Disclosure: Any post may contain links to my shop or affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission from any purchase you make. All opinions about products I use are my own. Read the full disclosure HERE.
Every year I think this is the Best Declutter Challenge we’ve had yet. More lives are being changed. And since this is the 4th year and we have many repeat participants, I’m getting to see the lives that were touched years ago coming back for tune-ups, still celebrating that the changes have lasted and mentoring other group members with their inspiring tales. The Mary ORGANIZES community amazes me every day.
My favorite decluttering memory from this year is when I was in my girls’ clubhouse with them. In this candid picture they are going through all of their fabric scraps to decide what is worth keeping for projects. You’ll notice the desks are in a different place than in the tour, and that’s because they wanted to re-arrange everything after we decluttered. I could hardly say no, after all, re-arranging furniture had been one of my favorite childhood pass-times.
I asked the community for feedback about the Challenge, and I picked some to share with you. (I wish I could have shared them all, but there were 100+ messages to sort through. I love you guys!)
“This was a pivotal change for me. I have a large home, work full time and just threw “stuff” I didn’t know what I wanted to do with, in closets and the WORST idea, nifty storage containers. I filled THREE large 95 gallon trash bins with the contents of the “nifty storage containers” on ONE trash pick up day and there were many more. The problem was, I wasn’t getting rid of “stuff” I was relocating it. Room by room, I threw out more “stuff” than you could ever imagine. My house is much better organized and if there isn’t a logical space or place for things, I don’t keep them. My husband keeps going from room to room saying “I don’t know who this Mary is but I really like her.” I also found things I thought I had lost or forgot I had. All I can say is thank you thank you thank you!” – P.T.
“I embraced people and memories in a new fresh light. I am grateful to Mary for helping me find a home for memories and items that are valued in my life. Feels good to place “things” in their proper home/place.” -S.K.
“I’ve noticed as I’ve finished an area, I feel lighter and have been more at peace. AND I’ve been able to KEEP the areas I’ve done that way with minor upkeep. I’m starting to love being in my home instead of just living in my cave!” -T.W.
“This was the first time I had found something that broke it down into small steps rather than overwhelming me with the prospect of “decluttering my house!”. I’m excited by what I have accomplished – and even more excited to finish the areas that I have yet to tackle.” -J.C.
“The decluttering challenge changed my life! I started with last years challenge, and about this time last year my mother and I had to go through my grandmothers home, as we knew she wouldn’t return home. I was mostly finished with my house when we started going through her belongings, and I was bringing things home that meant something to me. Some of her antique furniture, family bible, craft items, kitchen items. Everyday it seemed like I came home from her house with a box full of things, or a furniture item! I knew God had me start the decluttering process because this was going to happen and I would be bringing things in from her home. The difference is we got rid of things that meant nothing to us; so much in fact that when we brought in her things that meant so much to us there was room to display it or use it properly! It has been a year since and we are so happy with the results. It is so much easier to clean the house now, and we have continued with the decluttering, by not letting things build up. It used to take me 2-3 days to fully clean the house, now it’s 1 day. Without this challenge l would never have been able to enjoy the items from my grandmother, and while she is no longer with us I have these pieces of her that I will never forget.” -J.H.
“I truly have started loving my home again because now I can see its true potential agian. And remember why we choose this as our family HOME. Thank you!” -S.C.
“Thanks to you and your tips I kept motivated. I read all your newsletters which were very helpful at keeping me on track. My sister suggested I would benefit since I am thinking about moving. Even if I don’t move I have a much tidier house.” -J.M.
“This challenge has made me laugh, frustrated, and feel what the heck was I thinking! But, now in my decluttered home I can find what I need or tell someone else exactly where it Is. Thank you for the guidance and encouragement.” -L.S.
“This decluttering challenge was awesome. I cleaned out cabinets and got rid of so much “stuff.” I made almost daily trips to Goodwill and Lowe’s. I can put things away now in spaces where I used to “stick and stuff.” Finally got my hubby on board and he has been working on papers, etc.to shred. Rooms painted, showers repaired, light switches and outlets updated. It is screaming awesome! Thank you for your inspiration and sharing.” -E.C.
