1. Fill a Garbage Bag
This first challenge is relatively easy and can be done in a day OR LESS. Your goal is to fill either a large box or a big garbage bag with trash and stuff that no longer serves you. Level one of the game would be to just fill one up.
If you feel you're ready for a bigger challenge, try to fill a bag from every room\floor in your house. What goes in the bag? Well, the answer is anything: old clothes, toys, tools, linens, or just plain and simple trash. If it's things that are in good condition, give them away to a local thrift store, a women's shelter, or an animal shelter (they could use towels and blankets, for example).
2. Take the 12-12-12 Challenge
There is only one rule to this challenge: find 12 items to be thrown in the trash or recycled, 12 items to be put back in their place, and 12 items to be donated. If you want to add to the challenge, set a time frame! This is a good starter project for a whole day of cleaning and organizing since it is quick and will get you in the right mood in an amusing fashion. If you live in a large household, you can make a competition out of it: the first to finish the list of their 12 items wins a prize.
3. The Minimalism Game
The word 'minimalism' tends to trigger some resistance, which is completely understandable, but I challenge you to come with an open mind. This game is good for people who have long wanted to de-clutter, but the mess is so big it seems you'll never conquer it. You'll need to harness your diligence and willpower for this one.
For each day of the month, you will throw away as many items as the number of the day in the month. So, if you started on October 1st, throw away one item. The next day, October 2nd, you'll throw out two items. On the 23rd, you'll toss 23 items. And on the last day of the month, you'll part with 31 items. Talk about exponential growth!
This challenge gets really difficult really fast. So our tip to finish it strong would be to find a partner that will help you, just like a gym partner, for motivation. The result is around 460 items out of your house. A less extreme level would be to commit to discarding 5 items a day for a month. With this method, you'll be about 150 items lighter than before.
Ask yourself these 3 questions:
Do I really need this?
Does it invoke happy memories?
Would I buy it again?
This will help you decide what to keep. Additional questions are:
How or Why do I need this?
How do I benefit from owning this?
Would you give it as a present if it were new?
Have I used this in the past year? Why?
4. The Three Box Method
This one is not so much a challenge, but it is a good guideline when you decide to re-organize one room at a time. Typically, we would choose to organize one room at a time, if there's a lot to be done in each room. Set up 3 large, sturdy boxes, labeled "put away", "give away", and "throw away." This method is exceptional for clothing items and toys, in particular.
Now that the house is organized and looks like it's straight out of the catalog, it will be much easier to clean. One rule to help you maintain this new order is this:
Don't put it down, put it away.
This means, whatever you use or bring into the home (groceries, mail), will be put away once you're done using it. Remember that a tidy home is not a chore, it is something you deserve.
Now let's see how we make cleaning fun and easier than ever.
5. Make Surfaces Easy to Clean
The more items there are on a certain surface, the easier it is for the dust to gather. Sadly, this rule applies also to shelves. Regularly dust them with a microfiber cloth. Prefer keeping as many things as possible inside cabinets in places where they won't take up space or accumulate dust. Display only the most frequently used items or small objects of beauty that are easy to clean on your counters.
6. Invest in Proper Tools
Cleaning glass with a squeegee and some hot water with a few (less than five!) drops of dish soap is way more efficient than using Windex and a cloth. They only smear the dust around. Invest in a good dusting wand as well. We suggest investing in a good microfiber cloth as well.
7. Let it Sit!
Pay attention when using some spray cleaners. They need to sit a few minutes and break down the dirt before you go in scrubbing. Spray the degreaser, let it sit for 5 minutes, and only then go in with a scrubber, for example. It makes a hard job so easy!
This also applies to surface disinfectants: don't spray and wipe! Spray, let it sit for 2-5 minutes, and then wipe.
8. Accessibility, Accessibility, Accessibility!
This rule is based on the famous saying "out of sight, out of mind." This works both ways: keep cleaning tools easily accessible, preferably have a small kit in each room. If reaching for the broom is as easy as just reaching out your hand, you'll notice that it will naturally happen more often, as it becomes a part of your space and not something you need to go out of your way to do. In the kitchen, keep the towel handy and use it to wipe away crumbs before they harden. If you let them sit, they will harden and be much harder to clean.