Declutterathon: How to Declutter your life in only 40 Days

Earlier this year I shared that my goals for 2014 are to live a more balanced and organized life. In this house, with 4 kids and 2 tired adults, that’s no small feat. It seems every time I turn around there’s another pile of dirty dishes to wash, another spill to soak up, and toys multiplying like rabbits. Seriously, where do all these toys come from?

I recently had the epiphany that Clutter is like a Koi Fish, and I now know what I need to do. I need to simplify. The only way I’m going to be able to achieve balance and organization that lasts longer than a few fleeting moments is to purge our house of the unnecessary. I’m on a mission to get this house and my life organized over the coming weeks by completing the 40 Bags in 40 Days challenge or what I’m affectionately calling my declutterathon.

Declutterathon: 40 Days to an Organized Life; 40 Bags in 40 Days #40Bagsin40Days #Declutterathon

Yes, that’s a picture of my actual basement storage area… and there’s a lot more where that came from, unfortunately.

Anyone who has struggled with clutter knows that tackling a houseful is not a sprint; it’s a marathon, and that’s exactly how I’m going to treat this. Instead of mile-by-mile and step-by-step, I’m going to take this room-by-room and item-by-item. That’s the only way I’ll be successful. If I look at my entire house and feel like I have to organize the whole thing right now I’ll be so overwhelmed that I never start. Bite sized goals definitely work best for me.

I first read about 40 Bags in 40 Days on Clover Lane. It’s a challenge to get rid of 40 bags of stuff over 40 days (coinciding with the 40 days of Lent). I attempted the challenge in 2013, but I only got rid of 7 bags of stuff. The good news is that’s 7 bags more than I would’ve gotten rid of, but I fell way short of my 40 bag goal.

This year, I’m going to reach at least 40 bags, and I’m going to be more organized and methodical in my efforts to make sure I’m successful. I’m going to focus on one space at a time and work my way through this house once and for all. I’ll also have lots of pictures to share over the next few weeks so I beg you, no judgy. It’s about to get messy up in here.

I’m also going to reuse the free printable I created last year to help me stay on track.

40 Bags in 40 Days free printable

 The challenge runs from this Wednesday, March 5 through Saturday, April 19th. (We get Sundays off. Woohoo!)

Tomorrow, I’ll be breaking my house down into zones and 5 Questions that will Help you Declutter over the next 40 days. Every family is different, of course, but hopefully these ideas will help you think of areas in your life and house that you can focus on too.

So, who’s in? Who wants to join me? Marathons are easier with others to encourage us (or so I’ve heard. The only place I run is after the ice cream truck). I know I’m going to need company and motivation so let’s tackle this declutterathon together!

Are you in?

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  1. Debbie Hoover says

    Emily, Thank you! I found this to be very inspiring. Trust me, I have a basement that looks much worse than that! But I want to use this idea of getting rid of something a step further. There are so many things both tangible and in my heart that I need to get rid of over the next 40 days. You have helped launch me into a whole new way to see Lent. Blessings and courage to you in your adventure! ~Debbie :)

    • Emily says

      I’m so glad to hear that, Debbie. I hope you’ll keep me updated on your progress, and if you have any tips I’d love to hear them. :)

  2. says

    I am totally in! I don’t know if I have 40 bags worth, but maybe I will surprise myself! I need to make room for what I use and I am getting frustrated that I have almost destroyed some very pricey things that I need because of things I don’t need. Let’s do this!

    • Emily says

      If you don’t have 40 I can share some of mine to make up the difference. :) I’m excited you’re on board!

  3. says

    I love this idea! We live in a small 2 bedroom apartment so I don’t know that we have 40 bags worth of stuff to get rid of. But I love the idea of going through each zone and trying to get rid of anything we can. I hate feeling cluttered! This was such a great post for me to read today! I found your blog on the linky party at I will definitely be coming back to read on a regular basis now! Thanks so much!

    • Emily says

      Thanks, Ashley! I’m so glad this spoke to you. Unfortunately, I’m going to have well over 40 bags. This isn’t the best area to be an “overachiever.”

  4. Karen Moore says

    I love this concept so am going to do it too! I may even take before and after photos but no promises to share them! lol

  5. says

    I’m doing this too! I did my first day, cleaned out my powder room…… and then got distracted and painted it the second day…. need to get back on track today!

    • Emily says

      That’s a good kind of distracted though. You’re making progress. It sure beats my kind of distracted (facebook or something that’s equally time killing). I’d love to see pics if you’d like to share them :)

  6. Amanda says

    This 40 bag declutter is a great idea. I have been doing something like this but with boxes. I have taken out at least 5 boxes of scrapbook stuff and craft stuff from my crafting room. I have been donating it to my daughters playschool. I still have two boxes of things to sell online. This is a great way to enjoy your home and surroundings. I also love to see my floor as months before there were just piles of things. Thanks for some extra inspiration to keep moving.

    • Emily says

      I love that you’re donating your unused supplies to your daughter’s school. I’m sure they’re really appreciate it!

  7. says

    This is a great plan, my whole house is full of clutter and I feel like if I get rid of it all of my daily chores would be so much easier. Not sure if i’ll manage 40 bags but I love the idea of using lent to de-clutter because then you can do it every year.
    Maria Kitching

    • Emily says

      I totally understand. I frequently feel like I’m just playing catch up as opposed to making real progress. Drastic times call for drastic measures (this just gave me a post idea! haha). Thanks for the inspiration :)

  8. says

    Thanks for the inspiration. I’ve been trying to get decluttered since before we brought our baby home from the NICU, but I’ve stalled a bit for the last few weeks. Also, thanks for linking up at Whatever Goes Wednesday last week. This was the most viewed link, so we’ll be featuring your Declutterathon and printable at tomorrow’s party. Hope you’ll stop by and party with us again!

  9. says

    Hmmm. I think if we threw away 40 bags of stuff from our home we wouldn’t have anything left…unless they were shopping bags from the store! Ha! It’s a great idea though and certainly an interesting way to clean out the stuff you don’t need!

    • Emily says

      I wish that was the case for us, Jill. With 6 people and 3 cats in this house, we have lots of stuff to spare… and most of it belongs to the cats. 😉 That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. (They’re surprisingly fond of kitchen gadgets!)

  10. Darlene says

    I need to do the Declutterathon: 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge. We moved last summer in with some friends and we had to put our stuff in storage. I got my stuff out of storage a few months after we moved and brought it to the house where were living and I put in a back room that was being used. Everytime I go out there I see lots of clutter. Oh what a mess. It’s organized but I need to just get rid of stuff. I started going through last fall and fell off of the declutter wagon. Unfortunately, I did’t get rid of as much stuff as I wanted to so it looks like I need to go through it again and start getting rid of stuff.

    • Emily says

      Well I have good news then, Darlene. I’m about to start a new challenge because my house is in serious need of some tlc. I’m still working on the details, but I hope you’ll join me. :)

  11. Miriam says

    I have been in the same and keep vowing to declutter… I’m in!! A great challenge I will happily accept!!!

    • Emily says

      Yay! I’m glad to have you on board. The challenge has grown from 40 days to 26 weeks (slight growth there lol), but I think there’s a much higher likelihood of success with the extra time built in.


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