Clutter Manifesto

July 5, 2023

July is probably not the #1 month for decluttering.

But OMG. My annoyance with the clutter in our home has reached new heights. Here is a summary of the most dire areas:

  • Kids’ clothing that no longer fits
  • My bathroom: random cosmetics/supplies/etc
  • My books + planner stashes (pains me to say it, but true!)
  • My desk, partly because of the above.
  • Stuff from last school year that never got properly processed/discarded
  • Kitchen equipment/supplies/ingredients
  • Random $#(*#&@ in the kids’ bathroom (like old toothbrushes)
  • Kids’ craft area (ie disaster zone)

A full 100-day round of Organize 365’s Home Organization program would ABSOLUTELY help, but I think I want to go in my own order, based on a) priority and b) easy wins.

Why have I been failing to declutter/organize?

1- I am NOT an evening person, and I do not have any time in my morning routine (at all) to add in decluttering.

2- I do not want to do these tasks during my precious podcast/blog work days (and honestly it wouldn’t fit anyway)

3- On Saturdays I’m usually way too tired having done a 12-18 mile run that morning. Decluttering takes physical energy!

My analysis suggests the following 2 time slots that might work:

  • Evenings (before 8 pm) – if time after helping kids with piano etc. There is no way I’m going to do ANYTHING major at that hour, but I could set a timer for 15 minutes and have at it, with relaxing music or a podcast on in the background
  • Sundays – I could probably handle a slightly longer session on Sundays. Maybe 30 minutes in the afternoon.

I do think one key I have been missing is keeping things very TIME LIMITED so that it doesn’t feel overwhelming. The other key is – well, it hasn’t gotten put into my calendar/planner other than in vague goals lists.


I want to create a more peaceful home environment. Outer Order Inner Calm may not be true for everyone, but it definitely is for me.

I want to prevent waste and be a better steward of what we/I have

I want to save time by not spending time looking for things

I want to pass on unneeded things to my community (obviously, only if they are in decent condition / something someone else would want)

I want to teach the kids how to organize and declutter!


  • I will plan out each week the areas to declutter (this week: top of desk + adjacent books/planners)
  • I will use the time slots identified above and stick to the time limits
  • I will report on progress, perhaps with some before/after shots (motivating!)

The image that came up on my phone when I searched “clean”:

thank you C! also you can see some kitchen counter clutter in the background. It’s worse now.


  • Reply Kersti July 5, 2023 at 1:11 pm

    I feel like July is a good time to declutter. It’s hot out, so we are inside more, and it’s nice to get cleaned up for a new school year and busy fall. I’ve fallen behind in my decluttering as well and need to get back into it!

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns July 5, 2023 at 1:33 pm

    July is like our January in that the weather is not great for you so it makes sense to tackle this project now. I used to do the January Cure by Apartment Therapy every year – I liked how each day has a pretty manageable task. I think setting a timer helps, too. I would set it for 20 minutes and then when the timer went off, I could be done – or I could keep going if I felt motivated. I am hoping to feel up to doing the January Cure next January. But I might need to skip it again until our youngest is out of the toddler stage! The task I like best, oddly, is organizing the boys’ clothes. I have a good system w/ bags labeled with sizes so it makes it fairly easy. And I really love it when the youngest outgrows stuff and I can get it out of my house!!! Our storage area in the basement is way less packed now that we are out of the baby/early toddler stages!

  • Reply Elisabeth July 5, 2023 at 1:34 pm

    The other day I was cleaning/tidying up and my husband was getting frustrated because I was just coming off a stomach bug and really needed to be taking a break and was hot and tired and grumpy…but there was just SO. MUCH. STUFF (the kids finished school on Friday and, of course, came home without about 30 pounds worth of paper/art projects/binders – gah, it’s so much paper). I tried to explain that I cannot tune out the clutter…which built up big time in the week I was out of commission, especially with that end of school surge of stuff. It’s a coping mechanism for me to tidy when I’m overwhelmed because Outer Order = Inner Calm for me 100%.

  • Reply KGC July 5, 2023 at 1:54 pm

    Can your nanny help? It seems like she knows your kids well enough that she could probably do their clothes (maybe with their help!). I know in the past you’ve said you’re likely paying her for more hours than you need so maybe this would be something to fill the time! I know that some of it would require your brain and decision-making, but maybe there are SOME things she could help with?

    I have taken a lesson from BOBW and hired a ‘life helper’ who now comes into my house twice a week and does whatever I need done (laundry, dishes, meal prep, etc.). I have tasked her on more than one occasion to either organize a cabinet/closet, pack up outgrown kid clothes, unpack next-size kid clothes into dressers, sort school papers and artwork into kid folders, do donation drops, etc. I bet you could outsource some of your stuff!!!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger July 5, 2023 at 2:14 pm

      Yes and no 🙂 She tends to be of the mindset of wanting to keep everything and gets more sentimentally attached to too-small kid clothing than I do, ha! But maybe with specific parameters 🙂

      • Reply KGC July 5, 2023 at 9:48 pm

        Oh that makes it tough! Okay so maybe see if you can do the actual decluttering but then she can do the “put everything back and organize” part or have her do stuff with no emotional attachment! Or hire someone like me – I’m ruthless and cold-hearted, which makes it super easy for me to declutter 🙂

        • Reply Grateful Kae July 9, 2023 at 10:14 pm

          @KGC can you come to my house?? I am the total opposite and am the worst at decluttering! Especially clothes. I’m always like welllllll maybe I’ll need this someday…. it’s still nice…… Should I just keep this but move it to the basement closet??? And on and on…. 😩😩😩 So indecisive too!

