and very special to me; a jewlery box, my pregnancy journals, my motherhood journal, etc. Lately this area has become clutttered with unorganised ultrasound photos, items designated for archiving/journaling but as yet unsorted, greeting cards, etc. So it was liberating to not only clear this space once again, but also put all the things collected in their proper places. My wardrobe is a pleasure to open again :).

Day 21: “Conquering Your Kids’ Toys: You all knew this was coming! Remember to focus ONLY on those toys that are no longer age appropriate for your kids. Don’t think too much. Conquer this challenge!” For those without kids or toys, it’s time to tackle luggage.
My husband has already done this… and very recently too. We put all of our toddler’s old toys in a storage box so they are ready to go when baby Cupcake arrives!

Day 22: “Take Your Medicine: Today I want you to tackle your medicine cabinet. Pull everything out. Wipe down the shelves. Group like things together. Collect out-of-date medications together for return to your pharmacy (don’t flush or put them in the trash!) Use plastic containers to keep like items together. Already done? Use your ten minutes elsewhere ….. no day off today!”
Very happy to have done this. It was a starting point for sorting out all the bathroom cupboards too. Have yet to take some old medicine to the pharmacy for safe disposal, but it’s ready to go. And our bathroom cupboards have never been more organised, despite the fact I didn’t think they were bad at all before.

Day 23: “Pot, Pans and Small Appliances: We’re back in the kitchen today decluttering pots, pans and small appliances. Be tough …. open space in the kitchen will make the room more inviting and motivating. Watch the video. Tackle the challenge. Let’s hear what you let go of!”
We will probably not be getting rid of anything, but we could definitely do with a tidying up of our pots and pans cupboard. I am leaving this in my husband’s capable hands!

Day 24: “Tackle Your Car: So far all of the challenges have been inside your home. Today it’s your motor vehicle. No car? Create another ten-minute challenge that works for you.”
The interior of our car is not an issue. The outside could do with a good wash, though. We’ll wait until the weather is a bit better and tackle this one.

Day 25: “Kitchen Utensils: Today’s the day to thin the herd of kitchen utensils. Watch the video, gather all your utensils onto the kitchen counter and bravely conquer this challenge.”
“… thin the herd”? What “herd”? As mentioned earlier, we don’t have a ridiculous amount of appliances or utensils. In fact, I often feel like we lack some of the fundamentals! This doesn’t mean to say that we can’t do with out a good sort-out and tidying session periodically though. The kitchen has been one of the areas that I have spent the most time sorting out during this 31-day challenge and it has been incredibly rewarding too.

Day 26: “Today It’s About Your Shoes: I’m hoping that wholesale panic doesn’t set in today! Remember – we’re only spending ten minutes on this challenge so I don’t want you to be overwhelmed. Set the timer to ten minutes and dive right in.”
I am not really worried about this at all as I am not much of a “shoe person”, but in any case, as my feet are still “pregnancy-sized” (as opposed to normal), I will look at this once I say farewell to water retention! One shoe-related activity that I did undertake was sorting out my toddler’s shoes. I bought hanging mesh pockets from IKEA that can store his shoes in a neat way inside the nursery wardrobe.


Day 27: “How Many Belts Do You Own?: It’s time to tighten your belt(s) by seeing how many you own and letting go of those you no longer need, use or want. Check out the video. Gather all your belts into one place. Make some belt magic happen!”
This was the easiest challenge! I don’t wear belts (unless they are part of a jacket/coat/dress), so I had one- and only one- to donate to charity. A 10 second challenge for moi!

Day 28: “Digging Into Your Kids’ Closets: Today’s challenge is for you to spend ten minutes going through your kids’ closets to find any clothes that no longer fit them or that they just don’t wear. Grab as many as you can in ten minutes, throw them into a trash bag and take them to Goodwill as soon as you can. No kids? Check under every bed in the house – get rid of what doesn’t belong!”
Really not an appropriate time at all for us to be discarding old baby clothes with a new baby due any day now! We have, however, gone through all the newborn appropriate items, washed, folded and sorted them. I have also cleared drawer space for baby Cupcake’s things and added drawer organisers for different types of clothing items.

Day 29: “Pens and Pencils: I so wish I was a fly on the wall in your home to watch you tackling this fun challenge. Check out the video. Grab a box. Hunt down those pens and pencils wherever they live in your home. You know what you have to do!”
This is something that we do on a fairly regular basis… and we always make sure to discard unusable pens as soon as they are discovered. We are also good at keeping them in the same location (at our desk/computer table).

Day 30: Spend 10 minutes looking at your bookshelves and pulling any books that you no longer love/need/read/want and clear the space.
Done already (along with the magazines) 🙂.