“The declutter challenge was the best thing I ever decided to do for myself and my family. I had to do it in less time which was harder because I was going away on a trip but I am so so glad I did it! I have a greater sense of peace and self confidence as a mom because I am actually able to take care of my 4 little ones and keep up the house without dropping dead exhausted from all the work! It used to take me days to actually clean and make my whole house look nice look nice and now it just takes an hour!! I am so happy that I took the challenge!” -J.C.
“One thing I know is your simple, daily challenges were easier to accomplish than looking at the whole mess all at once. We are enjoying our organized, tidy spaces thanks to Mary!” -M.J.
“Thank you so much for the challenge! While I did not complete every week’s items, I feel really good about what I did accomplish. Most of all, I am motivated to continue by going back through your lists on your website and doing the items I missed. Thanks again for your “just jump in here and join” attitude; it helped me keep from quitting and feeling like a failure.” -C.B.
“I am so glad I found your blog! It gave me the motivation to do what has needed to be done for a long time! I am a homeschooling Mom of 4, so it doesn’t leave much free time to declutter, but I managed to get a lot done.” -A.L.
“I had completed all but 2 rooms and a craft closet when our neighborhood experienced heavy flooding last week after getting 22.5 in. of rain in 3 days. Nearly 100 homes were flooded, 20 on my end of the street. Thankfully, our home remained dry with only 3 inches to spare. In the scramble to put furniture on blocks and move everything low to a high & dry location if water came indoors, my friend commented on how organized my home was and how easy it made the job. Another friend, who helped me put things back a few days later, made the same remark. While my progress may be temporarily halted as we help our neighbors with clean-up, I am so happy I did this challenge. THANK YOU, Mary, for helping alleviate some stress in an extremely stressful situation. For anyone who’s stuck or off track, get back at it. You’ll be so glad you did.” -K.M.
“I cannot believe my entire house has been looked through, rearranged, de cluttered and organized. It is the best feeling to know I can open a closet or drawer and nothing with fall out. I am so very proud of the accomplishment. Thank you for breaking down the tasks and for having this challenge. Keeping up my home is so much easier not that everything has a place and value. I can see how doing this again can result in even more decluttering. I am so happy with the outcome. The happiness I feel in my home is transferred to the people in my home. They can see the value in keeping things where they belong and assisting in de cluttering too. This challenge has made for better relationships in my family. We have learned team work to bond as we worked toward the de cluttering goal.” -C.P.
“My husband and I downsized 12 years ago to a two bedroom, one bathroom house. Unfortunately the clutter of all our clothing came with us. I turned 65 in June and retired from my long time job. Now I had no excuses for not doing something about it. I donated numerous boxes of clothes, shoes and purses that I had been holding onto since the 70’s and beyond I’m ashamed to say. The old mindset of all the money spent now just throwing away. I mentioned what I was doing on our private family group and even got others motivated to rid themselves of some clutter. But the best part was the fun I had with my kids and grandkids. While decluttering I’d take pictures of small appliances, utensils, dishes, glasses, coolers, nic-nacs and put up for grabs. We all got quite a few laughs since one grandson was pretty quick to always be the first to respond. Every time I now open a closet or cabinet door I’m still surprised and very, very happy!! Thank you so very much Mary for the motivation and breaking it down into manageable sections. ” -J.P.
“I haven’t done everything, but I’ve seen huge progress. I had no idea how much everything was weighing on me! I did the laundry, kitchen, dining room , master bed, bath, family bath, living room. I work from home and my husband is a newly retired teacher, so our offices are the next frontier. But your system has enabled me to just part with things that I don’t live, don’t need, and could bless someone else. We’ve taken multiple trips to goodwill and just put things in the trunk so we easily buzz by.” -C.H.
“I loved being a part of this declutter challenge! Though I was not able to keep up constantly, my house is ahead of where it was when we started!! It was so nice to have each week broken into bite-sized pieces! Being overwhelmed and not knowing where to start is always my problem. But this was manageable for me!! Loved being a part of the group and knowing I’m not alone in my housekeeping struggles!” -C.D.
“Mary, your timeline and daily schedule have been very helpful. This has helped me stay focused instead of going from room to room and never finishing a room. I have stayed focused on one room at a time.The pictures have helped too. Since I retired in June I have taken some trips and have missed declutter weeks. So, I still have some rooms to go. But I will finish. I moved into this house 10 years ago and it really needed a good cleaning out of stuff! I will use your tips to keep the clutter down instead of waiting another 10 years.” -T.S.
