How to make decluttering easier – Experimenting with less

The purpose of daily-life experimentation

Experimentation – “the action or process of trying out new ideas, methods, or activities” (online dictionary) – can be very helpful if we wish to learn more about ourselves.

Creating and conducting daily-life experiments is a playful way to develop greater self-awareness and to try out new ways of behaviour or testing the effects of new ways to solve problems.

Experimenting with less

‘Living-with-less’ experiments can be very helpful when we wish to declutter our stuff but struggle to make decisions about what to keep and what to let go.

Shopping bans – Experimenting with buying less

Shopping bans, for example, are a way of temporarily experimenting with drastically changed shopping behaviours.

Do you have any experience with shopping bans?

Some time ago I imposed a 3-months-shopping-ban on myself – no spending on books and clothes for 3 months.

This is what my shopping-ban exercise taught me:

    • I appreciate more what I have and I use it with more care and attention if – for a while – nothing new is coming in.
    • A lot of my buying behaviour is directed by spontaneous shopping decisions.
    • I can break this circle of ‘automatic’ money spending if I postpone the decision for some days.
    • Often, I no longer want to have the desired item and don’t buy it, without any regret.
    • And if I decide to buy it after some days of consideration, I appreciate it more consciously and gratefully. 

The ‘Project 333’ – Experimenting with having less clothes

An even greater challenge is experimenting with a combination of ‘no shopping’ and strict ‘using less rules.

Courtney Carver introduced the minimalist fashion challenge ‘Project 333’ in 2010.

Since then, thousands of people around the world have experimented with dressing with 33 items or less for 3 months.

Click here to learn more about the ‘Project 333’:

These are the rules:

    • Limit your closet to only 33 articles of clothing. All clothing, accessories, jewellery, outerwear and shoes count towards your number.
    • Exceptions include your wedding ring, underwear, sleep wear, and workout clothing.

This is the process:

    • First you get all your clothes, shoes, accessories and jewellery out.
    • Then you sort everything into the following piles: Love, Maybe, Donate, Trash.
    • Bag up the items to donate and throw out the trash.
    • Finally choose the 33 items you want to restrict yourself to for the coming 3 months.
    • Box the remaining items up and store them somewhere else in your home.

What do you think about this living-with-less experiment?

Do you think it’s an eccentric or even stupid idea to restrict ourselves in this way? Do you feel it’s impossible to dress with only 33 items? Or do you consider to give it a try?

I conducted this experiment once, and I found it so useful and ‘enlightening’ that I assume I will do it again at some time in the future.  

And this is what my ‘Project 333’ taught me:

    • During the first days of the experiment, I enjoyed having a reduced range of items to choose from. It made it much easier to get dressed in the morning. 
    • However, after some days I realised that I had included 3 t-shirts in my selection which I actually didn’t like much. Now I had to wear them. ☹
    • I first missed my little weekend shopping trips a bit but then started to appreciate the extra time I gained for other things I like to do in my leisure time.

The ongoing effect of the experiment is that I learned to appreciate more what I have and I now use what I own with more care and gratitude.

I now know from experience that I need less than I thought in the past.

And I know better what I need and what I don’t need, what I like and what I don’t like. This also helps when I go shopping (which I do much less) – it now happens very rarely that I buy something I don’t need or like.

Yes, I think I’ll do this experiment again.

What about you?

I recommend you give it a try, especially if you are struggling with decluttering your wardrobe.

Small-steps decluttering – The benefits of 20 minutes sessions – And how to organise them

Is your decluttering task too big? Overwhelming?

If we own a lot of stuff and if most or all areas of our home are cluttered with too many things, the ideal solution would be to conduct a massive decluttering project, clearing up our home completely, and at once.

The idea that we have to do it all in one go can become the reason why we don’t start at all!

    • If we are in an extremely busy phase of our life we might just not have the time for a decluttering project that will take several days or even weeks to get completed.
    • It could also be that we feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the decluttering task – we don’t feel able to plan and organise the work, have no idea how and where to get started. Thus, we procrastinate and postpone the project-start again and again.
    • There might be other reasons why we don’t feel physically or mentally able to go through a complex energy- and effort-demanding project.
    • Or we don’t have enough space for a big decluttering project: If our home is very small or fully packed with stuff, we might not be able to arrange the free flat working areas necessary for the sorting and organising processes.

The solution could be to give up the idea to sort it all out in one go.

We can decide to commit ourselves to conduct a series of shorter decluttering sessions over a period of weeks or even months.

The benefits of the small-steps decluttering approach

    • The small-steps decluttering approach allows you to achieve fast and visible results.
    • It’s easy to integrate the decluttering sessions into your daily life because they are short and have a clearly defined duration.
    • Scheduling the sessions as appointments in your calendar helps you to take them seriously and to develop a regular decluttering routine.
    • Regular decluttering sessions have a similar effect as regular exercises: you practice your decluttering skills and build up ‘I-can-do-it’ confidence.
    • At the end of your decluttering journey your home is – Clutterfree and Organised

How to get organised for the decluttering sessions

    • Determine the duration of the daily decluttering session. (20 minutes? Or 30?)
    • Schedule the declutter sessions as important appointments with yourself in your calendar.
    • Create a list of the rooms/areas in your home you wish to declutter and organise. (Click Here for ideas/suggestions)
    • Decide in which room/area of your home to start the decluttering.

How to do the decluttering sessions

Get started

    • Go to the small area that’s your first session’s focus. (See below for suggestions)
    • Take photos of the cluttered area.
    • Switch the timer on (for the duration you’ve determined for your sessions).
    • Take everything out from the chosen area and distribute all items on a flat surface (the floor, a bed, a table).

Sort and declutter

    • Sort out what’s broken or no longer usable and put it in the rubbish bin.
    • Sort what’s left into categories of like items.  (If applicable. This might not make sense when you, for example, declutter the counter top in the kitchen. It is necessary, however, if you, for example, declutter the cleaning stuff under the kitchen sink, or the underwear drawer.)
    • Sort out unnecessary duplicates.  (Directly into the rubbish bin or donation box.)
    • Sort out what no longer serves you

This is the tough part. Take everything that’s left into your hands and ask yourself: ‘Does this really serve me? Do I need, use or love it?’

If you can’t answer with a clear ‘yes’ it might be time to say goodbye to that item. Let it go. Into the rubbish bin or donation box.

    • Sort out what belongs into another room. And get it there.


    • Clean the decluttered empty space.
    • Take everything you decided to keep and place it back where it belongs.

You might wish to organise what belongs together in suitable space-dividers, such as little boxes, containers, baskets.

    • Clean your working area, get the rubbish/donations out.
    • Take photos of the decluttered area.

Final steps:

    • Celebrate the completion of this decluttering session!
    • And look forward to/plan the next session.


CLICK HERE to learn from an example decluttering project:

I used the small-steps decluttering approach to declutter and organise the drawer that I use to keep my office supplies organised.