Day 31: Write out a list of 5 as yet undone challenges that YOU would like to tackle around your home so that you can continue the de-cluttering process.
Here’s my list:
1- Further sorting out crafting materials (although they are in fairly good order).
2- Pots, pans and baking tins. Not to discard, but just to reorganise.
3- Wiping out cutlery drawer caddies and reorganising cutlery if necessary.
4- Tidying the drawer under the bathroom sink (it’s not so bad… this should only take 5 minutes).
5- Putting up a soft toy shelf in the nursery and making space on the nursery bookshelf for more baby photos.


What would you like to get done around your home?


31 thoughts on “NEW YEAR = NEW HOME, PART 2 (clearing clutter & creating lovely spaces DIY-style)

  1. I want to post this in every room in my house for my messy house mates to see. What is is about people who can’t put anything away, get rid of empty plastic bags sitting on the table, last weeks grocery mailers, trash that has fallen on the floor and the list goes on and on.

    • How frustrating for you! I know that when I first moved out of home in my late teens, I was anything but tidy and organised. Some of my housemates were much like me, others were probably in a similar situation to the one you find yourself in… irritated by the lack of common sense and consideration. I truly hope your housemates pull their socks up… and start pulling their weight around the place. A little focus on “clean as you go” goes a long way.

    • Aw, thank you Judy! I think so too! I have really been crazy about it in these last stages of my pregnancy in particular. It definitely creates a feeling of happiness and wellbeing to have a clean, clear space in which to live 🙂

  2. Sigh. In my house this would only work if the words were “spend only 10 hours” , instead of “spend only 10 minutes”. I could barely make a dent in ten minutes, especially if I am actually supposed to put the misplaced items where they actually belong. I always just assumed that a messy desk is a sign of genius. It makes me feel better if I believe that 🙂

    • I honestly thought that this would all take far longer than it actually did. You may find the same. But, really, everyone is different… and I have actually created some great work from messy desks before 😀

  3. I am super impressed! It seems so much more manageable to only do a little bit each day. I read through the challenge when you wrote about it the first time and I did clean out my dresser, closet and shelves. I got rid of a ton of clothes that don’t fit me anymore and it felt great! The linen closet is up next for me.

    • Oh, I am so glad you found the challenge useful too! 🙂
      It IS so easy just to tackle one thing for a short amount of time. I think where I have gotten stuck before is starting in one place, jumping to another, spending hours doing BIG clean-outs and feeling flustered if I come across a new area that needs dealing with. This challenge made it super-easy to just focus and, as a result, be far more effective and productive… with very little energy expended 🙂

  4. I want to come and live in your house! I won’t bring any clutter. Promise! Aww, this is really inspiring to read. I can see how doing things in small stages is a good way to tackle clutter.

    • Aw, so sweet! 🙂 x
      I don’t think I have come across an easier way to clear out/clean up and make sure that everything is perfectly in place. It really has been very easy… and I am sure it will be easy to maintain now that it’s done too 🙂

  5. Omg I LOVE this!! Especially the linen closet and spice rack ones! I’m a very neat, obsessive organized person but those are two areas that I could improve upon. I’m complaining almost daily about my spice chaos and I love the easily accessible design of that one. I’m going to order it! Awesome post! You rock 🙂

    • Thank you so much! x
      The linen closet and spice rack challenges were two of my absolute favourites! They have made such a difference. That spice rack is a gem… doesn’t take up too much space… nice, clean design. I hope you find the process as freeing as we have

  6. I have tried adopting the 10 minutes a day by organizing something extra for ten minutes that I usually don’t do. Yesterday I got our girls’ closet organized! And last Sat I organized the kids entrance! Feels great! Thank you for the inspiration!

    • That’s awesome! It really does make a difference. And I love that you are concentrating on the kid’s areas. I have focused quite a lot on that too. Feels good 🙂 x

  7. Thank you so much for sharng this post. Reading it I was feeling all smug and tidy until I realized: yes I have tons of plastic containers without lids….and then was humled when I realized that my hallwaycuboard could really do with a 10 minute clear out. Closing my laptop now and and rolling up my sleeves 🙂

    • You’re so welcome! I was anticipating that some of the challenges would be harder than they were and others easier than they were… but ultimately it was just good to spend a little time each day to focus on one thing. Amazing how little bursts of effort add up and make a lovely difference 🙂 All the best 🙂 x

  8. I wish I had your organisational skills for my room, it is cluttered to high heaven and this year after finishing school is when I have to declutter it 😛 – I will be using your tips!


  9. Oh Miss Marzipan! I love simplicity and can’t be around clutter. I have to have everything organized. When I slack off, I am more apprehensive thinking about the organization of it than actually rolling up my sleeves and working on it. Great post we need it! 😀 Fae.

  10. We just bought a house too, and organizing and sorting through our stuff has been less than sparkles and sunshine. This list seems like a nice place to start sorting through some old things to make some room for the new stuff 🙂

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