“The decluttering challenge went great!! Just before I knew about you or this group I literally groaned to the Lord about the clutter build up in this house and I prayed for help. I think it was just a few days later I got a FB notice that a FB friend “liked” your page. I was curious and so I found your blog and knew God set this up and guided me to you. I messaged you saying how I was not looking forward to it LOL! It wasn’t easy at times but you made it doable. All the encouragement helped and seeing pics of other people’s clutter actually inspired me! Once the clutter got under control, I was able to deal with things cluttering my heart. When you begin to release things you are holding onto that are causing stress (and general clutter causes stress) then you begin to see things as just that. Things. Things should help relieve stress and bless your life not add to it and bring issues. And last, I will tell you (you already know) that clutter steals your joy, kills your energy, and destroys your creativity and motivation. You are doing a good thing for people in this world. Thank you for all your help and motivation!” -K.S.
“I really enjoyed this challenge. And yes, I do mean “enjoyed.” For most of my life I was a really organized person, but I let things slide when I retired 6 years ago, and my mom’s health began to fail. I mentioned on the blog at the beginning of the challenge that this came along at a good time for me. My mom had recently passed away and the challenge helped me regain focus and gave me a goal to meet during the dreary winter months. I worked in every room, and the only “clutter” remaining belongs to my son which he’ll remove once he and his bride move from their apartment to a house. This final week, tho, I plan to do a final sweep of each room in preparation for your spring cleaning challenge. No matter what, I’ve always done both spring and fall cleaning, so I’m looking forward to the challenge, and what I can learn from you and others. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Mary!” -G.H.
“My husband finally told me that he’d started praying before Christmas that we would declutter our house. I guess he didn’t tell me sooner because he didn’t want to scare me off. Anyway, this group has been an answer to at least one person’s prayer. So glad I found out about it when I did.” -E.J.
“My 6 yr old daughter and I went through her room. I hate stuffed animals, they are just gross to me, but my daughter is a saver, and it’s her room so I wanted to work hard at respecting her space and letting her decide what stays and goes. I let her do her own stuffie sort, and she put almost half of them in the go pile, a whole trash bag full! I was in total shock! When I asked if she was sure she said, “ya Mom, I’m getting rid of the stuff, but not the memory, besides now I can see the things that are really special to me.” Seriously I just stood there speechless (which is very unusual for me), then we just hugged for a while. This process is so good for us.” -L.M.
“THIS. THIS is why I am doing this challenge. Remember my 8 yo’s fantastically crazy-messy room from before? This is a week later…without ANY help or pre-photo pick-up. He now has the ability to maintain and make clutter decisions for himself. He feels empowered by his clean room…and is taking pride in and ownership of keeping it that way. THIS is why I am doing this!” -R.B.
“We had a realtor come through our house on Thursday to possibly list. He was very matter of fact & gave us some good advice about some outside projects we hope to finish up to list it. His comments were, “If the outside looks as good as the inside, I can guarantee a sale no later than 90 days. This house is going to photograph great!” You have no idea how muchofthatisduetothedecluttering I have done! Completely different experience than when we had another realtor come out last year.” -K.C.
“Finished organizing the 2015 tax papers today. Usually I have to file an extension, but not this year. 2016 will be even easier because now I have a sustainable system. (thanks Mary)” -D.N.
“As a child of depression era parents and a person who loves to collect collections, I have a hard time parting with items that may be treasure in the future. My husband calls me a ‘boarder hoarder’. When I was 51, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and came to the revelation that my children would not know where to begin in disposing of my ‘treasure’s’ and it was unfair of me to expect them to do that. In 8 eight years I had not made much if any progress and then I stumbled upon your challenge. I am pleased when putting away clothes that I no longer have to cram things into drawers. When looking at my closet to decide what to wear I am please to find my closet organized and neat. I am amazed when I go to my kitchen and find items in a much more convenient place than they were before. The open spaces in the cupboards from letting go of items not used it refreshing. Sometimes I wonder whose house I am in! My husband comments almost constantly on how proud he is of me in ridding the home of clutter. He even tells clients when we are out doing home appraisals (we are real estate appraisers). Thanks again for teaching and encouraging me to learn a new way!” -L.C.
“My husband and I are hosting a family gathering tomorrow night. This morning I said, “It’s weird to be having a party tomorrow and not have to do anything to the house to get ready.” Glorious!” -B.W.