  • Reply Michelle July 5, 2023 at 2:55 pm

    I make my kids help me throw out their school stuff, turns out they want to keep less than I do!

    Oh and I work on having acceptance that my level of order will never be maintained when I have kids in the house, and try to create a system the kids can keep up. I used to be so organized before kids! But one day I will be again when they move out! In a short 10 years..

  • Reply Coree July 5, 2023 at 3:03 pm

    You and me both! We are staying in a lovely flat for 2 weeks and it’s so nice not to have any stuff. I never feel like I have loads and loads but I do often have to move stuff to get to things and I find that really annoying. And there’s something about our kitchen counter space that means we work too close to the edge and drop and break things frequently? It’s not got enough of a lip on it I think. We are basically away until mid august but after that, T will be back in school, I’ll be home for a few more weeks…(and maybe with substantially reduced travel going forward)

    I’ve had good luck donating books (kids and adult) to the library. Sometimes they put them in friends of the library, sometimes I see them pop up on the new shelf. I’d do the kids papers while watching tv, and make sure to smuggle them into the recycling, T caught me last week!

  • Reply Jenny July 5, 2023 at 3:25 pm

    Of Gretchen and Elizabeth, I’m the Elizabeth in many ways, including that I can be clutter-blind. I can function really well amidst clutter, which is good and bad. Bad mostly, because I’m not as motivated to do anything about it. I have to remind myself of the real benefits of de-cluttering (i.e. not buying doubles of things we already have, easier to find things) and then when I actually do it, I can appreciate how nice it is to have that counter (or whatever) cleared off. Maybe if you report on your progress and show before and after pictures, it will motivate me!

  • Reply Kathleen July 5, 2023 at 4:02 pm

    One thing on this week’s BOBW podcast that made me smile. When you were talking about clutter/organizing, you named 3 or 4 items that you had worked on recently. Then you commented, “I give myself a B-.” I am thinking, if I had done this, I would give myself an A++++. I enjoy this topic and like hearing what others are doing as it can help motivate me.

  • Reply Evi July 5, 2023 at 5:48 pm

    Decluttering takes physical energy…and mental energy. Making decisions on what to keep and what not is hard when you are tired. Good luck!

    A question for your upcoming Q&A episode: what is the difference between your someday/maybe list and your list of 100 dreams?

  • Reply Gillian July 5, 2023 at 6:09 pm

    I have a decluttering schedule that I am usually really good at following. It essentially involves decluttering 2 areas per month and there is some seasonality to it. That said an absolutely crazy last 3 months that involved a ton of travel some of it unexpected has gotten me way off schedule. I have plans to get back on track later this month.

  • Reply Amanda July 5, 2023 at 7:39 pm

    Love this topic! I appreciate the commenters who shared how they manage to do a little at a time.

    I agree with others that decluttering takes energy! Also with your reasons on why I don’t keep it up either

    My partner traveled with our kids for extended time through the holiday weekend, and I flew home a few days earlier. I decluttered so much in those few days home alone that my kids asked why their room was larger (but not about anything missing!). It was nice to tackle all of the problem areas in a few days, but seemed like an all or nothing approach. It was work, and made me realize why I wasn’t always keeping it up with young kids.

    Good suggestion from the commenter who asked if your nanny can help!

  • Reply Gwinne July 6, 2023 at 7:51 am

    I took an online class, Take Your Hoise Back, with a combo of three declutter/ organizing experts. Check out Dana K white, author of Organizing at the speed of Life.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger July 6, 2023 at 8:09 am

      she was on BOBW!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger July 6, 2023 at 8:45 am

      And I would definitely be interested in that class though i have already invested in Organize 365 – and I’m guessing there is probably overlap!

      • Reply gwinne July 6, 2023 at 11:14 am

        Oh, interesting! I didn’t realize that. I found Organize 365 too cost prohibitive to consider.

        Take Your House Back (or is it Take Back Your House?) is useful in that it brings together three different strategies as a combined program. What I like about White’s contribution is a method of decluttering that never involves making a pile / a mess. So even if you only have 5 minutes to spend on a decluttering project you can accomplish something.

  • Reply Daria July 8, 2023 at 12:34 pm

    I am allergic to excess and clutter is very mentally triggering for me (so 100% with outer order, inner calm). I would love to see your progress!

  • Reply San July 9, 2023 at 7:46 pm

    Uff. I should take a page out of your playbook. I also want to declutter but don’t seem to find an appropriate time window for it. The clutter just gets me so upset. Good luck with your plan. Chipping away at it is the right approach!

  • Reply Leslie Stompor July 14, 2023 at 12:37 am

    Why isn’t your partner part of this decluttering effort?

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger July 14, 2023 at 5:54 am

      Good question- I don’t think he feels the same way about the stuff in our house. I’m not entirely sure you can impose this kind of thing on others. Maybe he’ll be motivated at some point to do certain areas …

  • Reply Leslie Shaw July 17, 2023 at 6:57 am

    Hi Sarah! I have SO much I want to say cuz drowning by clutter feels like a real thing. I’ll limit myself here and now to this: Dana K. White. A Slob Comes Clean. She is laser focused on decluttering in all helpful ways and decluttering as distinct from organizing. It’s wild what happens when you follow her prescriptives. Her container theory works on a caddy, a drawer, a room and a house. And it works in 5 minute increments. ALL the incentives are built right in! Definitely worth checking out😁✨

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