“After a 9 month deployment my husband is home! I correctly predicted what would happen: his bags all dropped in the living room which will stay there for a while and his nightstand would immediately be cluttered. Lol. However, what surprised me was he actually cleaned up after cooking and he actually went through the boxes I set aside for him to look at! Without this challenge he wouldn’t have done either. So glad my friend shared the post on her timeline and Mary breaking it down so it wasn’t overwhelming.” -A.L.
“I lost my husband 16 years ago and was at a loss what to do with ring of keys I had no idea what they went to. My mother died and I just added in her stuff. After my health scare, I have realized my daughter would be totally overwhelmed and it might take her years to deal with everything and probably with no help from her younger brother ! After beginning the challenge, I’m making better progress! After 15 years I was able to give away the dress I wore to my husband’s funeral. Letting go of mom‘s stuff too. I realize things important to Mom and I will not be important to my children and grandchildren. This has been a major life challenge and change for me not just cleaning out clutter! Thank you for inspiring me with hope!” -G.W.
“The house feels much more peaceful, and it is easier to relax. It has changed my spending habits, too! I’ve gotten rid of approximately 50% of our belongings and I do not want to fill it up again.” -S.B.
“I followed through with the WHOLE declutter challenge! I am so excited about the HUGE pile of items that I have to donate. I loved to go through a room (or a couple rooms) each week. It made the whole experience more manageable and I really enjoyed seeing my progress. My favorite room to declutter was my kitchen and the master bedroom…I can’t believe all the items that I have accumulated and never use! It was so nice to feel free of STUFF.” -T.N.
“Yesterday when I needed to iron the shirt to make the pillow, I was able to set up my ironing board in our office room/craft room, and work on it in a most convenient way. I can’t tell you how long it’s been since this room was uncluttered enough to do something like that. Normally, I’ve had to drag the ironing board half way through the house to the family room to have enough space to work. One more reason to love this challenge!” -G.C.
“This group has been such perfect timing! I started with everyone at the beginning of the year-less than a month ago, my husband approached me about becoming foster parents. Because most of the hard work was done, it has been a breeze to rearrange rooms, move furniture and such. We are almost home study ready and I am so thankful!!” -P.M.
“For a long while, I feel cuffed to the stress of cleaning up. The guilt sometimes of not spending time with your family bcoz the clutter is just so overwhelming you are stuck cleaning what felt like forever and yet end up tired, exhausted and there is still so much to do. Yes, freedom! Now we have that space to enjoy and make use of productively! What felt like impossible is actually achievable if you just focus on it. Having the right support counts a lot too!” -M.B.
“This is another testimony for the advantages of following Mary’s wisdom, even when it seems difficult. Although I would’ve preferred to just dig a few things out and be done, I took EVERYTHING out of my basement closet and was then able to notice the corner of the floor was damp. So glad to have found it and be working on resolution! In the meantime, I’m putting much less back in, so I might notice issues sooner.” -S.D.
“Thank you, Mary Bobo Johanson, for being used by God to answer prayers I’ve had for a very long time. Since finding your site a few months ago I am able to care for my family the way I always desired, but never knew how to or even begin. I have become the housewife/mommy who is able to bless my family the way my heart longed to. I will Never be able to thank you enough for sharing your wisdom and knowledge, encouragement and inspiration with us! I praise God for the gift that you are to us all!” -A.O.
“I started this declutter challenge hoping that by the end, our house would be decluttered enough that I could convince my husband to put it up for sale and the pictures would look nice enough to drum up some interest. I was tired of “not having enough space” and kept saying “we need a bigger house!” However, as I’m decluttering, I’m finding that we don’t need a bigger house, we just need less stuff, and better organization! So happy that I’m beginning to love my
House again!!” -S.A.
“My mom gave me one time house cleaning through groupon for Christmas. I planned to wait until the house was in order to redeem it and I scheduled the service to come today. In the past I have had to spend hours doing a “preclean” but today I just had a few things to put away! No mad dash to pick up the clutter! Now the house is nice and clean- I love this challenge and this group!” -T.B.
It has sincerely been a pleasure decluttering with you. I hope to see you again next year when you come back for a tune-up – it just gets easier and easier.
Don't forget your Declutter Printable Pack - it's more than just checklists!